Class summary - Juniors, September 2009
We kicked off the first Or Emet class of the year with some time for students to get [re]acquainted, and then I introduced the theme that will guide our classes for the year–the idea of ‘being Jewish today.’ I presented the idea that, particularly as Humanistic Jews, it is important for us to explore and consider all the different ways a person can be Jewish in the world today, that this gives us a way to think about Jewishness that moves beyond a focus on God or history alone. After hearing the focus for the day–‘being a Jewish-American today’–students played a trivia game in teams where they guessed the answers to questions about Jewish-Americans, their beliefs, most popular holidays observed, the intermarriage rate, et cetera. When the game was over, we talked about the answers to the questions (the statistics all came from the National Jewish Population Survey in 2000), and students discussed what was interesting to them, what surprised them, and what seemed to connect to their own experiences. After a break to eat apples and honey and hear Sam blow the shofar, we came back to class and watched two short clips of Jewish comedians from different eras addressing the topic of intermarriage (we looked at the dinner scene from Woody Allen’s movie Annie Hall, and a Sarah Silverman stand-up bit from the film Jesus is Magic). Students discussed what was funny about the clips in small groups, talking about their similarities and differences and making connections to the statistics we looked at earlier. We wrapped up with an art activity, learning about Jewish paper-cut art, its historical use in decorating sukkahs, etc. in Europe and the US, and made some paper-cuts of our own while discussing a pen pal opportunity and ideas for service/social justice projects.