Prozdor Updates 2018-2019 (5779)

Prozdor (8th Grade)

Prozdor Update followed by their weekly schedules:

We have spent the year with a focus on 3 different components coming through in different ways. The first is that we discussed beyond basic surface level when it came to the holidays and the stories from the Bible that they have been learning about throughout their time at SJS. The second was we went through the founding of the modern state of Israel, including why it was important, what challenges were faced at every step of the way throughout history and even once it happened what challenges continued to face the country. The third was discussing how current events were affecting them in a year where things such as anti semitism were on the rise in the news.

-Written 5-17-19 by Morah Aviva Tilles,

Our Yom HaShoah program focused on the theme of indifference to the suffering and persecution of others. In doing so, it highlighted the response of the American government and many Americans to the plight of Jewish refugees from Nazi antisemitism seeking entrance into this country during the 1930’s. The response was characterized largely by xenophobia, nativism and Judeophobia. The American refusal to admit greater numbers of Jewish refugees was highlighted by the screening of the film, “The Double Crossing: The Story of the St. Louis.” The 80th anniversary of this doomed voyage of some 900 Jewish refugees, turned away by the United States, Canada and Cuba, symbolized the indifferent response of the world to Jews attempting to flee the Third Reich. The lesson that Elie Wiesel took from the world’s apathy in the face of the genocide of European Jewry was that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. Another lesson is the need for a Jewish state, the state of Israel, that can serve as a Jewish refuge and haven.

-Written 5-6-19 by Dr. Elliot Lefkovitz

Please click here to read class updates from previous weeks.

We did an A to Z review of Passover with everything from the very basic of what Matzah is and what it means to the holiday to how xenophobia plays a role not only in the story but also in the lessons that we should take away from the holiday in 2019. I encourage you to ask your child about how they can relate to the holiday where they are in their life today.

-Written 4-17-19 by Morah Aviva Tilles,

We began our discussions on Purim with a quick check in to see what everyone thought they know about the story. From there we turned to the text of the Book of Esther and began reading the text so that we have a clearer understanding of what the story is all about and where some of the customs/mitzvot surrounding the holiday come from. We got through the first 3 chapters of the book and will continue to review over the next two weeks. I encourage you to ask the students about what parallels we discussed between why Haman made the decision he didn’t like the Jews and what they have learned about things that led to the Holocaust.

-Written 2-25-19 by Morah Aviva Tilles,

As we have moved into the discussions of the founding of Israel we discussed as a class the differences between Israel being called a “Jewish State” or a “State for the Jews” and how that can affect the governing of the country. As we discussed governing of the country we reviewed what it meant for Israel to be a country who is ruled by a parliamentary system and how that compares to the way the United States government functions. I encourage you to ask your child what ways we discussed were needed to create a majority coalition with different parties needing to come together.

-Written 2-3-19 by Morah Aviva Tilles,

We discussed the history of what happened to Jews after the Holocaust and how there was this feeling that there still was nowhere for them to go and why it was even harder when there were agreements made for what a Jewish state could be. After discussing the issues that faced the Jewish people we talked about the UN and how they became an important part in the founding of the State of Israel. As we discussed what it meant for the Zionist leaders in Palestine made the decision to found the state of Israel on May 14, 1948 and how it led to the first official war for the country. I would encourage you to ask the students about what they learned about the UN and also about how what happened to the Jews after the Holocaust has shades of what we are seeing in the world today for immigration for those people who don’t feel safe where they are.

-Written 1-21-19 by Morah Aviva Tilles,

As we move closer on our timeline to true founding of the modern State of Israel, we discussed what we need to have in place in order to form a country. The class discussed things such as government, culture, economy, people & resources. They were then asked to think about what look difference if they were being asked to form a religious country where they then added houses of worship and put more emphasis on culture. We discussed how these were the pieces considered by different types of Zionists as they began looking towards their goals of creating this new homeland for the Jews. We concluded with a discussion of what some of the communities in Palestine in the early 1900s looked like in terms of the beginning of Kibbutzim. I encourage you to share with your children if you have had an experience on a Kibbutz as the Prozdor students had questions about what a community like that would look like.

