PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

Our leadership team consists of the school's Tefillah Coordinator, the school Rabbi, and two student leaders. Together, our team implemented the program by offering interested students a tikkun middot minyan every Monday. This minyan afforded one third of our student body the opportunity to learn about, explore, and practice the middot in a safe and nurturing environment. Students shared their experience with each other, and offered one another support as they worked to cultivate greater awareness and skill with the middot. Each week students reported back to the group on the insights they gleaned from kabbalot they selected. Additionally, faculty, staff, and admin participated in a vaad mussar that met once monthly. In between sessions participants practiced sichat chaverim periodically and took on kabbalot, cheshbon hanefesh, and focus phrase practices. In order to bring the practice to the entire student population, we presented the middah of the month during our Friday tefillah town hall meeting, and explored with Jewish and General Studies faculty how the middot serve to shape interactions with students and colleagues. We also employed a middot lens during our monthly lunch-and-learn program Lishma, with various faculty members presenting texts and personal insights on the middah of the month, and inviting colleagues into dialogue about how the middot might be used to improve interpersonal relationships and school climate.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Website: http://www.cjhs.org/

Project leadership team names and emails:

MATERIALS PRODUCED FOR MIDDAH OF EACH MONTH (banners, posters, divrei Torah, songs, etc.):
Hitlamdut:
Bechirah Points:
Anavah:
Savlanut:
Chesed:
Kavod:
Sh'tikah:
Emunah:
Bitachon:
Seder:

PUBLICITY MATERIALS (press releases, newsletter articles, e-=blasts, etc.)
Submissions to the E-News, Chicagoland Jewish High School's weekly newsletter:

"This year, Rabbi Feinsmith, Rabbi Silver, Jonah Glick-Unterman and Aviva Hirsch have been leading Monday morning's Middot Minyan. Using skills gained through participating in a conference last February in Newark, this team has been working to transform CJHS into a more compassionate environment. Each month, the Middot minyan members study a new middah (character trait). So far, we have learned about Hitlamdut (a stance of open-mindedness), bechira points (moments of choice), Anavah (balanced humility), and Savlanut (patience and forbearance). As we learn about the middot, we examine how they play into our personal lives and school community, and we try to incorporate them into our daily lives. This month, we are studying Chesed (loving kindness)."
- Jonah Glick-Unterman, CJHS senior and Middot Minyan student leader

"For the past two weeks, the school’s Middot Minyan has focused on the value of Kavod (respect). In our first session, we explored the challenge of developing respect for ourselves. We discussed how in our society, our self-esteem is often dependent on the perceptions and judgments of others. These external pressures diminish our ability to understand of ourselves and obstruct our path towards personal growth. We studied the prayer of Elohai Neshamah, which reads, “My God, the soul you placed within me is inherently pure.” After discussing the meaning of these words, the students concluded that although we cannot escape reality by disregarding society’s expectations, we must learn to look within ourselves, recognize our innate worth, and not allow these expectations to define who we are and determine who we want to be. This idea guided the discussion for our second session, which focused on the value of treating others with respect. In particular, we emphasized the challenge of giving respect to those who we do not like. To orient our learning, we studied a teaching from Pirkei Avot 4:3: “Do not be scornful of any person and do not be disdainful of anything, for you have no person without his hour and no thing without his place.” This text was similar to the Elohai Neshamah prayer in its acceptance of the natural dignity present within every living soul and its acknowledgement of the obligation we have as moral human beings to honor this dignity. Regardless of personal differences, we are all connected in ways that we do not understand and when we disrespect or belittle anyone’s experiences, achievements, or insights, we lose a piece of ourselves that is vital to our true understanding of the world. And without this piece, we are going nowhere." - Aviva Hirsch, CJHS junior and Middot Minyan student leader

Aviva Hirsch writes, "For the past two weeks in this year's Middot minyan, we have learned about the middah of Seder (order). This is particularly relevant in the CJHS community, where issues of time management and organization seem more critical than ever. As integrated and hard-working high school students, we are expected to complete our work, engage in class discussions, study for exams, take on leadership positions, and participate in extracurriculars, all while maintaining our relationships with family and friends. These are the challenges that students and faculty at our school face every day. And although we cannot escape our realities and avoid our commitments, an important part of Seder is leaving time for ourselves--time that we can use to pause, reflect, and stabilize ourselves. In order to achieve this, it may be necessary to let go of some of our responsibilities, some of the things that blind us from what's important to us. Because as difficult as it is, this is the goal of our work--to use our experiences to find a greater sense of balance, meaning, and presence in our lives."

MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS:
Town Hall Informational Session and Intro to Hitlamdut

Informational Power Point for Faculty and Admin

Middot Minyan Evaluation

Faculty Vaad Mussar Evaluation

Mary Oliver - Hitbodedut Prayer Poem