The Juniors class got off to a great start this session! Students introduced themselves to old friends and newer faces and played a game where they had the opportunity to guess fun Jewish facts (favorite traditions, Hebrew names, etc) about their classmates. Then, veteran JCS-ers explained to newcomers the things that make Or Emet and Humanistic Judaism unique.
Students next spent a short time reviewing the biblical/ancient Jewish historical topics that they studied last year, and then prepared to begin this year’s study of the Jewish diaspora unfolding from the fall of the Second Temple through the early 1800s. (Note–the history of Jewish diaspora from the late 1800s until the modern day will be the focus of inquiry next year.) To visualize this Jewish diaspora, students began by sharing snippets of family history and marking the places that their Jewish ancestors came from with stickers on a world map. They discussed the geographic patterns that emerged on the map, and then read an excerpt from a Jewish history book for YA readers that summarizes the history of the Jewish people and their movements/migrations through the late 18th century.
After break and a Hebrew and music lesson with Sarah (where students learned a song about eating apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah as well as the traditional melody “B’rosh Hashanah”), students returned to the reading that they completed before break. Focusing on different sections in small groups, they cut out arrows to describe different stages of movement in the Jewish diaspora and affixed them to the world map. After, students studied this map and discussed how their new understanding of Diaspora history helped them to make sense of the patterns that they saw in their classmates’ Jewish family origins. Class ended with a combination cake walk-trivia game which gave students the chance to explore High Holidays traditions from around the Jewish diaspora. Highlights included sampling teiglach, pastry nuggets cooked in honey that are a Lithuanian-Jewish Rosh Hashanah specialty, and listening to Kol Nidre sung in Moroccan-Jewish style.