-Written 1-6-19 by Morah Aviva Tilles,

We continue our discussion of the timeline towards the founding of the modern State of Israel with focus on the time when the Temples were built & destroyed. As the story of Hannukah falls during that time frame as well we learned where that falls in the history of Ancient Israel and how it relates to the timeline we have been looking at. Additionally we discussed the difference between the Menorah referenced in the Torah and the Hannukiah that we use today to help celebrate the holiday. I encourage you to ask your children about these differences and about how Hannukah is part of the history of Israel.

-Written 12-4-18 by Morah Aviva Tilles,

Together as a group we discussed the tragedy in Pittsburgh over Shabbat. We discussed some immediate thoughts and there were 2 questions that seem to be sitting with the students that are somewhat interconnected to each other. The first question was “why us” which happens to be a question addressed in the book Tough Questions that we are using throughout the year so we read through some of what is given in the book which focused on the fact that due to things such as religion and financial roles played in the middle ages Jews have often been looked at as different and that people don’t always know how to handle different. The second question stemmed off of the fact that if people treated Jews this way because we were different why do we treat different people better. We discussed how in Judaism treating others the way we want to be treated is at the top of how we live our lives and therefore what we should continue to strive for. We concluded with the understanding that while we may be different we should focus on learning how to explain our differences in a positive way and continue to treat all people, not matter what makes them different with respect.

Additionally, as a class over the past few weeks we had been discussing where to allocate our raised tzedkah to. In light of what occurred and the feeling that we want to help people who are struggling our tzedakah funds this year will be allocated to HIAS (Hebrew Immigration Aid Society)

-Written 10-30-18 by Morah Aviva Tilles,

The Zayin and Prozdor students volunteered at the Ark this week. The students had an opportunity to sort the hundreds of items brought in by our congregants. Thank you to the parent volunteers and chaperones who helped make this field trip possible.

-Composed 10-14-18 by Morah Sandra Mieli Kamm,

We began with conversation concerning how we are going to approach Tzedakah this year if they would do it as examples for the younger students they work with before coming to class or if they wanted to have a say in where their money was going. The decision is that they want to continue to collect as a class and make the decision. They have been asked to think about where they would like to give their money and why.

We continued to review their knowledge of the history in the Torah from leaving Egypt to entering the land of Israel. We specifically spent time on the story that caused Moses to not be able to enter the land and on the story that led to Joshua becoming the leader after Moses in preparation for where we will begin to really focus our Tanach learning with the book of Joshua in the coming weeks. In addition, we discussed the question in our book concerning why God doesn’t speak to humans anymore like in the Torah. I encourage you to ask your children what their answers were as they were extremely insightful and they may still not be completely sure about how they feel about their answers and how that looks today in 2018.

-Written 10-7-18 by Morah Aviva Tilles,

Together we visited the Sukkah and reminded ourselves of the blessings and steps to shaking the Lulav and what the Etrog smelled like. When we returned to our classroom we discussed the concept of Hachnasat Orchim (Welcoming Guests) from why we may welcome guests into our synagogue communities to the first time we learned about it in the Torah with Abraham and Sarah. We concluded discussing the 14 people who are considered for visiting during the holiday of Sukkot. We didn’t get a chance to speak about who they would choose to invite into their Sukkahs but I would encourage you to have that conversation with them over the coming days.

-Written 9-26-18 by Morah Aviva Tilles,

“Tough Questions Jews Ask” – Along with being the name of the book by Rabbi Feinstein that much of our overarching curriculum will begin from, we discussed that as they move past the time of b’nai mitzvot why its important to make sure they keep asking the hard questions and that they will have the opportunity throughout the year to bring these questions up during our class. From there we did an initial review of what they remembered about the Torah timeline (from Creation to entering the land of Israel) and dove a little deeper into what is covered in the book of Bereshit along with discussing the question in our book “is are the stories in the bible true”. Your children’s answers were very thoughtful and I encourage you to ask them to share the responses they gave in class. Finally, we discussed about how with Yom Kippur approaching its sometimes hard to think about the greater idea of annually asking for forgiveness and thinking about the one thing this year that they can try to remove as a weight that is weighing them down. This is certainly something that during this time of year to have think about how even the small things can make a difference.

-Written 9-18-18 by Morah Aviva Tilles,

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