How We Teach
Derekh Eretz & Citizenship

Drawing on the words of Rabbi Heschel, students learn that doing “mitzvot” begins with small acts of kindness to each other, with mutual concern and consideration. There is a “Toronto Heschel” way of acting and behaving in the School that begins with administration and staff and is emulated by students and their parents. To describe this behaviour, the School uses the Hebrew term “Derekh Eretz.”

Derekh Eretz Code of Conduct

At The Toronto Heschel School, we aspire to create a positive and safe school climate for all students, staff, parents/guardians, and community members. We strive to balance the best interests of the individual with those of the class and school as a whole. Students, teachers, parents, and community members are expected to perform mitzvot, to respect themselves and each other. We are guided by Hillel’s simple admonition: Do not treat others in a way you would not want to be treated. There is no message more clearly received than the one we send through our daily conduct.

The practice of Derekh Eretz, which means “The Conduct of the Land,” guides our expectations and practices for how students, staff, parents/guardians, and community members treat one another. As members of The Toronto Heschel School community, we hold ourselves to the standards of Derekh Eretz when we are in school, off school property, on-line, during and out of school hours. Together, we foster a safe, nurturing, and inclusive community.

Parents, faculty, staff, and students are all asked to read, affirm, and adhere to the Derekh Eretz Code of Conduct.

דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ קָדְמָה לַתּוֹרָה
“Derekh Eretz is a prerequisite for learning”

At Heschel, we each commit to…

You shall carefully protect your life
Devarim 4:15
Care for each other’s physical, emotional safety and well-beingונִשְׁמַרְתֶּם מְאֹד לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם
דברים ד:טו
Each person is created in the Divine Image, yet each of us is unique
Talmud, Sanhedrin 38a
Respect each other’s dignity, individuality, and identityכָּל אָדָם בְּחוֹתָמוֹ וְאֵין אֶחָד מָהֵן דּוֹמֶה לְחַבֵירו
סנהדרין לח.א
Gatherings for the sake of a good purpose will succeed
Pirkei Avot 4:11
Work cooperatively with others to learn and playכָּל כְּנֵסִיָּה שֶׁהִיא לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, סוֹפָהּ לְהִתְקַיֵּם
פרקי אבות ד:יא
Take care with your words
Pirkei Avot 1:9
Use words carefully and thoughtfully; avoid lashon haraוֶהֱוֵי זָהִיר בִּדְבָרֶיךָ
פרקי אבות א:ט
If I am not responsible for myself who will be; If I am only for myself what am I? If not now, when ?
Pirkei Avot 1:14
Take responsibility for ourselves, our community, the environment and for tikkun olamהוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, אִם אֵין אֲנִי לִי, מִי לִי. וּכְשֶׁאֲנִי לְעַצְמִי, מָה אֲנִי. וְאִם לֹא עַכְשָׁיו, אֵימָתָי
פרקי אבות א:יד
May the doors of your house be open wide
Pirkei Avot 1:5
Be inclusive in our work, play, and celebrationייְהִי בֵיתְךָ פָתוּחַ לִרְוָחָה
פרקי אבות א:ה
Don’t separate yourself from the community
Pirkei Avot 2:4
Participate respectfully in the Jewish practices of our schoolאַל תִּפְרֹשׁ מִן הַצִּבּוּר
פרקי אבות ב:ד
The heavens belong to God, but the earth is our responsibility
Psalms 115:16
Care for our school and for each others’ belongingsהַשָּׁמַיִם שָׁמַיִם, לַיהוָה וְהָאָרֶץ, נָתַן לִבְנֵי-אָדָם
תהילים קטו:טז
May there be peace and tranquility in our gates and in our hearts
Tamud, Sanhedrin 38a
Help create calm, mindful learning spacesִיהִי שָׁלוֹם בִּשְׁעָרֶיהָ וְשַׁלְוָה בְּלֵב יוֹשְׁבֶיהָ
שמונה עשרה
Build your life as if it were a work of art
— A.J. Heschel
Acknowledge that we make mistakes and grow and learn from themלֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמוֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה
פרקי אבות ב:טז