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A Message from the Head of Middle School: January 17

A Message from the Head of Middle School: January 17
  • Academics
Stephanie Bloom, Head of Middle School

Dear Middle School Families,

Our new building has brought many opportunities for new learning experiences and kehilah for Middle School! This past weekend our 8th graders participated in our first ever Shabbaton Lock-In! Students arrived at school Friday morning for a day full of learning and mitzvot. Following morning classes, challah baking and Shabbat Lunch, students traveled to Cradles for Crayons, where they helped sort through donations for children in need. Students were taken by how many donated toys were missing parts and not fit for any child, let alone one in need. One student compared it to putting a jigsaw puzzle together only to find out a piece was missing.

Once back at school, our 8th graders lit candles together and then participated in Kabbalat Shabbat. Unlike past Shabbatons, our Lock-In allowed students to choose between many different services at Anshe Emet both Friday evening and Saturday morning. For the first time, we were able to offer students a choice in what was a most meaningful way to mark Shabbat.  

Following dinner, if you were to peek into the building, you might have seen students reflecting on their Jewish Identity, challenging 8th-grade teachers to ping-pong and badminton matches in our new gymnasium and running from room to room in an epic advisory hide-and-seek challenge! When it was time to settle in for the night, our girls opted for a spa adventure complete with cucumbers, face masks and a giant circle discussion while our gentleman were full of energy - talking, singing songs, and even trying to re-enact a bar mitzvah for a friend. Perhaps the most touching, even at the wee hours of the morning, was how inclusive students were of each other.

In the morning students enjoyed breakfast and open gym time before attending a service of their choice. Many of our students enjoyed a teen-led service. Following services our students engaged with the larger Anshe Emet community and attended a kiddush luncheon. Here students connected with friends and family outside of our school.

As we headed into the afternoon, students had more time to use our new Pritzker Pucker Gymnasium and Performance Space as well as compete in some friendly competitions including minute-to-win-it games and skit-in-a-bag! The ruach and joy could be felt all the way through Havdalah. On the eve of our school receiving it’s first Torah, our 8th graders circled up in Makom Rina to bid farewell to Shabbat and welcome the new week. As candles glowed throughout the room, our students sang together bringing new meaning to kehillah, or their 8th grade community. 

Experiences like our Shabbaton are unique to Bernard Zell. To have students celebrate Shabbat as a community in a place that feels like home and with endless fun lay at the heart of what we strive to be - Joyfully Jewish!

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,

Stephanie Bloom
Head of Middle School



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