The weather was perfect for our May 15 session of Jewish Cultural Sunday School, allowing our students to spend time outdoors.  In fact, our Littles and Middles groups, who combined to hold most of their class outdoors in the courtyard playground.

Parents were given a year end survey to complete.  If you were not present and did not receive the survey via a follow-up email, please contact me at arty@oremet and I will send it to you.  Results will be reported at our Or Emet annual meeting on June 5 and will be a helpful guide for our incoming JCSS director.

And now, on to the fun (and learning) each group enjoyed:

The Littles (PreK-Kindergarten, teacher Amy Levitt) & Middles (grades 1-2, teacher Colline Roland):

What a beautiful day to be together outside! We had lots of new friends joining us, so we played a name game before Sarah came to join us for music. She taught us the names of body parts in Hebrew (af-nose, peh-mouth, ozen-ear, regel-leg, yad-hand, rosh-head).


We read A Sack Full of Feathers by Debby Waldman and Cindy Revell, a Jewish folktale where the rabbi teaches the hidden power of our actions and words. To further understand the moral of our book, we played telephone to show how words can get lost in translation.


After working on our own books and stories, we played on the playground, and read another Jewish folktale, The Wooden Sword by Ann Redisch Stampler.

       Book Cover: A Sack Full of Feathers             


The Juniors Group – grades 3-5, teacher Renee Dorman

In May the Juniors group learned about the holiday of Shavuot. We talked about what makes a text sacred, and shared what books are most important to us. Then we practiced PaRDeS *, a traditional Jewish reading practice for Torah study, using Genesis 11 (The Tower of Babel) and a text of our choice. Some of our choice texts were Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

We tried to find a seed of wisdom in our reading. Then we created tye-dye flower pictures with our seed of wisdom at the bottom. We also practiced Hebrew words for body parts with Sarah.




B’Mitzvah Prep Group – grades 6-7, teacher Eva Cohen

During our May class, we looked closer at famous stories about King David and King Solomon, legendary rulers of the united Israelite kingdom. After our regular icebreaker and Hebrew conversation warm-up (including learning how to wish someone “happy birthday” in Hebrew–“yom huledet sameach”), we reviewed the following points: (1) that the Tel Dan Stele suggests that David was a real king or chief, but other evidence suggests he ruled over a much smaller area than the legends describe, and (2) that Hebrew Bible stories are a complicated mix of pure fiction, legend, and real history.
Next, Sarah joined us for a music lesson, teaching our class to sing the chorus of “BaShanah HaBa’ah.” Then we dived into reading English translations of 1 Samuel 17–the story of David and Goliath–and 1 Kings 3–the “splitting the baby” story of the judgement of Solomon. After reading each story, students worked in groups to create and perform short skits conveying essential story details. These performances set us up for discussion, and students shared their thoughts on topics including the religious versus humanistic messages of the David and Goliath story and the cultural influence of the David and Goliath “triumph of the underdog” metaphor.
              David and Goliath                         David & Goliath by a
              by Marc Chagall                            B’Mitzvah Prep Student  
Class wrapped up with more biblical literary exploration through art; students looked at Marc Chagall’s famous illustrations of David and Solomon stories and then created their own Chagall-inspired paintings of the stories we studied together.
Regarding the Juniors Group activity, for those interested, here is an explanation of PaRDes, courtesy of Wikipedia:

“The term is an acronym formed from the initials of the  following four approaches:

  • Peshat (פְּשָׁט‎) – “surface” (“straight”) or the literal (direct) meaning.[1]
  • Remez (רֶמֶז‎) – “hints” or the deep (allegoric: hidden or symbolic) meaning beyond just the literal sense.
  • Derash (דְּרַשׁ‎) – from Hebrew darash: “inquire” (“seek”) – the comparative meaning, as given through similar occurrences.
  • Sod (סוֹד‎) (pronounced with a long O as in ‘lore’) – “secret” (“mystery”) or the esoteric/mystical meaning, as given through inspiration or revelation.”

There!  Now you too can practice your PaRDeS reading!  

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