TEEn Kolel (Grades 7 – 12)
“Kolel” is the Hebrew word meaning “inclusive”, “embracing”, and “community.” We named our high school program, “TEEn Kolel“ because that is exactly what we do with our Temple Emanu El teens! We want all students here at TEE to feel comfortable and a part of the Temple Emanu El family. TEEn Kolel is a place where teens gather together to engage in learning, social activities, ask questions and participate in Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) projects.
For the one half of the year, Grade 7 students focus on exploring Tzedakah, specifically by examining what it means to be obligated to give Tzedakah. The learning centers around Jewish perspective on giving (both time and money) and exposes students to the idea that giving in Judaism is not something that we do to feel good about ourselves, but rather is what we do because it is what God commands us to do to create justice in the world. The culmination of this part of the Grade 7 curriculum is an opportunity for the students to work together to decide on an organization that they feel passionate about and create a Tzedakah Project to meet a need of that organization. During the other half of the year, Grade 7 students build on the identity formation and accountability curriculum from Grade 6. Utilizing the approach of Facing History and Ourselves, students focus on how our understandings of the Individual & Society; We & They; History; Judgment, Memory & Legacy and Choosing to Participate influence our understanding of the Holocaust and create an arc of relevance between the Holocaust and our lives today.
Grade 8 students explore the idea of individual responsibility within a larger community, specifically focusing on their responsibility as new adult members of the Jewish community. Focusing on the tension that exists from living in an individualistic society but belonging to a community based religion, students explore the gifts they bring to our Jewish community and the gifts belonging to the community gives to them. As they uncover concepts such as what creates the foundation of a Jewish community and the power of the collective community, students seek to identify Jewish agencies and resources that encourage and support Jewish communal life and become familiar with these agencies and resources as they have emerged and continue to emerge in the Cleveland Jewish community. In addition to examining Cleveland’s Jewish community, students are given the opportunity to explore the synagogue community, gaining a deeper understanding of what it means to be a member of a synagogue in terms of ownership, oversight and participation.
The Grade 9 curriculum engages students in an exploration of Israel, both as the Jewish homeland and as a modern day country. Students examine the Jewish people’s continuous connection to the land of Israel throughout biblical and modern times and grapple with the contemporary issues and tensions that arise given the shifting dynamics of the Middle East and the inherent challenges of maintaining a democratic Jewish state. In addition to examining history and current events, students encounter culture, language and geography as they strive to unpack the complexities of our beautiful and exciting spiritual home.
As Grade 10 students work towards their Confirmation ceremony in May, their curriculum focuses on cultivating spirituality through personal reflection, developing a deeper connection to Jewish liturgy, and articulating their individual ideas about God and how we, as individuals and as the Jewish people, interact with God. Students gain a more refined understanding of what the Reform movement offers as answers to questions relating to God, spirituality and prayer. Students are also offered a variety of perspectives from outside of the movement, from Rabbinic and modern day scholars, in an effort to help them refine their own beliefs.
The Grade 11/12 curriculum alternates each year between Sacred Choices, a URJ curriculum that focuses on both relationship and sexual ethics, and Packing for College, a URJ curriculum that helps prepare students to live Jewish lives on campus. One goal in exploring the Sacred Choices curriculum is that students feel that the synagogue provides a safe and relevant place to talk about sexuality, being sexual and decision making in general. Students learn about the Reform movement’s perspective on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships and recognize that Jewish values are central to dealing with any and all of our relationships, both sexual and platonic. Through the Sacred Choices curriculum, students gain the tools to help them make informed and responsible decisions about their health and behavior (including their sexuality), friendships and relationships. In addition, students explore topics such as the public vs. private sphere and how to create and maintain healthy boundaries. When exploring the Packing for College curriculum, students gain an understanding of the importance of considering Jewish needs in making college decisions and become familiar with resources to help them evaluate colleges from a Jewish perspective. They also consider how they can bring their spirituality and faith with them to college, as well as become aware of the questions that Reform Jewish college students may encounter from both non-Jews and non-Reform Jews. The Packing for College curriculum also gives Grade 11/12 students the opportunity to raise general concerns about college life within the safety of a Jewish setting.
Senior Seminar – a once a month class for Grade 12 students
Grade 12 students meet once a month with the Rabbi and Education Director to cover a variety of topics, most of which are student generated. Topics generally include:
- Jewish views on drugs and alcohol
- Israel on Campus
- Jewish views on Tattoos and Piercings
- Why are there so many Different Religions? Judaism, Christianity, Islam – are they really all that different? Can a person be half-Jewish, half-Christian?
- Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist: Why can’t I just be Jewish?
- The “real” story of Purim