Through an in-depth study of Sefer Yonah, 8th Graders will not only engage in a close and critical reading of a compelling narrative, but they will also investigate themes and questions that get to the heart of knowing themselves and understanding how God fits into their lives. The travels and trials of the Prophet Yonah will guide the path and provide a springboard towards topics that push students to struggle with the dissonance between “world as is” and “world as it should/could be.” Themes of exploration include:
• Are we born with a life mission?
• What is the Jewish “take” on fate and free will?
• Is God personal?
• How does God act in the world?
• Can someone ever be unworthy of forgiveness?
• What makes some prayers effective and others not?
· Why is there a Jewish tension between justice and mercy?
· How does Jonah compare to other prophets?
In preparation for their trip to Washington D.C. and New York, 8th graders will engage in a 3-week unit studying American Jewish history. Specifically, inquiry will focus on how the American Jewish community developed a unique identity in the context of an open society.