Hello! This week we had some learning and some fun, with our 6th Graders! We talked through "life's ups and downs" as we see in the many chapters of Joseph's life and the important dreams he interpreted with his special skill. The students were able to fill in many of the blanks as we discussed the story, which was great. We also thought about it as a curving line, going up and down. We also talked about how Joseph reconciled with his brothers after so many years, and about the "7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine" dreams. The students then helped develop and play a "Life of Joseph" card game...in which you would collect all the ups, or maybe three in a row of ups and downs, or maybe use the Dream Card... - and many of them represented this idea as their next Torah-scroll page.
Finally, we also talked about how with this segment of the Torah, we finished our study of Genesis! The "thought for the day" was about celebrating accomplishments and how we celebrate together. You might ask the students how we "high five" each other when we finish a book of the Torah. (Hint: "chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek - strength, strength and become strong" we say). It might also be interesting to talk more with your students about perseverence and getting through the difficult times, to the better times in life.
In our Hebrew class, for the students who stay with me, we did our usual (extended) letter-reading warm-up and then began to learn the Avot V'Imahot prayer from the Amidah. It needs more work and polishing, but we definitely got started well! It's nice that it has the patriarchs and matriarchs listed, who we just learned about.
The kids are great and doing a great job on adding to their Torah scrolls, as we ended the day again. Looking foward to continuing the learning and the scroll in January!
Have a good holiday break and new (secular) year!
Happy Hanukkah - as we end the holiday this week! This past Sunday, we had a community-wide Hanukkah celebration day and it was filled with a lot of activity! In our classroom, we had a discussion of some of the themes and ideas of Hanukkah. Then the students made three no-sew blankets to give to the Coalition for the Homeless. The kids worked hard and did a great job! When they weren't working on the blankets, they played dreidle, and everyone received a dreidle to decorate along with candy and donut holes for Hanukkah. The class also learned a new song "Not by Might and Not by Power" by Debbie Friedman, and heard some Maccabeats Hanukkah music while we worked on blankets and games in the classroom. Then we had the menorah display-competition, and a performance of songs and skits by the whole school at the end of the morning.
In our Hanukkah discussion, we discussed the challenges the Maccabees met and also brought out themes like... it's okay to be different (you might ask your student what's "UBU" about?), and having hope even when it seems you don't have enough of what you need to go forward (one day's worth of oil lasted for eight days). We can also all be a "light" in this time of year for others. Thank you to all your students for them practicing "UBU" and bringing their light to us!
Next week we'll return to the amazing stories of Joseph and the ups and downs of his life as we finish the book of Genesis.
Final reminder: We will collect our Tzedakah funds later this year, so do please remember to have your student bring it in for our Tzedakah box.
Thanks and have a good week!
Hello Parents! On December 2, I wasn't in class and the students had a subsitute. They began to learn the stories around Joseph from the Torah, and we'll continue on that when we return to the regular curriculum after Hanukkah - on December 16. Best to all for a fun holiday! Shirah H.
We had another full and fun session this past week! Given how far we've come in the study of Torah, we did some "overview" work, to get the whole story so far.
Two weeks ago, we worked on "researching" and representing the 12 Tribes - the sons of Jacob. That brought us to the end, more or less, of the Jewish early family in Genesis. So this week we first talked about how Jacob was renamed "Yisrael" which means "struggles with God" and how important that is in Jewish tradition. Our first review was to think about the "struggles" each of the "characters" we've met so far in the Torah might have had, from what we've learned. Then we played with the connections among the different people we've met in the Torah (couples, parents and kids, brothers, sisters, pre-Abraham group, etc.). Finally, we took a genealogy approach, to outline the generations from Adam and Eve all the way down to the 12 Tribes. In class, the students then had the chance to work on their own family's genealogy chart, with the option of creating a "sheild" or representation of the family's values and personalities. The kids really seemed to enjoy charting their families!
Finally, at the end of class, we turned for the first time to creating the personal Torah scrolls from all the work the students have done individually so far! It was exciting to begin to see how it's going to come together, and we'll keep adding to that.
In Hebrew, we reviewed reading letters and vowels more. Next time we'll turn to more work reading prayers in Hebrew, and begin learning the Amidah prayer. The more the students attend regularly, the more progress we can make individually and as a group!
You might ask your student about some of the struggles we have read about in the Torah so far - and some of the accomplishments of these "characters" as they persevered through the challenges.
As reminders, please do be sure your student brings their folder each time and let's start to bring in Tzedakah, too.
Also, please note that I will not be in class next time (December 2) because I will be at a Jewish event I've been actively involved in organizing: LimmudBoston. If you or your family has an interest in this event, I warmly invite you to attend that day! There is programming for kids in Camp Limmud, too. You can find out more at www.limmudboston.org. : )
I look forward to seeing the students at our shared community Chanukah celebration after that - and perhaps showing off some of their work to you!
Have a good week and Thanksgiving holiday!
Dear Parents: We had a very full class this past Sunday - in all ways. All the students were there, and we also worked alongside the 7th graders this week. This was a week where we begin working on specific Torah portions. Given the way the "story" breaks, we studied what happens in two portions this time, covering the marriage of Jacob to Rachel and to Leah, Jacob's encounter with Esau making peace, and then we focused particularly on the 12 sons of Jacob who became the 12 Tribes of Israel. First we discussed how names and nicknames can have meanings, and the students shared people they may have been named for. Then we had an "in class research project" where each student read up on one particular tribe, using materials we provided. They then developed a one-pager about that tribe based on the personality and Torah references for that particular son of Jacob. The one-pager might have been words telling about the tribe, or a "shield" representing that branch of the Jewish family. The students did some really good work and I think these will look nice if we can put them together in a display (temporary) and then add to their Torah scroll projects. One topic we talked about briefly was the moment when Jacob fought with an angel, and he was then renamed "Yisrael" which is the name for the Jewish people and means "struggles with God." You might ask the students, and talk at home, about the meaning in this name change. How did Jacob change right before re-meeting Esau? What might it mean that we are the people that argues, struggles, encounters God in this way? You can also ask them what they learned about their own Tribe! I admit, I kept their work with me, so it's from memory for them now! In Hebrew class, we continued to review reading letters and vowels, and worked a bit on a short prayer: Adonai S'Fatai Tiftach Uphi Yagid Tehilatecha (God, open up my lips and my mouth will tell your praise). Then at the end of the morning, we did a quick review of the 8 levels of giving Tzedakah, according to Maimonides. Again, the kids did a great job! Have a good couple of weeks, looking forward to our next session! Shirah H.