JCS Class Summaries–November 9, 2014

Littles

This week at JCS we discussed Shabbat. We lit candles, ate challah, and learned some Secular Humanistic prayers. We read a Shabbat story, and drew some pictures of what we like to do during our “rest time.” Kai told some hilarious jokes, and we played an excellent game of Simon Says.

Middles

In November, the Middles class learned about Shabbat. We had a brief discussion of what Shabbat means. We learned what a traditional family might do on Shabbat, and what they might not do, and played a game to review. We then began our own “mini” Shabbat with a Kiddush and candle lighting. We read a story about how to have fun without technology and played a game of charades to practice. Students made their own spice pouches for Havdalah, and we closed the lesson with our own Havdalah ceremony.

Juniors

In November, Juniors class students continued with their humanistic Torah study. After a quick icebreaker/warm-up, students reviewed the famous Torah-focused artwork covered in October, choosing a favorite piece and then sharing the Torah story it represents along with their reasons for choosing it. Then the class split into two smaller groups, doing reader’s theater-style readings of summaries of the Vayetze and Vayishlach Torah portions, of the Sedra Scenes for the Vayayshev and Mikaytz portions, of summaries of the Vayigash and Vayechi portions, and of the Sedra Scenes skit for the Shemot portion—it sounds like a mouthful, right? 🙂 Basically, students did dramatic readings of short, funny Sedra Scenes skits retelling the rest of Genesis and the very beginning of Exodus along with some quick summaries to connect the narrative dots. Groups briefly discussed each Torah portion after completing the reading for it; discussions touched on how Jacob, Leah, and Rachel must have felt when Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah instead of Rachel, the source and value of Joseph’s dreams, the ethics of Joseph’s treatment of his brothers, and comparisons that can be drawn between Moses and different fictional characters/historical figures. When we returned from a quick break, we moved to our “Midrash Manicures” activity! Taking inspiration from the popular “Midrash Manicures” website, whose founder, Rabbi Yael Buechler, has decorated her nails with creative, symbolic art to match the week’s Torah portion for the past ten years, students painted decorative nail art on their fingernails to represent Torah stories they have studied so far this year. Student who didn’t want to paint their nails decorated pin-back buttons instead. It was a creative, fun, messy, and smelly—lots of open bottles of nail polish sure smell!—end to the lesson!

JCS Class Summaries–October 12, 2014

Littles

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!

Middles

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.

Juniors

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.

 

JCS Class Summaries–September 14, 2014

Littles

This week at Or Emet’s JCS program we got to explore our new space, welcome a new face to our class, and welcome back some others. We learned our “good morning” song with teacher Sarah, and spent some time coloring Rosh Hashanah pictures. At the end of the day, we read a Rosh Hashanah story while enjoying the nice weather on the playground. It was a great kick-off to a new year!

Middles

In September, the Middles class learned about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We learned about the shofar and had our own Tashlich. Sarah taught us a song for Rosh Hashanah, and how to say our names in Hebrew. We also learned about creation myths and the Torah. We looked at examples of creation stories from around the world, including the Torah, to see how people explained the world before they had science to help them. Then we made our own creation myth pictures and stories.

Please have your Middles student bring a canned good to donate in October, when we learn about generosity in celebration of Sukkot.

Juniors

During our first session of the school year, our class focused on getting to know visitors, reconnecting with classmates after the summer break, and beginning to delve into Torah study. After a couple of icebreaker activities, students listened to a short talk focused on the Torah, how it can be divided into five books and into weekly readings or parshiyot, and how Humanistic, Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jews all believe different things about the Torah and to what extent events and characters described in it are true. Students briefly discussed who they believe wrote the Torah and why, as well as why we would study the Torah as Humanistic Jews—even when facts/evidence tell us that the stories in the Torah either aren’t true or can’t be proven. Then we moved on to doing performances from Sedra Scenes, a book of short, funny skits based on the weekly Torah portions. Students chose roles for each scene and then performed the skits for the Bereishit, Noah, Lech Lecha, and Vayeira portions, using costumes and props made of foam. In the middle of the skits we took a break for our music and Hebrew lesson with Sarah, who taught the class a variety of Hebrew vocabulary for the High Holidays along with the traditional shofar blasts and two holiday songs—“Apples and Honey (for Rosh Hashanah)” and “B’Rosh HaShanah.” We returned to our skits afterward, and then discussed the stories that students performed. Students compared the creation story described in the Torah to creation stories in other religions/cultures, talked Torah and sexism, discussed whether they would have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, and critically examined the stories of Noah and the Binding of Isaac. We wrapped up the morning with an all-school sing-along in honor of Harold, and I’m excited to regroup with this fun and thoughtful class in October!

