Today was a wrap up day. We reviewed the fall holidays of Rosh Hashanah, the Ten Days after Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. We linked the themes of these holidays, self improvement, appreciation for what one has, and community, with what we have learned from the stories of the prophets. We finished working on a project to show Dori our appreciation for all her years as Director. Because community building is so important, we read a packet of materials on friendship and conflict resolution. Finally, we ended our day with thinking of appreciation of our parents and reviewing our attitudes and the way we communicate with our parents. The students took home some materials they worked on and read during the year.
It has been a wonderful learning year. The class this year has been so involved and interested in all aspects of Judaism. It is also a very creative group in both their ideas and their communication. Next week, I will send them off with the knowledge that they are well connected to our Jewish values and to learning.
Have a great week.
News for Sunday April 22
Our studies today centered on two areas, (1) a further analysis of two prophets, Jonah and David, and (2) looking at the Torah and haftarah sections for the holiday of Shavuot that occurs 7 weeks after Passover when the Jewish people were freed from Egypt.
The students chose the prophets’ stories they wished to review today. With Jonah and the whale, the students learned about taking responsibility for one’s actions and what is required to change from doing wrong. They learned that apologies are not enough if a person does not look at the wrongdoing, acknowledge what he/she did, try to fix or makeup for any harm done by the wrongdoing, and then work to never repeat the wrongdoing. The students also learned that standing up against people who do wrong is not easy but that perhaps people can be like Jonah learned to be, that is, to be courageous and trust that people can change for the good.
In reading about David and Goliath, the students again saw that strength does not just mean ‘big’ physically, but instead strength of character, thought, and conviction can be stronger than big muscles!
After studying the prophets, the students learned that on Shavuot, which is in May this year after school has ended, the custom is to read from the Torah about all of the holiday requirements to learn the laws that tell us what to do. AND we are required to read the haftarah scroll of Ruth about a non-Jewish woman who takes on the religion of her mother-in-law Naomi to support Naomi and cherish her when Naomi’s son, Ruth’s husband, dies. It is a story of caring and love and from it the students learned that Judaism requires laws with caring and caring with laws. Both mitzvah as law and a mitzvah as a good deed are necessary for Jewish community life.
It was another stellar day for our class. It is amazing what we have learned together this year. I can’t believe we only have two more classes.
Have a great week.
Thank you for sending in all of the Passover foods and for coming to clean up afterwards. We had a wonderful seder on March 25 and finished the leftovers for snack on April 8th!
For both classes we focused on the Haggadah to learn or review the customs for the various parts of the seder but also to uncover the symbolism the words contain.
The areas we focused on were:
Why does the youngest child say the four questions and why talk about four different sons and label their questions as wise, wicked, simple and not know what to ask:
Why do we have three matzot and break the middle piece:
Why do we have the afikomen?
Why do we welcome Elijah?
Hope you are all enjoying some time off this coming weekend.
Looking forward to our last few classes.
Today our focus was on the Haggadah, the special book we use for the Passover Seder. Each pair of students examined a Haggadah produced by a different publisher or author and looked for items that came in fours. The students found that there were four cups of wine, four questions, and four sons or children. The students brainstormed a bit about the number 4 and whether that was a special number today.
The students learned about the significance of the number 4 in that when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, the Torah has four statements wherein God promises to take the Israelites out of Egypt. Because God used four different ways to say that God would make us free, we use the number four in the Haggadah. The shank bone that is on the Seder plate is also connected to this number four as one of the statements makes clear that God will save us with an outstretched arm. The shank bone is symbolic of that arm.
We then carefully studied the illustrations various artists designed to describe the four children or sons. The students have developed such a keen eye. They are able to look at something and then examine the details to question the meaning. Ask your student about the different illustrations and what the differences could mean. Ask if everyone is invited to the seder and who are the children? How old is a child? What do we do with the “wicked” child?
We will be studying more about what is meant by the labels given to the four children in the Haggadah.
