New Quarter of Tefillah!

You can read more about this quarter’s offerings below. As always, please reach out to Roni Ben-David, Director of Social Justice & Inclusion, with any questions.

Purpose of Tefillah at JCHS

Although most popularly translated as “prayer” or “worship,” tefillah is more literally defined as introspection and reflection. Our Tefillah program is meant to promote personal and communal growth through engagement with a Jewish tradition; personal expression; and/or sincere communication.

In a survey last year, 75% of respondents said that Tefillah improves their mood/sense of well-being. Most of the students also said that Tefillah helps them feel more connected to other students and that it is an important part of their day. We are pleased to be growing our capacity for student-led Tefillah offerings, a beautiful way for students to share their gifts through service to the community.

Tefillah Attendance

We want students to be fully part of our community and we need them to be present in order to have a successful tefillah program. Being part of our community means that students arrive on time when school starts (8:15 am on regular days, 9:15 am on late start days). Our students matter, their presence matters, and we miss them when they are not here! 

Students are allowed a number of unexcused tardies, as we recognize that mornings can be hard and life happens. 

After 5 tardies*, the student, their Dean, and their adults will have a meeting. This meeting is aligned with the Restorative Justice values that JCHS is implementing schoolwide. It is an opportunity for the Dean to work with the family and student to help identify strategies to ensure that the student is present and on time for tefillah. 

After 8 tardies*, students might be at risk of not passing tefillah and having to remediate. 

Rituals and routines are vital to success and happiness. We are hoping to set our students up for a great day and reinforce the value and importance of daily practice. 

*A tardy is arriving after 8:15 am (on regular days, 9:15 am on late start days). This includes arriving on time to campus but entering Tefillah late

Tracking Late Arrivals

We heard from some of you that it is helpful to get an email from the school confirming when your student is marked late to school – so we are going to bring back that system of communication. As a reminder, after 8 tardies/absences each quarter from Tefillah, students may be denied credit for tefillah and will have to remediate this graduation requirement. 

Tefillah Offerings: Quarter 3 (January 17 – March 24)

Crossword Puzzles (Mr. Pollock & Dr. Lessy):
We will do the daily New York Times crossword puzzles on our own and together. Get into the daily routine of doing this focused activity, in community!

Jews in the News (Mr. Gindi):
Come build community, connect, and talk about what’s going on in our lives and the Jewish world! In this discussion-based tefillah, we will engage with stories by and about Jews in the news media to deepen our understanding of our world and come to see members of our community more fully.  

Brain Games (Mr. Hagen & Mr. Fitch):
Warm up your brain with a variety of puzzles, games, sudoku, and other kinds of mental aerobics!  Most games use critical thinking and logic, but will not require any prerequisite math class.  

Chavurah (Mr. Wolkenstein):
Chavurah is a student-centered spiritual experience that combines daily ritual, personal sharing, storytelling, and group reflection. Most importantly, it’s about learning to listen to others. If you are someone who enjoys hearing about the personal experiences of others, this is a great place for you. 

Creativity & Connection (Ms. Hunt & Ms. Lichtenstein):
Start the day with crafts that connect us to others: the art of letters, cards, paper cutting, embossing, scribal arts, and more.

Mindfulness Meditation (Mr. Holper):
We will practice different forms of mindfulness including silent meditation, music, and nature sounds, as well as some morning stretches. Sit quietly for up to 15 minutes to start each day centered and calm. 

Morning Walks (Mr. Grigoryan):
Join a relaxing walk around the neighborhood, followed by a short stretch before class. If you are looking for morning movement before the school day begins then this would be a great fit! 

Reading Time (Ms. Beck & Ms. Siegel):
Start your day with reading! It’s a great way to focus your mind and energy, while also delving into the fantastic world of books. On Fridays, we will bring our favorite beverage and chat about our readings. No homework, no screens, but lots of sweet old books! 

Shacharit with Mechitza (Rabbi Brick, Ms. Gluck):
This is a participatory prayer group using a traditional Jewish prayer text. Students pray in separate-gendered seating and are led by a Shaliach Tzibur. Students wear Tefillin and read from the Torah on Mondays, Thursdays, and more!  Students learn how to navigate the siddur and become acquainted with traditional Jewish rituals surrounding prayer and are also given the opportunity to share their own learning and inspiration with the Minyan. A Women’s Tefillah is offered weekly.

Yoga-Inspired Stretching (Student-led, Ms. Rubin):
A great way to start your day is with gentle stretching, deep breathing, and invigorating relaxation (an oxymoron? come see how it’s not!) We’ll stretch our muscles, relax, and ease into our school day. 

Women’s Tefillah (Ms. Cornelius):
Women’s Tefillah is for female-identifying, non-binary, and/or gender-expansive students. Join us for connection, discussion, ritual, games, and a chill place to start your day!

Egalitarian (Liberal) Shacharit (Ms. Alouf):
This Tefillah will follow the morning prayer book service. Students of all genders will have equal participation and leadership opportunities. Come learn what it’s like to develop a regular prayer practice. Learn new tunes and be part of a special community! FRIDAYS ONLY

Creative Writing: 
Start your morning with time to write…poetry, fiction, graphic novel writing, etc. There will be time to share your writing and prompts will be provided!