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Course Description

Merkaz will be meeting, Covid permitting, in person at Congregation B'nai Israel in Bridgeport on Tuesday nights or from the comfort of your own home remotely. Independent studies can be arranged if the time and dates don’t meet your needs. We can make it work!


Senior Merkaz Transcripts

Be sure your college application stands out from the rest!

Your application says a lot about you. College Applications officers have shared that they are most impressed with students who are willing to make a long term commitment to an extra-curricular activity. Merkaz participation indicates commitment to learning, an inquisitive mind, the importance of connecting with your community, and represents a broad spectrum of learning experiences. Be sure to include your Merkaz experience in each college application! Time and again, it has proven to give students an advantage in the competitive application process.

As a Senior, your Merkaz Transcript along with a cover letter will be provided for you to scan and include with your college applications. The letter explains the Merkaz program, your involvement and commitment at Merkaz, and the graduation requirements. You will be notified when these materials will be available for pickup early in the semester.

Required Seminar

SENIOR SEMINAR: All seniors are required to take the following Senior Seminar:

  • Choices You Will Face on the College Campus, with Rabbi Colin Brodie (Fall 8PM OR Spring 8PM)


“I enjoyed learning with other Jewish teens, because it enabled me to view different perspectives before making conclusions of my own.”

Better Together

Have you heard about our award-winning class – The Mitzvah of Better Together, a two-semester (fall and spring) class, which has been nationally recognized as a model program for creating meaningful mitzvot for the community as well as for bringing teens and senior citizens together?

Merkaz has been fortunate to be a recipient of a grant from Better Together for the past 6 years. This nationwide program prepares students with the skills and sensitivities to provide services and activities for the residents of our partner, Jewish Senior Services. These skills transfer to meaningful interactions with family, friends and loved ones.

Now that we are gearing up to meet in person, our Better Together students will help alleviate the loneliness in the lives of seniors, bringing stimulation, social interaction, and recreation to their everyday activities. These in-person visits also help develop long lasting relationships.  Our in person class begins with lessons and activities for the students to learn how to interact with seniors to bring out their full potential and then will transition to one-on-one programs with the seniors in the late fall.

The Better Together class will also be involved in developing and organizing community mitzvot projects throughout the year. Last year’s class created videos to entertain the seniors, built planters, organized car parades, delivered Shabbat flowers, and organized JSS Staff Appreciation Days.  These creative efforts were recognized with the 2020 Jewish Programming Award by the Association of Jewish Aging Services, which serves as a model for other Jewish high schools across the country.

The Better Together class and program has helped produce the next generation of community leaders, who will be well prepared to lead, thrive, and sustain our people going forward. We hope you will consider being part of this wonderful experience.

"....nothing is more precious than the time we have, and to share it with others, because we all have the power to make someone's life so much brighter, and all it takes is time out of our busy schedules, to walk up to someone who we may otherwise just pass by, and to listen, and to smile."
-Samantha Renzulli, Better Together participant. To read Samantha's award-winning essay about her Better Together program experience, click here


Attendance Policies

Regular and punctual attendance is essential for a successful experience at Merkaz. A student may miss no more than four class sessions in any semester course to attain credit for that course.

Families will receive notification by e-mail when an absence trend is noted.  It is each student’s responsibility to track his/her own attendance at Merkaz. It is unnecessary to call the Merkaz office regarding student absences, unless there are special requests.

If a student exceeds the absence limit, he/she will not receive credit in that course. In extenuating circumstances, an appeal for credit may be made in writing to the Head of School within one week of the end of the semester. After reviewing the letter of appeal, the Head of School may use her discretion to allow make-up work.

If a student misses more than 15 minutes of class time, either due to lateness or an early dismissal, he/she will not receive credit for that Session.

Lateness / Early Dismissal (When in the building)

  • If you arrive after the 6:55 p.m. or 8:00 P.M. class bells, you must sign in and get a late pass at the Merkaz desk. This assures that you will receive credit for your attendance in class that evening.

  • Habitual lateness will be addressed by the Head of School in collaboration with the teacher. (See Attendance Policy)

  • Students leaving early must provide a written permission slip from their parent and must sign out at the Merkaz DESK.

Conduct & Expectations

At Merkaz, we strive to create a learning community that encourages mutual respect, friendship, safety, and individual responsibility. We believe that no student has the right, because of his or her behavior, to interfere with the teaching and learning process.

Students are expected to behave appropriately, in a manner that is respectful of administrators, teachers, guest speakers, other students, and property. In addition, students participating in Special Programs will respect and abide by the rules/policies particular to those premises and activities.

The following behaviors are prohibited while classes are in session:

  • Food or drinks in the classroom without prior permission from the Head of School (Food brought to Merkaz must be Kosher and nut-free.)

  • Vandalism (Students and/or parents will be held financially liable for the cost of repair or replacement of any school property damaged or defaced.)

  • Use of drugs or alcohol by any student on school property

  • Smoking on school premises

  • Use of cell phones and all electronic devices including all iPods, iPads, etc., unless approved by the course instructor. All must be turned off while in class. Unapproved use of electronic equipment will result in the removal of the equipment for the evening.

  • Inappropriate attire, including dress and grooming that are offensive, distracting, or disruptive to the educational process

  • Leaving the building without permission 

Violation of the above policies will be addressed by the teacher and/or Head of School, and parents will be notified when necessary. Serious violations may constitute grounds for dismissal at the discretion of the Head of School.

Student Driving & Traffic Guidelines

The safety and security of Merkaz drivers is of utmost importance!

Students must operate vehicles in a safe and appropriate manner, and must abide by the established parking lot traffic flow. The Head of School has the authority to prohibit a student who violates safe driving practices from using the school parking facility.

Student drivers and parents must observe designated Entrances and Exits to and from the parking lot.

Safety & Security

To best ensure the safety and security of our students, students may not leave the building when Merkaz is in session without a signed permission slip from their parent.

A Security Guard will be present each evening.

Weekly Tzedakah

Tzedakah and Youth Philanthropy are an important component of the Merkaz learning experience. Tzedakah will be collected weekly during the 6:55 class. Contributions will be donated to worthwhile causes identified by the Merkaz community. Parent encouragement is greatly appreciated.


Kosher snacks and drinks will be provided each week during our break. All food brought into Merkaz must be kosher and nut-free.


Students who bring a guest to Merkaz must have a note from the guest’s parents stating that they have permission to be at Merkaz. Guests must be approved ahead of time by the Head of School.