The Classroom and Sanctuary as a Laboratory for Jewish Community
Seventh Graders need to feel a sense of inclusion and belonging and are better served if they themselves are part of the community-building process.
Our Grade 7 students are frequently present at Congregation B’nai Torah: they come for their weekly class, individual tutoring preparation for B’nai Mitzvah, and at Shabbat services as part of the B’nai Mitzvah class – comprised of seventh and eighth graders. Their curriculum is built around an in-depth study of Torah, including a deepened exposure to its narrative and legal sections and an introduction to the yearly Torah-cycle and the practical aspects of Torah reading/chanting in the sanctuary. Students move from being readers/chanters of Torah to interpreters of Torah as they focus on the meaning and message that they themselves derive from their cumulative knowledge. Students also build a sense of community through a detailed study of the Holocaust. Using the well-known pedagogical approach “Facing History and Ourselves,” our students learn about the Holocaust as a historical event, but also as a meta-lesson for being social activists and not bystanders in our own world.