It was great to see the kids this past week! With the holiday, it had been a while!
This week we started a couple of new things for the school and 6th Grade class. First, we met as a whole school for the first time for prayer. We used the first 15 minutes of the morning well, as we began to learn two prayers, Ma Tovu and the Sh'ma. The students will no doubt learn the prayers more and more as we go along. If you'd like to hear one of these prayers at home, you can find it at this link. You can follow the first line you see here (in Hebrew!) and listen to Ma Tovu here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9arS21R36E .
Then, in our class, we started to study more about ethics and values. To begin, we're going to use the Torah portions we learn about in the "Torah" weeks to explore values and ethics. This week, the students engaged in a conversation about four situations presented in the first three Torah portions we studied so far. These included: (1) When Rules are Broken (Adam and Eve eat the apple) (2) Sibling Rivalry (Cain and Abel) (3) Finding the Courage to Begin (Abraham is told by God to leave his home and start the Jewish people) (4) Choose Harmony (Abraham creates more peace with his nephew by separating their lands). The students shared a lot of great stories in the discussion and just about everyone participated. Then, after Hebrew class, we broke up into groups and each group created a poster - and most also created a skit - about the questions and lessons related to one of these situations. They did a lot of work and a great job, and also had fun! I hope we'll continue to work on the Torah portions this way, with the first "pass" being about "what happened" and the second review being to mine the Torah for lessons and ideas for living.
In the middle of the morning, we had Hebrew class also. In that half-hour, we went over the aleph-bet by identifying patterns in the letters. Each student has an aleph-bet chart in their folder, and we used that to color in the different letters that fit a specific pattern. If your student is in my class for Hebrew, you can see the results in their folder. We also had time for a short game at the end, to practice reading a Hebrew letter-vowel combination accurately - and the kids did great!
To follow up, you can ask your student... What are some good ways we can use to resist temptation, when we want to break a rule we know we shouldn't break (a great one is thinking long-term!)? Also, it might be good to think about: Does the Torah only show us "good" behavior - or does it show us all kinds of human behavior? Why would the Torah do one or the other and how can we get meaning from it that way?
If the students have time for some homework, it would always be good to review the Hebrew aleph-bet!
I look forward to seeing the kids again on Sunday!