The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Ninio (far right) and family traveled Puerto Rico over winter break during Ninios time at JDS. Photo provided by Gili Schisterman.
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Maya Greenblum and Jordana DauberFebruary 28, 2024

As soon as Hamas’ attack on Israel occurred on Oct. 7, the realities of Israeli citizens were flipped upside down, causing a number of unprecedented...

How Hebrew teachers are addressing the war in Israel

Lily Rulnick
Putterman-Kennet incorporates current happenings in Israel into her Hanukkah lesson.

Since the Israel-Hamas War broke out, most Jews have been in a state of worry and concern. At CESJDS, there has been a sense of helplessness as a result of the 6,000-mile gap. While many at JDS are American, the high school’s Hebrew Department, composed of Israeli natives, has been working to educate students on the war while dealing with the pain that comes from their personal connections to Israel. 

The Hebrew curriculum has changed since the Oct. 7 attacks, with some teachers allotting the beginning of class to update students on recent events in Israel. Students in the Heritage class, which is a class for Israelis fluent in Hebrew, talk about more in-depth topics since many of the student’s parents are either from Israel or serving in the IDF. 

“We do not get into details that might be overwhelming for students,” Upper School Hebrew Language Chair Shelli Putterman-Kenett said. “But we share that there is something irregular happening in dimensions that we haven’t seen for 50 years since the Yom Kippur War.”

Within the Heritage Class, there is a somber tone among students, but the curriculum is taught as rigorously as intended. Sophomore Ori Ben-Nun feels that his Hebrew class has become a safe space during an incredibly difficult time. 

“School is very open to our ideas and heritage class is a place where we get to bond, talk about the war and how it is affecting us personally,” Ben-Nun said. “It’s a tight-knit community.”

Upon walking into the Hebrew department office, there is an intense bond that has developed since the Israel-Hamas War. All Hebrew teachers are constantly updating their colleagues on the latest news of their homeland, with many websites, news stations and articles being read throughout the office. 

“If you walk into the Hebrew department, you could hear everyone screaming ‘Did you hear what happened? Look online to see what’s happening,’” Hebrew teacher Yaffa Dagony said. “We are like a family. Everybody’s updating and if you want to do real work, you need to go someplace else. We are very close when talking about what’s going on. We are emailing or writing on our WhatsApp things that are important and that we want to share.”

For the Hebrew teachers, it is particularly hard to teach because of their direct connection to Israel and the reality of living far away from their loved ones. They have been sensitive to the students while grappling with their own emotions regarding their family and friends in Israel. For some teachers, JDS has been a place of refuge from all the horror happening in Israel and a support system in their times of need. 

“They [Israeli students] feel very safe to be at JDS,” Anat Kaufman, Hebrew teacher and Israel engagement coordinator said. “When you get into this school and you see the flags and you see the sign ‘We support Israel’, ‘Our heart with Israel’, and you see all over the love for Israel. I don’t know if you can understand how much it warms our hearts.”

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About the Contributors
Eliana Wolf, Sports Editor
Eliana is pumped to be this year’s Sports Editor for Lions Tale. She has always had an affinity for sports, as she is on the Varsity Tennis, Winter Track, and Softball teams. She loves editing articles and is so excited to enhance the sports sections with engaging content. Eliana is also an active member of the Bohr-Franklin Science Journal and the STEM fellowship. In addition to Lion's Tale, you can find Eliana playing the piano, spending time with her family and friends, reading, and hiking in Rock Creek Park. She can’t wait to work with her co-editors to edit articles and design spreads for the section.  
Lily Rulnick, Editor-in-Chief
Lily Rulnick is thrilled to serve as Editor-in-Chief on the Lion’s Tale after being on the paper since freshman year. Lily has so much faith in the incredible staff and cannot wait to work with them to make the Lion’s Tale shine. Apart from the Lion’s Tale, Lily is president of the Ceramics Club, the student representative on the Health and Wellness Taskforce, captain of the Girls Varsity Tennis Team, and a Student Admissions Representative. For fun, Lily loves to play piano, read fashion magazines, ski, and spend time with her friends, family, and two dogs. Lily cannot wait to continue to put all she has into the Lion’s Tale and make it the best it can be. 

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