This is a long message here! If you don't read it all, please do note: we ARE starting to collect Tzedakah now! And there IS a little bit of easy homework for this week! So please do read the end of this message for the homework and other comments. : )
We began the morning with community prayer, singing Ma Tovu and Oseh Shalom and focusing our thoughts on peace in the world. Then, in class, we then pulled back to review the Torah portions we've studied so far, to help us connect the dots and tell a "whole" story. We also did some learning games today. So we started with a bit of written work, where students put Torah events we've learned about so far in order. Talking it through, we could notice what was interesting, such as the Tower of Babel coming after Noah and the Flood. That was good for both showing what they've learned and discussing some ideas. Then the students made cards for a shared Jeopardy game about what we've learned so far, coming up with questions and answers to put into the game. We played the Jeopardy game at the end of class, and it was pretty fun! The focus was on names, numbers, places, and events in the Torah. While we explore meaning, this is also a path into feeling you "know" the Torah story.
You can ask you kids about some order-of-events and their meaning. For example, what was Lot's wife looking behind at, and what might that mean for us? Who ate the apple first in the Garden of Eden? Did Sarah laugh before or after Isaac was born? (I also forgot to mention - Isaac's name means laughter!) Did the lentil soup-birthright story come before or after the blessing for Jacob and Esau? If Abraham was the first Jew and not Noah, what does that mean about being "righteous" and being Jewish? (Hint: they are not the same thing).
At the end of class, we talked about collecting Tzedakah and where we might donate any funds. The kids listed causes they care about, and we voted to find the top few. One of the causes the students listed was to help refugees, and I identified HIAS as a Jewish organization for refugees. It was meaningful when the class raised some difficult issues about Israel briefly and we found a way to bridge the gap we identified, settling on finding an organization that would be supportive of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
In Hebrew class, we did a brush-up on reading letters and vowels with some games where students could improve and compete a little bit. They definitely *did* get better! We'll always try to include flashcard Hebrew reading as a warm-up and other reading games as we go along. This is a good way to move their Hebrew reading forward towards the prayer reading we'll do.
Most of the students also brought home a brief HOMEWORK sheet that will help us next week when we study three more Torah portions. If you don't have it, here's what it is! The portions will complete the list of the Jewish forefathers and foremothers, including the 12 sons of Jacob who are the 12 tribes of Israel. Tp place ourselves in a genealogy and among the Jewish ancestors, this sheet asks the students to list the names in their own family tree: parents, two sets of grandparents, and any names they have that go further back. Of course, you can include the names that are comfortable for you. I hope to connect family trees to the idea of the larger Jewish family tree - so please help your child fill this out!
I would like to mention that we did not talk about the challenging events of this week-end in the PIttsburgh Jewish community. While some students raised it with me, there were reasons we did not discuss it as a class and there was little opportunity for private conversations. If Michelle or I can be helpful to your family in this conversation, please do let us know, as we know of many resources online also. If all the students know about these events by next week and you are comfortable as parents with the conversation, we can perhaps discuss it then, and identify some ways we might reach out positively as a class to the Pittsburgh community. Feel free to share your thoughts with me about this.
Thanks and have a good week!