Hello Parents! It was great to see so many of the kids again today! In today's class, we covered some of the major events and ideas in three more "parshiot" (portions) of the Torah in Exodus. In this discussion, we talked about several important themes, including the challenge of leaving slavery in Egypt into freedom for the Children of Israel. As commentators - and our students! - pointed out, with freedom we weren't always told what to do. So we explored how important it was to develop laws and ways of being together in peace. We also talked about Nachshon (from Midrash), whose willingness to walk into the Sea is said to be the moment when the waters parted so that all of the people could move forward, out of Egypt. As the students pointed out, Nachshon wasn't only brave and showing trust, he also was caring and was a leader, as his action allowed all of the people to go forward. After the introduction, the students broke up into groups and each group worked on an event in these portions, prompted by a quote from the Torah and our discussion: Nachshon's action (a skit with costumes and sets); Miriam's dance and music after we got through the parted waters and escaped into freedom (written song and dance); the Ten Commandments we then received at Mt. Sinai (a writetn and performed rap song); and the specific injunction (in Mishpatim, with many laws) about not oppressing the stranger, because we were once strangers in Egypt (a poster). I took pictures and videos of the two songs/dances, poster and skit the groups created and hope I can find a way to share them with you! Finally, we ended our morning with a walk through the hallway to the cafeteria - kind of like leaving Egypt quickly! - where we made some "manna" snacks (manna was the food Gd gave the Jewish people in the desert to eat).
I told the students that a Midrash says that manna did not taste the same to everyone. You might discuss at home: what would that mean, why might the rabbis talk about this idea that the manna needed for survival might taste different to people of different ages or different in other ways?
I look forward to seeing the kids again next week! Shirah H.
Hello Parents, This update is a little bit late! During this week before the MLK break, we continued to talk about the beginning of Exodus. We explored a few themes in particular, that connected the story of Exodus to our celebration of Passover. These included remembering that we were slaves in Egypt and therefore to welcome the stranger ourselves and work for freedom for everyone, from the Jewish tradition. We also played "The Exodus Board Game" which went pretty well! Finally, we used that day to celebrate Tu B'Shvat. As a class we had a nice discussion of how people are like trees - as they grow and offer their fruits to the world. Students also had a chance to plant a seed and bring it home, for the New Year for the Trees in the Jewish calendar.
This week in class we covered the first three portions of the second book of the Torah, Exodus (Shmot in Hebrew). These portions cover God's call to Moses/Moshe to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and slavery to the "land flowing with milk and honey" and to worship God. We started with God speaking from a burning bush that was not consumed, and continued through all the plagues as Moses brought this to Pharoaoh. We also opened class with the question of: What happens when someone asks you to do something hard? The students gave a lot of great, relevant answers - and they all applied to Moses and his reluctance to take on this role! We also talked about how God insisted and also offered Aaron, Moses's older brother, to help him do this difficult job. We covered a second theme also about hearts: soft hearts (Israelite people being afraid to leave slavery), hard hearts (Pharaoh changing his mind constantly, while stubbornly refusing to be kind and let the people go), and good hearts - Moshe leading the people out AND the midwives Shifra and Puah, and Pharoah's daughter, and Moses's sister - all of whom helped save the Jewish people and Moses as a baby. Related to hearts and before working on their artistic or game expression of this set of stories, we also shared reading a commentary aloud by Rabbi Bill Hamilton (of Boston!) about being an "upstander" and opposing bullying, with Moses and Shifra and Puah as good examples of this. In Hebrew class, we did our regular review and warm-up for reading letters and vowels smoothly, and then began to create what will be a game to help learn the Hebrew names of the partriarchs and matriarchs in the Amidah prayer we're working on learning to read.
After this session, you might ask your student... What do we learn from the Torah here about how we can help others to be more confident and take on difficult challenges/ And how we can become strong and have "good hearts" in our communities and roles?
Next week we'll continue exploring this section of the Torah through some games and more work on their own, and have activities for Tu B'Shvat - the Jewish New Year of Trees.
Thanks and have a good rest of the week!