Dear Zayin 1 (7th grade) Parents,
I hope that this communication finds you well. It is such a treat for me to be working with your student. They are curious and eager to learn. The atmosphere is relaxed and they are respectful of each other and of me. I would like to share with you what we have been learning.
We spoke about mitzvot in general , how they connect us to God and help improve us and the world. We also spoke about choices and what drives us to make the right choices. Prior to the election we focused on what Judaism says about voting. Jewish sources throughout the ages emphasized the importance of being counted and always seeking the welfare of our community.
Tzedakah was our next topic. Most people would translate this as “charity,” but it is much more. The word tzedakah comes from the Hebrew word “tzedek,” justice. Giving of ourselves, whether time or talent to make the world more just is what we are commanded to do. I asked the group what things they like to contribute time and/or money to. We reviewed Maimonides’ eight levels of tzedakah and discussed why he ranked them in such a way. Students were asked if they agreed with his ranking and some said they might rearrange the order somewhat.
American Jewish History
We continued our study of the first Jews in America. Some interesting things we did were to interview a Converso, a Jew who converted to Christianity. We also learned about the difference between the Jews and the Pilgrims. The class was divided into breakout rooms to list the names of synagogues in Minneapolis and St. Paul, including their meanings, as we learned about the earliest synagogues in the New World and what they were named. This unit would not have been complete without discussing what it felt like to be a minority, and what it feels like even now.
Our second chapter was about battling for rights and battle, they did. It took about 100 years for Jews to obtain basic rights, like the right to vote, citizenship, religious liberty, the right to own land, and many, many more rights. By 1776, Jews could settle anywhere and could hold any jobs.
Thank you for entrusting your children to us and for partnering with us. One of our most important values as Jews is gratitude, “hakarat hatov.” As we approach Thanksgiving, we are filled with gratitude for so many things, even during these tumultuous times. I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, albeit different, with your families.
Stay safe and healthy.
Shalom Kitah Zayin (7th grade) Families -
As we continue our Mah La’asot dilemma conversations in class, I am learning more about the students and their thoughtfulness. The students are continuing to build up their answers using the Jewish responses to situations that we are covering.
Ask your students “Mah La’asot, What should they do?”
We are continuing to cover a new dilemma each week for the students to listen to each other, debate what should be done according to Jewish ethical responses in the Shulchan Arukh, the Mishnah, and other sources. It would be great to ask your students to share a dilemma at Thanksgiving for your family to discuss and learn what the Jewish perspective on this dilemma might be!
I am looking forward to meeting up together at conferences, please sign up and if you can not make that night work, let’s find another time.
I am always on the lookout for on-topic guest speakers and events in the community that we can learn from as a class, so if you know of opportunities like these I invite you to please them with me.