Sinai Akiba middle school, a Conservative Jewish day school for students in sixth through eighth grades, imbues a love for Israel, Judaism, and a passion for learning. The Judaic Studies program emphasizes text study and continues to strengthen Hebrew language skills while applying them to increasingly sophisticated issues of Jewish thought and belief. We encourage Middle School students to make the language and concerns of Jewish tradition their own. Using Hebrew as the primary language of instruction, faculty provide opportunities for students to interpret and apply their understanding of sacred and literary texts to art, drama, song, and community experiences and to explore issues of personal identity, group interaction, moral responsibility, and religious sensitivity.

The study of Torah Sheb’al Peh (the rabbinic tradition of oral Torah) examines selected rabbinic and Jewish legal texts in the context of contemporary society, emphasizing the applicability of the tradition to the students’ lives. T'filah (Prayer) emphasizes the relationship between understanding and motivation. We teach students to recite the classical morning service and prepare them to lead daily services and a Torah service on Thursdays with an integrity vested with personal meaning. Through an Iyun Tefillah program, we explore the meaning of the prayers recited daily.

The Hebrew language program reinforces Hebrew grammar and composition while emphasizing Modern Hebrew language through literature, poetry, drama, songs and creative writing. The goal of our Hebrew program is to help students develop a love for the language while becoming proficient speakers, readers, and writers. We study the Bible for historical, cultural, and religious reasons. From post-Biblical times to the present, the Jewish people have used the study of Bible to organize and understand their experiences. Our Middle School students deepen their study of Tanakh First Prophets, and selections from Rashi, the classic eleventh century biblical commentator.

We prepare students for the challenges of high school, enabling them to become Jewish adults living meaningful, fulfilling lives as caring and contributing members of society. We offer many wonderful educational and extracurricular opportunities through which our students are challenged and develop in different areas—both as Jews and as Americans. Our faculty is a cohesive, nurturing group dedicated to helping children succeed in Middle School. We take great pride in knowing each of our students as individuals with their own passions and needs, and in working to provide an academically, emotionally, and socially engaging, challenging, and supportive program for each child.

One of the highlights of the Schechter Westchester Middle School experience and the culmination of nine years of study about Israel and its people is our eighth grade trip to Israel. The itinerary for the trip is organized in chronological order through Jewish history, teaching students the relationship between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
Sinai Akiba Academy’s unique academic bilingual program, integrated with advanced technology and the arts, affords students a competitive edge.

Why should I give my child the gift of a bilingual education?
The advantages of a bilingual approach to education have been discussed and researched for decades and are well documented. In addition to giving children a sense of cultural pluralism, it has been shown that learning a second language, particularly from an early age, has a cognitive and academic benefit. Research demonstrates that young children who become bilingual develop stronger communication skills in their native language, learn additional new languages at a faster rate and are better prepared to compete in the global economy. Additionally, students who learn a second language score significantly higher on the IOWA, SAT and ACT tests. Bilingual children and adults often demonstrate superior executive function skills that result in an enhanced ability to adapt to changing situations, execute multi-level tasks, and engage in high-level cognitive thinking. Finally, bilingual adults are more employable and enjoy a greater variety of career opportunities. In short, bilingual children are smart, adaptable and successful.

What does a bilingual education look like?
At Sinai Akiba Academy, we teach in two languages: Hebrew and English. The students are fully prepared to become Bar/Bat Mitzvah with minimal effort, are ready to travel abroad and use their Hebrew in Israel, as well as around the world.

The children learn to speak Hebrew the way most learn to speak English, by speaking, reading and living it. They don’t just “learn” Hebrew; they learn to “live” in Hebrew. We do not treat Hebrew as a “class” that begins and ends at a certain time. Hebrew is woven into activities and curricula throughout the school day.

Want to Know More About Bilingual Education?
 
The following are general research articles/resources for parents:

1. Why Bilinguals Are Smarter - The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-benefits-of-bilingualism.html

2. Advantages Of Bilingual Education
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/advantages-of-bilingual-education.html

3. Bilingual Education For Children – Benefits All The Way!
http://topnews.net.nz/reports/212113-bilingual-education-children-benefits-all-way

4. Web MD:
http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20041013/being-bilingual-boosts-brain-power

5. Bilingual Kids Show Cognitive Advantages
http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/11/10/cognitive-ability-improved-when-bilingual/20740.html

6. Scientific American: The Neural Advantage Of Speaking 2 Languages

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=bilingual-brains

7. Benefits Of Bilingual Education:

http://www.cal.org/earlylang/benefits/benefits_of_being_bilingual.html
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