April Jewish Cultural School

The April JCS session was lively and well attended, with each group preparing for Passover along with learning other lessons.  Music/Hebrew teacher Sarah Berman Young visited each classroom and reviewed songs for the Seder.

One more JCS Session this year – 0n May 19, 2019.

The Littles Group – teacher Josh Kaplan

Today at JCS we learned all about Passover. We got to see an actual Seder plate, and we made sleeves for hiding an afikoman. We read two Passover books and we learned the Four Questions.

Teacher Josh has about two weeks to go before the baby arrives, if all goes as planned. And, because some of you have asked, it’s a boy!


The Middles Group – teacher Colline Rowland

On Sunday our class discussed the upcoming holiday of Passover! We learned the story of Passover, illustrated the plagues, and learned about the Seder plate and why we eat the foods we do. We also played a Passover themed ring toss game that everyone loved!


The Juniors Group – teacher Renee Dorman

The Juniors group reviewed Passover rituals with a game of pictionary. Then we looked at the original story of Exodus using the Brick Testament (bricktestament.com). Note that while the Exodus pages are not too racy, other parts of the website are definitely for adults only. Students reflected on the Exodus story. Teacher Renee issued a Passover Lego Challenge to all Juniors students: Create a Passover-related lego scene, snap a photo, and email your photo to Renee at dorman.r99@gmail.com. All participants will receive a small prize in May, with a larger prize for the winning photo.


The B’Mitzvah Prep Group – teacher Eva Cohen

Our April class focused on learning about the Holocaust. For the first half of the session, students attended the Or Emet adult program, “The Garden of the Righteous: A Klezmer Music Program and Fundraiser” with Judith Eisner and the Naye Strunes Klezmer Quartet. Afterward, we dismissed to our classroom to discuss our responses to the program and to reflect on what we learned from it about the “Righteous Among the Nations” and their brave efforts during the Holocaust to save the lives of many Jews and others targeted by the Nazis. After break and a music and Hebrew lesson with Sarah where we reviewed the “Four Questions” and some related Passover vocabulary, students returned to thinking about the Holocaust, its causes, and different responses to it. We talked about different forms of resistance to the Nazis, ranging from the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and partisan resistance to helping people escape and hide to maintaining hope and Jewish cultural life. Students finished the lesson by each imagining and drawing a design for a memorial to honor brave Holocaust resisters.

March Jewish Cultural School – Celebrating Purim

Thankfully we got through our March JCS session without having to work around a snowstorm.  We had lively classroom sessions, and an even livelier time at our annual Purim Carnival.  Thanks so much to everyone who helped set up the carnival and run the games and activities, and a special thank you to Anne Handley who prepared the dough in advance and worked with all of our students to bake delicious hamanetschen.

Here are summaries of each class’s activities, and some photos from the carnival.  See you next month, when (among other things) our students will prepare for the Passover Seder that will come shortly after.

The Littles Group (pre-school & kindergarten), teacher Josh Kaplan

This week at Jewish Cultural School we learned all about Purim. The Purim story is a hard one to tell to very small children, simply because of the threats of violence, so I tend to keep it light and general. We sang the song “My Hat Has Three Corners,” which is super fun because, each time the verse repeats, you leave out words! We also colored, read two Purim books, and made hamentashen. At the end of the day, we all participated it the school’s Purim carnival which was a ton of fun!

Note: My baby is due April 28th. My expectation is that I am present for the final two sessions but, as you parents are aware, babies don’t always arrive on schedule.


The Middles Group (1st – 3rd grade) – teacher Colline Roland

Today our class revolved around the holiday of Purim! As we anxiously awaited the clock to strike 11:45am we did a couple things in class. Firstly we had a conversation about what the kids remembered about Purim. Then we set the record straight about their thoughts and Ian read Sammy Spiders First Purim. After, Ari thought up a game similar to Simon Says where when you hear Hamans name you clap and stop your feet. From there we played a version of Marco Polo. One of the kids was blindfolded and had to figure out where and who was saying Hamans name. Lastly, we created Stars of David using name specific-enstachens rather than Hamantaschens!

