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10th-12th Grade Blog                                             January 2, 2019

Welcome back everyone! I hope you had a good week off. We started the new year off with a new unit, "Covenant, Choseness, and Faith." This week we looked at the idea of Jews as the "Chosen People." This is an idea that as the article "Are Jews the Chosen People?" by MJL points out, is a sensitive and contested topic for many.

We discussed what this idea of "Choseness" meant to the students, and what it even means in general. Like all topics in Judaism, there are many interpretations. But the one we focused on in class is the idea that it does not mean that Jews were chosen by G-d because we were superior (in fact G-d asked the Hebrews last), but instead it means that we chose to follow G-d and the Torah, that being chosen does not give us inherent privilege, but instead it means that we are privileged to make choices ever day. Hopefully we make these choices according to the Torah and Mitzvot, but even if we do not, the choice is still ours. There is an old Jewish saying that sums this up a bit nicer: "everything is anticipated or possible, and the possibility shall be offered."

Happy New Year everyone!


10th-12th Grades                                             December 19, 2018

Hi everyone!

The holiday season is a great time for stories. While most of the stories that are told around this time are of old Saint Nick and the magic of Christmas, I decided to break out my book of Jewish Wisdom once more. This week we looked at three stories about very learned Jewish figures, and their responses to difficult life situations. Like many fables, these stories all held important messages about what it means to be a Jew, and they also offered insight into what it meant to be a Jew historically. We spent time analyzing these stories for the lessons we could learn from them, and it was great to hear the interpretations! Next year we have some really exciting lessons where we get to start connecting Judaism to the rest of the world and to nature, and get to examine our connection to G-d in a deeper way. 

I hope everyone has a nice restful break and comes ready to learn more! Happy New Year!


10th-12th Grade Blog                                         December 12, 2018

This week we looked at one of the more active parts of being Jewish, Israeli folk dance! Dancing is such an important part of our Jewish Life cycle, and in many ways we have our own unique folk dances. Listening to traditional and modern Jewish music we learned some dance moves and put together a little routine. We also watched a video showcasing the beauty of Israeli folk dancing at the "Hear Oh Israel! Festival" in Ukraine. I've attached the link. It's worth the watch! H


10th-12th Grades                                                        November 28, 2018

Happy Hanukkah Everyone!

This week we looked at tradition and progress. We started the class off by watching the opening scene from Fiddler on the Roof, where Tevye talks about how tradition governs Anatefkah. We then talked about traditions we have as Jews, and which traditions the students saw as important to them. After getting a grounding in tradition we examined an interesting article by Tzvi Freeman titled "Tradition or Progress?" The article argued that progress must have some founding in tradition, or must grow based off of a tradition. Freeman argues that if it does not, it is progress for progress's sake, and not as effective, and in some cases useless. The students compared this idea with the plot of Fiddler on the Roof and discussed if they thought that this idea had merit. It was a great discussion! You can read the article here

See everyone Wednesday!

10th-12th Grade Blog                                              November 14, 2018

Hi everyone! This week we finished up our heritage unit by looking at some of of the less remembered aspects of Jewish Heritage. Many of us know Aesop's fables and the Grimm Brothers, but fewer of us know our own Jewish stories of the same moral and magical bend. This week we looked at two such stories, one from Eastern Europe and another from Morocco. We then examined why these stories were important, and what lessons our ancestors wished to pass down to us through story. The book also displayed more examples of vibrant Jewish art, both Ashkenazik and Sephardic, continuing last week's theme.

We also looked at Jewish Meditation. In class we did two meditative practices specific to Judaism, and Jewish meditation. Many people associate meditation primarily with Buddhism and Hinduism, but Judaism has a long-standing tradition of meditation. Because of the Diaspora many people forget that Judaism started as an eastern religion that migrated west. Like most eastern religions it developed deep meditation practices. In fact, meditation was considered an integral part of practicing Judaism until the Enlightenment. Here Jews started to move away from Meditation, but there are still many examples of how to practice in the Talmud and Torah, as well as the Zohar. There is even evidence that Jewish meditation influenced Hinduism. In many Ashrams the practitioners there say that they received Andule Mudra "hands in prayer position" from Abraham. It's a wonderful part of our heritage I'm glad I got to share. 

Another part of Jewish heritage is gratitude. So in that light, in lieu of class please think of what you are grateful for and share it with your family on Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving,


10th-12th Grade Blog                                                   November 7, 2018

This week we continued to look at Jewish Heritage to strengthen student's understanding of who we are as Jews, and where we come from. Before Halloween we looked at our Ashkenazi heritage by learning some Yiddish, how to say hello and how are you. This week we started to look at Sephardic culture, and their heritage of art. We examined the art in synagogues and siddurim, and attempted to make some of our own. Next week is our last week for heritage, and we'll delve into some of our Jewish heritage that was largely erased over the past two centuries, but that many Jews are seeking to bring back.

Shavua Tov!


10th-12th Grade Blog                                                      October 10, 2018

Hi Everyone! 

This week we looked at the physical aspect of Jewish Identity by looking at the book Jewish Bodies by Melvin Konner. We talked about how some of the perceptions of what a Jew looks like have changed throughout history, and what we would like that identity to look like going forward.


10th-12th Grade Blog                                                 October 3, 2018

Dear Parents,

We had an exciting Wednesday this week! The students each shared a quote that they felt described how they connected to Judaism, and each chose a quotation unique to them. This served as a jumping board for our first discussion about Jewish identity. The conversation focused around the students, and aspects of Judaism that they identified with. All of the students identified with Judaism's encouragement of questioning Judaism and the Torah. This is something that in many ways is unique to Judaism. 

We continued the discussion by examining the aspects of Judaism that the students did not feel they identified with. This included the sexism in the Torah, animal sacrifices, and to one the obscurity of some of the symbolism in the traditions. I encouraged the students to examine why these areas made them feel uncomfortable, and to look into why they might, or might not have value.

We will continue with the theme of identity this week. They are all wonderful, and I can't wait for our next discussion!


10th-12th Grade Blog                                          September 26, 2018

Hello parents!

I was very excited to get to meet your wonderful high schoolers last Wednesday. We got off to a great start by doing a brief overview of the five themes we are going to cover throughout the year. These are "Identity," "Heritage," "Humanity and Ethnicity," "Tikkun Olam," and "Covenant, Choseness, and Faith." These themes come from the book I am Jewish. The contains short essays from Jews around the world in reaction to the murder of Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002. Each of the students did a match up game where they matched the theme to what they believed to be the definition, and we had a discussion afterwards. We also discussed the events around the Daniel Pearl murder, and read parts of the preface from I am Jewish. During the discussion we talked about which parts resonated with them and why.

For this next class we are going to start talking about "Identity." This will help the students understand where they see themselves in the world as Jews (and in general). I have asked each of them to find a quote either about being Jewish, or by a famous Jew, that they identify with. Since, parents, you will all be in class with us this coming week, I ask that you please also find a quote to share with everyone. Talking about your identity as a Jew with your young adults will help them to better be able to understand their identity as Jews as well.

I am looking forward to meeting all of you on Wednesday. Shana Tova!

Wed, January 16 2019 10 Sh'vat 5779