Service learning is the glue that connects the realities of the outside world with classroom learning at our school. We give our students the tools and empathy necessary for life-long civic engagement, and root our service program in the richness of the Jewish concept of tikkun olam - repairing the world. Brandeis students learn to connect their Jewish identity to active service in their community and the world at large.
Through this innovative program, students develop projects that both support communities and connect to our academic curriculum, absorbing the lesson that to learn is to serve, and to serve is to learn.
Service Learning in Action
We teach, foster and support integrity, kindness and service in all our classrooms and activities, and specifically through initiatives such as:
Middle School Service Elective — a group of 6th, 7th and 8th graders who meet for two hours each week to volunteer at a senior home, reflect through writing about their service, learn about Jewish service through the SPARK (Jewish Funds for Justice) curriculum, and serve as the writing and editing board for the Service Writers publication. They also assist with school-wide service events.
Green School Initiative — Students play an active role across grade levels in identifying ways to increase composting and recycling education and participation, reduce energy use and make meaningful progress on the school garden. Leadership comes from the lower school and middle school student community board.
School Helpers - Middle school peer tutors are trained to assist other BHDS students in a variety of subjects during study hall and after school. Aftercare volunteers are trained by the athletic department as Sports Leaders to score BHDS sports games. Eighth grade students help in lower school classrooms as Peer Helpers twice a week.
Purim Tzedakah Project — K-8 students participate in tzedakah, or righteous giving, to local organizations and pressing causes during Purim through our own shook marketplace. Students bring in toys, games and other things from home to be sold at the shook to raise money for each class to make give tzedakah to an organization connected to what they are studying in school. Students also have the opportunity to purchase items from the shook to donate in the form of Mishloach Manot, gifts to be given to the Parca, a Bay Area organization that serves people with developmental disabilities.
Student Community Board Leadership — Student community board representatives in the lower school and middle school lead the implementation of projects and education for school-wide service initiatives, education and greening the school.
Student Writing Contests — Examples include writing a poem inspired by the Presidential inauguration that allows students to experience how poetry can be both personal and political, and a photo essay contest in which students identify a problem they’ve noticed and describe a solution. Winners are awarded gift certificates to KidsGiving2Kids, a philanthropic website designed for kids, and have their work published on the school website.
Connection with Partnering Schools in Israel — students communicate about social justice and environmental issues and projects with students at Hagome and Eynot Yarden schools through visits, mail, video and over the web.
A Sample of Our Community Partners
Alma Via Retirement Community
American Jewish World Service
Coyote Point Museum
Jewish Family and Children’s Service/
Tenderloin Outreach Project
Jewish National Fund
Matnas in Netanya
National AIDS Memorial Grove
Project Open Hand
Ronald McDonald House
San Francisco Department of the Environment
San Francisco Food Bank
San Francisco Recreation and Parks
SPARK/ Jewish Funds for Justice
The Jewish Home