June 14

Grades 6-8: Why Not Incorporate Judaism Into Your Summer Reading Plans?

Are you unsure of your summer plans due to COVID-19?

Did your sibling change the password to your Netflix account?

Are your parents nagging you to pick up a book?

Never fear…summer reading is here!

Reading Dog - Meme on Imgur

Click the link below to check out a bunch of fantastic books that have a Jewish connection:

Jewish Novel Recommendations

June 11

Grades 6-8: Middle School Current Event Discussion Panel

As we continue our conversations on racial injustice and our responsibilities to aid change, our middle school students (and many parents) participated in a panel discussion on race and racism in Canada and the US.
Briellen Griffin, an American scholar on race and education, introduced our students to the concepts of systemic racism and the concepts of White Privilege. She also shared a bit of the privilege she receives as a black woman who can “pass” as white.
Kayne Alleyne-Adams, a former CJPAC fellow, discussed the history of racism and inequality in Canada, as well as his own experiences including seeing his mother falsely arrested three times, and being told that he could not wear his hair in a preferred style due to racist policies of his school.

Our middle school students were empowered to “pray with their legs” and speak out against injustices they encounter with Dr. Mitzmacher sharing the recent example of the young adult who, with the power of an email, was able to persuade the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to official update the definition of “racism”.

June 4

Grade 7: Pirkei Avot “Your Vision” Video Project

Today students will begin an exploratory project as we analyze and create our own interpretations of the final three chapters of Pirkei Avot. Over the last four months, we have spent time reading, analyzing, creating connections, and developing personal interpretations connected to different verses of Pirkei Avot. This final project incorporates all of those components along with a chance to show off your creative abilities and media literacy skills.

Assignment: Students are being tasked with diving deeper into one specific mishnah from the final three chapters of Pirkei Avot. Each student will create their own video that demonstrates their mastery of our interpretive skill sets. 

Important note: You are only choosing ONE mishnah to focus on for this entire project


Step 1: Read/skim through the Ch. 4, Ch. 5, Ch. 6 of Pirkei Avot

Step 2: Select one mishnah (verse) that interests you 

Step 3: Plan your video

  • Analyze the text and develop your interpretation
  • Write about how this lesson connects to your life
  • Think about how this lesson connects modern every-day life situations
  • Plan your skit
  • Find visuals that you can connect to your mishnah

Step 4: Film your video

Step 5: Submit to Mr. Washerstein by Friday, June 19th, 2020


Due Dates:

By June 9th- Choose mishnah and get it approved by Mr. Washerstein 

By June 12th- Check in with Mr. Washerstein and share your plan

By June 19th- Submit video to Mr. Washerstein



Click here to access: Pirkei Avot Your Vision Project Instructions/Rubric

Click here to access:Pirkei Avot Your Vision Graphic Organizer

April 21

Grades 6-8: Virtual Conversation with Holocaust Survivor Irene Zisblatt

Yesterday we watched a live stream of the Yom HaShoah ceremony that took place in Israel. Today the middle school students had a unique opportunity to chat with Holocaust survivor Irene Zisblatt via Google Meet. She shared her unimaginable story and distinctive perspective about hatred, faith, and the Holocaust. We are incredibly appreciative that Irene was able to take the time to spend a few hours with our students. I shared with the students that we are all truly lucky to be able to interact with a Holocaust survivor, as this opportunity will not be afforded to the next generation of individuals. We have the responsibility to never forget these atrocities and to retell their stories.


Click here to watch the our Google Meet conversation with Irene:



7 Ideas for Observing Yom HaShoah from Home | ReformJudaism.org

March 29

Grade 7: Pirkei Avot + Learning about the Haggadah= A Great Week of Jewish Studies

As Passover approaches, we will spend the week in Jewish Studies focusing on the modern meaning of the Haggadah. Students will be creating their own 2020 Virtual Haggadah. Students will work in groups to design their own Haggadah. You will have the opportunity to work on this assignment Dr. Marcovitz and Mr. Washerstein’s Jewish Studies classes. For those groups that finish early, there is an optional extended learning opportunity. Reminder the Pirkei Avot Playlist Assignment will still be due on Friday, April 3rd, 2020. 


Click here to find out more information about this assignment: Virtual Haggadah Assignment Details

Click here to learn more about each component of the Passover Seder: Stages of the Passover Seder

  • This document will be incredibly useful as students read, analyze, and develop their own virtual Haggadah.


Due Date: Your Virtual Haggadah must be submitted by the end of class on Friday, April 3rd. Please share your Haggadah with Dr. Marcovitz and Mr. Washerstein via Google Doc. 


Part 1- Creating a Virtual Haggadah (Required)

  • Students will dive into the various components of the Passover Seder and provide a new modern meaning.
  • Stages of the Seder Explanation (Click here to learn more about each part of the Passover Seder from Kadesh to Nirtzah)  


Part 2- Creating a Modern Passover Tune (extended learning opportunity)

  • Please note that this portion of the project is not required. Groups that finish early and would like an additional challenge can choose to rewrite one of the classic passover songs. 



Group 1: Maayan, Jenny, Noam, Ruben, Talia

Group 2: Yamaya, Abby, Brandon, Sarah K., Jordana

Group 3: Jacob, Jordan, Sarah N., Sasha


Check out this video to get into the musical spirit!

March 18

Grade 7: Pirkei Avot Playlist Assignment (Due: Friday 4/3)

Welcome to Jewish Studies online! Now that we have talked about and discussed the first chapter of Pirkei Avot, we will be moving on to learn about the second chapter. As we study these texts, it is important to think about personal connections that you can create. Additionally, I encourage you to take notes, look up unfamiliar terms, and experiment with decoding the Hebrew prior to jumping into the English.


