January 8

Grades 6-8: Israeli Inventions with Shai

Today the middle school students learned about Israeli inventions with our shinshin Shai! They discussed the various narratives behind some of the most important Israeli inventions. The students learned about Waze, Pillcams, USB,  the Iron Dome, and Krembo Wings.

Students used this interactive website to record their responses  : https://www.mentimeter.com/features

Shai emphasized the idea that inventors and innovators are each unique in their own way. Each class participated in an activity that focused on utilizing their creativity and resourcefulness. Students were tasked with taking an everyday object and thinking about how they could repurpose those objects. Maybe the next greatest invention will be created in our very own OJCS Makerspace!

November 6

Grade 7: The Mitzvah Project Continues!

The Grade 7 Jewish Studies curriculum focuses on interpersonal mitzvot and the analysis of Jewish values. Last year, the Grade 7 class began a mitzvah project initiative. They  wanted to build a stronger relationship with students from TIPES (Thinking In Pictures Educational Services). The students recognized an opportunity to bridge a gap between two school communities that operated so closely together. The students invited members of the Edelweiss program within TIPES to join our class for incredible activities such as: a scavenger hunt, lego challenge, carnival, and team sports. This mutually beneficial program allowed the students to feel the effects of gemilut hasadim (acts of loving kindness) first hand.


This year’s Grade 7 class will be continuing the initiative with TIPES! Students are working in groups to design, plan, and organize their own respective activities for our friends at TIPES. Group members will work together to plan an activity (or series of activities) that lasts roughly 45 minutes.

  • Group 1- Sarah N., Brandon, Sasha
  • Group 2- Talia, Jordana, Jenny, Noam
  • Group 3- Jordan, Jacob, Maayan, Sarah K.
  • Group 4- Abby, Ruben, Yamaya

Each group has been asked to brainstorm and choose an activity to prototype. After they have come to a consensus, the group must submit the following:

    • Written instructions for peers/students
    • List of materials
      • Who/how are we getting the materials
    • Pictures/examples

Once this plan has been submitted to Mr. Washerstein, the group will move forward in creating their activity.

Additionally, the class has decided that they would like to volunteer at the Ottawa Food Bank. The students identified helping those who are in need within our local community as an important mitzvah.

Image result for gemilut hasadim

October 11

Grades 6-8: The Fun Has Just Begun With Our Shinshinim

Last week, the middle school students had the opportunity to participate in creative activities revolving around the chagim with our shinshinim. They used their directional skills to help guide their partner to the sweetness of Rosh Hashanah. The students also played a “headbands” activity that related to the customs and traditions of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. We can’t wait to see what other activities the shinshinim have in store for us!




October 11

Grades 6-8: Sukkot Decorations

I hope everyone had a meaningful and easy fast. With Sukkot right around the corner, we will spend some time in class today creating decorations for our OJCS sukkah.

We will be competing amongst the middle school grades today to come up with the most creative decoration along with the longest paper chain!

Although we might not have all of the materials used in the activities below, feel free to choose an idea and adapt it. Check out these links for inspiration:






September 25

Grade 7: Lashon Hara

Today students will be discussing, analyzing, and determining the significance of the concept of Lashon Hara. As we dive deeper into our discussion of interpersonal mitzvot, students will be asked to create connections between these lessons and their own lives. This lesson connects closely to one of our activities and discussions during the Middle School Retreat.

Students will also be practicing the following comprehension skills:

  • Previewing questions prior to reading
  • Highlighting key words/phrases
  • Looking up unfamiliar vocabulary terms
  • Taking notes/jotting down ideas while reading (annotation)
  • Answering questions in complete sentences (referencing the text)


September 5

Welcome Back OJCS Middle School!

I hope everyone had a fantastic summer! I am looking forward to teaching, challenging, and encouraging our middle school students this year in Jewish Studies. Yesterday we reviewed the Seven Habits, North Stars, behavior expectations, homework policy, and uniform policy. Our goal is for each student and parent to clearly understand these policies. There are a lot of exciting upcoming events in the middle school!

If you have not turned in the retreat and JCC permission slips, please do so ASAP!

Please bring in your shofar if you have one! The shofar patrol will be visiting various classes throughout the school. 

Please feel free to check out and review the presentation that we shared with the students yesterday. Additionally, you will find a link to my own classroom policies for the year.

Mr. Washerstein’s Classroom Policies


May 22

Grade 7: Jewnius Hour Project (Due: Monday 6/3)

This week students started working on their Jewnius Hour Project! The concept revolves around the fantastic idea of Genius Hour.

What is Jewnius Hour?

Jewnius Hour is an opportunity for students to explore their own passions and share their learning with the class. This project should involve research, creativity, and passion. The topic selection is completely up to you! The goal of this assignment is for you to choose an area of interest (that connects in some way to Judaism, Israel, Jewish values, etc.) and explore that topic. You will then create a presentation and an activity to share your findings with your peers. Please do not choose a subject that you are already an expert in! This project is designed to foster and support your own learning and growth regarding a topic of interest.


Due to the creative nature of this project, there are very few requirements that are set in stone.

  1. You must create a presentation (of some sort) and an interactive activity for your peers. The presentation should demonstrate what you learned throughout this process. Your peers should also leave your presentation learning something new!
  2. Time- Your presentation and activity (together) should last a minimum of 15 minutes. (The maximum time frame for one presentation/activity should be 45 minutes. Please see me if you are going to use an entire period)
  3. Review the rubric!