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J Line South Hills
Jewish Values. Jewish Friendships. Jewish Fun.

J Line South Hills brings Judaism to life in a way that is relevant, enriching and fun. J Line South Hills gives you choice, diversity and depth in your Jewish learning experiences where Jewish values are “front row and center” in ways that speaks to you.  J Line South Hills empowers you to embrace your Jewish identity, grapple with challenging life questions and improve the world in your own way.

Throughout their experience, South Hills Jewish teens will be encouraged to ask and be challenged by these questions:

  • Who am I?
  • With whom and what am I connected?
  • To whom and for what am I responsible in this world?
  • How can I bring about change in this world?

J line Program Guide 2019-2020

Click here to register

Weekly Schedule

  • 6:15 – 6:45 pm – Dinner
  • 6:45 – 7:30 pm – Electives
  • 7:30-7:45 pm – Break
  • 7:45 – 8:30 pm – Core Learning Experiences


  • Temple Emanuel, 1250 Bower Hill Road

All core learning experiences are will be assigned by grade.
Course options are as follows:

Our 8th grade experience will focus on a post B’nai Mitzvah Jewish existence. Students will explore their connection to Judaism and the Jewish people moving forward after having become Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Where does their Jewish self fit into the larger picture of who they are? What aspects of Judaism do they connect with the most and what aspect of Judaism do they struggle with the most? The core experiences will focus on addressing these essential questions and other related questions about identity and being Jewish.

Our 9th grade experience will focus on how students feel connected to different people and groups of people. As students enter high school and now have various different experiences and networks to which they can connect, we will explore the tension between being Jewish in a predominantly secular society.

Our 10th grade experience will focus on how students can live Jewish values every day through their actions and interactions with others by understanding their sense of responsibility to all aspects of the world in which we live.

Confirmation classes this year are built into the structure of J Line South Hills on Wednesday evenings. Students wishing to be confirmed should indicate on the registration form their confirmation intent. There may be an additional fee for
Confirmation charged and processed by either Beth El or Temple Emanuel. Confirmation is available for members of Beth El Congregation or Temple Emanuel of the South Hills.

HOUR 1: 6:45-7:30 PM
WEEKS 1-4: SEPTEMBER 11, 18, 25, OCTOBER 2

Building Healthy Relationships – Rabbi Alex Greenbaum

We are constantly building relationships with the people around us. Some of those relationships are platonic and others more romantic. What does it mean to be in healthy relationships and what is our role in creating and maintaining healthy relationships? What does Judaism say about friendship, romance, and marriage?

Jewish Humor: The Jews are Coming – Barak Naveh
“Hayehudim Ba’im” (The Jews are Coming) is a satirical Israeli TV show. The show is devoted to spoofing the entire history of the Jewish people since biblical times. Explore some of our most famous stories in Jewish tradition through funny satirical clips.

HOUR 1: 6:45-7:30 PM
WEEKS 5-8: OCTOBER 16, 23, 30, NOVEMBER 6
Game of Thrones: Jewish Edition – Rabbi Alex Greenbaum

“Game of Thrones,” the popular medieval fantasy series, is full of intrigue and drama. One could say it is nearly biblical in its proportions. And in fact has more than a few connections to the People of The Book. This experience will explore similarities to different stories in Jewish tradition and what we can learn from them.

Stronger Than Hate – Rabbi Ron Symons
October 27, 2018 is a day that will be etched in our community’s memory for decades to come. The deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States has deeply impacted our community. In this four week experience, learn about how our community has responded since October 27 as we approach the one year anniversary.

Debating Jewish Ethics – Barak Naveh
A core principal of Judaism is living a moral and ethical life. In Debating Jewish Ethics, we will explore controversial ethical issues—from “should we separate conjoined twins” to “are we obligated to provide welfare”—by studying Jewish texts and various opinions on these heated topics.

Core Learning Experiences

HOUR 2: 7:45-8:30 PM

8th Grade: “The Good Place”—Chris Herman
What on the surface is just a comedy about heaven and hell is actually a deeply philosophical adventure. One of the many topics covered in this show is the notion that just performing good deeds to get into the Good Place doesn’t count. You have to act morally for its own sake, rather than out of a desire to attain a reward. Just like in “The Good Place,” in Judaism doing good things purely to get a reward doesn’t really count as good. So why do we do good things? What are the mitzvot in the Torah meant to teach us or represent?

