JCS Class Summaries–March 8, 2015

Littles

This week at JCS was all about Purim. We learned the story of Purim, colored Purim pictures, and sang songs about Purim. Our classroom day ended early, as we had our yearly Purim carnival. We sang songs for our families, played games, won prizes, and made arts and crafts.

Middles

In March, the Middles class learned the story of Purim. Sarah taught us a great Purim song. Then, we worked together to make delicious Hamentaschen fillings before joining in the carnival. A HUGE thank you to this month’s Middles classroom helpers for their excellent work in the kitchen – Ben Drucker, Dan Gladen, and Naomi Rockler! Filling recipes are available below:
Poppy Seed
Caramel Apple (A big hit! Dulce de leche is available at World Market, Trader Joe’s, and Kowalski’s)
Apricot (dairy free)

Juniors

In March, the Juniors class connected Purim celebration with their Torah and Tanakh study, reviewing the Purim story and Esther’s role in it while also learning about other strong women prophets—or prophetesses—in the Jewish tradition. We opened class with a brief joke-telling session in honor of Purim, and then moved on to talking about how, in stories in the Tanakh, a prophet(ess) is “…a spokes[wo]man for G-d, a person chosen by G-d to speak to people on G-d’s behalf and convey a message or teaching. Prophet[esse]s were role models of holiness, scholarship and…set the standards for the entire community” (http://www.jewfaq.org/prophet.htm). We talked about how, according to the Babylonian Talmud, 48 prophets and seven prophetesses preached to Israel, and reflected on why, when the Torah/Tanakh focuses on stories about men, we as feminist, progressive Jewish people would want to study women’s stories in the Bible more closely. Then students split into three groups, rotating through three stations where they learned about the prophetesses Deborah, Hannah, and Esther in more detail. At each station, students read a book excerpt retelling the story of one of these prophetesses, discussed the story critically, and then creatively illustrated key characters, events, and themes in it on a large add-on drawing before rotating to the next station. Discussions touched on Deborah’s powerful leadership qualities, Esther’s courage (overlooked by many who focus on her beauty), and understanding Hannah’s struggles with infertility. Finally, we wrapped up the lesson with a brief music lesson with Sarah, learning a Purim song about a little clown, “Leitzan Katan,” before we dismissed class to celebrate with the whole congregation at the Purim carnival!

JCS Class Summaries–February 8, 2015

Littles

Today at Or Emet’s JCS we learned about Tu B’Shevat. Teacher Sarah taught us a song, and then we got to color. After snack, we read a story and then participated in a Tu B’Shevat seder with our families. Everyone loved our song!

Middles

In February, the Middles class learned the story of Noah’s Ark. We decided that, even though it may not be true, the story can remind us to act in the face of climate change, even if other people don’t believe in it. Sarah taught us a great Humanistic version of “Rise and Shine” as well as a great Tu B’Shevat song, “Treee of Life”. We celebrated the New Year for Trees by making collages of trees to hang in the window. At the end of class, students joined in the annual Tu B’Shevat seder. Also, a big thank you to Jack, our volunteer helper of the month!

Juniors

During our February lesson, the class focused on wrapping up our Torah study for the year and tying it to our celebration of Tu B’Shevat, aka “The New Year for the Trees.” After a brief tree-focused improv warm-up, students split into groups and tackled the last two books in the Torah—Numbers (BaMidbar) and Deuteronomy (Devarim)—using their critical thinking skills to sequence the names and descriptions of key events from each of the books’ parshiyot/Torah portions. Then the class focused in on “Korach,” an interesting parsha from Numbers, doing a dramatic reading of the Sedra Scenes skit that retells the story of Korach and discussing it afterward. Students analyzed Korach’s reasons for challenging the leadership of Aaron and Moses, weighed the legitimacy of his beef, and considered, as humanists, why the Torah talks so much about people challenging God and then being punished by God. Finally, the class did a fun art project that connected our Torah study and Tu B’Shevat. Riffing on the idea that the Torah is often called the Tree of Life, or Etz Chaim, we created Tree of Life sun-catchers, decoupaging squares of colorful tissue paper behind a round cut-out design featuring a tree and the Hebrew word “chai.” Then class learned to sing “Ha’Shkediyah Porachat,” a classic Tu B’Shevat song, with Sarah, and we ended the lesson early to join everyone in the gym and take part in Or Emet’s annual Tu B’Shevat seder!

