October 13

Grade 6: Brit Milah Analysis

Today we will be looking diving deeper into the covenant between G-d and Abraham as we discuss the brit milah. Students will be asked to read, highlight, annotate, and analyze verses from the Torah in order to comprehend the significance of the covenant.

We will read the text (Genesis 17: 1-27) together as a class and practice the following 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)

Click the link below to access the reading/questions:

Brit Milah Textual Analysis

October 5

Grades 6-8: Shake Your Lulav (Sukkot 2020)

This week our students will be participating in variety of Sukkot activities!

Today in Grade 6 we started to watch and analyze a video created by Rabbi David Fohrman about Sukkot. The video asks students to dive deeper and examine various elements of Sukkot.

Why We Celebrate Sukkot (Aleph Beta)

Our classes will also examine and discuss the sources that were provided by Kehillat Beth Israel. These resources provide food for thought along with a detailed explanation of “how to” shake the lulav and etrog.

Tomorrow Dr. Mitzmacher will be shaking the lulav and etrog with the Grade 8 and Grade 7 cohorts. Never fear, the Grade 6 cohort will be shaking the lulav and etrog on Wednesday.

Lulav & Etrog Purchase - Columbia Barnard Hillel : Columbia Barnard Hillel


Last but certainly not least, Morah Ruthie prepared an incredible Google Slides Presentation that contains exciting games and trivia related to Sukkot.


October 2

Grade 6: Mishpacha Project (Due: October 27th)

Your family history is important! Every family is filled with stories that you should learn about and record. In our Jewish Studies course, we are beginning the Jewish life cycle. We are currently discussing the process and traditions associated with naming a Jewish child. You are being tasked with conducting an interview of your parents/family members. The purpose of this activity is for you to explore your family history. As we begin our journey through the Jewish life cycle, students are being asked to engage their families in discussion.

Mishpacha Project Assignment/Rubric

Mishpacha Graphic Organizer

Due Dates

Part 1-Interview due October 14th (Check-in)

Part 2- Hebrew Name Research due October 20th (Check-in)

Part 3- Presentation due October 27th (Check-in)


Final presentations begin Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Final copies of videos, posters, presentations need to be shared with Mr. Washerstein by this date


Check out Mr. Washerstein’s example below:

September 21

Grade 6: Jewish Studies Life Cycle Presentation

This week we have begun to launch into our Jewish Life Cycle! Students will spend time brainstorming various events, moments, and holidays that could be incorporated into the Jewish Life Cycle.

The link below can be used to access the Google Slides Presentation that we will be using in class to take notes/participate in activities. Students should feel free to bookmark this page on their device. Please note that this document is a living tool, which will be changed and updated regularly.

Grade 6 Jewish Life Cycle Slideshow


Feel free to use this digital mind mapping tool to brainstorm life cycle events.

Jewish Life Cycle Digital Mind Map

September 10

Grade 6-8: D’var Torah Weekly Assignment

As we have discussed throughout the week, tefillah will look and feel a bit different this year. We will be having various tefillah experiences in our classroom during our Jewish studies class.

Each week, a student from each class will compose a d’var Torah and present it to their peers.

What is a D’var Torah?

A D’var Torah (a word of Torah) is a discussion or explanation based on the weekly parsha. The D’var Torah provides a brief summary and analysis of a lesson or interesting interpretation regarding the weekly Torah portion. 

Assignment: Each student will create a D’var Torah for an assigned portion that will be shared with their peers during the correlating Thursday tefillah service. Students will practice their public speaking skills and actively engage in Torah study. This assignment will count towards your grade for both Language Arts and Jewish Studies rubrics. 

We will create a schedule in class to assign the various parshiyot.

Jewish Calendar


Click here to access the assignment:

Washerstein D’var Torah Assignment


Click here to access the example: 

Washerstein D’var Torah Example


Click here to access the D’var Torah schedule:

Grade 8 D’var Torah Schedule

Grade 7 D’var Torah Schedule

Grade 6 D’var Torah Schedule



September 8

Grades 6-8: Introduction to Jewish Studies 2020

Good morning middle school students! Over the course of this week we will be reading and discussing a few articles pertaining to Judaism and the pandemic. The purpose of these discussion are to stimulate discussion and think about current events through a Jewish lens. Reflection is essential as we prepare to enter the High Holidays.

9 Things Coronavirus Has Taught Us (So Far)

Are We Emerging From Isolation Better Than We Came In?

How Jews Have Fared During Pandemics Throughout History

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 9

Grade 6: Jewish Studies Life Cycle Video Project (Due: Friday, June 19th, 2020)

Today we will be wrapping up our notes/discussion revolving around how to mourn the loss of a loved one, as a part of our Jewish life cycle. The students will spend the next week and half creating an educational video project.

Assignment: Students are being tasked with diving deeper into a specific portion of the Jewish Life Cycle. The majority of these topics were studied/discussed in class at great length. The goal of this project is to demonstrate understanding, conduct further research, and exhibit creativity by creating an informational video that relates to a topic within the Jewish life cycle.    

Content: What information do I need to include?

  1.   The major concepts behind their Jewish life cycle topic (explain key information)
  2.   How this life cycle event connects to your life (family)/modern every-day life situations
  3.   Could be interesting to ask your parents about any personal traditions/experiences that might relate
  4. You could also reach out to a rabbi/other members of the Jewish community to learn more about traditions, customs, and information pertaining to your life cycle event in Ottawa 
  5.   Your own interpretation on the value of this moment/event within the Jewish life cycle (Why do you believe this is important?)


Video Requirements:

  • This video will also include a skit that relates to the life cycle event
  • You can also include pictures and provide explanations of these images
  • Minimum of two minutes long (maximum ten minutes)
  • Be sure to cite your sources if you use web documents


Jewish Life Cycle Topics (Choose One):

  1. Baby Naming
  2. Brit Milah 
  3. Pidyon Ha-Ben
  4. Shalom Zachar
  5. Bar Mitzvah
  6. Bat Mitzvah
  7. Marriage
  8. Divorce
  9. Death (Funeral)
  10. Stages of Mourning (Shiva/Shloshim)
  11. Kashrut


Due: Friday, June 19th, 2020

Click here to access: Jewish Life Cycle Project Instructions

Click here to access: My Jewish Life Cycle Planner (Graphic Organizer)

April 30

Grade 6: Jewish Wedding Webquest (Due Date Extended: 5/12)

Over the last two weeks we had the opportunity to participate in a variety of unique online experiences as we commemorated Yom HaShoah, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Haatzmaut. Today we will dive back into the Jewish life cycle. Students will be working on a Jewish wedding webquest!

Click here to open and make a copy of the Jewish wedding webquest

This assignment provides students with 11 response questions. Students will need to click and read the link above the question in order to find the answer. Please do not simply search for these answers on random internet sites. I will be looking for specific information from the articles/videos associated with each question. Your responses should be written in complete sentences. Be sure to read over the instructions prior to starting the assignment.


This assignment will be due on Tuesday, May 12th, 2020.