Kitah Zayin (7th)

October 2018

Kitah Zayin is thrilled to start the new year off with a deep dive into who we are as individuals and as a Jewish people. This year will focus on who we are as individuals and how we evaluate our decision-making. As we grow and learn more about identity, we will also read a variety of Jewish texts to better understand how so many of our fundamental debates have continued over time.  ~Stuart Portman

November 2018

November 25, 2018

Hi, Kitah Zayin Families!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Heading into December, Stuart and I wanted to give you a few updates.

Up first, next week (12/2) we will be having a Hanukkah lesson where we will discuss some ethics.

Then, on Wednesday 12/12 we will be having our siyum! The students have been working very hard on a d’var and this will be their opportunity to share it with you. Please mark your calendars for this day.

Finally, I am going abroad next semester so my last day with the students will be 12/12. I am sad that I won’t be able to see their b’nai mitzvot, but I know they will all do amazing!

Thank you and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.



December 2018

December 7, 2018

Good morning, Kitah Zayin parents,

We are writing to let you know about an upcoming program. Throughout the year, we have had conversations on friendship, dating, healthy relationships, and Jewish ethics. As such, on 12/9, The Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA) will be presenting It’s Not Love® to both Kitah Chet and Kitah Zayin.

It’s Not Love® is the cornerstone workshop of AWARE® – the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse’s (JCADA) dating violence prevention initiative. It is a choose-your-own path style program in which participants assume the role of a character who is either in an abusive relationship or is witnessing one. Students engage in small group discussions to identify characteristics of both healthy and unhealthy relationships. The goal of the program is to educate teens so they can build healthy relationships in their lives now and in the future.

JCADA was founded with a three-prong mission: Support victims of domestic abuse to become empowered and live safely; Educate the community about domestic abuse and appropriate responses; and Prevent future generations from suffering domestic abuse. Since 2009, JCADA has presented the AWARE® workshops for over 8,500 students, educators and parents in congregations, youth groups, high schools, colleges, and camps across the DMV.

We believe that giving teens the support they need to make healthy relationship choices is one of the many ways we can create a safe community here at Etz Hayim. We know that talking with your child about the program and healthy relationships will help ensure that this program has a lasting impact. We encourage you to have an open dialogue with your teen about this program and healthy relationships. For more information about healthy relationships, warning signs of dating abuse, and how to talk to your teen, visit

This workshop will occur between 11:00 am – 12:30 pm in the Social Hall. After T’fillah, Kitah Zayin will do a text study on Jewish ethics related to Hanukkah. Next week, we will continue our lessons on relationships with a conversation on marriage and Jewish traditions surrounding marriage. Thank you for your continued support, and we looking forward to the discussion. If you have questions on the program this week, please let Amanda, Laura, and me know.

Shabbat Shalom!

Stuart Portman & Amanda Sky

February 2019

At the end of last year, Kitah Zayin finished our introduction to relationships. We have now discussed friendship, dating, and lifelong commitments, as well as Jewish texts on each.


In the following month, Kitah Zayin will begin to explore modern day and Jewish textual applications of the concepts we’ve discussed thus far. We will dive further into conversations about communication and relationships and consider how Judaism approaches such issues, and how we see them play out in our world today.

February 8, 2019

Dear Kitah Zayin Families:

I am the new Wednesday teacher for Kitah Zayin, and have enjoyed working with your students for the last month.

As you know, your students will be leading Shabbas services on Friday, March 01, and towards that end I have been working with them to make sure they are ready.  They will be leading almost all of the prayers of Ma’ariv, and have chosen to do so as a group.

Obviously, one of the ways to be more at ease at services is to attend, which enables individuals to not only be more familiar with the prayers, but also to get a sense of how the service flows.  I have encouraged the students to attend when they can, especially over the next three Friday nights leading up to 01 March.  I personally will be there both tonight and in two weeks, and can answer questions they may have as they come up.  (I will provide them with a more complete Saturday schedule this week, but as of now, I will be there tomorrow.)

Although I will be providing some links to the students in class on Wednesday, I know they were interested especially in the melody for Hashkiveinu.  According to our music teacher, Moreh Will, the version we use is by Craig Taubman.  If you would be willing to share this link ( with your students in case they want to listen prior to class on Wednesday, I would appreciate it.

Once the students have led Friday night services, we will move to the prayers that make up a Saturday morning service.

In addition, we have been going over the highlights of each week’s Torah portion based upon the students’ interests from keywords written on the board.

Finally, I have started a new “Ask a Jewish question” component, where students can submit questions about anything with a Jewish nexus—cultural, Hebrew, Torah, holiday, food, history, the first Jewish MVP of the Super Bowl.  The goal is to give students an opportunity to explore whatever might interest them within a Jewish context.  I do not claim to know all the answers, but my intention is to research the ones I don’t to provide the answers by the following Wednesday.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at  Please refer to Kitah Zayin, or your student’s name in the subject line, so I can make sure I give your email the priority it deserves.  Although I will do my best to respond promptly, I do not check email on Shabbas.

Thank you very much,

Sharon Beth K. Bronheim

February 15, 2019

Dear Kitah Zayin families,

Your students asked for a list of what prayers they will be leading in two weeks for Shabbat services, and although I will have printouts with me on Wednesday, was hoping you could share this with them prior to class.  In addition to the Word file listing all of their responsibilities, I have also attached an audio file of a page that I know they wanted additional guidance on.

Thank you very much!

Sharon Beth Bronheim

Friday night Ma’ariv Service

Kitah Zayin responsibilities

pg. 28 Barechu

Ma’ariv – responsive reading bottom left side of page

pg. 29 Ahavat Olam (same melody as Wednesday)

pg. 30-31 Sh’ma & V’ahavta

pg. 32 first two lines will ask R. Bass to do

audio attached for the rest

Mi Chamocha – boxes & bold

pg. 33 Hashkivenu (same as Wednesday)

pg. 34 V’shamru

Hatzi Kaddish

pg. 35-47 Amidah + V’yechulu – will ask R. Bass to do

pg. 48 Eloheinu V’elohei Avoteinu – read English at top of page

Kaddish Shalem

pg. 51 Aleinu

pg. 52 Mourner’s Kaddish

pg. 54 Adon Olam (melody to be selected by Kitah Zayin)

April 2019

April 3, 2019

Kitah Zayin has been very busy! We have had conversations these past few weeks on how pop culture influences our beliefs around identity, and moving forward, we will talk about how social media plays a role in our development and daily lives.

After Passover, we will delve deeper into the traditions the holiday presents and better understand how we can use critical thinking to be more socially involved Jewish young adults. With only a few classes left in the year, we will make the most of our time together!


Julie & Stuart