5, 6, 7, 8... Jewish Studies Update!

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5th grade
Fifth graders have been busy lately during Jewish Studies! They are continuing to take Trope classes with “Prof” Risa every Monday, and on the remaining days they are moving on in the story of Joseph. The most recent activity we did with our Torah unit was to hold a trial to figure out who is guilty and who is innocent in the crimes committed against Joseph. Some students claimed all the brothers were guilty; others placed the blame on his father, Jacob, for favoring Joseph and then sending him to bring back a report of the brothers who hate him. One student accused G-d of being guilty because not only did G-d fail to stop the crimes, but G-d sent an angel to direct Joseph towards his brothers, sending him directly to danger. There was also the opinion of that Judah is guilty since it was his idea to sell Joseph in the first place. And finally, based on a VERY close reading of one of the pasukim (verses) someone claimed that the Midianites are the guilty party, as they are actually the ones who pulled Joseph from the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites while the brothers had a picnic. Coming up next will be the story of Joseph in Egypt!

We are also continuing our study of Ashrei and getting closer to mastering the prayer, as well as practicing Hallel on appropriate days. We are also learning a bit about Jewish immigration into America as a way to integrate with their General Studies unit. I look forward to beginning our study of Hanukkah together, as well as many other topics of learning!



6th grade
Sixth graders are running “full steam ahead” with their JCAT Studies, and several of them have been complimented for their mature and insightful posts on the JCAT Website. Students have looked at several exhibits (primary sources) from the time of the MS St Louis to learn more about the attitudes and practices of the time. They have considered immigration quotas and heard speeches, and many are doing a fabulous job of staying “in character” instead of answering how they personally feel.

Our next step will be to decide if the passengers aboard the MS St Louis should be memorialized, and if so, how? Students are working on committees to come to a conclusion about this. For VIP Day, the students are very excited to dress as their characters and present themselves to their VIP’s (more on this in an email to come)!!




7th grade
Seventh graders are immersed in the second section of Tanakh – Nevi’im, or Prophets. We have learned about Joshua and what happened to the Israelites as they first entered the land of Israel. We are now finishing up a unit on Shofetim, or Judges. Students are seeing what catastrophes could happen if people do not follow rules, and/or have no clear leader who will give them directions for how to live their lives. Each student chose a judge they connected to, and did a deep-dive into their story. They each found a way to creatively present their judge’s story to the class. Highlights included comics, videos, computer games, slideshows, interpretive dances, drawings and a murder mystery!

Next up, we’ll continue looking at leadership in Tanakh and study the stories of several models of leadership, including priests and kings. Students will consider what characteristics are necessary or desirable in a leader, and look at examples like Samuel, Saul, David and Solomon. They’ll also analyze themselves as leaders and figure out how to make the most of their leadership strengths.




8th grade
Eighth grade has been busy with a “dual curriculum” the past few months; on Monday and Wednesday, they have been learning about the Holocaust with Dana Baruch, and on Tuesday and Thursday they are continuing to learn about various models of leadership. During the Holocaust seminar, students have gone back in time to look at the origins of antisemitism. They have also learned specifics about how and why the Third Reich was able to rise to power and gain total control of the German government. We have learned about The Righteous Among The Nations and the impact of the Holocaust on children, as well as about partisans and other resistance groups who were committed to fighting Nazi ideology in one way or another. Students have a take-home exam (due in several weeks – they have time) to help them synthesize all the information they have acquired over the course of the seminar.

During our other Judaics classes, we have finished a unit on the various judges (Shoftim) who tried to guide Israelites on the right path, but ultimately fail. Students each chose a shofet (judge) to study in-depth and then taught the class the specifics about their judge. We explored the concept of lawlessness and the dangers of not having a clear leader, and students are now exploring the books of Samuel to continue the story of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. Stay tuned to learn about more leadership successes and failures!