Greetings. The days are short but we will soon brighten the long nights with the glow of Hanukkah candles. At our December 6 Jewish Cultural School sessions, each of our groups revisited the origins of Hanukkah and its meaning for us today, They also prepared performance pieces to share at our upcoming Or Emet Hanukkah party, which this year, like our classes, will be celebrated over Zoom.
Littles Group – PreK- Kindergarten – teacher Josh Kaplan
This month at JCS we learned about Hanukkah! We explored Hanukkah traditions, learned a song about potato latkes, and read Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. We even learned that Burger Kings in Israel made a sufganiyot Whopper for the holiday!
Middles Group – Grades 1 & 2 – teacher Colline Roland
A menorah (left) for Hanukkah, and a kinara (below) for Kwanza.
Juniors Group – Grades 3-5 – teacher Renee Dorman
In December, the Juniors created a movie based on the recently published book The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica S. Perl, to be shown at the Or Emet Hanukkah party. Don’t miss it! We also began research about different cultures within Judaism, specifically the basics of Askenazi, Sephardi, and Mizrahi Jews. We learned that all these groups have more similarities than differences, while also learning what makes each group unique.
B’Mitzvah Prep Group – Grades 6-8 – teacher Eva Cohen
Our class session focused on the Jewish diaspora and connecting this topic to Chanukah preparations. After our regular Hebrew conversation warm-up, we discussed the meaning of “diaspora” and the evolution of the Jewish diaspora over the last 2500 years. To relate their family histories to this diaspora history, students digitally mapped the places that their ancestors came from, marking their Jewish ancestral origins with blue pins, their non-Jewish ancestral origins with green pins, and their ancestry that they were unsure whether it was Jewish or not with reddish-brown pins. A screenshot of our class map accompanies this post. We discussed patterns that we saw in the map, noting that many of our Jewish ancestors came from places in Eastern Europe. Students listened to a short talk describing how Jewish people–many of them merchants or traders–came from the Middle East to settle in Europe, and learned how these Ashkenazi (European) Jewish communities developed culturally over the Middle Ages and into the modern era.
After a short break, we had a music lesson with Sarah, singing “Sevivon, Sov, Sov, Sov” in honor of the upcoming holiday. After singing, we focused on our Chanukah play, called “Hanukah Gelt” based on a Sholem Aleichem story and set in a shtetl in Eastern Europe–part of the Ashkenazi diaspora. The class is excited to perform the play at Or Emet’s upcoming Chanukah party!