JCS Class Summaries–May 31, 2015

Littles

[Coming soon]

Middles

In May, the Middles class discussed what we do every day to celebrate that we are Jewish. We looked at pictures of something many families use for this: mezuzot! Each student made a clay mezuzah to take home, with a special mezuzah message hidden inside. They all turned out beautifully! Sarah led the class in singing the Alef-Bet. We learned even more about Hebrew by coloring Hebrew letters as a thank you to Richard. Thank you to Ben Drucker for his help in class this month. Teacher Renee also sends a big thank you to all the students, parents, teachers, and volunteer helpers who made this a great year at JCS!

Juniors

In May, the Juniors class learned about Ketuvim—or Writings—the final book in the Tanakh, closing out our year of Tanakh and ancient Jewish historical study. After reflecting on the year with JCS, we turned our attention to Psalms (Tehillim). Students read and discussed Psalm 92, listened to it sung to a popular tune for the traditional Kabbalat Shabbat service, and then individually rewrote the psalm to give it a humanistic meaning. Then we looked at Proverbs (Mishlei), reading over a list of proverbs from the book that resonate with Humanistic Jews. (Some highlights? “Better a meal of vegetables where there is love / Than a fattened ox where there is hate.” – Proverbs, 15:17 & “Seven times the righteous man falls and gets up…” – Proverbs, 24:16) We each took turns acting out proverbs from the list in pantomime for the group to guess, and then the class split into two groups to create more elaborate skits that illustrated proverbs. Very brief introductions to the Book of Job and the Book of Ruth bookended a discussion of The Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim); students used great dramatic voices to read excerpts from this biblical love poem aloud, and then talked about the meaning of its symbolism and how it compares to modern love poems. Music and Hebrew with Sarah was a lesson in chanting Torah. Then the class decorated part of the thank you banner for outgoing Or Emet president Richard Logan, and listened to JCS grad Ben Drucker talk about his experience preparing for his bar mitzvah with Or Emet. We finished the day by gathering with all the other JCS classes to take a photo of everyone with the “Todah rabah, Richard!” banner. Thank you for a great year, Juniors!

JCS Class Summaries–April 19, 2015

Littles

This week at Or Emet’s JCS, we learned a little bit about Shabbat from teacher Sarah, we colored, and we did a fun activity to practice tikkun olam. At the end of the day, we read a short story that the kids liked so much, they asked me to read it again.

Middles

The Middles class did a review of Passover in April. We watched the ’90s classic, “A Rugrats Passover,” played a game called “Pharaoh, Can We Go Free,” and then acted out the 10 plagues. It was a fun and active class this month! We practiced humanistic Hebrew blessings for wine, bread, and candle lighting with Sarah. She also taught us a beautiful song in Hebrew. At the end of class, we joined other JCS students in creating a model of Kibbutz Aleph, the first kibbutz in Israel. A huge thank you to Jack, our volunteer helper this month!

Juniors

Our April lesson focused on learning about the food of ancient Israel through studying the Book of Prophets and cooking ancient Israeli-inspired recipes. After a class discussion about how we can study a text—any piece of media like a book, picture, song, or video—from any time and place, ancient or modern, to learn about the beliefs, customs, and daily lives of the people from that time and place, we turned our attention to Nevi’im, or the Book of Prophets. Students received and read different quotations or short summaries from Nevi’im that mention food, and then shared their selections with the group. Highlights included stories about the parched grain, bread, wine, fig cakes, et cetera sent to feed Saul’s and later David’s armies in I Samuel, and the prophet Elisha’s transformation of a wild gourd stew from poison to something palatable with the addition of flour in II Kings. We discussed what, based on our reading, are the foods we can guess that people ate in ancient Israel, as well as what we can hypothesize about their beliefs and attitudes. Then the whole class moved to the kitchen to cook up an ancient Israeli-style feast! Students worked in teams to prepare “Elisha’s gourd stew” (a non-poisonous adaptation!), parsley and barley salad, cucumber salad, and pressed fig cakes, and then enjoyed a meal of these dishes. After our fun lunch together, we closed out the day by helping other JCS students to create a model of Degania Aleph, the first kibbutz in Israel, for the MNIsrael display at the St. Paul JCC’s Yom Ha’atzmaut event.

JCS Class Summaries–March 8, 2015

Littles

This week at JCS was all about Purim. We learned the story of Purim, colored Purim pictures, and sang songs about Purim. Our classroom day ended early, as we had our yearly Purim carnival. We sang songs for our families, played games, won prizes, and made arts and crafts.

Middles

In March, the Middles class learned the story of Purim. Sarah taught us a great Purim song. Then, we worked together to make delicious Hamentaschen fillings before joining in the carnival. A HUGE thank you to this month’s Middles classroom helpers for their excellent work in the kitchen – Ben Drucker, Dan Gladen, and Naomi Rockler! Filling recipes are available below:
Poppy Seed
Caramel Apple (A big hit! Dulce de leche is available at World Market, Trader Joe’s, and Kowalski’s)
Apricot (dairy free)

