About the class:
 
In 7 th grade we explore the different branches of Judaism, including our own Secular Judaism. We will talk about the differences and similarities among them, and we will also meet with Jews who belong to other branches for learning and dialogue.
 
Throughout the year, we will think about our own identity and what it means to each one of us and to our families to be Secular Jews. This is a year with many conversations, and we hope that our conversations in the classroom will enrich your conversations at home and vice versa.
 
We will also be attending all of the class B’nai Mitzvahs as a class. They too will help us learn from each other through the aspects of Judaism our B’nai Mitzvah have chosen to explore in greater depth.
 
Corey Shdaimah will be teaching the majority of classes this year at Jewish Children’s Folkshul. Due to obligations that will take Corey out of the classroom, Leah Siemiarowski Wright will step in as a co-teacher. We will teach the first and last classes as a team, but otherwise only one of us will present. This co-teaching model will provide the 7 th grade class with continuity, consistency, and the diversity of two reative and dedicated teachers!
 
As some of you know, Corey is the parent of Folkshuler Sagi (8 th grade), and Folkshul alumni Cliel and Elad. This is Corey’s 16 th year t eaching at Folkshul and she loves working with our wonderful children and families! During the week, Corey is a professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work where she teaches social policy and qualitative research.
 
Leah is a Folkshul alumna, former Folkshul teacher, and Sunday Funday parent - all in all she has been a part of the Folkshul community in  ne capacity or another for 27 years. She has her M.Ed. and has taught 7th grade previously but currently teaches 2nd grade at Caskey Torah Academy.
 
Sample Class Notes:
Dear seventh, eight, and ninth grade families
 
We had a wonderful potluck hosted by the Kolodner family yesterday. In addition to the good food and good fellowship that makes these potlucks a wonderful way to build and sustain community among families with children in the same classrooms, they are also fantastic intergenerational learning opportunities. 
 
Our community theme for the year is Jewish literature and literacy, which we introduced at the potluck. At our potluck, we spoke about the first piece of Jewish literature, which is the Torah. We discussed what it is, when it is read, and why the Jewish people first began to read it aloud publicly. Our wide-ranging conversation, in which parents and students participated, led us to discuss what Jewish knowledge do/should we teach at Folkshul and how should we teach it and how do secular humanists relate to the Torah, Torah reading, and other Jewish practices. We also explored the connections among history, tradition, values, belonging, knowledge, and community building. We had some very good suggestions for making our classrooms engaging. These included the need to balance the transmission of information with allowing for fruitful digressions that make Jewish learning relevant, and our priorities for using the precious classroom time we have together.
 
We also had good suggestions about how we can better supplement what goes on in the classroom with conversation within families and in the broader community. Some ideas included reviving our youth group and choosing short Jewish readings that could be made available to the whole community as a point of shared discussion and to increase familiarity with classics of Jewish literature. I’ve attached some pictures (thank you Jen!).
 
I attended our joint potluck as both a parent and a teacher, and I can tell you that the respectful and thought provoking conversation reinforced so many of the things that I love about Folkshul.
Thank you all and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday November 5th when we have regular class and parent visitation.
Shavuah tov/שבוע טוב 
Have a good week
Corey 
 
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Dear Families of Seventh Graders
 We had a wonderful opening day today at Folkshul. We wished everyone “ברוכים הביאם” (Bruchim HaBaim) or welcome, which in our case was a welcome back as we had all returning students and teachers in our class. As we noted in our introduction letter, this year we will explore different kinds of Jewish identity, especially our own. We began by interviewing each other about how we identified ourselves, when we feel most Jewish, what makes us think about being Jewish or about Judaism, and what else we want to know about Judaism. You can see your children’s answers in the screen shots that we’ve attached to this email (although you probably will have to use the “zoom in” function). We found some common themes, and often other people’s answers resonated or gave us an “aha” moment.  A number of people noted that being at Jewish events or holidays made them feel Jewish. Some of us feel Jewish when we are reminded of our difference from others like during Christmas, when we are the only Jewish person in a group, or when we experience anti-Semitism. Many in the class connected to their Judaism through spending time with family and food.
 You can see from our list of what we want to know, that there is an interest in our history, ancestry, and families. So please be prepared to share stories with your students. You may also want to talk about what makes you feel Jewish with your children. 
 We hope to see you all on Thursday at the community Rosh HaShannah celebration.
L’shanah tovah and bruchim habaim to another year at Folkshul!
Corey and Leah