What Is J Line?

Open to all teens in 8th-12th grade, regardless of affiliation or background.

We’re looking forward to another wonderful year of learning and building community together. Those of you who have been part of J Line before will notice some changes, and I’m so excited to share the vision for the new year with you. Our Hebrew model is the same, but we are kicking off a new track-based program for Jewish learning experiences. In this new model, you have the option to choose from four unique learning tracks, each built around a different theme: Israel, Social Justice, Jewish Culture and Peoplehood, or Adulting 101. Spend the whole year taking a deep dive into one track, with different topics each trimester, or switch into a different track at the end of each trimester and explore something new! And every trimester will include a special project based on that trimester’s focus, from mapping Jewish culture around the world to making your own Jewish cookbook, and much more: an opportunity to get creative in bringing your learning to life! Whatever journey you choose, you will get to dig into meaningful learning, look at Judaism beyond the walls of the JCC, and explore how to carry your J Line experiences into the rest of your life. I look forward to seeing you in September!

Hannah Kalson, Director of Teen Engagement and Experiences

 

SUNDAY MORNING SCHEDULE

9:30-10:20 AM – Modern Hebrew OR Jewish learning tracks

10:25-10:45 AM – Break

10:50-11:45 AM – Modern Hebrew OR Jewish learning tracks

11:45 AM – Brunch B’Yachad

The Second Floor is delighted to host a brunch b’yachad after J Line Sunday mornings. This opportunity to eat, relax, and hang out with friends is open to anyone in 8th-12th grade. Join us this year for an ever-changing brunch menu, including waffle bars, pastries, omelets, and more!

Embark on a journey through eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel)! We are lucky to have two shinshinim, Israeli teens on a gap year between finishing high school and beginning their national army service, joining us in Pittsburgh and at J Line this year. With the guidance of the shinshinim and our other educators, get ready to take a journey in understanding what makes Israel unique and special Israel and what it means to be Israeli today, while building new relationships with Israelis and bridging these different facets of the Jewish community. Students on the Israel track will also be part of an exciting new program with Ethiopian-Israeli teens, having weekly Skype sessions with their “pen pal”.

Fall Trimester – Israel’s Origin Story

What is the historical and biblical context for a Jewish state on this particular sliver of land? Does it even matter that the modern state of Israel is where it is, and how did it come to be? Explore Israel’s ancient and recent past, map its transformation, and discuss  and debate the significance of this Jewish state

Winter Trimester – Modern Israel

Take a dive into Israel and life in Israel today! With the shinshinim, get ready to explore what it means to be Israeli: everything from army service to how Israelis practice Judaism to popular culture to the hot-button political issues of the day.

Spring Trimester – Teen to Teen: Pittsburgh and Karmiel-Misgav

Connect with teens in Pittsburgh’s sister city of Karmiel-Misgav! In addition to learning about each other’s lives and developing a better understanding of the similarities and differences between Israeli and American life and culture, you will be part of creating a digital ‘zine to share your experiences with the larger community.

Many Jewish concepts are embodied by the phrase “social justice”, from tikkun olam (repairing the world) to tzedakah (philanthrophy and giving). In the social justice track, dive into several topics that bring Jewish social justice to life, and take an active role in addressing them in your community. What is social justice and what issues are most pressing in our lives and communities right now? Get ready to examine the widespread values of social justice through a Jewish lens and take action on what matters most to you!

Fall Trimester – March for our Lives: Gun Violence

Tackle the issue of gun violence in our schools, our communities, and our lives. Where does the Jewish community stand on gun control, and what has the Jewish response been to gun violence? Gun violence encompasses many different issues, including police brutality and domestic violence. What do you think, and how can you take action in your own community?

Winter Trimester – Hunger and Poverty

Hunger and poverty affect people in every city, in every culture, from every race and religion. This trimester we’ll explore what hunger and poverty look like in the Jewish community and other communities, what the city of Pittsburgh does and could do for people in need, and how we can help. Our learning will include visiting the Squirrel Hill Food Pantry and more!

Spring Trimester – #MeToo

If you’ve been on social media over the last year, you’ve probably noticed #MeToo, as more and more women have been speaking out about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. Let’s take a closer look at the roots and significance of the #MeToo movement, its impact on women’s daily lives (including the different experiences of white women, women of color, gay and trans women, and more), and the Jewish lens on gender equality and justice. Do the goals of #MeToo apply to your life and community? What can you do?

What makes us am Yisrael, the Jewish people? Is it our languages? Our food? Our ancestry? Let’s put some of these puzzle pieces together! On the Jewish Culture and Peoplehood track, students will explore different facets of Jewish life, traditions, and practices that add up to the diverse community that is am Yisrael. Whether it’s halfway around the world or right here in Pittsburgh, come learn about and celebrate Jewish culture and the Jewish people.

Fall Trimester – Jews Around the World

Tackle the sounds, sights, and colors of Judaism while looking what it means to be Jewish in different cultures and communities. How does being Jewish in Pittsburgh compare being Jewish in Moscow or Buenos Aires or Capetown? What about Ashkenazi vs Sephardic Jews? What binds us together and what sets us apart? Let’s find out!

