Fourth grade focused on prayer, God words, prophets, and the Torah today. The students are learning to read the Hebrew words for blessing and a few of the words for God. They are learning to find the words in any prayers they look at. It will help them feel comfortable and knowledgeable in any synagogue they are in. We focused on the shema and its statement that there is one God. I explained how that thought helps us to appreciate others and realize that each of us is special but not more important than anyone else. If we all come from one God and we say the shema, we are then reminded that we have to be humble that we are not the center of everything. It is a good thought at Thanksgiving time when we want to feel appreciative and not self centered or that it is all about what we can get.
The students are also working on the V'ahavta. They are almost completely proficient in chanting the first line which in English means, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.
After a great music class, the students read two prophet stories. One about Joshua and one about Devorah. We talked about how men and women can be leaders and the difference between a leader who respects others and leaders who just want power. We also discussed how anyone can be a leader for good, that finding the courage to stand up for others makes a person a leader.
Concerning the Torah, we looked at the portion for this week and a page of the Talmud and saw how the Rabbis included many opinions and discussions when they decided how to interpret the Torah. I connected Torah learning to math learning and how I guessed that many times in math, they are asked to explain their thinking with the important part of the problem solving being the process of why and not just the answer. I explained that that is true for interpreting the stories and laws of the Torah. What the Rabbis were thinking and how they came to their decisions is so important because as times change, so may the answer and then the process for deciding the new circumstance will require knowing what questions to ask and what to and how to consider many thoughts at once.
We ended by reading the first paragraph of the Torah and understanding how faith in God can exist at the same time as a belief in evolution and science.
We had such an amazing learning day.