ZAYIN 1 (Mon/Wed)
Dear Zayin 1 (7th-grade) Parents,
It is a pleasure for me to work with your children and I thank you for your commitment to their ongoing Jewish education.
I wish to provide you with an update of what we have been learning.
We began the year by discussing the role of mitzvot in our lives and our obligation, as Jews, to repair the world.
One of our most interesting discussions was about the choices we make in our lives, and how one choice can
impact our lives to a great degree, sometimes changing the entire course of our life.
We moved on to discuss the mitzvah tzedakah. The root word of tzedakah is justice. Tzedakah is not only giving money. It is our duty to ensure a just world, where each person’s basic needs are met.
Rambam’s Ladder of Tzedakah generated much discussion.
It was clear to my students that the highest level of tzedakah was indeed helping someone become self-sufficient.
American Jewish History
Our study of American Jewish History began with the arrival of 23 Jews to the New World in 1654.
One of my main goals was for my students to internalize what it might have felt like to be one of those Jews. Students participated in a number of hevruta (small group) activities
and presentations in that regard.
We are now learning about the rights for which these Jews fought . Hevruta work is part of this process as well. The groups rotate so that children get the opportunity to work and engage with everyone in the class.They will work on different topics and then make presentations to the class about: specific rights for which they fought, becoming a US citizen, then and now, and Jewish personalities during that period.
Thank you for the privilege of working with your children and for partnering with us.
We all have much for which to be grateful.Wishing you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyful and light filled Chanukah.
ZAYIN 2 (Monday only)
Dear Zayin 2 (7th-grade) Parents,
This month we’ve started our unit about God. As a class, we placed the discussion of God in the Faith circle of our Venn Diagram, of which the other circles are Peoplehood and Morality. Together, we looked at some historical basis and Biblically relevant passages about God. Then, we looked internally to start to answer the big question, “What is God?”
Students contemplated this question while looking at various depictions of God before choosing images that spoke most to them. Some chose the window/mirror because God is different for each individual, and one chose a picture of a hand coming out of the sky because the God in the Torah was known for intervening. Another stood by the image of a family at dinner to show that God is the happiness between us, as well as someone explained why he was standing by an image taken by the Hubble telescope because science helps us see the natural beauty.
This past month, we’ve also discussed immigration (biblical, recent, and modern), the impact of climate change, and learned different certifications and branding added to foods and the people those labels impact. I work on keeping the Renweb portal Lesson plan topics up to date and I always appreciate when parents let me know their student will be missing class. I’m happy to provide some parts of the lesson for your student to do at home if there is time (but also not required - middle schoolers schedules are busy).
As you know, we have a planned trip to New York City set for April 24 - April 26. Due to the fluctuating state of the pandemic, we appreciate your patience as we work with our COVID-19 team to determine the safest way to implement this trip, if it is still possible to do so. We’ll communicate information with the Zayin parents when we have updates. For now, we’ll continue to move forward with the plan hoping that the trip will be able to happen. This trip to New York will include some museum tours, more casual guided tours, and free time to explore certain areas. Participation in this trip will be contingent on behavior in class and attendance. The previous years I’ve run this, it has been a joyful, educational, exhausting, and fun time for everyone involved. I hope to have a similar experience this Spring, if the pandemic allows.
We appreciate students bringing their curiosity and thoughtfulness to the classroom. As we continue throughout the year, we hope each student grows more confident sharing their ideas and opinions in a respectful manner.
Avi Baron (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Madricha: Leah Spencer
Zoom teacher: Elana Warren