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8th Grade Blog                                                     January 2, 2019

Students started working from the book, The Jewish History Big Picture, and discussing Jewish emancipation. This book explains the process of Jewish emancipation and modernity which is linked to being Jewish in the United States today.

Rabbi Tuling

8th Grade Blog                                                   December 12, 2018

We read about the German Enlightenment and Jewish life, in both isolation and integration. We discussed which populations were adversely affected during this time period.

Lexi for Rabbi Tuling

8th Grade Blog                                        November 28 & December 5, 2018

Right now we're working our way through the book How to Disagree without Being Disagreeable, which has been a discussion of strategies of how to diffuse a hostile situation. Part of what we're planning to do is to move toward dealing with instances of antisemitism when we move into a discussion of the Holocaust. In the meantime, however, we're practicing strategies.

Last week we viewed a slide show related to the points in the book. This week, we will continue with that discussion, and also put some of the strategies into practice through a game. To help students be able to respond to a hostile comment right there and then without having to think about it, we'll be tossing a ball to put them on the spot, so they get used to responding immediately when they do get put on the spot.

The students respond when we deal with tachlis, how to make their lives easier. These techniques relate to Judaism in that we care a lot about how we talk to each other, and the ancient rabbis had a lot of rules about what constitutes appropriate speech, so that learning how to inhabit that culture, the students are also learning specific skills so that if they ever encounter hostility, they'll have ways at their disposal to make the situation less hostile and less stressful. That will be helpful as well when we talk bout antisemitism; they'll feel they have tools in their toolkit to respond.

Rabbi Tuling 

8th Grade Blog                                                           November 7, 2018

Tonight we opened with an opportunity for students to talk about the Tree of Life shooting and their feelings about it. Everyone had something to say; some of them were afraid to come to CKH for school. One question they had was, does this happen to churches or just to synagogues? The students were surprised to learn that hate crimes and gun violence happens to churches, too. They didn’t know that, or that it happens to black churches in particular. They also didn’t know why what happened at a synagogue got the attention it does. We talked about the impact of media coverage, and how we as Jews notice a synagogue shooting even more.



We then shifted gears to talk about tzedakah and the eight levels of tzedakah according to Maimonides. The students studied each of the eight levels, and were able to figure out the order - which was the highest, most important, etc. Mostly through their own reasoning, the students came close to getting the levels in the right order. We reviewed and discussed a list of 26 things we might do to make the world a better place. These 26 action steps could be helpful to anyone who feels upset about the Pittsburgh shooting or is generally feeling hopeless, offering a great way to respond. We considered the list to be a living document, so that if some of the items don't seem useful to them, they can feel free to revise it on their own. Our conclusion was to be a force for good, and look for ways to reduce hate in others.

Rabbi Tuling



8th Grade Blog                                                         October 17 & 24, 2018


Delicious hummus made from scratch by the 8th grade Cooking Elective!


And have you ever tasted such amazing shakshouka??? 



Our 8th graders are becoming quite the chefs!!! I love cooking with them, and clearly, they love being in the kitchen!


8th Grade Blog                                                                  October 10

Students played Apples to Apples Jewish edition (youth) to help the group learn how to interact with each other as a supportive and friendly community, even in a competitive situation. The game was a fun and successful warm up for the class. Next we did an activity to understand the impact of stereotypes. Students placed a stereotype characteristic on their forehead and had the opportunity to interact with each other based on the stereotypes randomly assigned to their peers. We ended class with a reflection worksheet and discussion.

Lexi Bardos, subbing for Rabbi Tuling

8th Grade Blog                                       September 26 & October 3, 2018

On Wednesday night, I was teaching the eighth grade class in our Upper School; we are discussing stereotypes. We had started (last week) on Jewish stereotypes, but almost immediately found ourselves discussing gender stereotypes.

The question came up in that conversation: aren't men better at being in charge than women? I laughed (I have been officiating at their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, so we have an easy give-and-take) and explained, "I need you to understand that I have always been this way. All my life I have been a bossy-boss-boss-boss. I was the kid in Kindergarten who organized how we would all play lava-monster tag. In middle school, I was the kid in your study group who explained how we would divide up the notes. Come to think of it, I was like that in graduate school as well. I have always wanted to be in charge, because I have good ideas and I know how to make decisions and I know how to run things smoothly. It's a big part of who I am."

I can say all of that to them, of course, but are they listening? Will they heed my words?

In that first discussion, the boys were a bit rowdy; they had not yet settled and the class had not yet found its own rhythm. As we ended the class, I told them: "the ability to engage in this kind of discussion rationally, without getting all riled up, is one of the skills of adulthood. So, in addition to the topic at hand, we’re learning a useful interpersonal skill. Thanks for your willingness to engage in this topic and to listen respectfully."

In our second class, it was parents' night so we had some of the parents present. This arrangement might make it sound like the class would be easier to run, but it's actually more challenging. Their presence usually changes the dynamic. But my concern about keeping the students focused was unfounded: as it turned out, they came armed with questions - and some internet research. They had heard me. And they wanted to know more.

This time around we were discussing commercials: we were looking at a compilation by the trade magazine Adweek, titled something like "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," about sexism in television and print ads (by the way: we are following the curriculum put in place by Mandy Renert, who wrote the original lesson plans, and Karen Trager, in case you were wondering how these things unfold).

Together, we looked at the ads on my computer. Our first "sexist" ad did not seem sexist to the group at all: it was a bunch of Vikings riding around in a massive pickup truck, towing their Viking ship. All but one of the Vikings were male.

"How is that sexist?" they asked, "- after all, guys like trucks!"

Okay. Let's keep going. Later in the discussion, we came to a different kind of ad: Axe body spray (a men's product) had created an ad with the message that "it's okay for men to be who they are without having to conform to societal expectations of masculine behavior." It featured a whole series of answers to the question: "is it okay for a dude to..." - each of the things that were listed in the ad were top searches on Google. For example, they showed a guy in a pink tracksuit, with a voiceover asking, "is it okay for a dude to wear pink?"

The feeling in the room shifted. It was an "aha" moment.

There's nothing wrong with guys liking trucks - but when that sort of masculinity is the only kind that is presented, it becomes stifling. Similarly, it's stifling if we insist that there's something wrong with bossy girls who want to be in charge. We each should have the freedom to express the highest and best version of ourselves.

Rabbi Dr. Kari Tuling

Wed, January 16 2019 10 Sh'vat 5779