Winter Trimester – Jewish Geography

Get ready to explore Jewish migration and your own family trees. Jews have lived in so many places and built communities and families all over the country and the world. How did you get where you are, and who are you connected to? How do the places we’re from and the families we’re part of inform who we are as Jews?

Spring – Jewish Food and Cooking

Be sure to come hungry as you dive into the wide and delicious world of Jewish cooking. Food is one of the Jewish people’s favorite languages, and our cuisine tells an important part of story. Take a look at the many different elements of Jewish food, make some of your own dishes, check out Pittsburgh’s Jewish eateries, and examine what we’re saying with the food on our plates

Judaism says that you become an adult at 13. But how does this whole adult-ing thing work anyway? What do you need to know to make decisions, take care of yourself, and keep the dishes clean while you’re at it? Come tackle some of the big topics and questions you’ll encounter on this journey and learn how to handle whatever comes your way.

Fall Trimester– Asking for a Friend: Mental Health and Wellness

Have you ever heard someone say that they “practice self-care” with face masks or TV or making brownies? It’s one approach that can help – but what does it really mean to be mindful of mental health and wellness? Explore how to take care of yourself (including handling stress and dealing with conflict), knowing when a friend needs help and what to do for them, and any big or small questions you have about mental health. Judaism teaches that it’s important to take care of yourself and be mindful of your needs – let’s figure out how to do that and reduce stigma!

Winter Trimester – Gender and Sexuality

Have you ever filled out a form and seen the option “other” next to a question about gender? Or heard someone use a term you’ve never heard of before to describe their sexual orientation? Gender and sexuality are complex, ever-evolving topics and often at the forefront of big conversations in our society. Let’s take a closer look at what they mean today and what Judaism has to say about it all – while exploring how to push back against gender stereotypes and discrimination, and the role that these questions play in your lives.

Spring Trimester – How to be a Mensch

Mensch (Yiddish): a person of integrity and honor. Seems straightforward enough, but what actually makes someone a mensch and how can YOU be one? Spend this trimester examining those qualities, learning about and reflecting on some notable mensches, and thinking about what matters most to you and what you can do to follow those examples and act on the things you care about in your own life and community.

This year at J Line, we are offering chugim (electives) miniseries on weekday evenings. There will be a different chug each trimester, offering more exciting opportunities to explore different areas of Judaism that interest you! Check out what’s coming up each trimester, and stay tuned for dates.

Fall Trimester: Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Orthodox, Oh My!

If you want to go to a synagogue in Pittsburgh, you have plenty of options to choose from. But is what happens from one synagogue to the next really so different? What sets the different denominations of Judaism apart, and what do they have in common? Come learn with and from other teens about the many ways to experience Jewish life and community, hear from Pittsburgh rabbis, and explore what we can all do together to make a world a little better.

Winter Trimester: Paint the Town

You’ve probably seen graffiti on a bridge or the side of a building before, but did you know that there’s a whole world of history and technique behind this street art – and that a big piece of the story of graffiti is Israeli? With the help of local artists, let’s learn more about Jewish and Israeli street art and then put our own styles and techniques into action, designing and creating a new mural for The Second Floor hallway!

Spring Trimester: L’Taken

Every year, nearly 2000 Jewish high school students from all over the United States travel to Washington, DC for L’Taken, an annual social justice seminar for teens held in partnership with the Religious Action Center (RAC). Over the course of four days, participants learn about current events and topics that matter to the American Jewish community, explore DC, celebrate Shabbat together, and even write and deliver speeches on Capitol Hill. Join this year’s Pittsburgh group! We’ll prepare for L’Taken together, enjoy an amazing social justice experience, and, when we get home, take time to reflect on our experiences and share them with our community.

Stay tuned for dates and times!

Sunday Morning Dates
September: 16, 23
October:  7, 14, 21, 28
November: 4, 11, 18
December: 2, 9, 16
January:  6, 13, 27
February: 3, 10, 24
March: 3, 10, 24, 31
April: 7 (J-Serve), 28

Wednesday Hebrew Dates:  
Sept: 16
October: 3,10, 17, 24
November: 7, 14, 28
December: 5, 12, 19
January: 9, 16, 23, 30
February: 6, 13, 20, 27
March: 6, 13, 27
April: 3, 10

Speak Hebrew Like an Israeli!

(Well…almost.)

Blending Digital, One-on-One and Classroom-Based Learning at J Line

J Line Hebrew teens take Hebrew on Sunday morning 9:30 – 11:45 (including a snack break) and Wednesday evenings, 6:30 – 7:30, at the JCC.

J Line Hebrew uses the NETA Hebrew curriculum of Hebrew College, a modern Hebrew curriculum designed specifically for teens.

Hebrew students learn in small classrooms, and also meet one-on-one with our Hebrew coordinator, Ronit Pasternak. All students receive 24-hour access to online games and learning.

New students are placed into the appropriate Hebrew level (1-4) by taking a placement test at the beginning of the year.

Students in Pittsburgh Public Schools can receive high school elective credit for taking Hebrew at J Line!

Contact Our Hebrew Coordinator

Our Hebrew Curriculum – NETA

Meet our Hebrew teachers, below!

To register for Hebrew, click here. 
To register for Jewish learning tracks, click here.

Contact Us

Hannah Kalson

Director of Teen Engagement & Experiences

412-339-5400

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