Our Jewish Cultural classes again met outside on October 24, challenging us to attend to learning on a rather chilly morning.  It didn’t help that the sun wasn’t shining, but that didn’t reduce the bright lights shining out from each of our students.  Our next session, on November 21, may be time to shift classes indoors – but who knows, perhaps we will have a a wave of warmth to presage Thanksgiving.

Till then, stay warm and enjoy the season – Arty – 


The Littles Group, PreK- Kindergarten, teacher Amy Leavitt

This month at JCS we talked about tzedakah, which means justice, or in our case doing the right thing by helping people in need. We read Jumping Jenny by Ellen Bari and The Berenstain Bears and the Good Deed, and we talked about many different ways to perform good deeds, including giving tzedakah.

Then we learned a song about giving tzedakah and made tzedakah boxes (while listening to the PJ Library tzedakah playlist on Spotify). Start a new family tradition by having your child add a little change to their tzedakah box once a week-maybe make it a part of your Shabbat celebration as a nice way to end the week! At the end of our year of JCS together, we will add up our savings and choose a charity to donate to.


The “Littles” – Issac,  Lela, Max and  Rebecca 1) at work, and 2) with their tzedekah boxes.  


The Middles Group, grades 1 – 2, teacher Colline Roland

Our class took time to create entries for the American Jewish World’s Hanukkah issue cover contest. Then we learned about mezuzahs, including a mezuzah scavenger hunt at Talmud Torah,  and created our own!


Mezuzah’s by Middles students – wouldn’t you like one at your door?


Juniors Group – grades 3-5, teacher Renee Dorman

In October, the Juniors learned about diversity within the Jewish community. Specifically, we investigated “evidence” about Mizrahi, Sephardic, and Ashkenazi Jews and recorded our findings. We also learned about the Jewish value of gemilut hasadim (loving kindness). We played a blood-warming round of acts-of-kindness charades, and then we drew pictures of what kindness looks like to us.

Gemilut hasadim – loving kindness – is important for us at every age.

The B’Mitzvah Prep Group, grades 6-7, teacher Eva Cohen
This month’s class featured humanistic Torah exploration through critical reading and art-making.
After opening and our regular Hebrew conversation warm-up, students reviewed last month’s lesson and then turned their attention to Genesis. We read Genesis 1-2:4  aloud  and then worked as a group to identify the order of creation, the name used for God, and the characterizations of God and humans in this creation story. Students recorded this information in comparison charts. Then we played a game of charades that focused on characters, animals, and natural phenomena from the story we just read.
After this we read the rest of Genesis 2 aloud together, and again worked as a group to identify the order of creation, the name used for God, and the characterizations of God and humans in this creation story, recording the information in our comparison charts.
Students looked over their charts to compare the two stories, noticing how each story described creation happening in a different order and used a different name for God (Elohim/God VS LORD God/Adonai [YHWH] Elohim). They also noted how each story characterized God differently (distant, not embodied or human-like, all-powerful, operating by schedule, acting like a priest, observing Shabbat VS close, more embodied and humanlike, spontaneous, not priestly or Shabbat-observant), and characterized humans differently (male and female created together in image of God, made masters of earth, called “very good” VS man created first from “dust of the earth” and woman created later from his rib, man placed in Garden of Eden to tend it).  Marking all these differences, students came to the conclusion that the two creation stories were probably written by different authors in different time periods with different belief systems.
After exploring this evidence from the Torah for multiple authors, students looked at a diverse mix of art inspired by the Genesis creation stories–ranging from Michaelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” to the cover art for a recent single by Lil Nas X–and began work on their own drawings that creatively riff on the stories.  In spite of the cold, we had a great class!
Were Michaelangelo & Lil Nas X both inspired by the Book of Genesis?

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