By Arlene Appelrouth | aappelrouth@atljewishtimes.com

When the Weber School opens for the 2016-17 school year Monday, Aug. 15, its 235 high school students can expect a ramped-up curriculum and an enthusiastic faculty.

Rabbi Ed Harwitz, who has been the head of school for three years, talked about the nondenominational Jewish day school in Sandy Springs, which has added many electives he calls “innovative and creative.”

Weber Head of School Rabbi Ed Harwitz stands with multiple winner Isabel Berlin.

Rabbi Ed Harwitz (pictured here with student Isabel Berlin) says it’s important that the students have a say in the course offerings

“At Weber we have an active collaboration between students and faculty,” the educator said. “During the summer three groups of students called me and said they had ideas for new courses.”

A new travel-study program was implemented, and a new athletic team will be added, he said.

Rabbi Harwitz is proud to lead a school where the students know they can express their desires and have the administration respond.

“For Weber to be a great Jewish high school, we need their ideas,” he said.

This year Weber will have a dance program, a theater program and other electives that contribute to students having many options and opportunities.

The school is introducing specialty courses that last for only 20 days. Rabbi Harwitz said these courses will be unusual and enriching.

Just as the Weber curriculum takes into account the views of the students as well as the knowledge of the faculty, the school prides itself on integrating Jewish and general learning.

“This is contrary to Jewish tradition,” Rabbi Harwitz said.

Weber Director of Admissions Rise Arkin joins a group of Camp Barney Medintz campers this summer for a “Why Be Jewish” discussion. The answers ranged from “Because it’s awesome” and “Jews have a good military” to “Tradition” and “Community.”

Weber Director of Admissions Rise Arkin joins a group of Camp Barney Medintz campers this summer for a “Why Be Jewish” discussion. The answers ranged from “Because it’s awesome” and “Jews have a good military” to “Tradition” and “Community.”

Jewish schools frequently separate Jewish studies from general studies, but the Weber philosophy has its roots in the Talmud.

“Maimonides laid out a vision to fully integrate philosophy, politics and history. It’s one world of learning. We teach science and literature but have a Jewish studies perspective,” Rabbi Harwitz said.

One new course at Weber addresses the right to privacy. The classes will take into account U.S. constitutional law, look at the right to bear arms, and address liberty and freedom.

Students will be asked how Jewish law speaks to those issues.

“An important aspect is our students will emerge with a variety of skills allowing them to compare Jewish history and law to their American counterparts,” the head of school said.

Rabbi Harwitz said the world needs young people who are educated to think in integrative ways. The unified curriculum at the high school is designed to do that.

“We have a higher calling,” Rabbi Harwitz said. “We want to be true to Jewish tradition and Jewish education while integrating two different sets of standards to live in the 21st century. Our curriculum reflects a high level of creativity and innovation.”