The Littles class enjoyed dancing with Shira Schwartz for the first half of our time together, learning songs and dances that were about the harvest festival of Sukkot. Once back in the classroom, we learned more about the holiday of Sukkot, and sang a song about shaking the lulav. Then we colored a picture of a lulav, and had some free time outside!
In October, the Middles class had a blast with Israeli dancing. In class, we learned about Sukkot. Sarah led us in some great songs, including a rousing practice on our imaginary shofar horns. We played a game to remind us that at Sukkot we practice being generous, and then celebrated by making candy sukkahs to take home. Many Middles families also enjoyed celebrating at the annual Sukkot party.
After enjoying a fabulous intergenerational—and Sukkot-themed—Israeli dance program with visiting artist Shira Schwartz, the Juniors class spent the rest of their lesson time studying Torah (humanistically!) and learning to recognize when Torah stories are represented in visual art. We reviewed the portions of Genesis that students learned about in September, and then read the short, funny plays from Sedra Scenes for the Chayei Sarah and Toledot Torah portions. After each reading, the class engaged in lively discussion. Students considered why one portion might be called “Chayei Sarah” when it concerns events that unfold after Sarah’s death, and debated whether Rebekah did the right thing by helping Jacob to trick his father and receive his blessing instead of Esau. We considered what qualities make for good matriarchs and patriarchs, and students also compared the relationships between oldest and youngest in their families to the relationship between Jacob and Esau. Then we moved on to our art activity! Students split into two groups, and each group received a set of 28 images of famous artworks that illustrate or represent Torah stories studied so far this year in class. Each group also received a set of descriptive title and artist labels for the artworks. Group members worked together to match the labels to the artworks, drawing on their detailed observational skills and Torah knowledge. At the end of the activity, we checked to see how many matches were correct, and each group got at least half right! As the morning closed, we talked about how countless artists—around the world, throughout history, both Jewish and non-Jewish—have made art incorporating or representing stories from the Torah, and how we can’t really understand this art unless we know the stories.