Juniors

In March, the Juniors class connected Purim celebration with their Torah and Tanakh study, reviewing the Purim story and Esther’s role in it while also learning about other strong women prophets—or prophetesses—in the Jewish tradition. We opened class with a brief joke-telling session in honor of Purim, and then moved on to talking about how, in stories in the Tanakh, a prophet(ess) is “…a spokes[wo]man for G-d, a person chosen by G-d to speak to people on G-d’s behalf and convey a message or teaching. Prophet[esse]s were role models of holiness, scholarship and…set the standards for the entire community” (http://www.jewfaq.org/prophet.htm). We talked about how, according to the Babylonian Talmud, 48 prophets and seven prophetesses preached to Israel, and reflected on why, when the Torah/Tanakh focuses on stories about men, we as feminist, progressive Jewish people would want to study women’s stories in the Bible more closely. Then students split into three groups, rotating through three stations where they learned about the prophetesses Deborah, Hannah, and Esther in more detail. At each station, students read a book excerpt retelling the story of one of these prophetesses, discussed the story critically, and then creatively illustrated key characters, events, and themes in it on a large add-on drawing before rotating to the next station. Discussions touched on Deborah’s powerful leadership qualities, Esther’s courage (overlooked by many who focus on her beauty), and understanding Hannah’s struggles with infertility. Finally, we wrapped up the lesson with a brief music lesson with Sarah, learning a Purim song about a little clown, “Leitzan Katan,” before we dismissed class to celebrate with the whole congregation at the Purim carnival!

JCS Class Summaries–February 8, 2015

Littles

Today at Or Emet’s JCS we learned about Tu B’Shevat. Teacher Sarah taught us a song, and then we got to color. After snack, we read a story and then participated in a Tu B’Shevat seder with our families. Everyone loved our song!

Middles

In February, the Middles class learned the story of Noah’s Ark. We decided that, even though it may not be true, the story can remind us to act in the face of climate change, even if other people don’t believe in it. Sarah taught us a great Humanistic version of “Rise and Shine” as well as a great Tu B’Shevat song, “Treee of Life”. We celebrated the New Year for Trees by making collages of trees to hang in the window. At the end of class, students joined in the annual Tu B’Shevat seder. Also, a big thank you to Jack, our volunteer helper of the month!

Juniors

During our February lesson, the class focused on wrapping up our Torah study for the year and tying it to our celebration of Tu B’Shevat, aka “The New Year for the Trees.” After a brief tree-focused improv warm-up, students split into groups and tackled the last two books in the Torah—Numbers (BaMidbar) and Deuteronomy (Devarim)—using their critical thinking skills to sequence the names and descriptions of key events from each of the books’ parshiyot/Torah portions. Then the class focused in on “Korach,” an interesting parsha from Numbers, doing a dramatic reading of the Sedra Scenes skit that retells the story of Korach and discussing it afterward. Students analyzed Korach’s reasons for challenging the leadership of Aaron and Moses, weighed the legitimacy of his beef, and considered, as humanists, why the Torah talks so much about people challenging God and then being punished by God. Finally, the class did a fun art project that connected our Torah study and Tu B’Shevat. Riffing on the idea that the Torah is often called the Tree of Life, or Etz Chaim, we created Tree of Life sun-catchers, decoupaging squares of colorful tissue paper behind a round cut-out design featuring a tree and the Hebrew word “chai.” Then class learned to sing “Ha’Shkediyah Porachat,” a classic Tu B’Shevat song, with Sarah, and we ended the lesson early to join everyone in the gym and take part in Or Emet’s annual Tu B’Shevat seder!

JCS Class Summaries–January 11, 2015

Littles

This week at Or Emet’s JCS we welcomed some visitors (that we will hopefully see again). We learned about Tikkun Olam, read a story about tzedakah, drew pictures of different ways we can help one another, and had a great discussion about what we drew!

Middles

In January, the Middles class learned about Social Justice – an important value for many Humanistic Jews! Sarah led us in a beautiful song on this theme. We learned the story of Prophet Amos, who fought for social justice way back in the time of the Torah. Then we played some games to remind us why equality is important. We finished up by drawing our “inside” and “outside” selves, to show that the inside is what really counts!

Juniors

Because Eva Cohen (that’s me—hi, everyone! 🙂 ) was out of town attending a wedding, the Juniors class had Eva’s dad, Barry, as a substitute in January; Barry did a great job with the day’s lesson, getting the class to think critically and humanistically about Exodus and Leviticus. Continuing to use Sedra Scenes as their core text, students split into groups and did dramatic readings of skits for the final Torah portions in Exodus and of skits for selected Torah portions in Leviticus. After each reading, students took part in small group or class-wide discussion, debating thorny issues raised by their reading—including whether “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” is a good rule for societies to live by. Hands-on activities broke up the reading; after learning about the Torah’s instructions for building a Tabernacle for “God” to dwell in, students created mini Tabernacle models using Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Duplos, and craft supplies. Sarah Berman-Young taught the class some Torah story-focused Debbie Friedman songs after break, and then students played “The ‘Kosher or Treyf’ Game!” Divided into two teams and racing the clock, students used their reasoning skills and lists of kosher rules drawn from the Shemini Torah portion in Leviticus (as well as from elsewhere in the Torah) to sort images of food and animals into “kosher” and “treyf” piles. Then the class reflected on the origins of kosher rules, and modern efforts to expand the definition of kosher to require ethical treatment of farm and food workers. Finally, before wrapping up for the day, the class discussed the following powerful line: “You shall not stand by your neighbor’s blood” (Leviticus 19:16), thinking about its connection to #BlackLivesMatter and talking about ways that Jewish people can get involved in this important contemporary movement. The Juniors certainly had an eventful and learning-packed lesson!

Calendar
December 15, 2018
  • Shabbat Service and Program: "Whither Israeli Democracy?"
    Time: 10:00 am - 11:30 am
December 25, 2018
  • St Stephen's Shelter Christmas lunch provided by Or Emet volunteers
    Time: 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
January 10, 2019
  • Executive Committee Meeting
    Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
January 12, 2019
  • Shabbat Service | Program: Voice to Vision presented by David Feinberg
    Time: 10:00 am - 11:30 am