We read a story from Does God have a Big Toe. The story was about the burning bush. The students were again asked to think about the message of the story and they discovered that paying attention to detail was thought to be of utmost importance by the author.
In our prayer time today, we read the V’ahavta in English and chanted it in Hebrew and thought about the two lines that state, “These words which I command you this day shall be in your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit at home, when you walk along the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
Our class is a community and we know that certain rules have to be followed so all can listen, learn, and participate. That is that same with any community to which we belong. The words of the V’ahavta teach us that laws, as in those listed in the Torah, have to be taught and people need reminders in the morning and at night, as they go in and go out, because a community works best when people follow laws like those in the Torah. Not stealing, respecting others, not lying, helping others when they are in need, not holding a grudge, not gossiping, all these laws make a community. The prayer suggests that we should keep those commandments close in our hearts so we can live together successfully in our communities.
We had a wonderful learning day today as we always do.
Hope you have a nice week.
Fourth Grade News for Sunday March 11
An hour less sleep doesn’t matter to our amazing students. They were in wonderful form today.
We gave accolades to Jake for his explanation of the V’Ahavta at the Shabbat Service and Dinner. As a class, we read the prayer in English and reviewed all its meaning. We then read the V’Shamru in English and practiced the refrain.
Most of our time today was centered on recalling what the students remembered about Passover and how we could expand on our knowledge.
We talked of
In Hebrew, we continue to work through the alphabet, learning the letter and vowel sounds, practicing more fluent reading, and learning some Hebrew on occasion.
Have a terrific week. If any parent would like to join us for our model seder on March 25, it would be wonderful to learn and practice together. Let me know.
Your students displayed their creative prowess and organizing talents this past Sunday. The students worked together to create posters depicting the various characters and important elements of the Purim story. They were the illustrators for the telling of the Purim story to the school. The only rehearsal they had for the timing and order of displaying the posters occurred 45 minutes before show time. Not only did the students remember their cues but they moved into place in sequence seamlessly. They were terrific! For those of you coming to our short Service and Dinner this Friday night in Newton at the Women’s Center, we will be displaying the artwork.
By the way, if you have not signed up but can still come, please contact Dori, as I would love to be able to spend a couple of hours with you and your child in such a relaxed event.
For the rest of last Sunday, any students who participated in the costume part of Purim were invited on stage to display their costumes. The Purim carnival after was full of fun food and sought after trinkets.
Hope you all had a good week despite the snow storm.
See you Friday, if you can, and on Sunday.
With Purim coming immediately after our February break, our class delved into the story of Purim. We discussed how the story has hidden messages of the need to take a stand, to act even when acting is difficult, and to treat all with respect. After reviewing the highlights and the characters, the students began working on setting up our props for the telling of the Purim story that will occur during the assembly on March 4. Each student chose either a location or character, some choosing more than one. The students then considered the dress of the time and made draft drawings of the characters and setting that will be the backdrop for the Purim storytelling.
The students practiced the V’ahavta. They are very close to mastery of the difficult tune and will be ready to lead the chanting of the prayer at our school shabbat dinner on March 9. Hopefully, most, if not all of you, will be attending.
The students that have Hebrew with me worked some on reading but also on reading and understanding some Hebrew words. The students working with Jake will be doing the same next class.
Hope you all enjoy the week and our community spirit, which can carry us through a team win or loss, because no matter what, we are in it together.
Hope you are all keeping warm!
We celebrated Tu B’Shvat, the birthday of the trees, last Sunday. The students experienced a Tu B’Shvat Seder which is a service with food where we drink four cups of juice (when they get older - wine), one clear for winter, one mixed with a little red and mostly clear for spring, one with more red and a little clear for summer, and the final cup is all red for fall. The idea is to think of the land and the seasons and to be appreciative of the cycle and the harvest. As part of the seder we said blessings and ate of the seven species mentioned in the Torah that were prevalent in Biblical times in Israel and we made connections between Jewish people and our history and fruits or grains that are hard on the outside and soft and edible on the inside like a pomegranate, fruits that are hard on the inside and edible and soft on the outside, such as dates or olives (with pits) and produce that is edible in its entirety like grapes.
