Reconnecting: 8th-12th Grade Am Yisrael SJS Community

You are not obliged to finish the task, neither are you free to neglect it.

If you have studied much Torah, your reward will be abundant.

Your employer can be relied upon to reward you for your labors.

Know, however, that the reward of the righteous is in the future time.

– Rabbi Tarfon – Pirke Avot 2:21


Madrichim (and Parents of Madrichim),

As we do during uncertain times, we looked towards Jewish teachings to help guide us towards helpful ways of looking at what we can do to get through it.

As the famous saying above indicates, we know that there is a possibility that we may not be able to finish the tasks you aimed to when you began your year as a madrich/madricha but we also aren’t neglecting it even if we can’t come together as a community in person like we normally would.  Am Yisrael is not just a place of learning for you but an “employer” as well we do want you to know that when looking ahead all components of being madrichim are being considered.

Above all, you should know that we are all here to support you in as many ways as we can, whether that be as a sounding board for what is happening around you, an opportunity to do some additional learning (whether one-on-one or in a group) as you are looking for ways to fill your time at home, or just being the teachers that work with you as would on a normal Sunday morning or Wednesday afternoon.

In terms of being Madrichim, as support to the SJS community, if you have thoughts on how you can do this without physically being in the building, or with a student, we encourage you to reach out to us with ideas and we are happy to work with you to see if we can make them happen.

For Project Based Learning (PBL)- like the rest of the SJS community we are moving your learning to an online format. However, unlike the rest of the community, just like we were in the building, we are approaching your e-learning Project Based Learning experience a little differently. We will be aiming to meet virtually:

1)  Sunday, March 22nd at 11:00 a.m.  – We will be having a short “class” session to review the pieces listed below. We encourage you to attend, as it will also just be a nice chance to “see” each other for the first time in a while. The Zoom Link is:

Join Zoom Meeting –

Meeting ID: 208 815 642     

2)  Being in contact with your current PBL groups – We know that these are newer groups for you.   It is possible that you may not have the contact information for everyone in it. If you need help remembering or getting anyone’s contact information, please let us know and we will make sure that it is shared in a secure manner with you.

3)  Google Docs/Presentations for Each Group – As you know from your first set of project-based learning experiences, the best way to collaborate and prepare to present is to work on shared documents. If your group does not already have one for your current project, then we are asking you to create one and have it shared with us electronically by Sunday, April 5th. We know that you may not have been planning to do your presentation as a Google Presentation because it was going to be more hands-on or for other reasons but (a) there is a probability that we will need to do these presentations virtually and (b) your presentations can be a shared document where you show the work you are doing.

4)  Showing participation on the document – We are asking you to use Google Docs because we can see the work each individual is doing and we will be following along, as if we were in the classroom and seeing who was participating, adding to the conversations, doing their part for presentations, etc. We are asking that you take the amount of time you would have on a Sunday morning during “class” time and spend on your project over the course of the week. We would love for that to be as a group and we are happy to help facilitate.  If that’s not going to be possible, we are still asking for you to do your part.

5)  Office Hours – Morah Aviva & Mr. Arnet will be offering up to 3 office hours a week; mainly on Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons during what would normally be SJS time.  We may be able to offer other times during the week as well. They will be available to answer questions you come across for your presentation, be there to recommend new sources or places to look to help take next steps and of course to review the work you are doing.

6)  How do we present and learn from each other’s projects?  While we are of course hoping that we will be able to be together physically as a community by the end of the year, we want to be realistic and also take this as a general opportunity to think outside the classroom experiences you all did in your first projects. Therefore, we would like you as a group to think and plan to either (a) teach the grade you had planned to via Zoom (we will send specific Zoom links for these presentations to all parents of the students of the younger children) or (b) Is there some other way to present about your topic to the greater Am Yisrael community like a video or general PowerPoint on a topic, etc. that isn’t in person.

7)  Completion of 5780 PBL Projects by Sunday, May 12th – All projects need to be completed by this date whether we are physically together or not. As we get closer to May 12, we will, we will be in touch about what these presentations will look like on that day.

8)  Why Does It Matter? – While we know that the learning component may not be the most glamourous part of being a madrich/madricha, it is an important component of our SJS community and of the madrichim experience on the whole. Therefore, for those who are in 11th grade or younger, your participation in this continued project-based learning may directly affect your madrichim work experience for the 2020–2021 (5781) SJS year.

As we stated at the beginning of this email, and will continue to reiterate, we want to be a support to you virtually, even if we cannot physically.  We know that we may not complete the year in the way we had planned, but we are not neglecting it, we are not neglecting you and we will continue to make sure to be in touch.  Please read Nancy Holab Nevins’ emails related to synagogue programming on the whole and Mr. Sherman’s SJS e-Programming emails — as we want to make sure you know that you are welcome and encouraged to attend various programs at Am Yisrael.  

Stay healthy and safe,

Morah Aviva ( & Mr. Arnet (


Charlie Sherman, MAEd, CJE

Head of School

Am Yisrael Conservative Congregation

4 Happ Road

Northfield, IL 60093

Phone: 847/446.7215 ext. 12

Cell phone: 847/708.1805

Fax: 847/446.7202

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s