9th Grade: Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood—
Barak Naveh
The Torah commands us: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Because humanity was created in the image of G-d, b’tzelem Elohim, we show disrespect for G-d when we show disrespect to our fellow human beings. Hence, we are obligated to treat everyone with respect. Judaism teaches us to celebrate each individual’s uniqueness and affirm their divine worth. But how do we do this? In the age of social media and being socially pressure among our peers, how can we navigate the tension between being liked and doing what’s right? Are they mutually exclusive?

10th Grade: Who Are My People?
Rabbis Jessica Locketz, Alex Greenbaum and Aaron Meyer

The ritual of Confirmation involves an individual and group affirmation of commitment to the Jewish people. But who are my people? And what does it mean to affirm a commitment to them? What do we want our Jewish community to be? What is expected of us? Tackle the questions we have about Jewish people, Jewish life, Jewish community and Jewish identity and explore the Jewish commitments we are asked to make now and in the future.


HOUR 1: 6:45-7:30 PM
WEEKS 1-4: NOVEMBER 20, DECEMBER 4, 11, 18

Jewish Food from Around the World—Melinda Freed

What, exactly, is Jewish food? Some would say it’s any food eaten by Jews, or any food that’s kosher. For many, it’s the foods of one’s own culture (i.e. Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrachi, etc.)–especially traditional Shabbat and holiday fare–that register as specifically “Jewish.” Explore what makes food Jewish as we celebrate Jewish food as amazingly diverse, international, diaspora-driven cuisine.

Café Aroma: Hot Topics of Israel—Barak Naveh
After 2,000 years of exile, the Jewish People were able to establish the modern State of Israel! Ever since then, Israel has been at the center of Jewish identity and world conversation. Step inside one of Israel’s most popular cafés and explore the big issues and dilemmas facing the state of Israel and look to the future and explore what might be
for Israel in the decades to come.

HOUR 1: 6:45-7:30 PM
WEEKS 5-8: JANUARY 8, 22, 29, FEBRUARY 5

The Art of Storytelling—Barak Naveh
You are invited to take a journey through the world of Jewish storytelling. On this journey, you will learn the art and skill of performative storytelling, exploring the ancient stories, personal narrative and techniques on discovering your own unique
storytelling voice.

Leadership Workshop
Discover your leadership style and develop new leadership skills as we explore leadership through a Jewish lens.

Core Learning Experiences

HOUR 2: 7:45-8:30 PM

8th Grade: #MyJewishSnapShot—Rabbi Jessica Locketz

We live in a world filled with images. Whether you are instagramming, snapping, or streaming Netflix, thousands of images are being presented to you every day, each telling a unique story. Now it is YOUR turn to do the storytelling! You will be on the other side of the lens. Get creative and craft new images that tell the story of Jewish
values and customs, and to tell YOUR story!

9th Grade: Cool Jew: The ultimate guide for every member of the tribe—Barak Naveh

Celebrate every aspect of who you are. Decode contemporary Judaism and its cultural and creative expression. Dive into everything from identity, rituals, clothing and cuisine, to holidays, spirituality, diversity, and language. Jew got questions? Jew got answers.

10th Grade: Channeling Our Inner Gandhi: Be The Change
Rabbis Jessica Locketz, Alex Greenbaum and Aaron Meyer

We are living in a world faced with huge social challenges. More than ever teens are becoming involved in these issues and raising their voice to make a difference. In this experience, students will learn how to speak up for what they believe in and take an active role in making a difference. Students will have the opportunity to attend
the L’Taken Social Justice Seminar in partnership with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), where they will have an impact our country as they share their
views on social justice topics with decision-makers on Capitol Hill.

HOUR 1: 6:45-7:30 PM
WEEKS 1-4: FEBRUARY 19, 26, MARCH 4, 11

Off to the Races – Barak Naveh
Exploring the everyday issues at the center of the Primary elections and Presidential race and why they matter.

Passover Seder Plate – Rabbi Ron Symons
Explore the sacred traditions of the Passover seder and some of the modern traditions that have been added over the years. What traditions would you remove or add?

