For the past three years, I have teamed up with Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Seif to teach an 11th Grade English and Humanities course entitled, “The Individual and Society in History, Philosophy, Jewish Thought and Literature.” Referred to as ‘Tikvah’, the class was initially supported by the Tikvah Fund, whose mission is to “bring forward the serious alternatives for what the Jewish future should look like, and bring Jewish thinking and leaders into conversation with Western political, moral, and economic thought” (Tikvahfund.org). The resulting class integrates our core literary curriculum, a chronological study of American literature, with the study of classic works of Western and Jewish philosophy, history and Jewish law. In addition, because the course incorporates so much non-fiction, we were able to obtain its certification as an AP English Language and Composition course.
As a Modern Orthodox High School, we believe this course has helped to advance our mission in a most unique and powerful way. As such, we have authored this detailed description of the course, its content and methodology,in the hopes of inspiring other Jewish educators to engage in, and share, similar work.
Eileen Watts, Ph.D. - Dr. Watts holds a B.A. from Brandeis University, an M.A. in English from the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in English from Bryn Mawr College. She currently serves as the English Department Chair at Kohelet Yeshiva High School.