Jewish Life & Pluralism at JCHS

For JCHS, pluralism is both an important value and a vital skill.
At JCHS, we strive to connect each student to their unique Jewish identity in ways that are authentic, experiential, and deliberate. We recognize and celebrate the richness and variety of our shared Jewish heritage and also the commonalities that bring together the Jewish people. 

High school is a time of exploration and deepening of identity for any teenager. Whether it's in the arena of world cultures, social justice, politics, or religious practice, we believe that it is vital to introduce our students to a broad spectrum of principles and ways of thinking as a path to understanding their own beliefs. Our goal is to educate engaged citizens fully equipped to participate in answering the key questions of how we live together in a modern pluralistic society. 

Pluralism at JCHS pushes further than just acknowledging and respecting the tenets of streams of Judaism beyond one’s  own. It is also a practical blueprint for engagement with anyone whose views differ from your own, an opportunity to define your own understanding of your values and work to reconcile that with those of your fellow community members. 

Does this mean challenges for the individuals who make up our community? Of course. But it also means that the JCHS community is an exciting and vibrant one, in which we expect to learn from each other and learn from our differences. 

The skills we want to develop in our students include a sense of empathy, the ability to build consensus out of confrontation, and a renewed confidence in the depth of the values they will carry with them throughout their lives. We teach students to seek out many perspectives, engage respectfully in meaningful conversations, and appreciate nuance. These are essentials for anyone facing the complexity of a 21st century globalized world. We hope that every student graduates after four years at JCHS knowing that as individual as their beliefs may be, they are joined together by a community that sees them for who they are and cherishes them for who they will become. 

At JCHS, students come from a remarkably wide range of backgrounds including a variety of ethnic backgrounds and Jewish denominations. Our students also reflect the evolving nature of contemporary expressions of Judaism. For that reason, JCHS does not judge or prescribe the practices of any student or family. 

Morning Tefillah

Every day at JCHS begins with introspection and reflection centered around the common act of tefillah (prayer).  In our pluralistic community, tefillah takes on many forms. Students begin each morning with 30 minutes of reflection and choose from a variety of tefillah options, ranging from traditional, liberal, and egalitarian to more creative approaches, including art, journaling and yoga. Students are encouraged to try different tefillah options throughout their four years.
    • Transforming Education I: Tefillah at JCHS

Shabbat and Holiday Observance

JCHS students and families of JCHS celebrate Shabbat and holidays in different ways, and the spirit of Shabbat observance is an integral component of our school community.

We have developed a set of guidelines regarding Shabbat and holiday observance at JCHS:

  • Students will not be expected to complete homework on Shabbat or a holiday.
  • No school related business is conducted on Shabbat or holidays.
  • All school programs occurring on Saturday evening will not begin earlier than one hour after the end of Shabbat or the holiday.
  • We support students who wish to take standardized tests on Sunday test dates.
  • We encourage students to plan private parties so as not to coincide with Shabbat or holidays or to arrange a celebration that reflects the spirit and practices of Shabbat.
Jewish Community High School of the Bay
1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: 415.345.9777
JCHS is grateful for generous operational, programmatic, and financial support from:
The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace her or his Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.