HOUR 1: 6:45-7:30 PM
WEEKS 5-8: MARCH 18, 25, APRIL 1, 22

Dear Evan Hansen & Mental Health—Hannah Kalson

The story follows Evan Hansen, a teenager who broke his arm falling out of a tree. Typical, right? Not exactly. Evan has social anxiety. His therapist tells him to write daily letters to encourage himself, hence the title “Dear Evan Hansen.” Evan later becomes accidentally involved with the family of another high schooler, who has depression. One in five children ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental illness. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in youth aged 10-24. This experience will explore mental health, the warning signs and what we can do for ourselves and others using the hit musical “Dear Evan Hansen” as our guide.

Ask Big Questions—Barak Naveh
Developed by Hillel International, this curriculum will engage teens in reflective conversations that strengthen civic habits of listening, civility, and engaging diverse perspectives by exploring some of the challenging questions and topics facing our teens today.

Core Learning Experiences

HOUR 2: 7:45-8:30 PM

8th – Grade: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens— Chris Herman
There is so much to do as a teen: social media, friends, sleep, school, family…how can we be expected to fit it all in? “ The 7 Habits of Highly Effec tive Teens” is a system designed to help you do it all. Uncover the habits with film, food, experience, and

9th Grade: Wherever You Go There’s Always
Someone Jewish—Barak Naveh

Encounters with other Jews and discoveries of Jewish connections are intriguing because they remind us that we are part of something bigger, that our family extends beyond our family tree to include a community we feel connected to but do not know personally. The bond created between Jews by shared history and experience is called peoplehood. Transform yourself into a Jew from another part of the world to discover how we are all connected.

10th Grade: A Jewish Equation: You + Me = Us
Rabbis Jessica Locketz, Alex Greenbaum and Aaron Meyer

Responsibility is one of the most important values to cultivate in one’s soul. To take responsibility means to cultivate the “ability” for response to an “other.” This responsibility to another is born in the moment where no one else is present to assist. As Hillel said (Avot 2:6) “uveemkom sh’ain anashim hishtadail lihiyot ish”(in a place where there aren’t people of moral courage taking responsibility, one needs to step up). What is our moral responsibility to one another and how can we actively step up to
make the world a better place?

J Line South Hills Special Sessions
There will be two special sessions of J Line South Hills this year, on November 13 and February 12. Each one will explore the core question of “how can I bring about change in this world?” Each of the sessions will be a hands-on, interactive experience that will
work with a local organization to create a positive impact in our community. These sessions are open to teens beyond J Line South Hills.

J-Serve: Grades 6-12—March 29, 2020
J-Serve Pittsburgh is a teen-led day of Jewish community service, attended last year by 320 Jewish teens from all over the greater Pittsburgh area. J-Serve takes place in more than 90 cities around the world annually. We had one of the largest J-Serve turnouts last year! Teens can volunteer at more than 15 service locations.

For more information about joining the Steering Committee, or to join the mailing list, please contact Hannah Kalson at [email protected]

J Serve Pittsburgh is a partnership of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Repair the World: Pittsburgh, BBYO, and the Volunteer Center of the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh

Diller Teen Fellows: Grades 10-11

Diller Teen Fellows program is an immersive leadership program inviting a select group of Jewish teens from 6 continents and 32 communities to step up, lead their communities, and repair the world. The depth of the program, global engagement, and a focus on experiential learning create an enduring impact on participants and their families, building leaders with the power to change the world.

For more information, contact [email protected]org or 412-697-3233

L’Taken Social Justice Seminar
January 24-27, 2020

In partnership with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, you will have the opportunity to impact our country as you share your views on social justice topics with decisionmakers on Capitol Hill. Our program is designed to both expose you to a variety of public policy issues and explore the Jewish values that inform advocacy around these issues. Throughout the weekend, we will give you the knowledge and tools to write an persuasive and passionate speech on a topic of your choice to present when you visit the offices of your senators and representatives on the Monday of the program.

Fall Trimester

September 11, 18, 25
October 2, 16;, 23, 30
November 6

Special Session
November 13

Winter Trimester

November 20,
December 4, 11, 18
January 8, 22, 29,
February 5

Special Session
February 12

Spring Trimester
February 19, 26,
March 4, 11, 18, 25,
April 1, 22

J Serve
March 29