tsti-teens

8th Grade and Hebrew High

8th Grade: Mon 6:30pm-8:30pm/9th-12th grades: Tues 6:30pm-8:30pm

At TSTI we believe that learning should be a lifelong pursuit. Our educational programs begin in Kindergarten and continue through 12th grade.

We are tremendously proud of the success of our 8th grade and 9-12th grade Hebrew High programs which typically include over 120 students. These students have made the choice to continue their involvement beyond the “required” age of b’nai mitzvah because they feel connected to their peers, their teachers, and our wider temple community.

Teens help to drive class content, allowing them to delve into mature discussions about issues that they find relevant and meaningful, gaining an understanding of what these topics mean to them as Jews. Class topics include current events, history, politics, diversity, social justice, God, and modern Israel, to name a few.

Hebrew High Highlights

8th grade provides a perfect blend of learning and social time. The curriculum focuses on relevant Jewish lifestyle topics, offering the students the opportunity to share thoughts, and even debate with their peers. There is a focus on community and team building and during the annual Shul-In, the class sleeps over at TSTI to bond, explore hidden parts of the building, eat some midnight pizza, and more!

 

9th grade is an opportunity for students to delve deeper into a variety of topics exploring their Jewish identity. Each week the 9th grade takes on a different Jewish value and explores how it is exhibited in Jewish texts and in their lives today through the use of current events, social media, and other multimedia platforms. Community building and class bonding are also important aspects of this year, and the 9th grade takes an annual overnight trip to Philadelphia to explore the city, visit the National Museum of American Jewish history, and deepen their understanding of the Jewish role in the formation of our country.

10th grade students expand their Jewish knowledge and identity focusing on the “10 Commandments of Today,” while learning to develop their own personal theology. They also explore Jewish immigrant identity and our modern obligation to take care of the “stranger” in our midst. Students have the opportunity to learn with our clergy, lead a meaningful congregational service during Chanukah, and receive a special Confirmation blessing at the end of the year. 

The 10th grade class enjoys an annual overnight trip to New York City to learn about the Jewish immigrant experience food, museums, and more. We will have plenty of time to enjoy the city together, including seeing a Broadway show!

11th grade explores a variety of topics, all geared towards developing a deeper appreciation of the wider Jewish community including Israel. This year promises a comfortable environment to get a break from the stress of school. 11th grade includes special programming and relaxed time with the clergy, meeting with a college counselor to help them understand the college process and what it means to be Jewish at college, and often enjoy dedicated time with an Israeli teen serving as a rishon (Israeli emissary)  to TSTI.

12th grade is the culmination of Hebrew High. Taught by clergy and members of our full-time staff the focus is on identity and preparation for the next chapter and reflects on how their experiences over the years at TSTI has shaped them. There is a variety of special programming including meeting with a Hillel professional to explore being Jewish in college, taking care of themselves and staying safe away from home, and managing post-high school life’s challenges. This year culminates with Graduation, in which students respond to the statement “I am a Jew because…” These personal statements are inspiring and powerful, making this one of the most special services of the year! 

 

The 11th and 12th grade classes join together for two exciting travel opportunities.

One is a four-day political advocacy and social justice trip to Washington, DC hosted by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC). The RAC trip offers an opportunity to meet over 200 teens from across the country and explore the sights of our nation’s capital, while learning about the Reform Jewish perspective on current issues of social policyThis wonderful program concludes with teens choosing a topic and lobbying for their beliefs in the offices of their elected officials on Capitol Hill. 

On alternating years, the 11th/12th grade classes travel for four days in Georgia and Alabama for a Civil Rights History Tour of the South in partnership with Etgar36, a renowned Jewish teen educational travel organization. Students learn about the civil rights movement in-situ, seeing the sights, speaking to community members about their experiences, and visiting museums, local organizations, and more. The trip offers powerful, tangible ways for the students to connect the effort for civil rights in the 1960s to the ongoing fight for racial and economic justice in our world today.

Some quotes from our 9th-12th grade students:

“Coming to Hebrew High is an important part of my week. It gives me a break from the academic and social stress of school.”

“Hebrew High gives me a chance to be with friends from many different towns.”

“During Hebrew High I get to really ask questions and to explore what I believe without feeling judged and I know I can change my views at any time.”

Here’s what our 8th graders said when they were describing their program to the 7th graders:

“We always knew we were learning but it never felt like school.”

“Each week we learned something new that really meant something to us.”

“Do the 8th grade program. If you don’t you will regret it for the rest of your life.

If you have questions about the 8-12th grade programs, contact Adam Baranker, Youth Engagement Coordinator.