Zilberman Method

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The term “Zilberman” or “Zilberman method” or “Zilberman model” is used as a general label for a set of pedagogical practices in Jewish education that have the following features:

• take advantage of the mental plasticity of young children to teach them copious amounts of raw material
• focus on repetition, review and mastery (edutopia article on rote learning)
• the use of song which facilitates learning and memorization (research)

A typical Zilberman student will learn the entire Torah by heart (chanting and translation) and many tractates of the Mishna. Moreover, Zilberman students have learned a methodology of learning that they can apply to learning the rest of their lives. Children who learn in Zilberman schools typically find the mastery of material empowering and motivating, and thereby highly enjoyable! Click here for R’ Dovid Gottlieb’s in-depth Zilberman article. Here is a related article.

The strictly-Zilberman schools in Jerusalem delay the introduction of Talmud until after the students have fully mastered Tanach and Mishna. The “modified-Zilberman” schools (sometimes known as “Maharal” or “Zichru”) accelerate the schedule somewhat.

For an example of how a modified-Zilberman method was implemented, click here.

A tangential pedagogy is the “whole Torah” curriculum created by R’ Jonathan Rietti. Click here to see how R’ Rietti has rebuilt the concept of day school education from the ground up. R’ Rietti’s curriculum and the Zilberman model share a key feature: active learning.

Looking for help starting a Zilberman program in your community? Looking for help designing a Torah mastery program for adults? Write zilberman@jsli.org.

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