We started off 2019 with our four lively JCS classes, each summarized below – and great attendance, with only a few absentees, proving that bitter cold doesn’t keep Minnesota’s Humanistic Jews from venturing out on a Sunday morning.

Scroll down for photos from our Tu B’Shevat Seder, as we celebrate the promise of spring’s return, to relieve us of the bare and cold days of winter with new life, growth and hope.


The Littles Group, teacher Josh Kaplan

The focus of the Littles class for today was celebrating Tu B’Shevat. We learned about all of the great things that trees do for us, and about how we use the wood they produce in so many useful things -from pencils to homes! We learned about the foods they produce, and how important they are to our environment. We colored and drew pictures of trees, we read a Tu B’Shevat story, and we wrapped up the day with an excellent Tu B’Shevat Seder. I (Teacher Josh) will be gone for the next session, so the Littles will meet with Teacher Colline.


The Middles Group, teacher Colline Roland

On Sunday we had a taste test! The kids were given 6 things to taste and identify, all of which wouldn’t exist without trees! After the tasting we discussed the immense value trees have and how Nutella exists because of trees…they were all astonished. From there we talked about how habitats are disappearing due to deforestation. After all of this we made gifts for the trees, because of course Tu B Shevat is to celebrate trees. The gift, of course, a bird feeder made from the peels of our taste test ingredients.

Taste Test: lemon juice, orange juice, walnuts, M&Ms, lime, and Nutella

Juniors Group,  teacher Renee Dorman

he Juniors class learned that much of the Torah is written in poetry – specifically in a type of poetry known as parallelism, where the same idea is expressed in multiple ways. Poetry continued as a Jewish tradition. When Jews began moving to Israel at the start of the Zionist movement, they were immersed in interacting with nature in a new way on kibbutz. As a result, there was an increase in Jewish poetry about appreciating nature. We learned about an Israeli poet know as Rachel the Poetess. Then we wrote and illustrated our own parallelism poems to honor a favorite natural wonder.


The B’Mitzvah Group, teacher Eva Cohen

This session the B’ Mitzvah Prep class learned about Sephardic Jewish history and culture and their connections to the Tu B’Shevat seder. After opening with our regular Hebrew conversation exercise, students listened to a talk and engaged in discussion about the history of the Sephardic Jewish community, from the ‘Golden Age’ under Muslim caliphates through the Reconquista, the Inquisition, Jewish expulsion from Spain, Sephardic diaspora, and Sephardic involvement with the development of Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism. We learned about some basic beliefs in Kabbalah, and how Sephardic followers of Kabbalah developed the Tu B’Shevat seder as a way to promote what they understood as tikkun (repair) of the cosmos. Students studied some of the traditional symbols of the Tu B’Shevat seder and played a short quiz game about these symbols. Then the class spent time reading over Or Emet’s Tu B’Shevat seder to see how these symbols and their meanings have been Humanistically adapted, and students signed up to lead different parts of the Tu B’Shevat seder. We wrapped up class with a creative activity; students split into groups and created drawings to represent the “four worlds” of the Tu B’Shevat seder. Then we headed to the gym and worked together to lead the Tu B’Shevat seder!


Our Tu B’Shevat Seder,

led by ritual leader Eva Cohen and music/Hebrew teacher Sarah Berman-Young

The “Littles” lead the song “Plant a Tree for Tu B’Shevat”

The “Middles” lead the song “Tree of Life”


The Juniors class divided up and led the Seder in a two-part round, singing Israeli folk song  Hashkediyah  Porachat


       B’Mitzvah class leaders included Kai, Eliana, Noah and Gaian


Or Emet ritual leader Eva Cohen and music/Hebrew teacher Sarah Berman-Young






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