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7th-Grade (Kitah Zayin) Class Update

Updated: May 4, 2020

Zayin 1

Dear Zayin 1 (7th-grade) Parents,

I hope that this communication finds you all well. Although I would love to see my students in person, I have enjoyed seeing them in our Zoom classroom. I thank you for facilitating that...attendance has been great!

In the past weeks, we spent time preparing for Pesach focusing on Pesach in light of COVID-19.

The Pesach story served as a wonderful inspiration for all of us. We read a story about “Passover in a Concentration Camp” which was a perfect transition to Yom Hashoah. One of our discussions focused on whether this time of COVID-19 can be compared to the Holocaust, as some are now doing.

In American Jewish History, we are learning about the move West during the California Gold Rush. This is the time period where Levi Strauss started Levi’s jeans as a response to the needs of miners who needed riveted pockets (otherwise, their pockets would have torn from the heavy weight of their tools). We saw that necessity is indeed the mother of invention! In our study of American Jewish History, we see how Jewish immigrants adapted to every situation. Who would have thought that there were Jewish cowboys? Who would have imagined a gunfight between a rabbi and the president of his synagogue? This really happened!

I look forward to continuing working with your children via Zoom for the last weeks of our school year.

Stay safe and healthy.


Zayin 1 and 2

Dear Zayin 1 and 2 (7th-grade) Parents,

We hope this communication finds you all well. It has been wonderful meeting with our students through ZOOM, since meeting in person has not been a possibility. Here is a recap of what we have been learning:

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We spoke about the many ethical dilemmas which have arisen during the COVID-19 crisis. Our emphasis was on the fact that Jewish law and tradition teaches us that every human life has value and no one life is more important than another. That said, sometimes difficult decisions need to be made where the medical and scientific criteria need to merge with Jewish law.

We commemorated Yom Hashoah and read about how survivors feel about comparisons between the Shoah and COVID-19. In preparation for Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day), we watched several videos: one was about Israel being the best place to be during COVID-19, and the other about Israel being at the forefront of ingenuity and science. Both of these fill us with pride at the accomplishments of our young homeland.

Thank you for facilitating your children’s participation in our classes.

Stay safe and healthy.

Mary and Rabbi Jeff

Zayin 2

Kitah Zayin 2 has begun the grand journey from freedom to responsibility and commandment, from Pesach to Shavuot.  We are trying to pay careful attention to ideas, language, and values. We listened to a short YouTube video from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on the differences between "chofesh" and "cherut" as indicating two distinct types of freedom--one suggesting individual freedom, while the other collective freedom. We also tried to understand that our American experience embodies a nuanced language about freedom. We are examining Franklin Delanor Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" as embodied in Norman Rockwell's famous paintings.

Where is this heading?  As Shavuot approaches, each student will develop their own "10 Commandments" about the digital life that unfolds for each of them. What does it mean to be GJDGC (Good Jewish Digital Global Citizen)?

Our Wednesday students who study with us from 8:00-8:45 PM are each working on making a unique contribution to "East Side Story," a parody and riff on the song "America" from the musical "West Side Story."  Through art, cartoons, journal writing, and collage, each student will capture some of the same mixed story of blessing and challenge for the new Jewish Americans, different but not-so-different from the experience of the Puerto Rican community in America.


Rabbi Jeff

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