Dear Kitah Zayin (7th grade) 1 Parents,
I am delighted to have your child as part of my Kitah Zayin (7th grade) class this year.
This is an exciting and busy year for these kids and I so appreciate your commitment, as well as theirs, in choosing to attend my Monday night class.
The curriculum for this class is most relevant for the year that a student becomes a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. We will be studying 13 mitzvot this year. Some of them are: visiting the sick, tzedakah, honoring parents, studying, and pursuing peace.
Additionally, we will be performing the mitzvot of respecting the elderly and visiting the sick when we visit Sholom Home on 7 occasions this year. Our visits are tied in with the Jewish calendar and our upcoming holidays. During each visit, students will have an opportunity to engage with the residents and participate in a variety of holiday related activities with them.
It has been wonderful for me, in previous years, to be able to observe the connections that our kids form with the residents. I know that they will be looking forward to each of these visits.
The other focus of our curriculum is American Jewish History and the Jewish immigrant experience. I have found that 7th graders have a lot of knowledge about American History. Now they will be able to see where we, American Jews, fit into the larger whole. We will begin our study with the arrival of the first Jews in America and make our way to the immigrations of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
I also plan to work on a unit of study with them entitled, “Why Pray?” This is also a fitting topic for them, especially during the Bar/Bat Mitzvah year.
I look forward to partnering with you, the parents, this year.
Dear Kitah Zayin (7th grade) 2 Parents,
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Rabbi Jeffrey Schein. I am the proverbial “new kid on the block” as a new member of the Talmud Torah staff. I am pleased to be partnering with a distinguished veteran of Talmud Torah, Mary Baumgarten, for some of the teaching we will be doing with your 7th graders.
Here are four quick things I’d like you to know about myself as a Wednesday evening teacher of your children:
I will be known to my students as Rabbi Jeff
I love working with 12 and 13 year olds. I tend to thrive on their craziness (i.e. they always keep me in stitches)
I believe learning about Judaism should always be a dynamic, celebratory journey
I am a great believer in the “science of complexity”. Understanding Jewish values requires just the kind of critical inquiry and dialogue your 7th grader is wired to do
In a more curricular vein, our Wednesday evenings together will be spent in three blocks of time. In the largest of them, we will explore “hot topics” from a Jewish perspective that the class has chosen. A second block of time will be devoted to moving through (at a 7th grade level) the material in my new book Text Me: Ancient Jewish Wisdom Meets Contemporary Technology.
Finally, your student will team up with several other 7th graders to explore in greater depth one of their issues to be presented at the end of the year at a family event where Great Jewish Debates are harvested and the gleanings shared with parents, grandparents, and anyone else you might choose to bring.
Shanah Tovah Um’tukah,
Rabbi Jeffrey Schein