JCS Class Summaries–December 8, 2013

Littles Class

This week The Littles discussed Shabbat, and the need for rest days. We discussed how Shabbat is similar to vacations, and how it is different. We read a Shabbat story, we drew pictures of how we like to spend our rest days, and we discussed them as a class.

As I often do, when each student finishes their task for the day, the can look through the stack of JCS books that we have. This time, Manny grabbed a book and began to read aloud to the other students. It was a great moment.

Also, there was a tiny sweatshirt left behind at the end of class. It will be returned at the next session.

Middles Class

In December, the Middles class focused on tradition. We reviewed Chanukah by watching the Rugrats Chanukah Special. We followed this up by discussing who passes the traditions and stories down from one generation to the next in the movie, as well as in our own families (here’s looking at, you, moms and dads!). We thought about different kinds of traditions and enjoyed one of the best – food! Together we made some very delicious rugelach. We also had a great music and Hebrew lesson with Sarah.

Juniors Class

In December, during our fourth session of the school year, we focused on learning about the Holocaust and different forms of resistance to the Nazis. Students recalled facts that they already knew about the Holocaust and listened to a short talk (with accompanying slideshow) that outlined the historical conditions that gave rise to Nazism, many of the Holocaust’s tragic events, and the varied ways that people responded to the horror and tragedy. For the remainder of the lesson, students learned about Jewish and “righteous Gentile” resistance to the Nazis. After returning from break, Sarah taught us to sing “Zog Nit Keynmol,” the anthem of the Jewish partisans’ movement. Then the class split into groups and rotated through learning stations that focused, respectively, on Jewish armed resistance, Jewish cultural resistance, and “righteous Gentile” solidarity resistance efforts. At the first station, students read about partisans and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and then listened to another Yiddish partisan song. At the second station, they made realistic and imaginative drawings and then compared them to drawings made by children at the Terezin concentration camp, reflecting on how the children’s art constituted a form of cultural resistance. At the third station, students learned about “righteous Gentiles” who helped to hide, protect, or smuggle Jews to safety during the Holocaust, and created collages in honor of the “tzedek” or “tzedeket” (righteous man or woman) of their choice. Students left the classroom with an understanding that even in the face of Nazi terror, brave Jewish people and their Gentile allies fought to save Jewish lives and preserve hope in the future.

JCS Class Summaries–November 10, 2013

Littles Class

This week we learned about Hanukkah. We learned about the menorah, the letters on a dreidel, how to play the dreidel game, and practiced our Hanukkah party songs. We also made wonderful cards expressing our condolences to one of our classmates who lost a loved one between sessions.

Middles Class

In November, the Middles class learned about Hanukkah. We read Maccabee! The Story of Hanukkah and played a game of Freeze (when the music stops) to remember how the Jews hid their studies from the Romans. Sarah taught us two Hanukkah songs, including Or Emet’s Hanukkah blessing. Then we found out why Hanukkah is so early this year by learning about the Jewish calendar. We played a matching game with the Jewish months, and found our Jewish calendar birthdays. For our craft project we drew turkey-themed menorahs in honor of “Thanksgivakah.” We wrapped the day up with a game of dreidel.

Juniors Class

During our third lesson of the school year, students learned more about the factors that caused so many Jewish people to emigrate from the Russian Empire to the U.S. between 1880 and 1920, and then prepared to sing and perform a short play at the Or Emet Hanukkah party. Class opened with a discussion comparing and contrasting the experiences of Jewish immigrants to the U.S. a hundred years ago and immigrants to the U.S. today. Then we watched a selection from the Minnesota-made documentary Ida’s Story, which explores how Or Emet member Donna Sherlock’s mother survived a 1918 pogrom and made a long and treacherous journey with her siblings from their small town in the Ukraine to Ellis Island. The class discussed how they would have felt in Ida’s position and ways that people can prevent the kinds of mass violence that caused such suffering for Ida’s family and millions of other Jews. Then we enjoyed a snack of Streit’s matzo and Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda, classic NYC Jewish foods that Jewish immigrants like Ida’s family enjoyed after settling on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. After break, we learned to sing “Mi Y’Malel” and “Oy Chanukah” with Sarah, and then started work with our Hanukkah play. The play, called Hanukka Gelt: A Short Play for Hanukka, by Leon Levenson, takes place at Hanukkah time in a shtetl in Russia ~100 years ago; it focuses on a Jewish family in the midst of deciding to immigrate to America in search of safety and opportunity. Students chose characters and then did a read-through of the play. Then the class split into two groups, and for the last half hour of the lesson one group made their own edits to the play script while the other group painted a backdrop for the performance. Students are excited to rehearse and perform the play!


Juniors Class Summary–October 13, 2013

For our second lesson of the school year, we focused on Jewish immigration to the US through Ellis Island and Jewish immigrant life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Juniors class had several visitors this session, so we took time at the beginning of class to introduce ourselves and “introduce” Humanistic Judaism to our guests. Next, we talked about America’s history of immigration, and students shared where their ancestors came from before arriving in this country. After a short lecture describing how pogroms, discrimination, and lack of economic opportunity caused millions of Jews to immigrate to the US from Russia in the late 19th/early 20th century, the whole class took part in an Ellis Island simulation. Students played the roles of medical examiners, primary line inspectors, and Jewish immigrants entering the US, and reflected afterward on what the experience felt like and whether the immigration process was truly fair. After break, the class learned some Yiddish vocabulary and sang part of the humorous and nostalgic New York Yiddish theater song “Rumania, Rumania!” with Sarah. Then students split into groups and looked at old photos depicting Jewish immigrant life on the Lower East Side, sharing their impressions. We talked about the average dimensions of the tenement apartments that NYC Jewish immigrants lived in, and then used a tape measure and string to mark out these dimensions in our classroom. Students piled into the makeshift “apartment” that we created, and discussed what it must have felt like for Jewish immigrants to live together in such tiny spaces. After learning some other tenement facts, the class watched a short clip from the documentary Heritage: Civilization and the Jews, learning about Yiddish newspapers, Yiddish theater, and other aspects of immigrant Jewish cultural life on the Lower East Side. The whole lesson gave students insight into the hardships Jewish immigrants to the US (including many of their ancestors) faced, as well as the strength and community ties of support that made Jewish immigrant survival possible.

Middles Class Summary–October 13, 2013

In October, the Middles Class learned about Ellis Island. We started by sharing where our ancestors were from before they came to the United States. We found those places on the map. With Sarah, we reviewed the Aleph-Bet, and learned a few Yiddish phrases. She also shared a folk song sung by immigrant families. Together, we “read” the pictures-only book The Arrival by Shaun Tan. It is the story of a man who emigrates to a new place. Although the book seems like fantasy, there are many parallels to the journeys some Jewish immigrants took to Ellis Island. As we read, we paused to act out different experiences the man went through – the big ship, seeing his destination for the first time, security, payment – and thought about how he might feel during each event. We decided that immigrating would be scary and confusing, but worth it to get away from something scary. We ended our time by celebrating our arrival in a new place – the playground!

Littles Class Summary–October 13, 2013

This week we learned the song “Shalom Chaverim” with Teacher Sarah, and did some Hebrew alphabet yoga. We colored, read a book about helping others, and learned the word “mitzvah.” We discussed ways that we could perform mitzvot in our community, and with our friends and family.

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