Anatomy and Purity: An Integration of Science with Taharat Hamishpacha

By: Miriam Striks, Leora Gabay

Interdisciplinary Integration

Subject(s) of entry:
Halacha, Science

Blended Learning

Grade(s) to which this was taught:
11, 12, High school

Grade(s) for which this will be useful:
11, 12, High school

The program is designed to integrate the Anatomy and Physiology class taken by several 11th and 12th grade girls at Valley Torah High School with the halachic components of taharat hamishpacha.

Entry Narrative

The program, Anatomy and Purity, will be designed to integrate the Anatomy and Physiology class taken by several 11th and 12th grade girls at Valley Torah High School with the halachic components of taharat hamishpacha. Considering that the students are bombarded more and more each year with media that influences them, it is important that they learn the importance of the mitzvah from teachers. Each year, the 12th graders take a course on dating/marriage given by a limudei kodesh teacher. When I first started teaching Anatomy and Physiology, the girls were so intrigued by the body and trying to make a connection between the halachot and how the body works. Although I have kept Taharat Hamishpacha, I am not at the level to be able to reteach it to the girls. Therefore, I would like to initiate this collaboration.

The girls must be signed up to take both classes (not necessarily in the same year)
Once a month, the limudei kodesh and science teacher will team-teach to incorporate the halachas and science of taharat hamishpacha. This will include explanation of the mitzvah along with the “making sense” factor of why the halacha is as is.
The science teacher will attend taharat hamishpacha classes and provide scientific teachings. In collaboration with the limudei kodesh teacher teaching the taharat hamishpacha lessons, students will be able to understand how the halacha fits into the science and vice versa.
Students will read various articles that make the connection between the two subjects along with watch videos the collaboration between the science and the halacha. Because this is a high school course, the class will not go into significant depth. The level of maturity of the students must first be observed and the teachers will determine if they are responsible and mature enough to learn the material.
Students will study the science, the halachot, the philosophy of the mitzvah along with the effects keeping the mitzvah has on fertility rates in the Jewish community compared to the rest of the world
At the end of the course, the girls will better understand the importance of the mitzvah. They will have compiled a portfolio of articles, both halachically and science related, to the topic. They will have a reference to hold on to for when they are ready to get married and learn the topic more in-depth with their kallah teachers.

Entrant Bio(s)

Leora Gabay: I have been teaching a variety of subjects for over 10 years. Having started by teaching the Hebrew language, I now teach science courses and works to incorporate Torah and Judaism in all her science classes. I received my bachelor's and master's degrees in Kinesiology and my doctorate in education with emphasis on studying how exercise improves academic success in females.

Miriam Striks: Walking into a classroom is like stepping onto a stage where magic is about to happen, and for more than thirty years I’ve been privileged to experience that magic at Valley Torah High School. Over the years, I’ve taught basics of Jewish thought to seniors in our Machsheves Yisrael class, foundations of the Jewish home in our Yesodos HaBayis class and Chumash skills and hashkafa to students in all grade levels. Through the the study of traditional Jewish texts, class discussions, journals, projects and workshops I’ve seen the magic happen...the growth of our students in their love of Hashem and in their desire to learn Torah and observe its mitzvos.

I received my Bachelor’s Degree, my teaching credential, and my Master’s Degree in Education from California State University at Northridge. My husband, David, and I live in Valley Village, California. I enjoy volunteering as a science teacher at Yeshiva Ketana of Los Angeles where many of my grandchildren attend school.