Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community


May 7, 2017, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22204


Morah Erin’s Hebrew class: Our words of the week were: peel (elephant), dohv (bear), and ari (lion). We did a little fluency practice in a primer again. This would be a good thing to work on at home! Pull out an old primer and read a page or two at random to make sure you are improving your decoding skills! In order to get ready to participate in the upcoming JCEP led service we reviewed v’ahavta and we worked on Mi Chamocha. Then we played bingo using the vocabulary we’ve been studying from ahava raba.
Homework: Continue to work on Ahava Raba, p.15, giving special attention to lines 11-24. See the link below. Review v’ahavta, p. 28 lines 1-20. See the link to practice with below. Review mi chamocha, p. 36 lines 4-6. Do page 37, the translation, and study the vocabulary at the bottom of the page. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WTdJdgClr0  (ahava raba) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqV9VwZcuW4  (V’ahavta)

Moreh Steve’s Hebrew class. We took a break from reading B’reshit and focused on prayers we would lead at the JCEP-led family service a week from this Friday. We re-learned to read and sing Aleynu, and we made sure we knew the Sh’ma.
Homework: Sing the Aleynu to a family member at least once without stopping. This will require preparation beforehand.

Morah Jen’s Hebrew: We played Hebrew jeopardy again, but this time, to review some of the prayers we learned long ago, as well as some of the more recent vocabulary, we tested our reading and singing prowess with phrases and lines from the V’ahavta, Avot v’Imahot, and phrases from recent homework assignments and beyond.  The kids chose a category for 400-700 points and received a set of familiar or new phrases of corresponding difficulty to read or sing.  They all did very well again! We also reviewed Oseh Shalom and Mi Chamocha in preparation for the JCEP-led Shabbat service on May 12.
Homework:  Practice singing the Sh’ma, V’ahavta, Oseh Shalom, and Mi Chamocha between now and May 12. Tunes Kol Ami uses are here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqV9VwZcuW4  (V’ahavta) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fG7wHkshzrc (Oseh Shalom) My Hebrew class may also perform the version of Oseh Shalom we performed last year.


Morah Erin’s and Moreh Zach’s Jewish Studies: In preparation for the song writing workshop, which will be about the theme of tikkun olam, we read an article about the origins of the term tikkun olam, and what it has come to mean for most modern Jews. We discussed how many of the middot we’ve been studying support the idea of tikkun olam. Our Jews of the week were John Mayer and Peter Salovey, psychologists, and co developers of the concept of emotional intelligence, the theory that just as people have a wide range of intellectual abilities, they also have a wide range of emotional skills. Peter Salovey is now the president of Yale University, and in 2015 gave a baccalaureate address titled “healing the world.”

Moreh Steve’s Jewish studies. We talked about fasting in various religions including our own. Students brought in insights from Hindu, Unitarian and Islamic faith traditions. We considered the purpose of fasting, and one student read a quote from a Unitarian religious leader about the self-purification and awareness-deepening purpose of a fast. On a simple level, we feel all the more more gratitude for food when we’re hungry, both before and after we break the fast. We went around the room giving each student a chance to speak about the purpose of a fast and his or her experiences of fasting. Then we opened the question box to find a question about whether Jewish women were as important as Jewish men in our tradition. We briefly considered Jewish heroines—Rivka, Ruth, Miriam—and then I read them, as an example of the highest courage imaginable from either gender, I read them a brief biographical sketch of the World War II heroine Hanna Senesh, a Hungarian Jewish immigrant to Palestine who became involved with the Haganah, the Jewish resistance movement, and at age 23 parachuted behind German lines into occupied Hungary to help organize resistance to the Nazis, and was captured, tortured and killed by firing squad for refusing to name her co-organizers. The image of her rejecting the blindfold and meeting the firing squad open-eyed is indelible. We read her short four-line Hebrew poem, “Ashrei hagafrur” (“Blessed is the match”), which she scribbled on a piece of paper and gave to a fellow Haganah fighter just before her last mission. Every Israeli schoolchild knows this poem by heart.  “Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame./Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart’s secret places. Blessed is the heart that knows, for honor’s sake, to stop its beating. Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame.”
Homework: Find another Jewish heroine, either from the Bible or from modern times, and be ready to tell a little about her. Examples: Miriam; Esther; and the fun modern heroines suggested here.

Morah Jen’s Jewish Studies: Following on the previous week’s lesson on trust in the Passover/exodus story, we continued our journey in the desert and analyzed whether trust between Moses and God,  Moses and the people, and God and the people changed over time.  We discussed the people’s complaints that they needed water, food, then water again.  We decided that the people continued not to trust Moses or God, even after Moses turned bitter water sweet at Marah (and learned that this is related to the word for bitter herbs — maror), after mahn (or manna) fell from the sky for them to eat, and after Moses drew water from a rock.  We also noted that God didn’t trust the people and tested them several times, sometimes punishing everyone when not everyone might have been guilty, taking the mahn away after some people took more than their share.  We offered examples from our own experiences at school, when a whole class was punished for a few kids’ transgressions.  The kids concluded that God wasn’t being fair in doing this.  We ended by linking this long history of distrust to the people’s construction of the golden calf when they grew tired of waiting for Moses and didn’t trust that he would return from Mt. Sinai.  We also discussed what would make us trust someone, and the kids created a short list, then determined that Moses had done many of the things on the list, but the people still didn’t trust him.  Again, the students asked some great questions and offered some good insights.
Homework:  Think about trust and fairness.  Do you trust someone after you think they’ve been unfair to you or others?  Why or why not?

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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