JCS Class Summaries–November 8, 2015

Littles

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.

Middles

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.

Juniors

[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

Littles

[Coming Soon]

Middles

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!

Juniors

[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!

JCS Class Summaries–September 20, 2015

Littles

What a great first day back! This week we saw some familiar faces, and were introduced to some new ones. The biggest thing that we learned about was forgiveness, forgiving, and making amends. We read a story about telling the truth and earning trust, and drew pictures of situations where “making it right” might be in order. We brainstormed what “making it right” might look like in each situation. At the end of the day, the beautiful day was calling us so we played outside.

Middles

For the first JCS session of the year, the Middle class learned about the High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We talked about what each holiday is and how we observe them. Sarah taught us to how to say “happy new year” and “I’m sorry” in Hebrew, and then led us in a Rosh Hashanah song. To celebrate the holidays, we decorated candles, something we use on important Jewish days. Many thanks to Ben Drucker, our excellent assistant!

Juniors

In September, the JCS Juniors class began to explore the idea of the Jewish diaspora, discussing reasons why populations move. We began with the fall of the Second Temple as it pertains to Jewish history, and then broadened our discussion of diaspora to include other ethnic populations. Students were invited to mark on a world map where their Jewish (and non-Jewish) ancestors came from and then we looked for migratory patterns. We did a very quick skim of European Jewish history and talked about the differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. We finished up playing a game where we learned about different High Holiday traditions throughout the Jewish diaspora.

Bat/Bar Mitzvah Prep

For our first class, we dove right into the ancient Jewish history leading up to our focus for the year—the history of the Jewish diaspora. After a quick warm-up, we reviewed the biblical/ancient Jewish stories and history we covered last year, and I introduced The Veterans of History: A Young Person’s History of the Jews, by Mitchell Silver, which will be our main text this year. Students did a short reading from the text that talked about the era of the prophets that came before the Babylonian Exile, and then each used a guide to the aleph-bet and Hebrew vowels to transliterate famous lines from the prophet Isaiah (“Lo yisa goy el goy cherev; v’lo yil’medu od milchamah”). Next students used a mini Hebrew glossary to come up with a rough translation of the lines (“Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore”), and we connected these lines to the song “Lo Yisa Goy” that we regularly sing at Or Emet. Our music and Hebrew lesson with Sarah followed; she taught the class Hebrew vocabulary for the High Holidays along with the appropriately reflective song “Im Ein Ani Li, Mi Li?” that’s based on Rabbi Hillel’s famous words. After Sarah’s lesson, we touched very quickly on the intervening span of history and then talked about celebrated Jewish thinkers Hillel and Shammai and the following quote from Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?” Students brainstormed High Holidays resolutions to align with the first two questions—ways that they can improve themselves, and ways that they can better support their families and/or communities and make the world a better place. To cap off the activity they posed for pictures with these resolutions posted on big cartoon speech bubbles—making their resolutions bold and public! Thanks for a great first lesson, students!

JCS Class Summaries–May 31, 2015

Littles

[Coming soon]

Middles

In May, the Middles class discussed what we do every day to celebrate that we are Jewish. We looked at pictures of something many families use for this: mezuzot! Each student made a clay mezuzah to take home, with a special mezuzah message hidden inside. They all turned out beautifully! Sarah led the class in singing the Alef-Bet. We learned even more about Hebrew by coloring Hebrew letters as a thank you to Richard. Thank you to Ben Drucker for his help in class this month. Teacher Renee also sends a big thank you to all the students, parents, teachers, and volunteer helpers who made this a great year at JCS!

Juniors

In May, the Juniors class learned about Ketuvim—or Writings—the final book in the Tanakh, closing out our year of Tanakh and ancient Jewish historical study. After reflecting on the year with JCS, we turned our attention to Psalms (Tehillim). Students read and discussed Psalm 92, listened to it sung to a popular tune for the traditional Kabbalat Shabbat service, and then individually rewrote the psalm to give it a humanistic meaning. Then we looked at Proverbs (Mishlei), reading over a list of proverbs from the book that resonate with Humanistic Jews. (Some highlights? “Better a meal of vegetables where there is love / Than a fattened ox where there is hate.” – Proverbs, 15:17 & “Seven times the righteous man falls and gets up…” – Proverbs, 24:16) We each took turns acting out proverbs from the list in pantomime for the group to guess, and then the class split into two groups to create more elaborate skits that illustrated proverbs. Very brief introductions to the Book of Job and the Book of Ruth bookended a discussion of The Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim); students used great dramatic voices to read excerpts from this biblical love poem aloud, and then talked about the meaning of its symbolism and how it compares to modern love poems. Music and Hebrew with Sarah was a lesson in chanting Torah. Then the class decorated part of the thank you banner for outgoing Or Emet president Richard Logan, and listened to JCS grad Ben Drucker talk about his experience preparing for his bar mitzvah with Or Emet. We finished the day by gathering with all the other JCS classes to take a photo of everyone with the “Todah rabah, Richard!” banner. Thank you for a great year, Juniors!

JCS Class Summaries–April 19, 2015

Littles

This week at Or Emet’s JCS, we learned a little bit about Shabbat from teacher Sarah, we colored, and we did a fun activity to practice tikkun olam. At the end of the day, we read a short story that the kids liked so much, they asked me to read it again.

Middles

The Middles class did a review of Passover in April. We watched the ’90s classic, “A Rugrats Passover,” played a game called “Pharaoh, Can We Go Free,” and then acted out the 10 plagues. It was a fun and active class this month! We practiced humanistic Hebrew blessings for wine, bread, and candle lighting with Sarah. She also taught us a beautiful song in Hebrew. At the end of class, we joined other JCS students in creating a model of Kibbutz Aleph, the first kibbutz in Israel. A huge thank you to Jack, our volunteer helper this month!

Juniors

Our April lesson focused on learning about the food of ancient Israel through studying the Book of Prophets and cooking ancient Israeli-inspired recipes. After a class discussion about how we can study a text—any piece of media like a book, picture, song, or video—from any time and place, ancient or modern, to learn about the beliefs, customs, and daily lives of the people from that time and place, we turned our attention to Nevi’im, or the Book of Prophets. Students received and read different quotations or short summaries from Nevi’im that mention food, and then shared their selections with the group. Highlights included stories about the parched grain, bread, wine, fig cakes, et cetera sent to feed Saul’s and later David’s armies in I Samuel, and the prophet Elisha’s transformation of a wild gourd stew from poison to something palatable with the addition of flour in II Kings. We discussed what, based on our reading, are the foods we can guess that people ate in ancient Israel, as well as what we can hypothesize about their beliefs and attitudes. Then the whole class moved to the kitchen to cook up an ancient Israeli-style feast! Students worked in teams to prepare “Elisha’s gourd stew” (a non-poisonous adaptation!), parsley and barley salad, cucumber salad, and pressed fig cakes, and then enjoyed a meal of these dishes. After our fun lunch together, we closed out the day by helping other JCS students to create a model of Degania Aleph, the first kibbutz in Israel, for the MNIsrael display at the St. Paul JCC’s Yom Ha’atzmaut event.

Calendar
November 16, 2018
  • Shabbat Service and Program: Political Humor in Dark Times
    Time: 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
November 18, 2018
  • Or Emet Leadership Team Meeting
    Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
November 22, 2018
December 2, 2018