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December 14, 1990 - Image 96

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-12-14

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From Morning Minyan To Floor Hockey

Life Is All But Dull
For the nth Grade


The Jewish News will
spend the rest of this
school year examining life
in the 7th grade. This is
the first in a series.


Staff Writer

Adayit Kalo, Jaime
Newman and David
Herskovic stand outside
the historic school
house at Hillel Day
School, where they are
students in the 7th



he boys who have
celebrated their
b'nai mitzvah are
off to the side of
the room, placing
their tefillin on their arms and
As a bell sounds, students
promenade — some one by
one, others in small groups
— into the Hillel Day School
cafeteria, which once a day
turns into a makeshift
chapel for morning minyan
for students in the 6th, 7th
and 8th grades.
The Torah is read each
Monday and Thursday. And
7th graders chant the maftir
on the Thursday before b'nai
or b'not mitzvah. Not a word
of English is spoken during
minyan. It's a time for
prayer and solace.
Throughout the year, The
Jewish News will report on
life inside Hillel's 7th grade,
a pivotal time for students
who, as they turn 13, are
viewed as young men and
women in the Jewish world.
It is Thursday, yet there
will be no bar mitzvah this
weekend. The next one will
not take place until
January. Various students
are called to the bimah to
participate, but the 7th
graders this week will get a
Samantha, seated in her
assigned seat, chants Ashrei.
Afterward, she will go to
Yolette Jaffe's math class.
The teachers daven as they
watch over the youngsters,
who sometimes prefer talk-
ing to morning prayer. In
one section is the 7th grade.
In another is the 8th grade.
And in another is the 6th.
Science teacher Sheila
Miller, stationed next to the
7th grade, sees two girls
whispering. A little eye con-
tact with the girls puts an
end to the innocent chatter.
Minyan, with an-
nouncements by headmaster
Dr. Mark Smiley, takes 30
minutes. Now the
youngsters have just a few
minutes to get to class.
For first period, the 7th
graders split into three

classes — science with Mrs.
Miller, where they are work-
ing on a project; rabbinics
with Rabbi Elliot Pachter of
Adat Shalom Synagogue,
with whom they will study
for the last time and will
have a party with cookies
and donuts; and math with
Mrs. Jaffe.
Throughout the day, the
students continue to move
from class to class with little
time for goofing off in the
halls and idle chitchat with
friends. They have three
minutes in between each
sessions. And today's lunch, a
normal time for student
powwows, is cut short. The
7th grade is meeting for 10
minutes to discuss their an-
nual project with the Jewish
Association for Residential
Care for • Persons with De-
velopmental Disabilities
They go from English to
Chumash, math to social
studies, rabbinics to Jewish
values, science to sifruit (lit-
erature), Jonah to Israel.
Even the teachers say the
day is intense for these
There are 47 students in-
cluding three boys named
Schwartz, three boys named
Joshua and three boys nam-
ed David. Also in class is a
tomboy, an actress with the
Jewish Ensemble Theater, a
set of twins, an Israeli, two
class clowns, the "smart" kid,
the rabbi's daughter, the boy
with four detentions, a few
"favorite" couples, two boys
with pierced ears.
The fashions are typical.
The girls wear big sweaters
and stretch pants or jeans
with sneakers or flat boots
and shoes. They don't wear
much makeup. Some are
experimenting with light-
colored lipsticks. And the
boys wear jeans with T-
shirts and sweats. Gym
shoes dominate the feet of
the 7th grade. Only a few
students sport trendy
designer clothes.
Parents are as diverse as
the students. There are a few
doctors, lawyers, a store

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