Scheck Hillel Meets Maïmonide School, Paris

Starting in late January, 11th graders in Dr. Barouk’s Modern Jewish History Class were given the unique opportunity to learn about what it is like to live as a Jew in France today. Hillel students learned about the difference in antisemitism between America and France and the similarities of life in both countries.

The project, the brainchild of Dr. Hana Barouk and her mother, Madame Roumani (who is also a Jewish History teacher), began with short introductions posted on Flipgrid. These videos helped students in both countries learn about each other: What does it mean to be Jewish? What is your favorite subject in school? What is something interesting about yourself?


After watching these videos, the two schools joined a Zoom meeting on Friday, January 26, the day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Following some enthusiastic greetings, Madame Roumani gave a D’var Torah about Jewish resilience during the Holocaust. After the D’var Torah, the classes were posed the following question: Do you think the world has learned lessons from the Holocaust? Both classes then listened to Reb Boyd discuss the development of antisemitism throughout the ages. What were the elements that made the Holocaust possible? Why were the Germans specifically the ones who started the Holocaust? The two classes began posing questions about life in America vs. France and were given their research assignment.


The research assignment invited students from both schools to ask even more specific questions. The two MJH periods were split up into sixteen groups. In each group, students were paired up with Maïmonide students. Students were asked to schedule times to meet each other via FaceTime, Zoom, etc., and to discuss their experiences as Jews in 2023. Besides getting to know each other better, these meetings helped broaden students’ understanding of what it is like to be Jewish in France vs. the United States. 


Questions required by the assignment ranged from general questions about daily life to more specific questions about antisemitic events that have taken place in both countries (i.e. The murder of Sarah Halimi, the Attacks at the Hypercacher supermarket in France, the Shooting in Chabad of Poway Synagogue in California, and Kanye West’s recent comments on Hitler and Nazism). 


Hillel and Maïmonide students met for the final time over Zoom this past Thursday. The classes reflected on their assignments and played a game of Kahoot, centered around topics covered in the past month of MJH.

Hanna Haddad, a Maïmonide student, said, “It was a great experience… I loved meeting [Hillel students]. I hope we can keep in touch!” Hanna’s partner from Hillel, Lielle Daniel, said that she “…Loved meeting and talking to [the French students]. It was really fun to talk to all of [them]. I will try to keep in touch whenever I can.”


Because of the project’s success, a possible trip to France is in the works…