Continuing concerns about high Covid case rates and the fact that we still have no approved vaccine for our youngest students, led us to meet once again over Zoom. Though we would always rather be together in person, our teachers all did a wonderful job of creating engaging online lessons, as you will read below.
You may have noted that we are no longer JCS, but JCSS – Jewish Cultural Sunday School. The “Sunday” has been added to help anyone finding us for the first time to understand we are not a day school, nor an adult learning program, but a Sunday school like others most folks are familiar with, except with our focus on Jewish culture (embracing history, arts, and values) rather than on religiosity.
We are hopeful that next month we will be able to meet again in person, not only for JCSS classes but also for a joyful Purim Carnival.
Littles Group: Age 3 – Kindergarten, teacher Amy Leavitt
For hopefully our last Zoom meeting this year, we talked all about kindness, or the Jewish value of Chesed! We read If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson and A Little Spot of Kindness by Diane Alber.
The littles were given the challenge to fill in 100 kindness hearts for acts of kindness at home, in the community, and at school. Thanks for sticking around despite some technical difficulties; I can’t wait to hear all about their acts of kindness next month, hopefully in person!
Middles Group: Grades 1-2, teacher Colline Roland
On Sunday the Middles were beyond patient with their teacher. For much of the lesson we were unintentionally playing charades as the computer microphone cut in and out throughout the morning. We read “Sammy Spider goes to Israel” and virtually traveled to the same locations as Sammy while mapping it out on paper! We visited the Kottel (Western Wall) in live time, we learned about the salinity of the Dead Sea, and learned about the Bedouin people in the Negev. We also learned to count to 5 in Hebrew!
Kottel (Western Wall) Dead Sea Negev
Juniors Group: grades 3-5, teacher Renee Dorman
This month, the Juniors class learned about a shared history of Jewish and Black Americans: redlining. We started with a rigged game of Monopoly that helped us understand the concept. Then we looked at the HOLM map of the Twin Cities and located our own houses on the map. None of us could have lived in our neighborhoods back in the 1930s. We also watched a video about how the construction of I-94 hurt the Rondo neighborhood and the current land bridge proposal.
Food Co-op in Rondo, 1950 I-94 Construction through Rondo
We drew our own perfect neighborhoods with the things a community needs to be safe and happy.
Ilsa’s ideal neighborhood
This lesson was coincidentally (but happily!) closely related to the morning’s adult program. If you attended the adult session, I encourage you to talk about the history of Rondo and redlining with your child!
B’Mitzvah Prep Group: Grades 6-7, teacher Eva Cohen
The B Mitzvah Prep class spent this session learning more about the Exodus story and thinking critically about biblical law. We watched and discussed three additional film clips that retell or riff on the Exodus story, and then I (Teacher Eva) recapped what scholars think is the “historical truth” behind the story. Students read Exodus 20 aloud together (the first place that the “Ten Commandments” appear in the Torah, though without being given that name/title in the chapter), and we talked about the meaning of these commandments in their original ancient Near Eastern context. Then we evaluated the commandments from a modern Humanistic Jewish perspective. Students considered their ethical pros and cons and reflected on the First Amendment implications of setting up Ten Commandments statues in front of state capitals and other public buildings. We wrapped up the morning by folding some Ten Commandments origami and reflecting on Humanistic Jewish Ten Commandments we might write.