Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community


December 4, 2016, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington
4444 Arlington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22204

Hebrew classes.

Morah Jen’s Hebrew class: We read and examined the V’shamru, singing it to determine whether the song sounded line a happy, pensive or sad song. We identified other songs that sounded happy and noted that many of them welcome Shabbat. We identified words we know in the V’shamru and compiled a list of these words: Shabbat, Israel, and some new ones: because (ki), preserve or protect (shomer), make (as), The students discovered that they could understand the overall meaning of all three lines! We did the same thing with the lines on page 76 of the textbook and discovered, again, that they could read and understand the whole meaning: God created the heavens and earth in six days and rested on the seventh. We also discussed the puzzle of why the vowels (patach and kamatz) are reversed in Shabbat and shavat. We’re still trying to figure it out, but we know that no vowels are used in the Torah…
Homework: Read (or sing) the V’shamru again and review the vocabulary and grammar on pages 74-76. Read pages 75 and 76. Review the meanings of ha/the, shel/of, -nu/our, l’/to, -cha/your, v’ or oo/and, b’/in or with, and roots baruch (bless), zochar (remember), sh’ma (listen), melech (king), b’rei (create), kadosh (holy), or (light), ahav (love), tzivah (command), and chai (life). ** Students in my class will join Morah Erin’s class on December 5, as I will be returning from overseas.

Morah Erin’s Hebrew class: This week for our “phrase of the week” we simply learned how to say yes (ken), no (lo), and maybe (oolai). We followed this with fluency practice with the v’ahavta. Students switched off lines and we tried to make it fluid (lines 1-11, pate 28). Then we played a game to check for understanding of individual words (vocab found on pages 24 and 30). I told the students that my goal is for them to be able to read the v’ahavta smoothly and quickly by the end of December so that we can move on!
Homework: Practice lines 1-17 on page 28. This should be read many times so that it is more or less memorized. Study the vocabulary on pages 24 and 30. If you already know all these words, you can begin to look at the words on page 32.

Moreh Steve’s Hebrew class: We read through verse 15 in chapter 1 of Genesis. It’s slow going, because virtually no one is preparing (hint to parents!), but we are making progress.
Homework: Study and be able to translate, word for word, and read aloud without stubmling, Verses 15 through 20 of Genesis chapter 1. Link.

Jewish studies classes.

Morah Jen’s Jewish studies class: We discussed the Torah’s teachings on leadership, democracy, and voting. We learned that the Jewish people were commanded to appoint a king that God chooses upon entering Israel. We discussed the fairness of God, rather than the people, choosing the king. We also discussed the Torah’s admonition that the king cannot be a foreigner, and why this rule might exist. The kids had some good theories, including understanding of culture and avoidance of slavery. We discussed the Torah’s other admonition that the king not amass too much gold and silver, and the kids observed that this rule encourages leaders to focus on the people, rather than money and power. We then made a list of some of the leaders in the Torah and analyzed their successes and failures in promoting tzedakah (giving), Tikkun Olam (healing the world) and tzedek (justice). The kids identified 8 leaders: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Solomon, David and Pharoah. They determined that Joseph and Moses best embodied all three Ts, while most of the leaders had moments of promoting and moments of challenging the T’s. We brought the discussion into modern times by discussing the Israeli custom of allowing all citizens the right to vote, including criminals. We analyzed why the rule would allow criminals to vote, or even to run for office, and whether we agreed. We ended by reading “Giant Steps to Change the World” by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, identifying the different kinds of leaders the book mentions, and which T’s they embody.
Homework: As mentioned at the end of class, I’d like the kids to think about where they would like to lead – their classroom, their sports team, their neighborhood, etc. ,and how they would show the T’s in their leadership. ** Morah Chana (Elizabeth Lower-Basch) will be subbing for my class on December 4, as I will be returning from overseas.

Morah Erin’s and Moreh Zach’s Jewish studies: The last few weeks we have looked at some middot and some Jewish thinking surrounding the best ways to give. We opened class this week with an ethical dilemma about whether it is more honorable to give anonymously or to give publicly if the public giving will influence others to give more. There were mixed opinions in the class. Following this discussion we considered the middah sichlut HaLev (a perceptive heart), as responding to difficult situations with a combination of the intellect and the emotions. Students thought of examples from their everyday lives when they could use this value. Then we thought about the late poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen and how his songs could be seen this way, specifically looking at the Story of Isaac as an example. Because we had studied the story of Isaac during the high holidays, students were able to really think about the deeper implications of the song.
Homework: None.

Moreh Steve’s Jewish studies: We discussed Chapter 3 of Dimont’s “Amazing Adventures of the Jewish People,” especially the life and leadership of Moses, comparing it to that of Abraham. We looked at the map of the Middle East and considered the wanderings in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. We also drew a question from the question box, which turned out to be about kashrut. We talked about what the word really means—proper, or in accordance with law, not just about food. We listed a few practices of kashrut, and talked about the variations in dietary laws among Jewish communities worldwide. Naturally the discussion ranged into matters of belief, custom, and sources of our tradition.
Homework: Read Dimont Chapter 4, pp. 16-18. Try to imagine how long 1,200 years is: what has happened in the 1,200 years leading up to today? Think about the Jewish people’s forms of self-government, and think about the flaws in the great characters of the Bible whom Dimont mentions. Which is better, to have great and good characters who inspire us, or to have an understanding of the good and bad in those characters even if it interferes with our admiration?

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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