Adventures in Zoom Teaching: The Kids are Alright

Adventures in Zoom Teaching: The Kids are Alright

Zoom learning continues to be an adventure! Our methods are ever evolving, and it’s a little funky to hear and see each other sometimes. But per usual our empathetic and insightful learners have empathetic and insightful things to say! Here are some of the moments when they impressed us this week.

On Wednesday we unpacked the importance of family names and why it mattered for Rut to be able to have children to carry forward Naomi’s family name and traditions. We asked the kiddos if any of them knew the stories of their names:

  • My first name is after my great-great grandmother who was a refugee. She ended up moving to New York and opened up a candy shop. My middle name is after my great-grandmother.
  • My first name is after my great-grandfather named Leo. My name means “my light”.
  • My first name is after my great-grandmother Ruth, and my middle name is after my grandfather’s mother. She was a schoolteacher.

Thursday we learned a text that is in conversation with the Rut story. In it, God says that God will gather up all the people who want to be Jewish and welcome them into God’s house. That house will be a house of prayer for all peoples (Isaiah 56:6-8). This text is addressing converts and Jews by choice, just like Rut was. We talked about how there are a whole lot of ways to end up Jewish, and none of them is better than any of the others.

One of the ways people can show that they’re choosing to be Jewish is to “love God’s name.” Here’s an illustration from one of our Shorashim (first graders) about that:

There is a big heart in the middle. Underneath it says “God” made up of every color to show that God is in everyone. And all around the heart are the names of the other people who were in class and around that student because “if God is in all of us, then we can love God’s name by loving each other.”

An illustration of Rut gathering grain in a field from a game of pictionary.

I asked the Shorashim and Garinim (preK-K kiddos) to take whatever blocks they could find in their own houses and build what they think God’s house of prayer for all peoples looks like. Several kiddos made some super cool lego creations. One kiddo drew a picture. One kiddo made a blanket fort. Here are some of their explanations:

  • Here’s the mountain with big people and small people and boys and girls going up because that shows all kinds of people for me. And then at the top is a big peace sign and the sun for peace and light.
  • All the different colors of blocks are because God created everything like all types of nature. So this one is for water, and this one is wind, this one is light, this dark green is trees. There’s space inside for everything that we have. And the windows are the graveyards of our ancestors.

Rut and Boaz get married, a pictionary illustration.

Tefilah: Prayer, Music, and Movement continues to be a highlight for us every day. Kids are stepping up to lead tefilot that they’ve never led before or never led completely by themselves. They’re finding ways to collaborate together. They’re so respectfully keeping themselves muted while they sing along. It’s such a joy to experience.

Tefilah is also creating space for kiddos to process some of their real life experiences right now. Here are two versions of the One Crazy Time (Exodus from Egypt) story, inspired by our current situation:

  • One crazy time there was a Coronavirus (aka Pharaoh). He looked out his window and saw too many Hand Washings (aka the Hebrews). He thought they would make trouble so he made them slaves. The hand washings didn’t like that very much, so they cried out to the big Immune System (aka God), “We have had ENOUGH!” The immune system sent down 10 terrible, horrible, no good, very bad T cells (aka plagues)… oh maybe it should be vaccines? Whatever… so the Coronavirus cried out, “We have had ENOUGH!”. And the Coronavirus finally let the Hand Washings go, and ask they left, this is what they sang…
  • One crazy time there was a Very Dirty Carpet (aka Pharaoh). He looked out his window and saw too many Vacuum Cleaners (aka the Hebrews). He thought they would make trouble so he put them to work. They cried out to the big Electric Sweeper (God), “We have had ENOUGH!” So the Electric Sweeper sent down 10 terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Brooms (plagues). That made the Very Dirt Carpet cry out, “We have had ENOUGH!” And he let the Vacuum Cleaners go. And as  they left, this is what they sang…

Thanks for continuing to share your kiddos with us! They brighten our days with the wisdom and kindness that they bring to Jewish text, and the ways they bring the text back to their real life experiences. We’re glad we can be here to process all the things together!

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