Think about the following:

What lesson does this mishnah teach me?

What personal connection can I relate to this text?

How can I use this information to make me a better person?


On Friday, you will have time in your schedule dedicated to working on your Pirkei Avot Playlist Assignment. This assignment asks students to read and analyze the verses in the second chapter of Pirkei Avot. After you have read and analyzed the text, students are being asked to create a playlist of five songs. I have provided additional sources along with a link to the Illustrated Pirkei Avot (Cartoon) text in the links below.


Please click the links below to access the Google Docs for this assignment:

Pirkei Avot Playlist Instructions

Pirkei Avot Playlist Graphic Organizer

Pirkei Avot Playlist Rubric

Illustrated Pirkei Avot Ch. 2 (Cartoon Interpretation)


  • Create a playlist of 5 songs that are each related to a specific Pirkei Avot Chapter 2 verse


    1. You must choose 5 different verses; one for each song on your playlist. (there are 16 verses in Ch. 2)
    2. Decide how you will connect each verse to your song 
      1. Here are a few different ways you could create a connection:
          1. The lesson/meaning
          2. The way the song makes you feel 
          3. The lyrics themselves
      2. You do not have to create your connection to the entire verse…your song may only connect to one part of that verse (which is okay!)
    3. Write 5-10 sentences explaining the connection between your song and the verse you choose
      1. Use these questions to guide your writing:
        1. What does the verse mean? What is the verse about?
        2. What is the song I chose about?
        3. How does this song connect to the verse?
          1. Remember that the connection does not mean the words are the same 


Day 1
  1. Read the instructions. If you have any questions, write them down and email Mr. Wash
  2. Spend 30 minutes reading and interpreting Verses 1-5
    1. Jot down any ideas, lessons, meanings that you could connect to in your Pirkei Avot Playlist Doc next to each verse 
  3. Take a 15 minute break and listen to some of your favourite songs for inspiration
Day 2
  1. Spend 30 minutes reading and interpreting Verses 6-10
    1. Jot down any ideas, lessons, meanings that you could connect to in your Pirkei Avot Playlist Doc next to each verse 
  2. Take a 15 minute break and listen to some of your favourite songs for inspiration
  3. Begin writing your explanations as you match a song to a particular verse
Day 3
  1. Spend 30 minutes reading and interpreting Verses 11-16
    1. Jot down any ideas, lessons, meanings that you could connect to in your Pirkei Avot Playlist Doc next to each verse 
  2. Take a 15 minute break and listen to some of your favourite songs for inspiration
  3. Continue writing your explanations as you match a song to a particular verse
Day 4
  1. Spend 20 minutes reviewing your notes
  2. Focus your time and energy into creating your connections and developing your playlist


February 25

Grade 7: Pirkei Avot

This week the students have been diving into the first chapter of Pirkei Avot. We looked through the first five verses of chapter one together. We reviewed the benefits of annotating the text as we read. Additionally, students were encouraged to read and analyze both the Hebrew and English text. As we came across unfamiliar terms, students looked up words in an attempt to uncover their meaning and better understand each lesson. We discussed the value in developing our own interpretations of each text. Students are being asked to create connections between these texts and their own lives. Each student has received a source packet that contains the verses in both Hebrew and English. We have also been using the The Illustrated Pirkei Avot as an additional resource. Our sessions thus far have lead to fantastic questions and interpretations.


  • Each student will read Pirkei Avot Chapter 1 individually (Pg. 1-5)
      • As you are reading…feel free to look at the corresponding cartoon images to provide clarity 
  • Decide which two verses (lessons) you believe are most important 
  • Write two paragraphs explaining their importance and the lesson that you learned from contemplating these texts


Click here to access our classroom notes:

Pirkei Avot Google Slides

Pirkei Avot Ch. 1 (Hebrew and English)


February 24

Grade 7: Board Games with Edelweiss Academy

The Grade 7 class thoroughly enjoyed meeting their new friends from the Edelweiss Academy last month. We are looking forward to our next session this upcoming Wednesday. These sessions provide our students with an opportunity to put the Jewish values discussed in class into action!

Please bring in your favourite board game this Wednesday, February 26th, 2020.


Image result for board games

January 13

Grade 7: Interpersonal Mitzvot Video Project

Students are being tasked with diving deeper into one of the mitzvot we have studied in class. This is a fantastic opportunity to head down to the makerspace and use the green room for video recording.

Each group will create a video presentation that explains:

  1. The meaning/significance of the mitzvah (explain various interpretations)
    1. Where is it found within a Jewish context? (Torah? Mishnah?)
  2. How this mitzvah connects to your life/modern every-day life situations (applications)
  3. Your own interpretation on the value of this lesson (Why do you believe this is important?)

Remember that for each section, your group members may have different ideas. This is great! You can present more than one lesson/interpretation in these videos.


  • Research your mitzvah to uncover various interpretations and applications
  • Each person in your group must speak at least once
  • This video will also include a skit/visual representation of the lesson learned
  • Minimum of two minutes long (maximum eight minutes)


January 9

Grade 7: Mitzvah Projects Galore

This week our class began to prepare for our first lesson as apart of our TIPES Mitzvah Project. Next week our students will be meeting with a program coordinator from TIPES to learn more about the students we will be partnering with.

We watched and discussed a video that highlighted the strengths and challenges that many people face on the Autism Spectrum. The video did a great job providing students with tips and suggestions as they prepare to meet their new friends.



Lastly, we discussed the connection between this program and our Jewish values. How can you incorporate gemilut hasadim (acts of loving kindness) into your life?

Image result for the world rests on three things