Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community

Jewish Children’s Education Program

April 10, 2016, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22204

We’re finding that some of the students aren’t doing their Hebrew homework, which is slowing class progress.  Please encourage your kids to complete their assignments!  We look forward to seeing them on Sunday.

The Morim

Morah Erin’s Hebrew Class: We continued working on decoding and understanding the Sh’ma and V’ahavta. Students studied the vocabulary on pages 71 and 74 and competed to see who could read and understand the most words. Then we read lines 1-8 on page 76 of S’fatai Tiftach together and students noticed words they understood from the previous game. We talked a little about the seder and why we ask the four questions, noticing that the seder is about freedom, and that one kind of freedom is the freedom to question, as we do in the 4 questions. Then we worked on decoding the first 2 of the four questions.

Homework: Continue to work on reading page 60 of I Can Read Hebrew. Passover is coming up! Study the words on pages 71 and 71 and read lines 1-8 on page 76 of S’fatai Tiftach. Do pages 78-79 in S’fatai Tiftach.
Morah Jen’s Hebrew classHalf of the class enjoyed goldfish crackers while waiting for the other half to do p. 21 from the homework.  After that, we tallied the number of times we found “yud yud” and “aleph lamed,” another root word for God, in the lines on that page, and we translated our scores into Hebrew numbers.  We also recited the first line of the Amidah and discussed the second line (new for those who didn’t do page 20 from the homework).  We proposed some hypotheses about why “elohim” would be plural and still refer to one God.  We also pondered why “avot” uses the feminine form to pluralize “father.”

:  Please review the first line of the Amidah on p. 6 and lines 1-8 on p. 20.  Then read lines 9-15.  Please also do the three translations at the top of p. 20.

Moreh Steve’s Hebrew class. We got through Ahavat Olam, reading, translating, turing over words and learning other words from the same roots. For instance, “orech” in “orech yameinu” lets us look at “erech apayim” (measured in response, i.e. slow to anger, from the Yom Kippur prayer), and “be-erech” (about, approximately, like our “ a certain amount of time” that isn’t certain); “yameinu” lets us in on “yom,” “kol yimei chayecha” (all the days of your life) and so forth. We try to say what prayer phrases are prosaic and what are poetic, for instance “yom va-lyla” (day and night, or a day and a night) is prose, “yomam va-lyla” is more poetic (the way we would say that “night and day” we do something).

Homework. Read and re-read the Shema and the V’ahavta, in our siddur at pp. 64-65. In class, if there’s time, we’ll  try to sing the cantillations.

Morah Jen’s Jewish studies class:  We reviewed the Jewish family tree, and without help, the kids collectively filled in ALL of the names from Abraham and Sarah down to Joseph and several of his brothers (they knew there were 12, and I didn’t expect them to know them all)!  We learned that King David was descended from one of Joseph’s brothers, Judah.  We read the story of David and Goliath, discussing the lessons we thought the story might be trying to teach us.  The kids offered several good ideas:  God can help anyone; the strongest can be the weakest and vice versa;  don’t give up.  We voted on whether the story contains any lessons for tzedakah (maybe), Tikkun Olam (no), and tzedek (yes).  We ended by drawing or writing our own ideas for ways David could have solved the problem, focusing on solutions that did not involve weapons or murder.  All of the solutions were creative, and some of them were feasible…

Homework:  Continue to think about other ways that David could have solved the problem with Goliath.  Are there any that would have promoted Tikkun Olam, tzedek and/or tzedakah?  We’ll be talking about the descendants of another of Joseph’s brothers — Moses and Aaron –, and their role in Passover, in the coming weeks.
Morah Erin’s and Moreh Zach’s Jewish Studies class: Our bible story this week was of Moses as a child. We noticed that the bible gives us little information about this time in Moses’s life, but we considered what it might have been like for Moses to grow up as a privileged Egyptian knowing that he was really a Hebrew. Later in the story we find out that Moses had problems speaking, so we talked about the midrash about how this came about. In the story, the baby Moses grabbed the crown off Pharaoh’s head. Pharaoh believed that this was a sign that Moses would grow up to steal his position and kill him. A coal and crown were placed in front of the baby. If he chose the crown, he would be killed, but if he chose the coal, he would not steal Pharaoh’s place and therefore would not be killed. An angel pushed Moses’ hand to the coal which he placed in his mouth, causing his problem with speaking.

Our Jewish American hero of the week was Bella Savitsky Abzug, one of the first Jewish women to serve in the congress. She was a woman ahead of her time, who had a career and shared the responsibilities of parenting with her husband. She served in congress for three terms.

Homework: With passover approaching and the end of the school year in sight, we’re going to read 2 chapters this week, pages 95 -107. Students should come prepared with 2 discussion points.


Moreh Steve’s Jewish studies.  We discussed the last and hardest problems in the Mah La’asot workbook, having to do with the use of force against a threat, the possible excessiveness of that use, and the concept of “rodef” (pursuer) as used in Jewish teachings about abortion. Your wonderful children understood a great deal, about a woman’s bodily autonomy, about the sadness of having to make such a choice, about potential life vs. actual life and how you try to distinguish between the two, and in general how to think about our deep moral problems. As we saw, Jewish tradition’s answers to questions of abortion are remarkably similar to, but in some interesting ways different from, those of modern secular American society and law.
Homework. We’re finished with Mah La’asot. From now on, just bring your copy of the Young Reader’s Encyclopedia of Jewish History. We’re going to focus on Passover for the next two Sundays (April 10 and 17). Please bring your family Haggadah, and in preparation for our discussion please read through as much as you can of the opening material (up to the Passover meal).

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
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