The Juniors Group (4th – 5th grades) – teacher Renee Dorman

In March, the Juniors group reviewed our knowledge of Purim and watched a short film version of Queen Esther’s story. We also had a great time celebrating by making our own Purim costumes!

The B’Mitzvah Prep Group (6th and 7th grades) – teacher Eva Cohen

This month at JCS, B’ Mitzvah students learned about the history of Jewish immigration to the United States. The class did an Ellis Island immigration simulation, and then discussed biases and issues in the US immigration system (both historically and contemporarily). We talked a little about Eastern European Jewish immigration to New York City specifically and Jewish contributions to Broadway/American musical theater, and then students acted out a short purimshpiel based on the musical West Side Story. Students finished the morning by helping to run games for the Purim carnival!

Purim Carnival photos taken by Scott Chazdon (thank you, Scott)




February 17 JCS Summaries

Winter weather didn’t keep us from having a great turnout for our February Jewish Cultural School session.  Here’s a look at how each group spent their time together.

Littles and Middles Group  – combined, with teacher Colline Roland and teacher aide Ian Zukor

Today in class we hosted some 3,4, 5 and 6 year olds. Because of this our class activites were a bit more relaxed. Eli read us “Joseph Had a Little Overcoat”, and we talked about what the moral/theme; Bal Taschit. Then we each colored an item mentioned in the book and ordered them accordingly.

From there we talked more in depth about Bal Taschit and watched a video (Shaboom) for kids on Bal Taschit. Lastly we all created our own symbol representing Bal Taschit. (This idea came from recycling and the recycling logo♻️).

Most importantly, shout out to Ian for being with us and hosting a game of red light, green light after snack.

Watch the Shaboom video:



 Juniors Group with teacher Renee Dorman

In February, the Juniors class learned about Ellis Island. We looked at photos and used them as primary sources for evidence of what it would be like to be an immigrant. Then we wrote letters to of welcome and support to immigrants to the United States.

Julian and Rei (Juniors Class) at work.


B’Mitzvah Prep Group with teacher Eva Cohen

Coming soon!


January 20 Jewish Cultural School & Tu B’Shevat Sedar


We started off 2019 with our four lively JCS classes, each summarized below – and great attendance, with only a few absentees, proving that bitter cold doesn’t keep Minnesota’s Humanistic Jews from venturing out on a Sunday morning.

Scroll down for photos from our Tu B’Shevat Seder, as we celebrate the promise of spring’s return, to relieve us of the bare and cold days of winter with new life, growth and hope.


The Littles Group, teacher Josh Kaplan

The focus of the Littles class for today was celebrating Tu B’Shevat. We learned about all of the great things that trees do for us, and about how we use the wood they produce in so many useful things -from pencils to homes! We learned about the foods they produce, and how important they are to our environment. We colored and drew pictures of trees, we read a Tu B’Shevat story, and we wrapped up the day with an excellent Tu B’Shevat Seder. I (Teacher Josh) will be gone for the next session, so the Littles will meet with Teacher Colline.


The Middles Group, teacher Colline Roland

On Sunday we had a taste test! The kids were given 6 things to taste and identify, all of which wouldn’t exist without trees! After the tasting we discussed the immense value trees have and how Nutella exists because of trees…they were all astonished. From there we talked about how habitats are disappearing due to deforestation. After all of this we made gifts for the trees, because of course Tu B Shevat is to celebrate trees. The gift, of course, a bird feeder made from the peels of our taste test ingredients.

Taste Test: lemon juice, orange juice, walnuts, M&Ms, lime, and Nutella

Juniors Group,  teacher Renee Dorman

he Juniors class learned that much of the Torah is written in poetry – specifically in a type of poetry known as parallelism, where the same idea is expressed in multiple ways. Poetry continued as a Jewish tradition. When Jews began moving to Israel at the start of the Zionist movement, they were immersed in interacting with nature in a new way on kibbutz. As a result, there was an increase in Jewish poetry about appreciating nature. We learned about an Israeli poet know as Rachel the Poetess. Then we wrote and illustrated our own parallelism poems to honor a favorite natural wonder.