 

JCS Class Summaries–May 18, 2014

Littles

[coming soon]

Middles

[coming soon]

Juniors

Our ninth and final lesson of the school year gave students the opportunity to consider Humanistic Judaism and its place on the “Jewish spectrum,” and to learn more about notable Jewish figures of the 19th-21st centuries. After signing “JCS yearbooks,” students took a look at the new Society for Humanistic Judaism website and talked about Humanistic Judaism’s place on the spectrum vis-a-vis Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and other branches of Judaism. Then the class split into two teams and played “Notable Jewish Folk–The Trivia Game!”, a trivia game created by me (Eva) with questions designed to encourage critical thinking and learning about important Jewish figures of the 19th-21st centuries. Question subjects ranged from poet Emma Lazarus to Yiddish theater and film star Molly Picon to polio vaccine developer Jonas Salk. Students put good energy into the game, and because Sarah wasn’t able to join us for the usual Hebrew and music lesson, we used our extra time to continue the competition! To close the lesson, the whole class adjourned to the Middles classroom and joined Josh and Renee’s classes in a clay humanorah-making activity. Juniors students helped the younger kids to sculpt their visions of the humanorah out of clay. It was bitter-sweet to say goodbye at the end of the day. Thank you to my students for a great year!

 

JCS Class Summaries–April 13, 2014

Littles

This week we learned all about Passover! We studied the Seder plate, learned songs, and watched a cool music video about the afikomen. At the end of the day, we put the finishing touches on our mitzvah book.

Middles

[coming soon]

Juniors

Our eighth lesson of the school year focused on Israeli geography and life in modern Israel. After reviewing each other’s names and recalling what they had learned about Zionism, Israeli culture, and Israeli history so far this year, students located and labelled important cities and other geographical features (like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Negev Desert, etc) on a large map of Israel. Then they split into two teams and played a geographical bean bag toss game, taking turns throwing bean bags at the Israeli map and trying to hit the labelled geographical features. Students read aloud some interesting facts about each location that they hit and earned points for their teams. When we returned from break, Sarah Berman-Young led the morning’s music and Hebrew lesson, reviewing Passover vocabulary with the class as well as “Ma Nishtana”/“The Four Questions” and the Humanistic version of “Dayenu.” During the remaining class period, students participated in a Jerusalem marketplace simulation. Playing the roles of regular people you might encounter in a crowded Israeli marketplace—like an IDF soldier, a Palestinian cafe-owner, a Jewish peace activist, an old-time kibbutznik, a Chassidic Judaica seller, an Ethiopian Jewish artist, et cetera—each student learned about her/his character and their opinions and donned any relevant costumes/props. Then students gathered in the “marketplace” together to converse and debate in character, developing an appreciation for the cultural and ideological diversity that characterize modern Israeli life, as well as for the big conflicts around peace and treatment of Palestinians, Judaism’s role in the state, diversity and prejudice, and Israel’s changing economy that are central to the national conversation.

 

Calendar
May 20, 2018
  • Jewish Cultural School #9
    Time: 10:00 am - 12:30 pm
  • Adult Program: "Resistance Then and Now: Learning from the Dutch"
    Time: 10:00 am - 12:30 pm
May 24, 2018
  • Executive Committee Meeting
    Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
June 3, 2018
  • Jewish Cultural School #9
    Time: 10:00 am - 12:30 pm