Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community


January 22, 2017, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22204


Morah Jen’s Hebrew class: We read and translated the V’shamru and Sim Shalom, looking for words and roots/suffixes/prefixes we know, then played a target game with both prayers. We also discussed how the grammar indicates that the V’shamru begins from God’s perspective and switches to 3rd person. Everyone did a great job of reading and analyzing the grammar!
Homework: Please read all of Sim Shalom on p. 84 of the textbook, looking for words/roots/prefixes/suffixes you know. Review the vocabulary words on pages 87 and 88, and also read p. 89-90.

Morah Erin’s Hebrew (Moreh Zach substituting):Review of the v’ahavta with special attention to the roots דבר davar (thing or word) and בָּ֫יִת bayit (house or home), both of which show up twice. We talked about how important those concepts are to the passage, and how it can help to remember that God is commanding both words and things, and they are written on both houses and homes. We also talked about how the v’ahavta comes straight from the Torah and is chanted with Torah trope, and reviewed some word endings.
Homework: Continue reading through the v’ahavta, page 28-29 lines 1-21 noticing known vocabulary words, prefixes and suffixes. Read pages 6 -7, and lines 1-4 on page 8. Study the meaning of the words on page 11.

Moreh Steve’s Hebrew class. We played a nifty Bingo-like Hebrew letter game of our own invention, calling out things like “second letter of the word Elohim” for folks to mark on their cards. Then we asked what was created on each of the six days of creation, as a way to review the verses we’d already studied, and we learned and sang a beautiful melody for Vayechulu (B’reshit 2:1–the world was finished, and God rested and blessed the day he did so).
Homework: Read again the completion of creation, B’reshit 2:1-3, and then read the verses about the creation of the first human, B;reshit chapter 2, through verse 8. The link we use for the hebrew with English translation is here (note we’ve crossed into Chapter 2 of Genesis).


Morah Jen’s Jewish Studies class: The kids offered some amazing ideas during our discussions! Since the class falls between Chanukah and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we focused our discussions on several of the T words: tzedek (justice), tshuvah (repentance), tzedakah (giving), and Tikkun Olam (healing the world). We also added a new word: truth (emet in Hebrew). We discussed the story of the Golem and read The Golem’s Latkes by Eric Kimmel. We talked about whether telling the truth should negate consequences for wrongdoing. We then added Matisyahu, Judah Maccabee’s father, to our list of leaders and voted on whether his actions represented these T words, comparing his actions to those of MLK, Jr., and Moses. To do this, we began with the backstory of Chanukah: the Greeks’ banning of Shabbat, the Jewish holiday calendar and b’rit milah (the Jews’ contract with God), which led some Jews to bow down to Greek idols. We talked about how Matisyahu, Judah Maccabee’s father, killed another Jew for bowing to the idols and fled, then organized his sons to lead a revolt. The class had a VERY zealous exchange on whether Matisyahu embodied tzedek, and an even more heated debate over whether MLK, Jr. represented Tikkun Olam. They asked some wonderful questions of me and one another, including how we can know why certain Jews chose to bow to the Greek idols, suggesting that some of them could have been pretending, some might have been willing to make this sacrifice to protect their families or other important goals, and some might have decided that since God is everywhere, praying to idols could be another way of praying to one God. The class ended by raising and debating another fantastic question: whether doing tzedakah necessarily means doing Tikkun Olam, or if they are separate and sometimes even conflicting.
Homework: Think about examples (from your own experience or others’ from history or fiction) of when an action that is good for one of the T’s — tzedakah, tzedek, or Tikkun Olam — causes problems for one of the other Ts.

Moreh Erin’s and Zach’s Jewish Studies: Discussion of Middah Mechavayn et Sh’muato: to determine exactly what one hears. How tradition holds that Moses and his successors had to listen to God and transmit commandments down to later generations, and how important listening carefully is in a lot of personal and professional contexts. We then discussed the life of Vera Rubin (1928-2016), who had died two weeks previously. By determining exactly what the data were telling her, Rubin helped discover the concept of dark matter, which the students seem to understand better than does Moreh Zach. We talked about Rubin’s belief that her Jewish faith and her zeal for science were compatible, explaining, “I try to do my science in a moral way, and, I believe that, ideally, science should be looked upon as something that helps us understand our role in the universe.” And we discussed some of the obstacles she faced as a woman scientist, and how some of those obstacles remain. Finally, to illustrate the difficulty of determining exactly what one hears, we played several games of “telephone” using Vera Rubin aphorisms like “Each one of you can change the world, for you are made of star stuff, and you are connected to the universe.”

Moreh Steve’s Jewish studies. We talked about King David and King Solomon, the former known for his improbable slingshot victory over Goliath, his brilliant religious poetry (the Psalms) and his romance with Bathsheba, complete with sending her then husband to die in battle, and the latter known for his construction of the Temple and for his far-seeing wisdom, as for instance in the offer to split the baby, and his way of protecting the anonymity of charitable donors from recipients and preserving the dignity of both. Then we went into a conversation about Jewish values: real vs. fake virtue, blaming of victims for their situation, even the ethics of the minimum wage and an acceptable spread from lowest- to highest-paid worker in a company. Last we opened out question box, and took out a question about “Jewish government”: what is it, how does it relate to Jewish religious teaching and so on. We spoke briefly about the ancient Hebrew government of late Biblical times, the Second-Temple-era Sanhedrin, and about the Israeli government of today. People couldn’t name israel government figures, so Noah will be bringing back a report on that subject.
Homework: Research and be able to tell us a story about either King David or King Solomon. Let the web be your playground—roam freely and bring back something fun.


Contact Kol Ami

P.O. Box 1801, Annandale, VA 22003
Phone: 571-336-5544
Rabbi's Study: 202-364-3006

Where We Meet

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington Blvd. (Route 50) & George Mason Dr.
Arlington, VA 22204
View Map & Directions

Join Our Mailing List

Sign up for a monthly newsletter about upcoming Kol Ami events and programs. Subscribe.