The B’Mitzvah Group, teacher Eva Cohen

This session the B’ Mitzvah Prep class learned about Sephardic Jewish history and culture and their connections to the Tu B’Shevat seder. After opening with our regular Hebrew conversation exercise, students listened to a talk and engaged in discussion about the history of the Sephardic Jewish community, from the ‘Golden Age’ under Muslim caliphates through the Reconquista, the Inquisition, Jewish expulsion from Spain, Sephardic diaspora, and Sephardic involvement with the development of Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism. We learned about some basic beliefs in Kabbalah, and how Sephardic followers of Kabbalah developed the Tu B’Shevat seder as a way to promote what they understood as tikkun (repair) of the cosmos. Students studied some of the traditional symbols of the Tu B’Shevat seder and played a short quiz game about these symbols. Then the class spent time reading over Or Emet’s Tu B’Shevat seder to see how these symbols and their meanings have been Humanistically adapted, and students signed up to lead different parts of the Tu B’Shevat seder. We wrapped up class with a creative activity; students split into groups and created drawings to represent the “four worlds” of the Tu B’Shevat seder. Then we headed to the gym and worked together to lead the Tu B’Shevat seder!


Our Tu B’Shevat Seder,

led by ritual leader Eva Cohen and music/Hebrew teacher Sarah Berman-Young

The “Littles” lead the song “Plant a Tree for Tu B’Shevat”

The “Middles” lead the song “Tree of Life”


The Juniors class divided up and led the Seder in a two-part round, singing Israeli folk song  Hashkediyah  Porachat


       B’Mitzvah class leaders included Kai, Eliana, Noah and Gaian


Or Emet ritual leader Eva Cohen and music/Hebrew teacher Sarah Berman-Young






December JCS Sessions Welcome Snow and Hanukkah

From the Littles class, teacher Josh Kaplan

This week at JCS we welcomed a brand new member of our class -she fit right in! Welcome, Payton! The topic of the day was Hanukkah. We learned two Hanukkah songs, practiced spinning dreidels, and colored some awesome pictures. Later, we practiced lighting a menorah on a toy, non-burning, safety menorah. Then we watched as Teacher Josh lit a real one for the first night of Hanukkah. The next time we see each other will be at the Hanukkah party so make sure to save room for latkes!


From the Middles class, teacher Colline Roland

On Sunday our class  had music with Sarah. The kids decided rather than be alone in front of a group for the Hanukkah party that they’d prefer to be with the littles, so they learned the littles song. After this we attempted to make our own challah bread as we discussed the origins of Hanukkah and the traditions. As our bread baked the two students who were left chose to play dridel rather than bingo. The winner took home a dridel and gelt from Israel.

Middles students making challah and playing dreidel.



From the Juniors class, teacher Renee Dorman

In December, the Juniors reviewed with a game of Hanukkah pictionary. Then they read the story Latkes and Applesauce, and rehearsed for a play of the story for the Hanukkah party. We also reviewed the Hebrew letters found the dreidels – hey, gimmel, nun, and shin – and completed a coloring activity to practice letter recognition and sounds. Hope to see you at the Hanukkah party!


From the B’Mitvah Prep class, teacher Eva Cohen

Today in the B’Mitzvah Prep class, we learned about medieval European Jewish history and prepared for Chanukah. After our regular Hebrew conversation warm-up, students read a selection from The Veterans of History: A Young Person’s History of the Jews that focused on Jewish history and culture in Europe during the Middle Ages. After discussing the reading, students learned about the medieval European origins of dreidel, played a couple games of dreidel, and then learned about how the letters on the dreidel are traditionally read to symbolize “Nes gadol haya sham” (a great miracle happened there–a reference to the religious Chanukah story). Then we practiced some more Hebrew Chanukah vocabulary and a holiday song with Sarah. The last part of class students spent preparing a pantomime of “The Pan of Oil,” a Chanukah story by Chaver Paver translated from the Yiddish, in preparation for the Or Emet Chanukah party.

July 29, 2019
August 3, 2019
  • Family Havdalah with campfire, brief service/program, potluck, games
    Time: 4:30 pm - 8:00 pm
August 7, 2019
  • Executive Committee Meeting
    Time: 6:15 pm - 8:15 pm
August 24, 2019
  • St Stephen's Shelter dinner provided by Or Emet volunteers
    Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm