Class Summary – Pre-school, November 2009

This week we focused on a booklet about “what it means to be a humanistic jew.” This booklet includes discussions about what it means to be Jewish: some of which include that we are connected to a long line of other Jews, that Jews are doing all sorts of cool things and have done so for awhile, what kinds of philosophies we believe in personally. This is the section that we focused on mostly during this session. The students filled in their own philosophies, roots, and such by coloring in the pages. We also got to listen to some great Jewish children’s music as we worked.

We also learned a new word- Mayim! This word means water and we practiced it by playing a game of “duck, duck, goose” but substituting the words “water, water, mayim.” It would be great if everyone could practice this new word at home.

We then read the book “It Could Always Be Worse,” which is the story after which this year’s Hanukkah play is based. It’s a story about how, no matter how difficult things are, things could always be harder and the lesson is to be appreciative of what we do have.

The last thing we did was work on a project with the class above ours to create chew toys for small animals at the humane society. This project coincided with the group’s year-long goal of tzedakah for animals in need.

Class Summary, Middles – December 2009

We spent some type talking about famous Jewish people. Many of the students talked about famous Jews they had learned about themselves such as Albert Einstein, Shel Silverstein, Natalie Portman and Anne Frank. Of course we talked about Hanukkah and in our Hebrew lesson with Muriel we learned words associated with the holiday. We also sang the song S’vivon which we later taught to the pre-school students. The remainder of the class was spent rehearsing for the Hanukkah puppet show. We has a great time practicing and hope the audience enjoyed it!

Class Summary, Juniors – November 2009

At the November Or Emet Sunday school session, the 5th-8th grade class learned about Hasidic Jewish history, culture, and presence in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. Students read a newspaper article together about the conflicts that have emerged between Hasidic Jews and Puerto Ricans, long-time residents of this neighborhood, and the recent influx of artists and hipster-types fleeing Manhattan for the cheaper rents and lively creative scene that have come to define Williamsburg. After discussing the article and talking a little about gentrification, the class created a large-scale drawing of the Williamsburg neighborhood, illustrating the different communities that live there, their homes, businesses, et cetera and their needs, interests, and conflicts. After the break, students continued discussing plans for a service-learning project, identifying doing work around hunger as the most important focus in their eyes. We made a decision together to volunteer at a food pantry/soup kitchen and to do some associated study/learning around issues of hunger; parents, I’ll be proposing some possible dates for a trip in December/January in an upcoming email. The class will also be participating in the November 22 rehearsals at Articulture, working on a presentation of our group’s Hanukkah play.

Class Summary, Middles – November 2009

The main focus of last session was on the Ten Commandments. The students were introduced to the story of the Ten Commandments in a puppet show-type format. We followed the show with a discussion of each of the commandments. Of particular interest was the second commandment (commonly known as “do not make idols”) which in the details actually states that only were the Israelites not to make idols or any images of Yahweh, but they were to not “make any sculptured image or any likeness of anything that is in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.” We talked about this essentially meant people could not make pictures, sculptures, drawings, etc of anything in the natural world. I think they all decided that is not necessarily a commandment they felt they would want to follow (or one that makes sense to them). (more…)

Class Summary, Middles – October 2009

Last session our focus was primarily on Sukkot. We played Sukkot Trivia (download here) and learned about how Sukkot is both a celebration of the harvest and a commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt. The kids really had a great time with the trivia game. We also discussed how Sukkot is about cooperation…working together to build and decorate the Sukkah, just as people work together during the harvest. To practice cooperation we played one of the students’ favorite games…the human knot. Everyone stands in a circle, reaches across the circle and takes the hands of others, and then the group works together to untangle the the knot and make a new, untangled circle. We had a great time and no one lost any limbs! The students made paper lanterns to decorate the Sukkah at Tom and Barbara’s. (more…)