Our boys’ limudei kodesh programs prepares our boys for a vibrant life of Jewish learning and practice. The curriculum includes Chumash, Navi, Mishna, Gemara, and Dinim. Each rebbe is a mechanech, educator and role model.
Every aspect of the Eitz Chaim school experience, both inside and outside the classroom, reinforces the centrality of Torah. By the time students graduate, they have internalized the vital importance of Torah learning and are inspired and prepared to pursue studies at a more advanced level.
Eitz Chaim is proud to be the only school in Toronto to meet our students’ needs by offering two approaches to Chumash and Mishna learning. The traditional and Maharal tracks accommodate different learning styles and strengths. All boys daven together, blend socially as one cohesive group, and achieve the same educational outcomes.
In addition to Chumash, the centerpieces of our Jewish Studies Program include a superior Gemara program and an authentic Tefillah program.
The traditional track in Eitz Chaim uses the approach to Chumash study that was pioneered in Toronto over 60 years ago by visionary educator Rabbi Chaim Nussbaum z”l, the school’s first full-time principal. This is a skill-based approach that focuses on grammar and vocabulary acquisition. Most importantly, it provides an in-depth analysis of the story line and content through the lenses of Rashi and other commentaries. This method is now considered the gold standard and is used in the vast majority of orthodox day schools around the world. Eitz Chaim’s traditional-track student learns most of the Chumash by graduation.
First established by the Maharal zt”l, Derech Maharal is a cheder-like approach that begins with the boys using the trop nigun to sing the psukim they are learning. This is called girsa. Once the students are very familiar with or know the psukim by heart, they begin translating and learning the deeper meaning of each pasuk. This is called peshat. All the material is reviewed frequently (chazara), leading to mastery of the material (kinyan).
The Eitz Chaim Maharal program “borrows” from the traditional approach by incorporating more direct teaching of grammar, vocabulary, content and Rashi. Currently, Eitz Chaim may be the only school in North America offering the Maharal approach for Chumash and Mishna study. Eitz Chaim’s Maharal talmidim complete the entire Chumash by grade 6.
Gemara study is the essential focus of our Jewish studies curriculum, in keeping with the tradition of the European yeshiva world upon which Eitz Chaim was founded. All subjects and skills ultimately prepare students for Talmud study, which begins formally in grade 5 for the traditional track and grade 6 for the Meharal track. The program focuses on creating a foundation of fundamental skills while learning much of Seder Nezikin. The Eitz Chaim faculty prides itself on preparing its students for the rigours of intense Gemara study in the high school years and beyond.
Tefilla is the essential vehicle for developing emunah. Comprehensive tefilla training teaches the meaning of prayers and siddur proficiency. Decorum, punctuality, and proper dress are stressed. These, combined with slow explanatory davening allow our boys to fully appreciate the spirituality of tefilla.