HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal


MIKVAH: A J-STEM PROJECT

by RABBI HOWARD FINKELSTEIN, Dean of Judaic Studies Issue: Jewish Literacy and Curriculum Ottawa Jewish Community School
TOPICS : Jewish Studies

As schools are involved in the area of STEM, we at the Ottawa Jewish Community School are introducing J-STEM, involving the integration of Halakhah with science, technology, engineering and math through the construction of a model functional mikvah built to scale.


The building of a mikvah is a complex halakhic project as it involves not only the knowledge of the Jewish laws applicable to it, but also the implementation of key components involved in the study of STEM. From an engineering perspective, it has to be determined how the building and the water gathering system from both rainwater and city water should be constructed so as to ensure functionality. Students will study about water systems in general science, and work out how the cisterns gathering water shall be built in order to ensure that no leakage takes place.


Mathematics is used to determine the volume of the cisterns and the immersion pool as well as issues of water displacement. From a scientific basis, it will have to be determined how the water will be heated, and how the water will remain clean either through filtering and/or the use of chlorine. Another scientific challenge concerns the question of how the PH of the water will be tested.


Can the students create a technologically friendly way of ensuring that the process of filling the cisterns and immersion pool is functional and in accordance with Jewish law?
Most importantly, the students will study the halakhot of the mikvah and taharat hamishpachah (family purity) as they build this.


As this is an eighth grade project, students are assigned to teams and a project manager is selected.


The teams include the following committees: halakhic research, engineering, planning, aesthetics, material, technological. At the end of the project, students will create a video or slideshow depicting the mikvah.


In a community school setting, it is imperative that experiential Jewish education forms an important component of the students’ Judaic instruction, and that clearly, there is integration between Judaic and secular studies. The building of a mikvah is such an example.

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JEWISH MYSTICISM

In grades 10-12, our students can sign up for Jewish mysticism as one of the Judaic studies electives. Students......

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Jewish Literacy and Curriculum

When formulating a vision of what they want their students to learn, day school educators need to start with a shared understanding of Jewish literacy. This issue explores the connections between a vision of Jewish literacy and a Jewish curriculum. Authors consider the purposes and goals of literacy; suggest ways that Jewish sources can serve as an educational framework; advocate for various subjects, curricular emphases and pedagogical or delivery methods; and share specific initiatives that they have developed. 

 

Click here to download the PDF and printer friendly version of this issue of HaYidion.