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!