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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?

• Registration will be taken for each trimester
• Fall trimester registration fee is $100
• 10th-grade Confirmation requires a full year commitment

Check Out Our 2020-2021 Program Guide!

Register for J LINE South Hills


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.

Fall Trimester Dates: October 7, 14,21,28 and November 4, 11, 18

Rock the Vote – Hannah Kalson

Pssst, have you heard? There’s a presidential election happening in 2020, and the youngest generation of voters is expected to play a key role in who assumes the Oval Office. One in 10 eligible voters will be members of Gen Z (aged 18 to 23 at the time of the election), up from just four percent in 2016. This slice of the electorate is more ethnically and racially diverse than older generations, is more accepting of same-sex marriage and gender fluidity, and believes government should be doing more to solve Americans’ problems. We will explore the core issues in this Presidential election and connect them to Jewish values and ethics.

What Did You Really MEME? – Chris Herman

Memes are everywhere, ready to instantly make you laugh! Let’s explore the power and meaning of memes in today’s digital culture, touching on the topics of stereotypes, identity, and culture.

Making Connections – Barak Naveh

The world seems to be changing so fast and we are inundated with headlines online, on our phones and on television. Often, these headlines and stories are hard to understand and even harder to put into perspective. But, understanding history, can help you sort out and process the information. This class will go back in time to show, from a historical perspective (and often a Jewish perspective), what caused the events we are dealing with today. Students will leave class each night with a clearer understanding of why we are where we are and how we got there!

Electives (Weeks 4-8)

Jewish Fashion – Alex Malanych

It has been said that clothes make the person—while you might disagree, clothing has certainly been an important part of what makes Jews recognizably Jewish. In this elective we will explore just where some of our fashion trends come from and what Judaism has to say about our strongest suit.

The Ethics of Auschwitz – Rabbi Jessica & Rabbi Alex

A dying Nazi soldier asks a Jew in a concentration camp for forgiveness? 53 distinguished men and women respond to this question. What would you have done in his place?

SNL – Barak Naveh

Saturday Night Live has been making people laugh for decades. The show boasts a Jewish creator, Jewish writers and cast members, and plenty of Jewish material. But what is a Jewish joke, who can make it, and what impact, if any, does it have on us as Jews? Dive into the vast world of skits, songs, and reactions that make up Jewish SNL.

Core Learning

8th Grade: Identity & Intersectionality – Hannah Kalson

Diversity, empowerment, and people finding the confidence to be their full and true selves by making their own rules is a growing trend.

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 pressured among our peers, how can we navigate the tension between being liked and doing what’s right? Are they mutually exclusive?

10th Grade: Being a Jewish Adult

Confirmation constitutes an individual and group affirmation of commitment to the Jewish people. But what does it mean to affirm a commitment to the Jewish People? What do we want that to look like for ourselves and what is expected of us? Explore the questions you have about Jewish life and the commitments you want to make now and in the future about your Jewish identity.

Winter Trimester Dates: December 2, 9 16 January 6, 20, 27 and February 3, 10

Winter Electives (Weeks 1-4)

Digi-Tal(mud): Jewish Coding before the WWW – Alex Malanych
Long before the World Wide Web came to be, rabbis and Jewish scholars were creating texts that act a lot like websites—creating connections and “links” between Torah, other writing, and their everyday lives. Together, we will learn about how the sages designed their pages to discuss the world around them and design our own digital versions with the basics of HTML and CSS!

Jewish Taboo: Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll – Rabbi Alex Greenbaum
What else needs to be said? Can Jews? Should Jews? Would Jews? Rabbi Alex will challenge your assumptions and help you explore the shouldas, wouldas, and couldas of Jewish living.

Café Aroma – Barak Naveh< How can young Israelis afford the rising cost of housing in Israel, or the decline in social services like health and education? Should the Ultra-Orthodox be exempt from serving in the military? Should there be mandatory service in the military at all? Explore the hottest topics today for someone living in Israel. When Israelis sit down for coffee with friends, what do they debate about?

Electives (Weeks 4-8)

Jewish Big Questions – Rabbi Alex Greenbaum
Is God real? Is the Bible true? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why pray? What’s the meaning of life? Why So Many Rules? Why Be Jewish?

Wonder Woman – Hannah Kalson
Many classic superheroes are the creation of Jewish artists — and now Israeli actress Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman for a new generation! Explore what makes Wonder Woman Jewish and what it means in Judaism to be a hero, through the lens of the 2017 film.

Being Jewish in Public School – Barak Naveh
We will explore what it means to be Jewish in a Christian majority when it comes to holidays, racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism. You will have opportunities to share stories and problem solve as together we will figure out how to remain proud Jews in a non-Jewish world.

Core Learning

8th The Good Place – Chris Herman
What on the surface is a comedy about heaven and hell is actually a deeply philosophical adventure. One of the many topics covered in the 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: 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: Be The Change
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.

Spring Trimester Dates:February 17, 24 March 3, 10, 17, 24 and April 7, 14

Jewish Cooking: Jewish Food from Around the World
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.

Jewish Art – Alex Malanych

Who exactly was Bezalel? Why don’t we have any pictures of G-d? What exactly is the deal with the chamsa? Whether secular or sacred, Jews have been making art for millennia and a multitude of reasons. Together we will take a look at some of the most important Jewish artists and symbols from Bible to Brooklyn and think about what values color Jewish life from generation to generation.

They Made a Difference – Barak Naveh
Learn stories of famous Jewish heroes, both old and new. Learn how their courageous acts of bravery helped saved Jewish people or pave the way for history.

Electives (Weeks 4-8)

HSMTMTS! High School Musical: The Musical: The Series – Rabbi Alex Greenbaum
Welcome back to East High and Disney+’s mockumentary musical drama web television series. Where we’ll discuss scenes and songs and their Jewish take.

Game Night – Barak Naveh
Games like Cards Against Humanity, Monopoly and The Game of Life have provided countless hours of hilarious entertainment. But what can we learn about power, privilege, and responsibility through playing these types of games?

Core Learning

8th Grade: #MyJewishSnapShot – Rabbi Jessica Locketz
We live in a world filled with images. Whether you are Tik Toking, 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: 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: You + Me = Us
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-Serve: Grades 6-12—April 11, 2021
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 Alex Malanych at [email protected] or 412-697-3233

Fall Trimester (Now Virtual!)

September 30 October 7, 14,21,28 November 4, 11, 18

Winter Trimester

December 2, 9 16 January 6, 20, 27 February 3, 10

Spring Trimester

February 17, 24 March 3, 10, 17, 24 April 7, 14

J Serve
April 11, 2021