This week we learned all about Passover! We studied the Seder plate, learned songs, and watched a cool music video about the afikomen. At the end of the day, we put the finishing touches on our mitzvah book.
Our eighth lesson of the school year focused on Israeli geography and life in modern Israel. After reviewing each other’s names and recalling what they had learned about Zionism, Israeli culture, and Israeli history so far this year, students located and labelled important cities and other geographical features (like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Negev Desert, etc) on a large map of Israel. Then they split into two teams and played a geographical bean bag toss game, taking turns throwing bean bags at the Israeli map and trying to hit the labelled geographical features. Students read aloud some interesting facts about each location that they hit and earned points for their teams. When we returned from break, Sarah Berman-Young led the morning’s music and Hebrew lesson, reviewing Passover vocabulary with the class as well as “Ma Nishtana”/“The Four Questions” and the Humanistic version of “Dayenu.” During the remaining class period, students participated in a Jerusalem marketplace simulation. Playing the roles of regular people you might encounter in a crowded Israeli marketplace—like an IDF soldier, a Palestinian cafe-owner, a Jewish peace activist, an old-time kibbutznik, a Chassidic Judaica seller, an Ethiopian Jewish artist, et cetera—each student learned about her/his character and their opinions and donned any relevant costumes/props. Then students gathered in the “marketplace” together to converse and debate in character, developing an appreciation for the cultural and ideological diversity that characterize modern Israeli life, as well as for the big conflicts around peace and treatment of Palestinians, Judaism’s role in the state, diversity and prejudice, and Israel’s changing economy that are central to the national conversation.