Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community

Jewish Children’s Education Program

May 8, 2016, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22204

Click on the event to see a report on the last class and homework.

Morah Erin’s Hebrew class: We continue to work on decoding and understanding the sh’ma and V’ahavta. We read it together (page 76) and then got points for decoding and knowing the meaning of important words (see pages 74, 78, and 80 in S’fatai Tiftach). Then students each chose one of the ten plagues and wrote it out using the English word, but Hebrew letters. They traded with partners to see if they could read the plague their partner had chosen.

Homework: Continue to study the V’ahavta on page 76, all the way to the bottom. Here is a link to someone singing it. Students should begin to learn the melody.


Morah Jen’s Hebrew classWe reviewed the root of the week — yud shin ayin, which means “save,” and we discussed some tricky words in which the first letter drops off.  We noted the similarity between moshiya, “saved,” and Moshe, Hebrew for Moses.  We also did a grammar search of Avot v’Imahot and the phrases on page 30 of the textbook, looking for v/oo- (and), ha (the), nu (our), b’ (in/with), shel (of), -cha (your), and l’ (to).

Homework: Please continue to practice the Avot v’Imahot on page 20, read pages 33-37 (mostly English), and do the exercises on page 35 and 38.

Moreh Steve’s Hebrew class. We practiced with our whiteboards, writing phrases from Hashkiveinu and V’shamru. Then we read the V’shamru through, looking for meaning, talking about the essence of the Shabbat, and then we sang the first sentence of the V’shamru, several times so it stuck.

Homework: Now we start the Amidah in earnest. We’re in the Friday evening service, but the Amidah, as we said last week, is a centerpiece of every service. Please read and study the first three pages of the Amidah in Hebrew.

Morah Jen’s Jewish Studies class:   Noting that we’d left Moses and the Israelites wandering in the desert at the end of our previous class, we read the story of The Angel and the Donkey, in which Balak, the King of Moab, hires the soothsayer Balaam to curse the Jews camped out near his kingdom.  An angel and Balaam’s donkey intervene on behalf of God, and Balaam blesses the Jews instead of cursing them.  We discussed the fact that the only Torah stories that involve talking animals are this story and Eve’s chat with the snake in the Garden of Eden.  We also discussed whether Balaam and Balak perform tzedakah and Tikkun Olam, and how the angel and donkey stopped Balaam without performing a misdeed or causing problems for Tikkun Olam, tzedakah.  We ended by drawing and describing our own ideas for preventing someone from doing the wrong thing without performing a misdeed ourselves.

Homework Think about whether you’ve ever stopped someone from doing the wrong thing.  How did you do it?  Did anyone ever stop you from doing the wrong thing?  How did they do it? Did any of the actions involve doing something else wrong?

Morah Erin’s and Moreh Zach’s Jewish studies: This week we looked at the story of Hannah. We noted the parallels between this story and the story of Rachel and Leah. We also thought about the way Hannah was praying, and used this as an opportunity to talk about the idea of “kavanah” or intentionality of prayer. We pondered why we pray–is it for our own benefit or for God’s? Can it be like meditation? Do we believe in the concept of a cosmic wish granter? Do we pray just because that’s what other people have done? Our Jewish American hero of the week fit nicely into our talk about prayer. We learned about Daniel Pearl, a Jewish journalist who was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Pakistan. After his death his family created the Daniel Pearl Foundation to help people of different cultures understand each other. We looked at an interview with his father, a very observant secular Jew. In the interview he talked about why he prays every morning even though his view of God is completely unconventional. He discusses how he uses prayer to gain harmony with his principles and to feel a sense of continuity with his ancestors.
Homework: Read pages 124-131 in The Bible from Alef to Tav and be prepared to discuss. This Sunday Jonah, Clara, and Sam are presenting their Jewish American heroes. I am attaching the assignment again, in case anyone needs to see it.

Moreh Steve’s Jewish studies. Tonight as a way of placing Jewish history in context, we went after Jewish identity: what is it, what’s it composed of? On the blackboard there grew a series of affinities: theological, tribal, ritual, ethical. We added items and assigned them to categories till the board was full. History was one of the last items to appear, but by then the context was pretty rich. A student or two even took a picture of the blackboard when they heard what one of their assignments would be—to create a word cloud of their own ideas of Jewish identity.

Homework. Make your Jewish identity word cloud. A great place to do this is www.wordle.com. And read through chapter 6 of the encyclopedia, with a new appreciation for why you’d want to.


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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