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8th Grade Blog                                                       November 29, 2017

Tonight we started our first lesson on the Holocaust. The students participated in an activity called “Loss of Identity” where they filled in parts of their identity including things like name, hair color, gender, family members, friends, favorite activities, most special possessions and more. In the simulation, everything that was a part of their identity was slowly stripped away from the students, much like what happened during the Holocaust. We discussed how this simulation made them feel and what some of the harder or easier things to give up were. We then viewed the 15-minute video of Eva Kor (video link in previous blog) and we discussed our reactions to the video and whether we could have forgiven the Nazi doctor as she had. This was a very eye-opening video and discussion for everyone. We also talked a bit about Neo-Nazis and anti-Semitism that still exist today.



8th Grade Blog                                                         November 8, 2017

We were so lucky to have the Anti-Defamation League come to Kol Haverim and do a program with the upper school. I think the students as well as myself were very moved by what was discussed. For those of you who were unable to make it to the event, we talked about experiences of anti-Semitism and how we as Jews can use strategies to combat and respond to anti-Semitic comments. Along with the two men who work for the ADL, there were three teens who shared experiences that were definitely difficult to listen to. The teens, although they each had different stories, were able to share what they took away from the experience and how they have learned to move forward. The program was well worth our time and I know the parents who joined us had a worthwhile time as well!


8th Grade Blog                                                       November 15, 2017

We had our Jewish Family Education program tonight! The program began with some history about Germany in order to establish stronger background knowledge in order to participate in the debate. The parents and students were split into two groups and asked to contemplate the question: Should we forgive the German people for what they did, not only to the Jewish people, but to the world? The groups were given a few minutes to gather their own thoughts on paper and then they were asked to meet with their group and compile a list of points that they would be using to debate with. It was awesome to see how many people were willing to open up their minds and accept different perspectives. The discussion went very well overall and both groups had extremely interesting points to make. I was very impressed by the students who were so willing to represent the group by defending their side. The debate ended with a whole-group debrief with the following discussion questions: Did anyone find it difficult to argue their assigned stance because they disagreed with it? After hearing both sides of the arguments, did your initial opinion change?

Although we ran out of time and did not show the video we had planned on (click here for the link), I would really recommend taking the time to watch this video on your own or with your child. The video is about 15 minutes long and is about a Holocaust survivor who has forgiven what happened to her. It is a very moving video. Thanks again to those of you who joined us for the Jewish Family Education program!


8th Grade Blog                                             October 25, 2017

This week’s lesson focused on seeing things differently. After we spent time making homemade hummus and munching on it with some pita chips, we read a poem that means something completely different when it’s read forward than when it’s read backwards. The students discussed how important it is to look at things from different perspectives and to pay attention to order, meaning, and context. We then worked on a challenge where we had to add punctuation and capitalization in order to make a love letter have a completely different meaning. We finished by looking at optical illusions and trying to see them in different ways. We realized the importance of trying to look at things in ways that other people do in order to really understand other perspectives.


8th Grade Blog                                                    October 18, 2017

This week’s lesson was all about honoring and respecting your mother and father, something the Torah commands. We began by playing a game called “Back Talk” where the class was split into two groups and had to race to match the red cards (what parent is asking) to two black cards (one negative response by a child and one positive response by a child). We then talked about why we are thankful for our parents (myself included) and some of us even called/FaceTimed our parents to thank them during class! We filled out IOU coupons to give to our parents as well.

The last activity that we did got a lot of laughs from the class. I created fake “JDate” profiles and printed them out. The students were tasked to fill out their “profile” as their mother or father would do. Some students were really able to capture how their parents describe and think of them!


8th Grade Blog                                                     September 27, 2017

Last class we focused on stereotypes in general, while this week we went more in depth into Jewish stereotypes specifically. We started by brainstorming common or know stereotypes of Americans, African Americans, and Muslims based on appearance, food, etc. We then transitioned into talking about important definitions including: anti-Semitism, discrimination, propaganda, stereotypes, and Holocaust denial. I had the students quick draw, with the instructions “draw someone Jewish using as much detail as possible.”


Each student shared their drawing and why they chose to include specific aspects. We scored the drawings where each drawing started at 24 points and 2 points were deducted if certain things were included in the drawing - like a tall hat, curls, glasses, big nose, old, money involved, etc. The students with the lowest scores would likely end up with a more stereotypical drawing. This was not meant to reinforce stereotypes but rather to become aware of assumptions that we make about ourselves as well as others. We talked about the human tendency to make these assumptions and perhaps being more open-minded and mindful in the future to avoid supporting these and other stereotypes. We concluded with discussion of other more encompassing Jewish stereotypes like Jewish American Princesses (JAP), nice Jewish boys (NJB), and Jewish mothers. The students were quick to share examples of places they have seen these stereotypes, whether in the real world or in a cartoon.


8th Grade Blog                                                September 13, 2017

Today in class, we did a lesson on stereotypes and had very meaningful discussion. We started by discussing what the word "stereotype" meant. The students then did an activity where they had to choose who they'd want to spend the day with. The choices, for example, were choosing between a millionaire football player or a fundraiser for a United Nations children's charity. It turns out that all of the options described the same person and showed how easy it is to make assumptions. I then put labels with adjectives on the students' foreheads and asked them to go around the room and have conversations with each other, keeping the adjective in mind.


What the students were doing was stereotyping that person. They had to guess what word was on their head and then we had meaningful discussion on stereotypes, how it feels to be stereotyped and ways we could attempt to avoid making assumptions about people. We ended with a few videos focusing on stereotypes and overall I think the students really enjoyed the lesson and took a lot from it!


8th Grade Blog                                                       September 6, 2017

I was so happy to meet all of the 8th graders tonight! They seem like a close group of friends who love to have fun and play games, and so I am hoping to capitalize on that in my lessons. I began class by telling the students a little about myself and then we went around the room so I could learn a bit about them. I designed a Jenga game where I wrote some Judaism-related as well as getting-to-know-you questions on the blocks, which they seemed to like. One of the students introduced a fun name game that had the whole class laughing. I asked the students what would help make this class something they would be more engaged/ interested in and a lot of them mentioned how they like games, music, videos, and food, so I will try my best to keep this in mind! I will see them all next week!


Thu, September 20 2018 11 Tishrei 5779