Community Organizing: 9th Grade
The 9th Grade Community Organizing Class will work with a community organizer to develop a social justice campaign with their peers at CBE and beyond. They will begin by listening to determine which social problems are of greatest and deepest concern to teens in their neighborhood and at school. They will learn what Judaism has to say about these challenges and their solutions. They will then research the problems to determine what change they can achieve. This will include identifying a specific, small change that can be won, one that has an existing coalition to which they can contribute. It will include determining their realistic ability to make a difference in that coalition, and learning to articulate the Jewish sources that motivate Jewish action on the issue. They will then organize their peers into action on the issue, doing a power analysis, developing a strategy, and planning and executing an action. For the action, students will learn how to create effective turnout and about public speaking and talking with media. Finally, at the end of the year, they will learn how to effectively evaluate their work.
During the year the class travels south to journey with Etgar36 to learn about the Civil Rights Movement through exploring history, sites and current issues in various cities they visit. Through the trip students gain “tools and inspiration to take the next step beyond social action: social activism,” which they apply to their work back in Brooklyn.
Chazakah: 10th Grade
In this culminating program for high school students at CBE, Rabbi Timoner engages CBE’s teens in sensitive conversations about the real stuff in their lives, creating a trust-filled home base for students with one another and their rabbis. In the Midrash and Talmud, Chazakah means ownership or possession of a personal status. In this final year of Yachad, our students take ownership of their Jewish heritage, as they define its meaning to them. Guiding questions are: What do I believe in? How does Judaism shape how I see the world? What does it mean to me to be a Jew? The year concludes with a ceremony on Shavuot, when the community celebrates receiving Torah and the students each offer their own unique expression of what their Jewish heritage means to them.
During the year students participate in the L’Taken Social Justice Seminar. Students are exposed to a “variety of public policy issues and explore the Jewish values that inform the Reform Movement’s advocacy around these issues. Throughout the weekend, [students are given] the knowledge and tools to write an effective, persuasive and passionate speech on a topic of [their] choice to present when [they] visit the offices of [their] Senators and Representatives on the Monday of the program.”
The 11th Grade curriculum is centered around our trip to Berlin and Poland. We’ll begin the year by getting a flavor of the rich history of Jewish life in Germany and Eastern Europe, study Holocaust narratives in preparation for our travels, and conclude the year by connecting to the contemporary renewal of Jewish life in juxtaposition with the recent spike in antisemitism throughout the region.
The 12th Grade curriculum is designed to prepare students for being Jewish on college campuses. We’ll talk about the nuances of pro-Israel and anti-Israel advocacy, especially as that debate appears on campus, and we’ll create an open and non-judgmental space for exploring personal beliefs and boundaries around Israel. We will also consider what it means to be a progressive Jew in a pluralistic Jewish setting, and what rituals and traditions might be most meaningful as students start making adult decisions for themselves.
Madrichim Leadership Program
The Madrichim Program is open to high school students who are excited to enhance their knowledge of Judaism and Hebrew, and are enthusiastic about developing meaningful relationships with our students by serving as role models in the classroom. Madrichim (“leaders” in Hebrew) not only aid teachers in the classroom, but act as leaders at CBE. Often madrichim will work closely with students who benefit from more individual support and through this they create close bonds. All madrichim receive monthly training in education and leadership development, and are supervised and coached by the Madrichim Program Supervisor, Kate Meltzer. Madrichim will be paid or receive school community service credit to work in classrooms with Yachad teachers and students. It is CBE’s policy that madrichim must be enrolled in Yachad; if you have any questions about this, please contact Tehilah Eisenstadt. If you are interested in hearing more about the Madrichim Program, please contact Kate Meltzer.
BESTY (Beth Elohim Temple Youth Group)
Combining social action with social awesome, BESTY events cover the gamut from collaborative community-service projects, all-night cookie bake-a-thons, to playing the world’s largest game of Bananagrams EVER. Open to grades 8-12, we seek to promote a positive and inclusive community that acts as both a haven and a source of pride for our very busy high school students.
BESTY is CBE’s NFTY-affiliated youth group. NFTY, the North American Federation of Temple Youth, is the youth movement of the Union for Reform Judaism.