We don’t merely learn about Jewish community at Bernard Zell; we live it. Our approach weaves the culture and spirit of Jewish life throughout of all aspects of school lessons, activities and our students’ family life.
Young children can literally embrace Jewish culture as they embrace Bentzi, a puppet who speaks rak Ivrit"—only Hebrew—and whose smaller “cousins” (“Mini Bentzi”) travel home with them on weekends in a special Shabbat backpack to share lessons with the whole family.
Shabbat itself is a time of community-wide connection and celebration. Our greatly anticipated Friday Shabbat lunches see students of all ages joining with faculty, parents, and even alumni to sing songs, chant blessings, and give tzedakah as they enjoy a meal together.
To enter Bernard Zell on any day is to enter a Jewish space; it’s evident in every class and activity we offer. Here you’ll see posters and textbooks bearing phrases in Hebrew as well as English, Israeli flags displayed in classrooms alongside American and state flags. Here our meals are kosher, with milk days and meat days strictly observed. Here the voices of middle school students sing out Hatikva, Israel's national anthem, during B'Tzavta, their weekly town meeting, and students of all ages are engaged in Torah study, engrossed in tefila (prayer), playing Shabbat, or creating model Synagogues using recycled materials.
Most of all, you’ll sense the spirit of community, where students learn the importance of focusing on mitzvot (guidelines for living a good life) and where people from every Jewish denomination and experience come together to form a rich, welcoming whole.
Welcoming Interfaith Families
"One thing I would like to say to interfaith families thinking about coming to Bernard Zell is: Please come! It's the most amazing experience for your children." - Jeanine Gassel, Current Parent
Creating Jewish Identity at Bernard Zell
"I'm very grateful and thankful I was able to go to Bernard Zell because I know I will carry the Jewish values I learned there throughout my life" - Natalie Rosenbaum '17