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Tichon - Engaging Teens after B'nai Mitzvah

Our post-B’nai Mitzvah students form our Tichon class, which meets in the evenings with the Rabbi or with an educator.

They also spend time in discussion with their teachers, focusing on the social justice issues of the day with an emphasis on the underlying principles and tenets of Judaism.

Those students in the 10th grade form the Confirmation Class. Confirmation is held in conjunction with Shavuot. Working with the Rabbi, the students create the service.

Education Insights: Looking at Today's World Through A Jewish Lens

By Linda Blumberg, Tichon Teacher and Coordinator

An amazing moment at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris was the reading of an original poem by 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, pictured on the right.

“The Hill We Climb,” powerful and beautiful, provides a tool to have important conversations with your children about racial and economic justice. I encourage you to begin these conversations to heighten their awareness of critical social justice issues and the role that each of us can play in helping to address them.

Give your children a chance to answer each question, and then help expand their thinking by adding in your own thoughts and views to supplement theirs before going on to the next question.

A great way to start out 2021 is to make a plan for getting involved in furthering social justice causes. Allowing children to pick an issue to become involved with that resonates with them will motivate them the most. There are lots of resources online, and there are plenty of stories highlighting the impacts that children have had through good works, even in the course of the pandemic. If you have trouble finding them, let me know, and I'd be glad to send some on.

Youth Perspectives -COMMUNITYBy Sammy PetersonYouth Representative, BJC Board of Trustees

This article appeared in the April 2021 BJC Insights Newsletter.

As I write this essay, it has been nearly 365 days to the day since we last experienced normalcy. It was on Friday, March 13, 2020, that schools shut down, governors started issuing lockdowns and infections from the “novel coronavirus” began to spread like wildfire across the United States.

In the past year, we’ve struggled with isolation, stress, illness, and death.

Out of all our emotions of the past year, all the things life has thrown at us, dealing with loss amid a pandemic is a different type of emotional turmoil.

This past February, I lost my grandmother. She was always my biggest cheerleader. Always there to chat on the phone about anything, from sports to politics to what was going on in school and in my life. She always, without fail, offered her complete support to anything that I did. Although she was visually impaired, with help from her magnifier she read nearly everything I ever wrote—creative writing to college essays and articles for my school newspaper, and everything in between. Nanny was always there to listen and give a word of encouragement or a piece of advice, no matter the circumstance.

One of my earliest memories with Nanny was of playing in the coat closet of her Long Island home. I was pretending to be a firefighter, using her low-vision cane as an axe to fight through the falling debris—the various coats, neatly hung up in the closet. And Nanny was right beside me, holding me up so I wouldn’t fall off the stepstool in my excitement, and going along with my charade.

For my elementary school self, role-playing around in the coat closet was the most natural thing in the world. But it takes a special disposition to go along—fully in character—with your grandson as he messes up all of your neatly hung coats and hats.

That memory captures my relationship with Nanny and her personality in a nutshell. Always supportive no matter what. Always there for a laugh, or for counsel, or to tell a great story. Always loving.

Normally, the process of mourning is defined by a distinct sense of community. We sit Shivah, where we share stories together and reminisce with a house full of voices to lift us up.

In the age of the pandemic, everything is online, and grief is no different. Rather than an in-person funeral service with dozens of family members and friends, we are forced to face the realities of a “viewneral.” A handful of immediate family and a Rabbi in person, while everyone else watches from home on Zoom.

Those of us who have sat Shivah have had the same experience. There is no week-long open house of caring and deli sandwiches. Instead, there is an online service with voices emanating from a computer screen. Condolence cards arrive in the mail. And then you are alone.

Nothing makes grieving easy, especially in our virtual world. But my family received wonderful support from BJC as we dealt with our loss. All of the kind words and shows of support reinforced how the congregation truly has become our home over the past two decades. We needed community, and BJC was there. 

Mon, May 10 2021 28 Iyyar 5781