June 4, 2017, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22204
Morah Jen: We had a chalkboard race based on reading, translating, and singing randomly assigned lines from Shalom Rav and L’cha Dodi. Everyone was able to help their fellow classmates if they asked for help. The reading went very well, and the translating was pretty good, too.
Homework: Listen to the tunes below for Shalom Rav and L’Cha Dodi. Read/sing lines 1-6 of L’cha Dodi on page 114. Read page 117 and play the vocabulary game on page 118. Using Hebrew letters (English words written in Hebrew are ok), write a short note to a friend or family member who can read Hebrew. Your note must include the letters bet, kaf, tav, zayin, vav, and nun. See if they can decipher your note! Tunes Kol Ami uses are here: Shalom Rav: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gypZvWEMrcI L’cha Dodi: https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-mozilla-002&hsimp=yhs-002&hspart=mozilla&p=L%27cha+dodi+tune#id=9&vid=e00cc9b15800d3bba022768705df58bc&action=view
Moreh Steve: We read and translated the opening paragraphs of the Amidah, and then sang it several times. Our study was sprinkled with conversation about Jewish custom, the purpose of public vs. silent prayer, and the omnipresent questions of God’s existence, predestination and free will, and the place of evil in creation.
Homework: Continue studying the Amidah. We need to get through at least the first five Hebrew pages. Read as much as you can aloud to a family member.
Morah Erin: This week our new Hebrew word was sahbahbah, which is apparently slang for cool, great. I continue to notice that students are not secure on all letters and especially on the vowels, so we reviewed vowels and did some fluency practice on page 38. All students would benefit greatly from getting out an old primer and practicing reading lines of Hebrew. We reviewed Ahava Rabah (page 15-16), especially lines 11-16 and lines 21-24, which we all agree are the hardest. It is really coming along. Those who are using the link sound quite solid on this prayer. We began to look at Avot v’emahot (p47), just the first 7 lines.
Homework: Practice Ahava Rabah (p15-16) with special attention to lines 11-16 and 21-24. Think about not just being able to sing along, but being able to lead this prayer. I will re post the link below. Take out an old primer and read some lines paying attention to the vowels and letters. Notice which letters are still confusing and write them down so we can go over them in class. Practice lines 1-7 on page 47. Link for Ahavah Rabah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WTdJdgClr0
Morah Jen: We began with a brief discussion of the holiday of Lag B’omer and the meaning of “omer.” Following on previous weeks’ lessons on trust in the Passover/exodus story, we continued our to analyze how trust between Moses and God, Moses and the people, and God and the people was represented when the people reached Mt. Sinai. We discussed the boundary Moses established for the people, the storm over Mt. Sinai, and the people’s decision — based on fear — to keep Moses as God’s representative rather than hearing from God directly. We revisited 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 discussed the Ten Commandments, which ones were broken by the people before reaching Mt. Sinai and while waiting for Moses, which ones were broken by Moses, and how these violations of the rules affected trust between the people, Moses and God. We talked about Moses’ multiple trips up and down Mt. Sinai to bring more commandments, some of which directly reflect distrust. We discussed parallels to our own experiences with new rules created when we don’t follow existing rules, and we debated why the rules embodied in the Ten Commandments were needed. Once again, the students asked some great questions and offered some good insights.
Homework: What rules would you make if you were traveling with the people in the desert? How would you try to build the people’s trust in you if you were Moses?
Moreh Steve: We talked about friendship, one of the two values Rabbi Gilah stressed in connection with our Lag Ba’Omer observance a week ago. We asked when we might intervene in a friend’s life, and when we might let the friend be; and whether we might intervene in the life of a stranger, when and why. We pondered the meaning of two Jewish maxims: “V’ahavta et rayecha kamocha,” you shall love your neighbor as yourself, and “Al ta’amod al dam rayecha,” which means don’t just stand in the pool of your neighbor’s blood, do something. How far must we extend ourselves toward people we have no special relationship with? Before we say “not very far,” we should remember that all life is biologically or “blood”-related to all other life, from your cousins and your bus driver down to the earliest, simplest living organisms. Life on earth has most likely never stopped since it started; living tissue simply reproduced and evolved, slowly, over the eons.
Homework: For next time, do a similar thought experiment on resilience. What is it? when would you want to have some on hand? when would you want to persist at something, and when would you want to stop? What is effort, and why is it so important? How about picking yourself up when you fall? Is it okay to let sorrow wash over you sometimes, instead of bouncing right back up after a loss or other sad event? Think about something in your own life that illustrates one or more of these questions or helps you answer them. Then look into the Jewish history that you know, and see where you can find resilience (hint: it’s everywhere).
Morah Erin’s and Moreh Zach: Our middah of the week was emunet chachmim, trust in the sages, which I thought was an appropriate one with Shavuot approaching. We thought about how Judaism emphasizes the study of Torah and that although on the surface many parts of the Torah are confusing and upsetting, over the centuries many scholars have found wisdom in these stories. We talked about the holiday of Shavout as commemorating the receiving of the Torah at Mt Sinai, and why this is so central to Judaism. Our Jew of the week was Mel Brooks, who was born in 1926 in a tenement (as so many of the Jews we’ve studied this year were) in New York. His family worked in the garment district, but after seeing a Broadway show with an uncle as a little boy, Mel Brooks wanted to work in show business. After fighting in WWII, he went into show business. We talked a little about how Mel Brooks took his anger and sadness about the anti-Semitism his family and so many Jews had faced, and turned it into comedy. We watched a clip from The Producers and a couple of clips from A History of the World, including one where Moses receives the 15 commandments from God and drops 5, leaving us with just 10 commandments (perfect for Shavuot).