A lively and provocative discussion-based analysis of current events and significant topics of concern to us as Jewish high school students living in an ever-evolving national and international political, cultural and social scene. While experience has demonstrated that it is next to impossible to predict exactly what events and situations will arise in the United States, Israel and the world in the next few months that will merit our attention and review, a few topics are likely as we approach the Fall 2015 semester. For instance, we will be discussing the 2016 US Presidential campaign, its implications for Israel, the continuing conflicts in the Middle East including the status of the Israeli-Palestinian “relationship” and battle against violent Islamic fundamentalism, and the tricky balance for us as Jews negotiating between religious/social freedom and the acceptance of diversity (such as the controversy over the Confederate Battle flag) in our society.
A seminar reserved for Mifgash juniors and seniors who wish to explore, discuss and debate some of the most serious, complicated and controversial issues facing Jews both here in the United States and in Israel. This class will select one or two topics each week, including subjects suggested by the students (and parents!), and consider the background and history of the issue, its ramifications and how to approach resolution. Current discussion topics under consideration include: The Relationship between the Jewish and African American Communities; The Response to the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement; Israel and the United Nations; Do Jews Have a Future in Europe?; Israel and ISIS; The Connection between Israel and American Jews - Frayed or Enduring? Suggestions are appreciated; the willingness to participate and share perspectives is mandatory!
Being "Jewish And" - Jewish and Other Identities
Sandy Johnston and Gabriella Spitzer
As young Jews in America in 2015, we all hold identities beyond the Jewish community. Perhaps we are artists or athletes, or we are feminists or environmentalists or queer/LGBT; maybe we are Jews of color; maybe we have disabilities. All of these things--and many others--impact and form our identities. How does being Jewish impact our other identities? How does being ______ impact our Judaism? Are there any tensions? Where can we bring lessons from our other identities and communities into the Jewish community? Where can we bring Jewish values into other places? Who are our role models for having these overlapping and intersecting identities? In this course, we will look at several different identities and begin examining these questions, using role models and texts as a jumping off point into our own personal experiences.
Sandy Johnston and Gabriella Spitzer
Last spring, we started the Book of Mishnah Pirkei Avot (Sayings of the Fathers), a book of sayings, quotes, and proverbs attributed to early rabbis, compiled around year 200 AD. This course will continue in Pirkei Avot where the spring class let off. We will continue to use the text as a basis for discussion of issues of rabbinic authority, Jewish community, Jewish ethics and ways of living, as well as investigating the structure of the book as a whole and seeing what relevance, if any, it holds for our lives. We look forward to finishing the book and celebrating with a siyyum, the traditional celebration of finishing a book of study! Note: Students who were not part of the spring course are encouraged to join in, and Hebrew proficiency is not required.
Cooking from the Soul
A gastronomic experience that will not only fill your stomach, but also your soul! Learn to prepare (and eat!) delicious and nourishing foods related to all things Jewish - from holiday foods to traditional Israeli foods and many other culinary delights!
Picture Books & Judaism (PB&J)
Students will create their own Jewish children's picture book. Throughout the course of the semester professional authors will be invited in to share the process they used. By studying other's work, they will learn the structure and process of creating picture books with Jewish themes, including bible stories, holidays, morals and values, Israel, history and rituals.
Stand Up and Speak Up (Advocacy)
Stand Up and Speak Out will prepare the students to defend themselves and Israel against anti-Semitic and anti-Israel beliefs and behaviors. The course will also provide students with tools to combat bullying, the ability to have open communication and foster dialogue between the left and right wings of Judaism, etc.
Class of Many Colors (Art)
In this hands on art class, students will create beautiful Judaica. The elements to be used this semester include wood, paint, mosaics and more! Students will be able to express their individuality as the design their own Judaica using biblical or holiday themes.
Tikkun Olam (Community Service)
In this course, students will make repairing the world, Tikkun Olam, an integral part of their lives, as an expression of Jewish values. The students will give back to the Senior Community at the Massry Center every other week with an activity or program created and designed by the students (in the alternate weeks) for the residents. This class will include learning about the values of volunteerism and respecting the elderly through our Torah, the needs of the elderly, and how to foster relationships with the most valuable members of our society. Community Service hours will be acknowledged.
Hot Topics and "Great Debates"
A class that will broach sensitive issues with today's teens. Topics such as abortion, euthanasia, school violence, cloning, the death penalty, and sexuality will include a comprehensive overview of each topic, as well as intriguing scenarios highlighting how Jewish responses to these issues have changed over time. Text study passages, overviews of both traditional and modern Jewish views and attitudes, and listings of related virtues (middot) and commandments (mitzvot) for each topic promote discussion and understanding of Judaism's approach to grappling with some of today's most highly charged subjects.