About the class:

Folkshul’s emerging young adults will be building ahavat yisrael- love and respect for all of the Jewish people- through the exploration and analysis of Jewish diversity. The goal of this year is to familiarize ourselves with the vast multitudes of Jewish ethnicities and identities in the United States, Israel, and the world: from Mexicans to Ethiopians, Women of the Wall to Goddess Worshippers, Secular Zionists to Orthodox Anti-Zionists, and many, many more! Through this cross-cultural immersion, we will examine contemporary anti-Semitism and confront discrimination within the Jewish community. We will explore the Secular Humanist Jewish experience and its place in the landscape. We will also take a keen look at the activism and ideologies of various Jewish artists- everyone from American-Jewish slam poets, Indian-Jewish painters, Iraqi-Jewish punk groups, and Chassidic puppeteers.

Each student will not only come away with a rich understanding of the diverse community they are a part of, but a portfolio of artistic work inspired by brief, weekly look at Torah from a secular perspective. Geared to encourage individual perspectives through poetry, rap, visual art, memoirs, and more, this activity is meant to link us with Jews near and far studying the same parsha as us each week. By exploring Torah and what it means to diverse groups, we strengthen our understanding and love for the worldwide Jewish community.

Teacher: Sabrina Ross

To tell you a little about myself, I just graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison with degrees in Religious Studies, Gender Studies, and English. There, I was on a full scholarship under the First Wave hip-hop arts and poetry program. I had several original shows produced, from a collective feminist music show called The Dowry to a full-length play called “Shalom Bayit: A Peaceful Home.” Throughout my college years, I served as a program facilitator for our campus sexual health resource, the Jewish holiday intern for Hillel, and the theatre specialist for a secular Jewish day camp, Camp Shalom.I also facilitated spoken word poetry workshops at several local schools. But the most meaningful aspects of my undergrad career were participating in Black Lives Matter protests and hosting several social-justice based Jewish events, including feminist Rosh Chodesh gatherings and an LGBTQ liberation Seder.

Sample Weekly Class Notes:

Yesterday we had fun learning about political messages and artistic resistance. After watching a funny rap about this week's Torah portion from the Itche Kadoozy show, we observed Persian-Jewish musician Galeet Dardashti's music video for Banu Choshech. With this traditional Hanukkah song, which means "We've come to chase away the darkness," Dardashti used symbols of protest to promote fighting intolerance for the good of the coming generations. Inspired by this message, we brainstormed other messages that are being used today, like Black Lives Matter, No Justice No Peace, and #MeToo. We spoke a lot about the #MeToo movement, and what weight these small words hold.
 
We then watched a video about a Palestinian street artist creating work to express her struggle and empower other girls to work towards a better future. We spoke about the symbols and messages that she uses in her work and why art is her form of resistance. Here is that video for your interest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUHkKwCoxEo
 
Then, your students came up with their own messages based off their interests and passions. With their messages, they painted protest signs. They were challenged to use their voice throughout this week to represent their message. There are some pictures attached of your students and their signs. 
 
Next week we will be learning about the Jews of China. We will also be starting to prepare for the Purimspiel we will be presenting as a class at our March Purim celebration!
 
Have a wonderful week AND remember to sign your student up for the SHJ Youth Conclave here! 
 
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Yesterday was a great day back at Folkshul. We celebrated the New Year with what I like to call "The Great Jewish Poetry Bingo Battle!" Your students competitvely performed Jewish poetry from the bible to today. At the same time they used their 'bingo sheet' to guess which era each poem was written in. We read everyone from Judah HaLevi to Allen Ginsberg. We had a lot of fun with it and there was not one student who didn't get involved. Everyone won a small prize for their efforts, and Mose beat Alex for the grand prize by just a half a point. But his reward will benefit everyone as he will choose a game or movie to spend half of a future class enjoying.
 
Next week is our MLK day event. We will have a brief program and then several cycles of childrens' book readings and activities. I look forward to coming together. Stay warm and Happy New Year