Teaching 8th grade can be tough. At the same time, there are always reminders of why this challenging age group is special! Last week the Temple Shalom 8th grade class spent time thinking about Jewish identity. Each student was asked to create “something” – a poem, drawing, skit, etc depicting their interpretation of their own Jewish identity.
I want to share with you a poem written by Amanda – one of our 8th grade students. I know you will be as inspired as I was!!
A thousand years ago, my people walked the desert sands for 40 years.
They walked because they were Jewish, and they were escaping from a place where they were treated like something lower.
They were treated like this because they were Jewish; they were worse than anyone else, like they were cockroaches on the floor of the house instead of the people inside.
And so they walked, they walked to be free from the idea that they were below everyone else.
70 years ago, my people were killed because they were Jewish. They were forced to wear a yellow star to identity themselves.
To identify them as something lower, something worse. Someone to be spit at, and kicked at, and treated like the dirt on which they walked. They were taken away from their homelands. The lands on which their fathers lived, and their fathers before them. And they were killed.
65 years ago my people created a state. A state where they could be free. Where they were not below anyone but at the same level; equal.
Amanda’s words are thoughtful! I really appreciate reading how she relates to parts of Jewish history, the exodus from Egypt, the Holocaust and the State of Israel. It is important to me that we foster our students so they care about being Jewish. How have you inspired your children to think differently about their Jewish identity??