Rainbow Graces Summer Havdalah – Picnic

On August 3, 55 Or Emet members and friends, from toddlers to octagenerians, gathered at Crosby Farm Park in St. Paul for a meaningful Havdalah service marking the end of Shabbat, conducted by ritual leader Eva Cohen,



followed by a picnic with hot dogs (meat and vegie) off the grill, all kinds of temptations brought by attendees, lively conversation, kids games, walks on hiking trails to the Mississippi River, and ending with s-mores over the fire pit.

During the service a burst of rain fell but we were safely under a picnic shelter.  After the service, the rain ceased and our picnic was embraced by a beautiful rainbow, captured above by Or Emet and photographer extraordinaire Sonny Taylor



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!