Ask your student how a fruit for which the outside is hard but the inside is soft is like a Jewish person in our history.
We also completed reading The Giving Tree. The students made amazing connections between their lives and the story which lead to a deeper understanding of the need for giving and taking in connection with our environment and with our families. The students discussed that the tree gave too much, so much that it nearly killed her and the boy just kept taking. The students discussed how both extremes were not good, asking for too much and giving too much. They had a new awareness that a balance of giving and taking is their responsibility.
It was a fabulous class. Looking forward to our next class.
Tu B’shvat is coming soon, the birthday of the trees, so our class spent time learning about why we celebrate trees, what value do they have, and why celebrate holidays anyway. We also talked about why we have a few new year celebrations, Rosh Hashanah (the new year for the world, Passover (the religious new year since it is when the Jewish people began their journey to get the Torah), and now the birthday of the trees.
As part of the celebration of the holiday, we typically plant trees in Israel but also celebrate a seder (a short meal with some special prayers). The seder centers around 7 species of fruits and grains mentioned in the Torah that are common to Israel. See if your student can name any of them!! If not, we will repeat the list next Sunday and you can try again!!
Trees have symbolic value as an example of strength. The branches can be compared to the family branches. So we began reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and looking at why it is called the “giving tree” and how the book can be seen as providing insight into who is the strength in the family, who gives and who receives in a family relationship, and when and how the balance of giving and taking should occur. We have only read about a third of the book, so stay tuned.
As we read the book, the students are learning how to analyze literature by picking up on whether illustrations are black and white or in color, what is shown in an illustration or changed from illustration to illustration, and why certain words are used and not others. Asking why and delving below the surface is how the Torah is studied and it is how we are studying in our classroom.
We continue to practice the v’ahavta and v’shamru. The students will be leading the v’ahavta at our community Friday Shabbat service and dinner on March 9. The event starts at 6:00 and is located at The Women’s Club in Newton Highlands - 72 Columbus St. Newton. I hope to be able to celebrate and enjoy some relaxed time with all of you that evening.
January 7 fourth grade class before MLK Day
Today was an amazing day in the fourth grade. We began, as we usually do, with chanting the v’ahavta and v’shamru. In Music, the students learned another prayer, Modeh Ani, which is the prayer said on waking in the morning. It expresses gratitude for another day.
After music, we focused on MLK Day. Did you know that noone in our class has white skin? We talked about the idea of skin color and what can we consider when treating other people. Do you think we should treat everyone the same? Should we treat everyone equally? Ask your student. Should we look at every person and ignore what makes them unique, such as their heritage, customs, and history?
Spoiler Alert! The Civil Rights Movement pushed for equal rights under the law and under regulations in cities and towns. No one should have less of a right to vote. One person because of his/her skin color should not have to know the Gettysburg Address by heart to be able to vote, while another just has to sign his or her name. But we don’t want everyone to be treated the same. To have equal rights to enter and use a restaurant or use a school, a blind person might need railings to walk in and might need a braille menu or book. So it is equal rights and fairness we are after.
Together we read: I, Too, Sing America. By Langston Hughes, 1902 - 1967
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,"
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--
We had a wonderful class discussion about what the poem meant, who was the darker brother, why was he laughing, why someday will they think of the brother as beautiful and they’ll be ashamed. The students were amazing in their insight and empathy.
We also had time to read a story about the prophet and King Solomon and what characteristics he evidenced as valuable for a leader. We also realized that King Solomon was a prophet. Ask your students about the baby and the sword!
Hebrew went well today too. Our students are reading more and more letters. It is wonderful.
Have a nice long weekend next week. See you on January 21.