Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community


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


Moreh Eric’s Hebrew Class We did a review of the letters and vowels we have learned thus far.  Then we added new letters and vowels — the final alef, ayin, nun and gimmel. We went over two new vowels — the two vowels that use the vav and make the “ooo” and “oh” sounds. We all broke off into pairs and did some team reading to one another with the teachers working with each group.
Homework  In the new textbooks, they should do lessons eight and nine (which reinforce the new letters and vowels we learned). Where there is a writing exercise, they need to do all of them.  For the reading portions of the lessons, they need to say the lines aloud. Reading aloud and writing the letters down will help make it all stick.
PLEASE MAKE SURE THEY DO THEIR HOMEWORK: They really need to do at least 30 mins of Hebrew per week so that it all begins to stick. They should repeat the homework as much as needed to get to 30 minutes per week.

Morah Erin’s Hebrew Class It was good to see everyone on a very dreary fall day! We learned the word for fall (s’tav) and for ice cream (glidah) each of which one might consider a blessing–since we’re doing a unit on blessings in S’fatai Tiftach. We learned the number 7 (shevah) and played pop up to seven this week. We looked at some blessings in the back of I Can Read Hebrew, most of which were already familiar to everyone and we looked at the rhymes that students had found for homework in I Can Read Hebrew. In S’fatai Tiftach we looked at the grid on page 14 and practiced reading the phrases. The reading was a little bumpy, so we played a game with flashcards to check for letters and sounds. These are a bit rusty, especially some of the letters that we don’t see as often. The practice in I Can Read Hebrew should clear up some of this, so keep practicing! We ended up with a game of trasketball with our vocabulary words and a three way tie! The vocabulary words are getting better!
Homework: Read pages 56-57 in I Can Read Hebrew. Do pages 16-18. Do pages 21-22 in S’fatai Tiftach. Continue to study the vocabulary on page 18!

Moreh Steve’s Hebrew Class We decided to go back and read from the beginning (literally), at least through the six days of creation itself, so the students who hadn’t seen it before could get the opportunity. We watched the famous 1968 recording of the Apollo 8 astronauts reading Genesis from lunar orbit and tried to process the enormity of that event. Then we read in Hebrew the first few sentences, pausing to discuss things like b’reshit being from rosh (head), words ending with a chet with a patach under it–no-ach (Noah),  lu-ach (tablet, calendar), ru-ach (wind, spirit) (at the opening of the third sentence of B’reshit), or and choshech (light and darkness). We talked about the differences between the printed chumash and the calligraphed Torah scroll. And then, because our young readers began to notice that vowels and punctuation weren’t the only marks around the words, I chanted the opening lines of B’reshit for them using the traditional cantillations. More of that may be coming.
Homework: Read and study verses 3 through 8, more if you can, of B’reshit chapter 1 (link to excellent Hebrew-English side-by-side text here). Know as far as possible what each word means.  We’ll go over these verses in class. Let’s see how quickly we can progress. Please bring your printouts of those verses to class, so we all have copies without having to lug those heavy chumashim around.


Moreh Steve’s Jewish Studies How our kids love to participate in the conversation! It’s fantastic. I’d much rather have people talking over each other than no one interested. We started with the map again, in “Journeys” opposite p.15, just to imprint on the students’ minds the spread and location of Jewish communities throughout the Mideast, Europe and north Africa in the first few hundred years after the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem and threw the Hebrews out of Palestine. Then, to answer someone’s question about B.C., B.C.E., C.E. and A.D., we looked at early Christian history and doctrine, how in the 4th century the early Christian clerics got together and decided to push away from their Jewish roots—choosing a Sunday sabbath, for instance—and dropping various Jewish customs and accommodating themselves to Roman law, thus paving the way for the fateful adoption of Christianity as the Roman Empire’s official religion. And then we somehow segued to a discussion of redemption. I gave them perhaps the two greatest Jewish examples that exist, which we then discussed somewhat in detail: the story of Job, arguing with God from the pit of despair, followed by miraculous restoral of his happiness and prosperity; and of course the state of Israel, and the Holocaust that preceded it. Parents will know that I characterize the Holocaust in my classes as the defining evil of the millennium, perhaps  of all human history. Tonight someone scoffed at the qualification “perhaps.” We spoke about it a little gingerly, but I think our children shouldn’t have a blank page at that point in our history just because the truth is so unspeakable. I just said a few things about how systematic and how ghastly arbitrary the evils were, students chipped in with accounts they’d heard from survivors, we spoke about the Holocaust Museum, and we concluded with a look at the world’s immediate and longer-term reactions and the founding of the Jewish state. Isn’t there a book called “A Short History of Practically Everything?” If not, we just wrote it. 😉
Homework: I don’t think you all have properly read through page 17 of “Journeys,” so please do that carefully. Then, if you can, read through page 21 (the pair of pages with big print that begins “Unit One”). We’re starting to follow the history of our tribe as we inch closer to modern times. Be patient and remember what we said in class: history is knowing how we got here, and look what terrific conversations we can have about it.

Moreh Zach’s Intermediate Jewish Studies On Sunday, we discussed “The Sabbath” chapter in All-of-a-Kind-Family, in which the girls and Mama go shopping at the Rivington Street market, and then the whole family celebrates Erev Shabbat. For the market portion, we discussed the experience that most of the children had of going to farmer’s markets, where each stall has its own specialties, and some offer staples while others sell treats. We also discussed ethnic markets that cater to immigrants, and how the foods they sell can remind people of home and help them retain their cultural ties. We also watched some silent films showing pushcart vendors in New York City, from around the time the story is set. See The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898 to 1906https://www.loc.gov/collections/early-films-of-new-york-1898-to-1906/about-this-collection/ For the shabbat portion of the story, most of the rituals were familiar to the children, but we discussed some Orthodox traditions as well: Mama covering her hair to say prayers; Papa departing for synagogue without the female members of his family, then returning to the home; the family retiring before the candles burn out.
Homework: For November 5, the students should read the next chapter: Papa’s Birthday, and think of questions.
Bonus homework: try one of the foods mentioned in the Sabbath chapter, such as a sour pickle, a roast sweet potato, or chickpeas with salt and pepper. Or visit a grocery that caters to immigrants (a plug here for India A-1 Grocery) and try a new food from there.

Morah Shana’s Jewish Studies Last Sunday we talked about Shabbat.  We started the class with stories.  First we listened to the creation story from Genesis and then we heard a parable about the need to rest and how we work better the rest of the week with a day off.  Next we talked about what Jewish people do on the Shabbat .  Then we set the Friday night table with candles, challah and grape juice and practiced the blessings and tasted some challah and grape juice. Next week we will make a Shabbat box for the kids to take turns taking home and celebrating Shabbat.
Parents:  I hear a lot of “we don’t celebrate that in our house.”  Remind your kids that just because you don’t celebrate a holiday or participate in a ritual doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t learn about it.  It is like reading the menu even if you know you are only ordering the soup.  It is nice to know if you are hungrier there are more choices.


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P.O. Box 1801, Annandale, VA 22003
Phone: 571-336-5544
Rabbi's Study: 202-364-3006

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4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington Blvd. (Route 50) & George Mason Dr.
Arlington, VA 22204
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