Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community


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


Moreh Steve’s Hebrew class. At last we arrived at the creation of man and woman, as we read aloud through B’reshit 2:18. We conjugated every verb we could, used the nouns in sentences, broadened our Hebrew knowledge, and then talked about some of the great phrases in this greatest of stories, phrases that have troubled scholars and lay readers for centuries: “ha-etz ha-da’at tov vara” (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil); “lo tov hehiot ha’adam levado” (it was not good that the man should be by himself); “ezer kenegdo” (a helpmeet to be by his side, or to face him, or a power equal to his?) all are possible translations). We pondered the sexist slant of the creation story as it has come down to us, and the possibility that a different meaning is still to be found in the splendor of the original. We also wondered together about the idea that creation was incomplete without someone to nourish and work the land, as if that was God’s reason for bringing humans to life.
Homework: Read and study—i.e. be able to read fluently, without halting, and know each word’s meaning—through B’reshit chapter 2, verse 25.

Morah Jen’s Hebrew class: We continued our word find game with Sim Shalom and Shalom Rav, looking for, reading and translating specific words and roots (aynecha/your eyes and chol/all) to earn throws at the target. We then read the phrases on p. 92 and discovered that our word hunts have helped our reading fluency! Again, everyone did a great job of finding, reading and translating the words and roots. We reviewed a few prefixes and suffixes: -cha/your, -nu/our, b’/in or with, l’/to, ha-/the, and v’ or oo’/and.
Homework: Please review all of Sim Shalom and Shalom Rav on p. 84 and 91of the textbook. Please also read p. 94 and do p. 95.

Morah Erin’s Hebrew Class: Our conversational phrases for the week were answers to “how are you?” (a phrase we learned a couple of weeks ago). Tov, todah (good thanks) and cah cah, cah cah (so so). Then we reviewed reading and decoding the first four lines of Yotzer Ore (p. 8) and the first 6 lines of ahava rabah (p. 15) and lines 17-20 (p.16). We talked about the suffixes cha and nu and noticed them in words. Then we played a game to review the meaning of the words in the prayers we’ve been working on. We discussed where yotzer ore and ahava rabah fit into the Saturday morning service.
Homework: Read p.8 lines 1-4 until it is smooth and easy.Work on lines 1-8 on page 15 and 17-20 on page 16. Do page 18. If you want to learn the melody, here is a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Pe_AbqMhW0


Moreh Steve’s Jewish studies. First we talked about the afterlife, the topic we ended the last class with, and invited people to share their research results, either from the two articles we linked in the last H & H or from other sources. Although few people could remember the reading they’d done (if they’d done any!), we observed that Judaism—though it does have a vague concept of life after death, “ha-olam ha-ba” (the world to come)–is focused on the life of this world, whereas other religions are more preoccupied with life after death. We talked about hope of heaven, or fear of hell, the reward or punishment for one’s life while alive, as a set of incentives for good behavior. We explored incentive and disincentive concepts from other religions, especially the concept of reincarnation from Hinduism, the idea that your next life is as a creature befitting your performance in this life, or the lessons you must learn. We even talked a little about the idea some religions have that your life while alive should be as good as you can make it so that someone else, as yet unborn, who inherits your personhood in some sense, can have a richer life as a result. We talked about religious symbols and considered ritual itself as symbolic. And we read a tale of Rabbi Akiva (adversity may be for the best—the parable of the inn, attacked by robbers, that had no room for Akiva so he was spared), and a question from our question box (the Jewish view of other religions).
Homework: Consider the question we ended with: What is prayer? What are we doing when we pray? Here are short pieces to look at: Very basic nuts & bolts here. A good short piece from My Jewish Learning is here. And here is a delightful 3-minute treatment by a D.C. area rebbitzin (rabbi’s spouse), Lori Palatnik of the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project. Please look at these, but then please branch out into your own research or reflection. What do you think about prayer? Does it have a purpose? More than one? Do you ever do it spontaneously? Why or why not? Make the inquiry personal to you, but be ready to share something about it in class.

Morah Jen’s Jewish Studies class: Noting that Purim is coming, we discussed a lesser known tale of genocide involving descendants of Jacob and Esau. After reviewing how Saul and David were descended from Jacob, we learned about Esau’s descendant, Amalek. We learned about the battles between these men and their followers over land, and the Torah’s reference to eliminating the Amalekites. We discussed whether genocide is more acceptable when a group of people is viewed as bad. We unanimously decided that it isn’t, and we created a list of things that could avoid it, including dividing up land fairly and not picking favorites (tzedek), telling the truth to one another (emet), and staying away from one another. 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 tshuvah/repentance or apologies. We decided that their choices could reflect someone who apologized, someone who should have apologized, or someone who deserved an apology. Their selections: Jacob and Esau, Queen Esther, Mordechai, Belle (from Beauty and the Beast), Moses, and Zeus. After each student explained their choice, the class voted on which they thought should be the winning card. Jacob and Esau won, with Zeus and Moses close behind.
Homework: Think of a situation in your life that involved tshuvah — an apology by you or by someone you know.

Morah Erin’s and Moreh Zach’s Jewish studies: The middah of the week was ahuv, or beloved. Students came up with an extensive list of attributes that might make someone loved. Then we compared the list to the attributes listed in Pirkei Avot: generosity, hospitality, and a pleasant demeanor. Although the student list was quite a bit longer, most of the attributes they had listed fit into one of the three categories from Pirkei Avot. We followed this with a quick look at some stories from Genesis, the sources of the three attributes. They remembered the stories we learned from Genesis last year very well! Our Jew of the week was Carole King, born Carol Klein. Her grandparents immigrated to the US through Ellis Island, and were almost sent back to Russia. They entered the country with $2.00 between them and were illiterate! Fortunately, after being detained for 3 days they were allowed to enter the US. We talked a little about Carole King’s life, her many husbands, some of her songs and we listened to a song called One Small Voice, based on the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes (a story most of the children were not familiar with).

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

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