Due to the Corvid 19 pandemic and state-wide stay at home rule, our April 5 Jewish Cultural School session took place using the Zoom on-line meeting platform. This was a first for us, an experience shared with other programs and K-12 educators around the state and nation. We got through some minor first-time hiccups to give all of our students an opportunity to connect with their Or Emet friends and teachers, and to continue learning about Jewish culture, history, traditions and values.
We started, as we do when we meet in person, in one large group with Sarah Berman Young leading us through a choral recitation of the alef-bet, our Children’s Blessing, and an opening song. The students and their teachers were then placed in virtual Zoom break-out rooms for their separate lessons, as described below.
The Littles Group, Pre-School – Kindergarten, teacher Josh Kaplan
Sunday was our first virtual session of Or Emet’s Jewish Cultural School; a social distancing success! After our group meeting, and humanistic blessings, we sang our morning song from the comfort of our own homes! We learned about Passover, and we watched a short clip from Shalom Sesame about going to a seder. It was great to see everyone’s faces, and to check-in during these challenging times. We’re all looking forward to seeing each other again next month! Chag sameach!
The Middles Group, Grades 1 – 3, teacher Colline Roland
After a welcome and checking in on whether or not my students missed school we watched a Passover Shaboom episode. We learned the brief story of Passover and why we throw out all leavened breads. After our shared video, we learned how the Pharaoh of Egypt wouldn’t let the Israelites go, held them as slaves, and then 10 plagues descended upon Egypt. After this we did a group worksheet with Passover specific words so we could learn the meaning and importance of the words that would come in our word search. After doing the vocabulary as a group we then moved on to a Passover word search!
The Juniors Group, Grades 4-5, teacher Renee Dorman
The Juniors group enjoyed seeing each other via Zoom in April. We checked in on how we are all doing. Then we played a tough round of Passover trivia using a Kahoot! We watched a video about Anne Frank and compared her experience in their hiding place to our (much easier) experience during social distancing. Looking at Anne’s quotes about finding beauty in hard times, we made a list of the 10 plagues of Passover, another of some modern plagues, and a most important list of things that give us joy and gratitude. Students finished the class with a color-by-alef-bet worksheet to review Hebrew letters and color names.
The B’Mitzvah Prep Group, Grades 6-7, teacher Eva Cohen
This class session the B’ Mitzvah Prep class focused on continuing study of biblical law and ethics. Class opened with a chance for students to share how they’ve been doing during the pandemic; everyone shared what’s been challenging for them as well as what’s helped them feel positive and hopeful. We also asked each other and responded to the question of how we’re doing in Hebrew.
We moved on to looking closely at similarities and differences between law in Hammurabi’s Code and law in the Torah on the theme of ‘an eye for an eye’; students saw how the Babylonian Code only applies this punishment in response to harm of an aristocratic person, while the Israelite Torah law, written about a thousand years later, legislates this as the punishment for harm of any person of any class, citizen or stranger. Students discussed connections to American laws, and talked about different times in American history–including today–when the law has or has not recognized the lives of all people as equally valuable. Then we moved on to a broader discussion of biblical law, looking at lots of examples and discussing which biblical laws seem ethical from a modern Humanistic Jewish perspective and which do not.
Next, students reviewed a list of kosher laws found in or derived from the Torah, and then we played the “Kosher or Treyf” trivia game. We closed with a chance for high scorers in the game to select dress-up themes for our next JCS Zoom class! 🙂
To prepare for Passover, interested students will take time on their own this week to craft their own model Seder plates–especially useful for celebrating Passover at home this year if their families do not have Seder plates.