All Ages Take Part in High Holiday Services

I hope you spent the recent Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays in ways that were meaningful to you.  Those who attended the Or Emet programs had the pleasure of seeing some of our own youngsters among the members sharing in presenting our services.

At the Rosh Hashanah service, Jewish Cultural School alums took part.  Recent  Middlebury University graduate Sam Wegner led the candle lighting,  high school junior Ian Zukor offered an insightful personal commentary, and Leah Chazdon, whose B’Mitzvah was just last month, led a responsive reading.

At the Yom Kippur afternoon service, 4th grader Julian Young did a wonderful job leading us (along with his dad, Adrian) in reading the Yom Kippur Resolutions.

And let us not forget that all of the services were beautifully led by Jewish Cultural School alum (and our rabbinate candidate) Eva Cohen.


Smiles Abound on First Day of JCS, 2018

On September 16, twenty-six students, ages 3 – 12, attended the first of nine monthly Jewish Cultural School sessions for 2018-2019.   Below are photos of each happily engaged group that first day.

We still have space for additional students this year.  Contact for informati0n.

One thing all of the students did was create a decoration to enliven our Sukkot Party on Sunday, September 30, 11:00 AM at the St. Paul Jewish Community Center.

Below:  the Littles Group (age 3 – Kindergarten) and teacher Josh Kaplan.

Below: the Middles Group (grades 1-3) and teacher Colline Rowland

Below: the Juniors Group (grades 4-5) with teacher Renee Dorman and teacher aide Ian Zukor

Below: the B’Mitzvah Prep Group  (grades 6-7)

(technical difficulties – photo is on its way)

Jewish Cultural School Blog Back in Business

Greetings – after a couple of years’ hiatus, the JCS Blog is up and running again.  I will aim to offer an update after most JCS sessions, to give parents and anyone else interested a glimpse of what goes on in our classes.

Since our April JCS session was shut down by that most unwelcome blizzard, we added a ninth session on Sunday, June 3 – also date of the Or Emet Annual Meeting, so a two-for-one deal!   The school session, annual meeting, and annual end-of-year picnic will all be held at Talmud Torah.

The highlight of our March session was the Purim Carnival.  Below are photos that capture some of our students having fun, some of the older students operating games, as well as teachers Josh Kaplan and Eva Cohen.  The Hamantashen baking was under the watchful eye of parent Dan Gladen –  many thanks to Dan and also to parents Dana Oken, Arielah King and Marissa Hill-Dongre for help setting up the carnival.



JCS Class Summaries–November 8, 2015


Today at JCS we learned about mitzvot, and role-played ways that we could help each other. We drew pictures of some mitzvot we could do for each other, and shared them with each other. We also sang songs that helped us learn the names of body parts in Hebrew! At the end of the day, Ari made us all some rock oatmeal outside.


In November, the Middles had a great time learning about Shabbat. We reviewed what Shabbat is all about, played a game to help us remember, and had our own candle-lighting and Kiddush ceremony. We sung “Shabbat Shalom” and learned body parts in Hebrew with Sarah. Awesome! Then each student decorated a trivet with a picture of her or his family, to remind us what Shabbat is all about.


[Coming Soon]

Bat/Bar Mitzvah Prep

After reviewing the Jewish history we’ve learned about so far this year, we turned our attention this lesson to the Talmudic Era. During this period in Jewish history—after the destruction of the Second Temple—the Oral Law grew quickly, people collected it together in the Talmud, and Jewish people across the diaspora began to use the Talmud to guide their daily lives. Students read a little about the Talmud and this period in history in a selection from The Veterans of History course text. Then we read an actual piece of the Talmud in translation; the excerpt, from Mas. Baba Kama 113a, is filled with arguments between rabbis about “dina de’malkhuta dina”—whether Jewish people should have to follow the laws of the non-Jewish lands where they live. After reading, students split into two groups and debated the question themselves in true Talmudic style! We learned a song with words that come from the Talmud along with Sarah, and then we talked about how the Talmud includes lots of discussions about blessings and rules for saying blessings. Students learned the traditional Shabbat blessings—for Jewish literacy’s sake—and then transliterated, learned, and practiced the Humanistic Shabbat blessings. We wrapped up class by creating Shabbat candleholders out of clay (imprinted with Star of David shapes made with Torx screws) and decoupage-ing plastic Kiddush cups with decorative, colorful tissue paper patterns. It was another full morning!

JCS Class Summaries–October 4, 2015


[Coming Soon]


In October, the Middles learned all about Sukkot. Sarah taught us some great songs to help us celebrate. We played a Sukkot game to review the history of the holiday, and did one of our favorite projects–making candy sukkahs!


[Coming Soon]

Bat/Bar Mitzvah Prep

During our October class, we did a mix of reading, critical thinking exercises, discussion, and creative, hands-on activities as we continued to study the start of the Jewish diaspora. Our lesson began with a brief history “lecture” outlining the Babylonian Exile and changes in Jewish life post-Exile, Judea under Greek rule, the Maccabeean Revolt, and the Hasmonean dynasty. Then students turned to their course text, The Veterans of History, to read about the Pharisees and the Sadducees. We discussed the reading, watched a short video about famous Pharisee and famous Sadducee Hillel and Shammai, and did an activity where students read a mix of quotes from the more lenient, understanding Hillel and the comparatively strict, rule-bound Shammai and had to draw on their knowledge of each rabbi to identify who said what. After singing a Sukkot song and learning some holiday vocabulary with Sarah, students used cut vegetables/fruits and paint to make decorative stamps on decorations for the sukkah. We spent the rest of class learning about Judea under Roman rule and the Judean revolts. The class looked at images of coins minted by Jewish rebels during the Great Revolt (66-70 CE) and at the beginning of the Bar Kokhba War (132 CE) and compared them to a Roman coin from this broad time period. We talked about coins as symbols and the symbolism that appears on these coins in particular—including a very Sukkot-appropriate lulav and etrog on the Bar Kokhba War coin! Then students had the chance to get their hands dirty, creating scaled-up clay models of the coins of their choice. We packed in a lot of learning this lesson!

September 24, 2018
September 30, 2018
  • Sukkot Celebration and Fall Festival
    Time: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
October 4, 2018
  • Executive Committee Meeting
    Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
October 11, 2018
  • How Do We Envision and Build a Thriving Humanistic/Secular Future? by Paul Golin
    Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm