Class Summary - Juniors January 23, 2011
The January juniors’ class session was focused on Tu B’Shevat. Students began the lesson by learning the Hebrew and Yiddish words for tree, taking time to practice saying each term and then writing them in hand-folded Tu B’Shevat books. Next, the class discussed the concept of a ‘New Year for the Trees’ and made drawings of the seven species of agricultural products associated with spring and new growth in [ancient] Israel. The students then moved on to brainstorming a list of ways trees and plants are important in our lives today, afterward generating a list of ways trees and plants were important in the lives of our Jewish ancestors and comparing/contrasting the two lists. From here the class turned to reading and discussing three nature-/Tu B’Shevat-focused poems by Jewish poets (one from Shin Shalom, a modern Israeli poet who explores traditionally religious Jewish themes, one from Rachel Blustein, an early Zionist poet, and one from Yehoash, a secular Yiddish poet whose style was influenced by the work of American poet Walt Whitman). At the end of their discussion, students wrote their own poetry about their feelings of joy in and connectedness with the natural world, sharing them with the group before heading downstairs to take part in the congregation’s Tu B’Shevat seder.