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Jewish American Life

Hillel’s faculty, staff, students, and parents frequently come together to celebrate and observe Judaism’s rich history of holidays and festivals. Our Parent Association (PA) plays a critical role in supporting these celebrations that help to bring our array of traditions to life. Additionally, students learn creative and fun ideas for home observances to help enhance their family celebration.

Additionally, prayer services are a regular component of the Hillel experience. Parents are always welcome and encouraged to join prayer services. Additionally, every day that school is open, there are enough post B’nei Mitzvah students and adults to have an egalitarian minyan for anyone in need of reciting Kaddish.

Holidays, Celebrations, and Observances

Essential to our school experience are the Jewish, Israeli, and American holidays, celebrations, and observances for which we have special programming in order to teach our students, experientially, traditions and culture. Each year, celebrating or observing the holidays is done a bit differently and the participation by students in each division is different in order to make them fresh and developmentally appropriate.

The holidays that are celebrated or observed include:

  • High holy days (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah)
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Chanukah
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Tu b’Shevat
  • Purim
  • Passover
  • Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day)
  • Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day)
  • Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day)
  • Lag b’Omer
  • Shavuot
  • Shabbat

Tefillah - Prayers

As a Jewish day school, Tefillah, prayer, provides an opportunity for our Kehillah, community, to come together in a sacred space to thank God for our blessings. While children are not forced to pray, they are expected to be respectful during this time. In terms of our Kehillah, we find times to pray as an entire school community and/or by division.

Havdallah - Mondays

On Monday mornings the entire Hillel Academy school community begins its week together by praying the Havdalah service. The Havdalah service ends Shabbat and begins the new week and while it is typically done on Saturday night, at Hillel we use this brief Tefillah, prayer, to begin our week together.

Shacharit - Tuesdays

Shacharit is the weekday morning prayers that we do on Tuesday mornings. Each division prays together and the teachers spiral the curriculum through the divisions. Leaders will choose the prayers they want the students to focus on any given Tuesday.

Kriat Torah - Thursdays

On Thursdays, the upper division has a Torah Service: The students have Aliyot (prayers before and after the Torah) and read Torah. In the Primary School, the students learn about the Parashat HaShavua (the weekly Torah portion).

Additionally, the community Rabbis rotate each Thursday and share a Dvar Torah with our students.

Kabbalat Shabbat - Fridays

Each Friday students welcome the Shabbat in their classes, by division, or as a whole community at Shabbat b’Yachad.

Additional Prayers

  • Before lunch, students are invited to wash their hands during the Netilat Yadaiim prayers and then all students recite Hamotzi, thanking God for the food provided.
  • After lunch, all students recite the Birkat Hamazon, the traditional Grace after meals.

Tefillah Prayer Learning Objectives


Food and Judaism are inextricably linked which means food and Hillel Academy are also inextricably linked. The majority of the school’s celebrations and observances include food, often traditional and/or Israeli, representing our rich cultural heritage. All foods served to children are kosher.

Additionally, Hillel Academy offers a kosher lunch program. For an added cost, families may choose to participate.