Grades 7-8

These are especially critical years for any Jewish student. They are forced to confront the question: What does it mean to be a Jewish adult? Our 7th and 8th grade program offerings allow students to put all of their previous Jewish learning to use in the real world, thus giving them their first view of what it means to live Jewishly as a full participant in the community.

WBTYhelps (Grades 7 & 8)

WBTYhelps is our revolutionary 7th and 8th grade religious school program, designed to engage students in service learning in order to form deep connections between volunteer work and the Jewish tradition.

There are two primary components to the WBTYhelps experience:

  • The on-campus (either Irmas or Glazer) learning sessions on the first Sunday of each month from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Note: On Sunday, November 4th, WBTYhelps goes to camp for the day!
  • The off-site experience with the track of their choosing (details below). Students are required to finish out the year, regardless of their B’nei Mitzvah date, because the organizations with which we partner are relying on them as committed participants.

Track One: Social Justice Day Tripping

In partnership with Tzedek America, students will take half day trips, specifically curated to give the participants profound insight into many issues of social justice in our city. Each trip is a stand alone experience, but the common threads are woven together to form a tapestry of experiences and perspectives. The students will also be able to interact with community organizers who are passionately committed to their causes.

Thrift Shopping With a Purpose: Learn about Social Enterprise and Non-Profit organizations, their similarities and differences by shopping at thrift shops and meeting the people who have either created them or work at them.

Environmental Justice: Environmental Justice 101 - A presentation and interactive tour of past victories, current campaigns, and an overall tour of community resistance and organizing.

Food Justice Tour: Learn about food deserts and food injustices in Los Angeles through the experience of growing, eating and making food.

Immigration and Refugees: Eat at a restaurant owned by a refugee and hear the owner’s story, meet DACA recipients and meet with organizations doing work to help the immigrants and refugees in our country.

Homelessness L.A.: A gentrification tour of downtown Los Angeles and a walking tour of Skid Row ending in a volunteer project at one of the downtown missions.

Gang Life and the Prison System: Meet current and former gang members, learn what is being done to help gang members become more productive and learn about the prison system in LA.

Dates: Sept. 30, Jan. 27, Feb. 24, March 31, April 28, May 18 (5/18 is the only Saturday trip). Trips generally take place from 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Track Two: Kids Helping Kids

Participants will partner with The Friendship Circle, an organization that provides Jewish children with special needs a full range of social, recreational, educational, and Judaic experiences. The experience will begin with four training sessions at the Friendship Circle center on consecutive Thursdays evenings. Using their knowledge and training, students will volunteer three to four additional times throughout the year at holiday celebrations. Students will experience for themselves the incredible impact that they can have through volunteerism and inclusion.

Training dates: Oct. 25*, Nov. 1, Nov. 8, Nov. 14. (Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.)

Volunteer dates: Sun., Nov. 18, Sun., Jan. 20 from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Tu B'Shevat Festival), Thurs., March 21 (Purim celebration). Stay tuned for more volunteer dates.

*A parent is requested to attend the first meeting only, for orientation purposes

Track Three: Kids Helping Kids Basketball (boys only/weekly)

Students will partner with The Friendship Circle, an organization that provides Jewish boys with special needs a full range of social, and recreational, experiences on the basketball court. Participants will have one training session with a coach prior to their first volunteer experience and then be matched with a client. This track offers the unique opportunity to establish and develop a meaningful relationship that is rooted in appreciation, acceptance, laughter and fun. This track is the only one that meets weekly on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at Pressman Academy.

The program begins in October, after the High Holidays.

Track Four: The Holocaust

In partnership with the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, students participate in intergenerational conversations with Holocaust Survivors, providing them an opportunity to both learn about the past and think about their roles in shaping the future. Participants will be provided the necessary tools to comprehend themes of the Holocaust (e.g. dehumanization, propaganda, humanity, Jewish history, Tikkun Olam, and more), and will learn how to find their voice in order to speak out against social injustices and intolerance in their own community.

Meetings will take place at the Irmas Campus on the third Tuesday of each month from 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Track Five: Literacy

Students develop a relationship with The Book Foundation and its partner organizations, including the iFoster Showroom, Peace4Kids, Children’s Bureau, Hope in a Suitcase, Foster Care Counts, and the Book Truck. Participants learn the importance of literacy and education in a child’s life, and and how it promotes academic success. Students also gain an understanding of the needs of underprivileged children in the Greater Los Angeles area and learn about the value of placing new books into the hands and homes of low-income and under-served children.

Each month participants learn about one of The Book Foundation’s partner organizations and engage in a hands-on activity (e.g refurbishing libraries, preparing suitcases for foster children, reading to children, and more). Participants help prepare games, crafts, and activities that help welcome children into a makeshift bookstore at the Peace4Kids Holiday Party and Foster Care Counts Mother’s Day Event.

The dates for this track vary, and have not yet been set for the coming year, but are exclusively on Saturdays and Sundays. Often, they will offer us multiple dates in a month in order to accommodate schedules.

Rosh Chodesh: It's A Girl Thing (Grade 8)

Hosted in welcoming participants’ homes, this program is exclusively for girls. For some groups, this may be their second year together, or it may be their first. Regardless, the world girls are trying to navigate includes a barrage of cultural mixed messages, images that impact their self-image, social cues that may conflict with their values, and myriad other dilemmas and questions, as well. The Rosh Hodesh program nurtures deep connection among the participants in each group, fosters a safe learning environment, and discusses all of the issues that affect girls most, all through a Jewish lens. Groups may continue together throughout their high school years.

Wednesday Night Program (Grade 8)

This is the ideal environment for our 8-12 grade students to socialize, relieve some stress midweek, and have programming that is specifically geared to the things that impact their lives the most. For the first half hour, teens have dinner, catch up with one another, play ping-pong and decompress from their days. A rotation of clergy, staff, and guest speakers lead group explorations into various topics of high interest. Students have the ability to examine aspects of day to day life and contemporary issues through a Jewish lens in an open, accepting, inclusive environment. Participants often characterize WNP as a way to unwind from their normal pressures and they look forward to reconnecting with their friends at temple each week.