It was great to see students back in the Juniors class, and we kicked off our year of studying modern Jewish history with a fun and interactive lesson focused on modern Yiddish literature. After greetings and a game of Jewish Cultural School name bingo, students gave feedback on the kinds of topics and activities they are interested in having incorporated into lessons this year. Then they listened to a short presentation on the history of Yiddish literature, reviewing the origins of Yiddish and learning about the Yiddish renaissance writers who wrote stories, in the people’s language, that empathetically told of the sorrows, joys, and struggles of ordinary Ashkenazi Jewish people. After a short break, students returned to the classroom to learn some Hebrew vocabulary for the Sukkot holiday and sing a classic Yiddish holiday song called “A Sikele, a Kleyne” with Sarah. Next, the class split into small groups, and each group read a short story in translation by Shalom Aleichem or I.L. Peretz, two classic Yiddish writers. After talking over some discussion questions related to their stories, each group worked to create a puppet show retelling their assigned story using a set of provided paper puppets cut out from images of Marc Chagall paintings, early 20th century shtetl photos, et cetera. Groups performed their puppet shows for each other and offered their perspectives on the big ideas that the stories raised. To round out the day’s lesson, we headed downstairs and created some leaf cut-outs for a decorative banner for Or Emet’s sukkah. It was a fun, action-packed morning!
At their first class of the year, the Middles group had a great time learning about Jewish languages and Sukkot. As we got to know each other, we prepared for a good year by talking about what it means to be respectful, and by sharing High Holiday memories. We talked about Yiddish and Hebrew as the languages of Jewish culture, and thought about why the Jewish people might want their own language. We saw that both Yiddish and Hebrew use the same alphabet, but listening to a song in each language proved that they sound very different. We said that modern Hebrew happened “on purpose,” while Yiddish is a combination of languages that happened gradually and without trying. To explore how this could be, we played a game of “Telephone.” Sarah helped us review (in song!) the Hebrew alphabet and some Sukkot vocabulary words. She also shared a beautiful Yiddish lullabye with us. After music time, we learned about Sukkot and built our very own edible sukkas, using graham crackers and harvest-themed candy. To wrap up the class, the Middles joined the other JCS groups in making harvest garlands to decorate the sukkah. Several Middles students had a great time hanging their harvest garlands on the Sukkah at the Sukkot party following the program.
Welcome back to Or Emet JCS! Our first week back was exceptional; there were so many new faces! We learned a brand new song with Mrs. Sarah, we learned the word “shalom,” and we discussed Sukkot. We read a Rosh Hashanah story, and topped the day off by making leaf garlands and playing outside. We are all excited for this new year.
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.