JCS Class Summaries–January 11, 2015

Littles

This week at Or Emet’s JCS we welcomed some visitors (that we will hopefully see again). We learned about Tikkun Olam, read a story about tzedakah, drew pictures of different ways we can help one another, and had a great discussion about what we drew!

Middles

In January, the Middles class learned about Social Justice – an important value for many Humanistic Jews! Sarah led us in a beautiful song on this theme. We learned the story of Prophet Amos, who fought for social justice way back in the time of the Torah. Then we played some games to remind us why equality is important. We finished up by drawing our “inside” and “outside” selves, to show that the inside is what really counts!

Juniors

Because Eva Cohen (that’s me—hi, everyone! 🙂 ) was out of town attending a wedding, the Juniors class had Eva’s dad, Barry, as a substitute in January; Barry did a great job with the day’s lesson, getting the class to think critically and humanistically about Exodus and Leviticus. Continuing to use Sedra Scenes as their core text, students split into groups and did dramatic readings of skits for the final Torah portions in Exodus and of skits for selected Torah portions in Leviticus. After each reading, students took part in small group or class-wide discussion, debating thorny issues raised by their reading—including whether “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” is a good rule for societies to live by. Hands-on activities broke up the reading; after learning about the Torah’s instructions for building a Tabernacle for “God” to dwell in, students created mini Tabernacle models using Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Duplos, and craft supplies. Sarah Berman-Young taught the class some Torah story-focused Debbie Friedman songs after break, and then students played “The ‘Kosher or Treyf’ Game!” Divided into two teams and racing the clock, students used their reasoning skills and lists of kosher rules drawn from the Shemini Torah portion in Leviticus (as well as from elsewhere in the Torah) to sort images of food and animals into “kosher” and “treyf” piles. Then the class reflected on the origins of kosher rules, and modern efforts to expand the definition of kosher to require ethical treatment of farm and food workers. Finally, before wrapping up for the day, the class discussed the following powerful line: “You shall not stand by your neighbor’s blood” (Leviticus 19:16), thinking about its connection to #BlackLivesMatter and talking about ways that Jewish people can get involved in this important contemporary movement. The Juniors certainly had an eventful and learning-packed lesson!

JCS Class Summaries–December 7, 2014

Littles

This week at JCS, we learned about Chanukah. We learned Chanukah songs for our party, and read a great Chanukah book. We lit a real menorah and colored some Chanukah pictures. As a special bonus, Kai told us some hilarious jokes, such as this gem:

Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
The cat in the balloon.
The cat in the balloon who?
The cat wanted to live in space.

Thanks Kai! Kid jokes are the best.

Middles

In December, the Middles learned about Hanukkah and family history. We started with the story of the Maccabees. Sarah taught us the Hanukkah blessing to share at the JCS Hanukkah celebration. We made family tree felt menorahs to take home and “light,” and students shared where their families came from. For special holiday fun, we finished up by playing dreidel. Naomi Rockler-Gladen helped out in our class this month – thanks Naomi!

Juniors

In December, the Juniors class continued with their humanistic study of the book of Exodus while also getting into the Hanukkah spirit! To open the lesson, students played a warm-up game of dreidel in small groups. Then, after a brief review of the Torah stories we studied in November, the class began a group dramatic reading of the short, funny Sedra Scenes skits for the Vayera through Yitro Torah portions. As usual, students had fun playing around with voices and expressive reading styles to make the stories come to life. We discussed provocative questions raised by each Torah portion, ranging from possible science-based explanations for the Ten Plagues to opinions on the morality and modern relevance of each of the Ten Commandments. After a break for snack and a bit more dreidel play, Sarah Berman-Young came to teach the class two Hanukkah songs– “Mi Y’malel” and “Chanukah, Chanukah.” Students listened to a short talk connecting the seven-branch menorah first described in the Torah to the Chanukah menorah, and then they looked over scripts and chose their roles in this year’s Hanukkah play! This year’s play (written by me, Eva) tells the story of Hanukkah and the Maccabees from a historical perspective with a humorous twist. The class had time for one run-through of the play; students look forward to rehearsing more and then performing at the Or Emet Hanukkah party!

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!

Calendar
July 28, 2018
  • Family Havdalah with campfire, brief service/program, potluck, games
    Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
August 25, 2018
  • St Stephen's Shelter dinner provided by Or Emet volunteers
    Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
August 28, 2018
  • Second Harvest Heartland food shelf
    Time: 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm