Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community

JCEP

October 15, 2017, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22204

HEBREW CLASSES

Moreh Steve’s Hebrew class. We read the Ashamnu aloud, going around the table, demystifying it, prefacing and peppering it with religious and moral context, picking up where we left off last week about the purpose of these holidays. The Ashamnu is one of the most famous prayers in all of Judaism, even though it’s uttered aloud only on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. We picked out a few especially fresh and relevant ones: “Dibarnu dofi,” we’ve said nasty things about people. “Tafalnu shaker,” we’ve told lies. And “kishinu oref,” we’ve stiffened our necks, i.e. made ourselves obstinate. All of us do these things all the time. Why does the liturgy have us repeat the recitation every year? So we talked about that in English, then read and sang the Ashamnu together for reinforcement.

Homework: Be prepared to tell about some moral work you did during the high holiday period, for instance (a) someone you apologized to, or wish you’d apologized to, in the way we talked about before Rosh Hashana, or (b) a wrong mentioned in the Ashamnu that you know you did during the past year, that you tried to look at–in your own mind, without anyone telling you to–and considered changing or improving.

Morah Erin’s Hebrew class It was good to see everyone today! We started with our greeting. Then worked on the numbers 1-4 in a game of pop. The students wrote the numbers down in their composition books to study. We double checked that we could write and knew the sounds of the letters that were highlighted in I Can Read Hebrew last week, putting vowels with them. Students were in good shape! We did a little speed reading in I Can Read Hebrew. We’ll keep working on getting our reading faster. Then we talked about where the words “s’fatai tiftach” come from (the title of our book) and I showed them the psalm in the siddur. We read the opening story in S’ftai Tiftach. Students had a lot of questions about letters with a dot in them (dagesh). I’m happy they noticed and we talked a bit about when to ignore the dot and when it means something. We will be returning to that as confusion comes up. We talked about the formula used for many blessings in Hebrew and looked at the meanings of 6 of the words.

Homework: Pages 6-8 in I Can Read Hebrew. Read page 6 in S’fatai Tiftach and learn the meanings of the 6 words we studied on page 8. Learn numbers 1-4 in Hebrew. The numbers and the homework assignment are written in the composition book.

JEWISH STUDIES CLASSES

Morah Shana’s Jewish Studies Class The subject of our class on Sunday was Yom Kippur. We played a game to introduce the concept of missing the mark, read a Jewish folk tale about truly being remorseful for our sins and listened to a song about Yom Kippur. We discussed what it means to “miss the mark” and ask for forgiveness both from people and G-d. We talked about what Jewish people do on Yom Kippur both at home and in the synagogue including the concept that on Yom Kippur we try to be like angels and we fast, spend the day in prayer and wear white.
Homework:
we won’t have class for the next two weeks so please read the chapter about Sukkot in “My Jewish Year.” Our next class will be about Sukkot and Simchas Torah.

Moreh Steve’s Jewish studies. We had hardly opened the discussion when someone began wondering, as our fantastic kids often do, what God really is and isn’t. Some ideas: God is not a single living being enthroned someplace. God is not an old man with a long white beard. God is whatever it is that created everything.  God is the space between the atoms and subatomic particles that make up everything. God is the symmetry in the world. God is the goodness in the world.  All of these have to be searched for but are seemingly found everywhere if one is attuned.

Then we talked some more about the high holidays, their purpose, and what it is to take stock. We talked about the hope our tradition holds out that at this time of year each of us will reflect on things enough to change ourselves, at least a little. We said the idea of the service is to look for that change, and if we don’t feel the service is changing us, to go deeper, without being told to, just in our own minds, about what life holds and how to treat one another.

We concluded with a reading from Joseph Telushkin’s Jewish Wisdom, about two ideas of community: the first, explaining a prayer we utter right before Kol Nidrei, saying we give one another permission to pray right alongside people who may have done some seriously bad things;  and the second, a parable of the boat passenger who began drilling a hole in the boat under his seat and responded to the others’ protests by saying his actions were directed at his own seat alone. Ask your child to show the image of the Moreh’s two arms locked, each hand gripping the opposite forearm, showing how we are all bound together and responsible for one another.

Homework: Be prepared to tell about some moral work you did during the high holiday period, for instance (a) someone you apologized to, or wish you’d apologized to, in the way we talked about before Rosh Hashana, or (b) a wrong mentioned in the Ashamnu that you know you did during the past year, that you tried to look at–in your own mind, without anyone telling you to–and considered changing or improving.

Note: Please start bringing your Jewish history paperback textbooks to class. We’ve inherited copies for about half the class from the JCEP collection. We’ll have enough copies for everyone next time and will begin assigning readings from it.

Moreh Zach’s Jewish Studies Class On Sunday we discussed the Succos chapter of All-of-a-Kind Family. This included such topics as transliteration and pronunciation (Succos vs. Sukkot vs. Sukkoth), the celebration of holidays at home vs. at synagogue, the welcoming of friends, the eating of special foods, adaptation of old traditions to new countries, and ways of decoration. We also looked at pictures of Sukkot celebrations in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and some decorations from those periods.

We won’t have JCEP this weekend or next, though I encourage people to attend the Kol Ami sukkah-raising on Sunday.

Homework: Our next class is October 15. Given the long break, I’m asking the students to read *two chapters*: “Dusting Is Fun” and “Rainy Day Surprise,” pp. 25-49.

Events

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
View Map & Directions

Join Our Mailing List

Sign up for a monthly newsletter about upcoming Kol Ami events and programs. Subscribe.