» Subscribe Today!
The Power of Information
Home
The Ledger - EST. 1978 - Nashville Edition
X
Skip Navigation LinksHome > Article
VOL. 46 | NO. 40 | Friday, October 7, 2022

Kehilla High offers new path to ancient teachings

By Kathy Carlson

Print | Front Page | Email this story

Middle Tennessee is home to many private schools, and one recent addition is Kehilla High School, which began educating its inaugural class of five 9th graders just this school year.

Kehilla means community in Hebrew, and the high school represents the Nashville Jewish community’s continuing efforts to create learning opportunities rooted in Judaism for families and students. The school is open to students of all faiths and backgrounds, its web site says.

It’s an “uncommon school that focuses on learning in a very different way than many other schools,” says Rabbi Saul Strosberg, of Congregation Sherith Israel. He has worked with Rabbi Emeritus Mark Schiftan of The Temple and many others to make the school a reality this academic year. They include a steering committee of 11 community leaders plus six educational experts on the school design team.

“There are lots of wonderful schools in Nashville,” he says, “but none whose approach to learning and sense of culture can compare to a strong Jewish day school environment.”

Nashville has long supported Jewish schools. Akiva School, for grades K-6, was founded in 1954 and has educated generations of students. The Jewish community first offered middle school opportunities to students in 2015 with Jewish Middle School, known as JMS, for grades 7 and 8. Last year, JMS had 40 students. Currently, Akiva, JMS and Kehilla High School are at separate locations and the goal is to bring them all together in the future.

Strosberg says the high school is a natural outgrowth of JMS, which “came to fruition out of a desire to allow Jewish families to continue (educating their children in a school rooted in) Jewish scholarship.”

Jewish scholarship has always encouraged critical thinking; Strosberg points to study of the Mishnah, the second century code of Jewish law.

The Mishnah “always quotes the minority opinion and majority opinion. Critical thinking isn’t just (arriving at) the final answer,” he explains. It involves learning many possible solutions to a problem and understanding why one solution became the majority position and why others did not.

This approach to learning involves “giving courage to kids to ask big questions,” he says, adding the learning a student does now has to be about now.

Jewish school not only challenges students to think in a different way, but it also has its own methodology. Students never learn in a silo; they study with a partner, Strosberg notes. Teachers and students need to have humility, to know we have to figure things out and that we are continually learning, he adds.

The Jewish approach to education, he says, “really requires teachers who are steeped deeply and broadly in their fields but at the same time are brave enough to say when they don’t know” the answer to a question.

“We are very, very lucky to find teachers that want to be part of something new, to have the opportunity to start a school,” Strosberg says. Currently, 11 people serve on the high school’s faculty and staff.

The classroom culture is very collaborative, he continues. Students’ laptop computers are linked and share a virtual whiteboard. Students also learn in different locations throughout the city, including local synagogue facilities, a place for physical education, on field trips and in community service. Starting next semester, the students will go to Vanderbilt University for roundtable sessions with professors to give them a taste of college.

The first class of students are called Genesis Fellows, so named for the first book of the Bible. “They’re very aware that they’re the beginning class, that the school they’re in now will be different in a few years,” Strosberg says. “Who knows how it will change?”

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter & RSS:
Sign-Up For Our FREE email edition
Get the news first with our free weekly email
Name
Email  
TNLedger.com Knoxville Editon
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0