During the May JCS session, Juniors class students joined in a school-wide Israeli dance program and then took part in classroom activities to celebrate and reflect on the year’s learning. The dance program, led by visiting specialist Shira Schwartz, gave students and adults the opportunity to “travel through Israel” through an interactive combination of singing, dancing, and theater. After a short break, Juniors gathered with the students from other classes in the Middles classroom to review the aleph-bet and “Zum Gali Gali” along with Sarah. Then the Juniors moved to their regular classroom to sign “JCS yearbooks,” autographing and writing messages on the covers of each other’s packets of music/Hebrew sheets from the past year’s lessons. After “yearbook signing,” “Jewish History Wax Museum” presentations began. Based on their independent research, students took turns presenting in the characters of Jewish historical figures from the “middle period” in Jewish history that formed the focus of their study this year. Finally, the class returned to the gym to watch Kulanu, Shira Schwartz’s intergenerational dance group, perform for the congregation. Thanks, Juniors students, for making this a year filled with learning and fun!
The JCS Middles class had a great time joining in the Israeli dance program at the May session. After dancing, we joined the other JCS classes for music and Hebrew. We learned to sing the Hebrew alphabet. In class, we worked in small groups to create a poster, skit, or other project about something we learned this year. We shared our projects with each other to review everything we learned.
The Littles had lots of fun dancing with Shira Schwartz! After dancing, we sang the Hebrew alphabet song and “Zum Gali Gali” with Sarah and the other classes, and did some end-of-the-year activities in our classroom. At the end of class, we went back to the gym and watched Shira perform with her Israeli dance group. It was a fun end to a fun year!
In April, students in the Juniors class focused on learning about different Jewish spiritual/intellectual movements that emerged between the Inquisition and the late 18th century. After discussing Baruch Spinoza’s life and ideas a bit further, the class reviewed some basic Hebrew with Sarah and learned to sing “Waters of Babylon” in a round. Afterward, students worked with partners to complete a worksheet that reinforced and developed their knowledge of Jewish history between 1492 and 1789 CE. Then the class took a short break and, after returning, students split into small groups to read stories connected to four of the main Jewish intellectual/spiritual movements to emerge between 1492 and 1789—Kabbalah/mysticism, messianism, Hasidism, and the Haskalah. They considered what each story taught them about the movement it represented, and discussed the pluses and minuses of each movement/belief system. Finally, after looking at some early modern Jewish political cartoons and propaganda art, students imagined that they, too, were alive during this era and created posters to either promote or discredit their respective movement in the eyes of other Jewish people of the time period.
In April, the Middles class prepared for Tot Shabbat by learning about Shabbat traditions that some Jewish families observe. We did our own candle lighting ceremony to welcome Shabbat. After talking about what happens and doesn’t happen on Shabbat in traditional Jewish homes, we played a sorting game to help us remember. We also played “Shabbat Tag” (like freeze tag). Sarah taught us a song and some Hebrew words related to Shabbat. Sometimes it’s hard to live without most technology the way some Jewish families do on Shabbat, so the Middles read a story about connecting to nature instead of always having “screen time.” A charades-like game called Not A Stick gave students a chance to have fun without technology. We closed with our own Havdalah ceremony.