Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community


February 26, 2017, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22204


Moreh Steve’s Hebrew class. We read the next few verses of B’reshit chapter 2, finally arriving at the creation of Adam. We are making our modest study of the Bible as literature as we read through it in the original, this time focusing on the way the legend imagines humans’ place in the created world (the image of the seeds still in the ground, as there was no one to till them). We also focused on poetic phrases (“nishmat chayim,” the breath of life; “etz hachayim,” the tree of life; “etz hada’at tov varah,” the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). Then using our whiteboards we practiced writing a few of those phrases in simple paraphrase: “Elohim yatzar et ha’adam,” God formed man—yatzar, sculpted, shaped, not barah, created; “nechmad lemar’eh v’tov lema’achal,” pleasing to look at and good to eat, describing the fruit trees of Eden). It sure helps when the teacher writes on the blackboard. The kids worked on supplying vowels for what was on the board, and then practiced writing themselves.
Homework: Read B’reshit chapter 2, starting at verse 15 (after the naming of the four rivers of Eden) and going through 23, the creation of woman. Please read it through several times, so it’ll look familiar by the time we read through it in class.

Morah Jen’s Hebrew class: We continued our word find game with Sim Shalom and added Shalom Rav, looking for, reading and translating specific words and roots (panecha/your face, am/people or nation, sim/put) to earn throws at the target. Again, everyone did a great job of finding, reading and translating the words and roots. We also tried translating into English a few modern sentences using “sim,” which the kids figured out: “Put the challah in the house;” “Put the light in the menorah;” “Put the fruit in the house.”
Homework: Please review all of Sim Shalom and Shalom Rav on p. 84 and 91of the textbook. Please also do the exercise at the bottom of p. 91 and all of p. 92.

Morah Erin’s Hebrew class: This week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we learned to say “I love you” (ani ohhev ohtahch). We went over lines 1-4 of Yozer Ohr, both trying to read smoothly in Hebrew and how to translate these lines. We followed this with some work on lines 12-21 of v’ahavta. These lines are improving, but still need attention. Next we read the first 4 lines of ahava rabah and looked at lines 5-6 a little. Finally, in honor of tu b’shevat, we wrote environmental words in Hebrish and had classmates try to decode our words. Students got around missing sounds in Hebrew very cleverly!
Homework: Read lines 1-6 page 15. Do page 17 and 18. Read lines 12-21 on page 28-29 several times.Study vocabulary on page 32 and do translation if you have not already done so.

Jewish studies

Moreh Steve’s Jewish studies. We talked about the Jewish morality of the deathbed confession, based on the brief My Jewish Learning article. People had quite a few ideas, but we did get to a simple moral hierarchy: better to confess before dying than take an embarrassing secret to the grave, but better still to confess while living, and while there’s still time to make right whatever it was. We also talked a little more about truth, recognizing that the ultimate truth is the one you tell yourself. And we pulled a question from the box, which asked what was the Jewish conception of hell. That opened up questions of belief, and the kids had a chance to express themselves and their beliefs in the group. We framed the problem as whether there’s an afterlife in the first place, and the usefulness of such a notion as an instrument of social control. All this gave their teacher an idea for—
Homework: Consider the Jewish attitude about an afterlife. What is it, who achieves it, what does it advise, enforce, or teach with regard to life on earth and how to live it, and can those values be upheld without it? Here’s some reading from an anonymous American student of religion who created in 2004 a comparative religion website called “ReligionFacts”: this is the piece on the Jewish notion of an afterlife. Also, if you’re able, read this somewhat longer piece by Rabbi Or Rose from MyJewishLearning.com, on the same subject. If you can follow it, congratulations—it’s a mature treatment of the subject, with a bit of its history, interaction with Christian religious teachings and so on.

Morah Jen’s Jewish Studies class: We started by discussing the upcoming holiday of Tu B’Shevat, reviewing the reason for the holiday, traditions associated with it, and the translation of the holiday’s name. We talked about the different kinds of foods we eat on Tu B’Shevat, including three categories of fruits/seeds: soft on the inside and hard on the outside; soft on the outside and hard on the inside; and soft on the outside and the inside. We sampled one of each: almond, apricot, and cranberry. We ended with another game of T’s apples to apples, in which the kids received cards listing Jewish holidays, figures from the Torah, and modern figures from real life and movies/TV. They chose from their hand the card they thought best represented Tikkun Olam. Their selections: Joseph, Tu B’Shevat, Pikachu, Yoda, and Zeus. After each student explained their choice, the class voted on which they thought should be the winning card. Tu B’Shevat and Yoda tied for the win, but Yoda won in a tie-breaker vote, since he saved many planets rather than just one.
Homework: Think of someone — real or fictional — who embodies tzedek/justice.

Morah Erin’s and Moreh Zach’s Jewish studies: Our middah of the week, in honor of upcoming tu b’shevat, was l’ovdah ul’shomrah, to work it and protect it, at line from Genesis 2:15 and expanded on in Leviticus 19:23. We thought a little about the balance of working the land and protecting it, an idea that reaches as far back as the bible, but has become increasingly complicated in modern times. The students created poems together using psalm 24:1 (the earth is God’s and all that it holds, the world and all its inhabitants). We added to this 5 times in round robin style so that we created 5 poems all by all of the students in the class. Our Jew of the week was Barry Commoner, a scientist, politician, and founder of the modern environmental movement. We talked about his work discovering strontium 90 in babies teeth in the 1950s and 60s, and how it led to the partial nuclear test ban treaty. Students received a hand out with his four laws of ecology.
Homework: Ask about the four laws of ecology handout and what it might mean. I am attaching the upcoming report assignment we’ll be working on. Try to choose someone for the project and bring the name to the next class. See attachment.

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.