Our four groups were all busy with engaging lessons planned by their teachers, plus a visit in each group from Music & Hebrew Teacher Sarah Berman Young.
Littles group – PreK – Kindergarten, teacher Josh Kaplan
This month at JCS we started getting ready for our Hanukkah party by learning one of the songs we’re planning on singing. We also learned about Shabbat. We made challah covers, ate challah, and Teacher Josh safely lit the candles. We colored, and we read two short books about Shabbat
Middles group, grades 1 – 3, teacher Colline Roland
Today in class we started off with a conversation about gratitude. We acknowledged that we are very fortunate and grateful to have everything we have because not every has what we do. Next, teacher Sarah came in to teach us our Hanukkah song. After, the kids had to build a tower. After a few minutes they were unable to communicate. This led to the Story of Babel.
For our class’s mitzvah we recycled shirts and created dog toys to donate to the humane society.
The Middles groups Tower of Babel in ruins!
Juniors Group, grades 4 – 5, teacher Renee Dorman
In November, the Juniors class talked about the first major wave of Jewish immigration to the United States in the 1800s. We learned Kosher rules, and created Kosher Thanksgiving menus. Then we put our knowledge to practice in the kitchen by making a batch of take-and-bake potato knishes. Look forward to preparing our Hanukkah performance next month!
Boiling potatoes to make knishes! Isaac and Julian sharing recipe tips
B’Mitvah Group – grades 6 and 7, teacher Eva Cohen
During our November session, we continued our humanistic Torah study with a focus on the book of Exodus. After opening with Hebrew conversation and brief review of last session’s content, students experimented with writing their names in Hebrew (the Hebrew name for Exodus is Sh’mot, meaning “Names”). Then we moved to reading and discussing the first and second chapters of Exodus in translation. We talked about the story’s description of Israelite enslavement and parallels to this in the history of other nations and peoples, we talked about the story’s heroes, and we talked about whether the story has any basis in fact. For those following along at home :), there is no historical proof that the Exodus as described in the Torah really happened, but many scholars believe that its narrative may be inspired by (1) the experiences of a few slaves who escaped from Egypt and became part of the Israelite ethnic group that coalesced in Canaan during the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age, (2) the overthrow and expulsion of the West Semitic Hyksos dynasty from Egypt in the 16th century BCE, and/or (3) Egyptian presence in and control over Canaan through the 12th century BCE, and the experience of dispossessed peasants, escaped slaves, and other marginalized people under Egyptian domination.
Students watched a clip from the animated film The Prince of Egypt that dramatically reimagines scenes from the opening chapters of Exodus, and then acted out and discussed funny skits (from Stan Beiner’s book Sedra Scenes) that retell later chapters of the story. After snack and our music and Hebrew lesson with Sarah, where students practiced singing “Mi Yimalel” in preparation for the Chanukah party, we returned to Exodus. Students watched and discussed a clip from Nina Paley’s 2019 animated film Seder-Masochism that creatively represents the Ten Plagues, and then made their own creative representations of the Exodus story. Looking at some images from (mostly medieval) haggadot for inspiration, students painted their own Haggadah pages that imaginatively depict scenes from Exodus. For next lesson, I have asked students to find out their Hebrew names (and to choose Hebrew names for themselves if they do not have them yet).