From being brachot (blessings), to writing them, to mastering them – Makom Community learners are becoming experts in all things brachah! Each age group is exploring this idea in their own way. Let’s start out by digging into the stories the Garinim (PreK-K kiddos) have been working through.
Avraham was getting old and worried about his son Yitzchak’s future. He sent his servant Eliezer to Padan Aram where he grew up to find someone from his family to marry Yitzchak. After a long journey, Eliezer rested outside the city near a well. He prayed to God for guidance, and decided that the woman who would go above and beyond to be helpful to him would be the right person to marry Yitzchak. He went up to a beautiful woman and asked for some water to drink. “Of course!” she said. “Also, let me get water for all 10 of your camels.” “This is it!” thought Eliezer. “She’s helping me water my camels without me even having to ask. She must be the one.” That woman was named Rivkah, and she happened to be related to Avraham and Yitzchak.
We imagined some more modern scenarios where people (like us!) can learn from Rivkah’s example and be above and beyond helpers.
- One kiddo reflected on a time when her dad was trying to put the harness on their dog, and the dog was trying to escape. So kiddo jumped up to hold onto the dog without dad having to ask for help.
- Another kiddo dramatically enacted the following scene with his dad and their puppet theater: Some folks were out walking and it started to rain. They were looking for an umbrella but didn’t have one. Someone in a car offered them the umbrella they had. Then the person in the car offered them a ride home, which was help they hadn’t even asked for.
Eliezer brings Rivkah back to Avraham’s house. She and Yitzchak get married. Yitzchak’s mom Sarah died, and Rivkah was able to be loving and comforting to him during that time. Later, Rivkah had a hard time having children. Yitzchak prayed to God on her behalf to help her. We used their relationship as a framework to unpack how people can be a brachah to each other. How and when are we brachot for our families?
- When I pet my cat nicely.
- When I make music.
- When I blow bubbles in chocolate milk and laugh with my brother.
This past week the Shorashim (1st graders) learned about the unique brachot bestowed upon each tribe of Bnei Yisrael (the Jewish people) before they crossed over into Canaan. We also imagined how brachot look and feel different based on our needs and personalities.
Each group in Bnei Yisrael received a different blessing. We reflected on why that was helpful, how we don’t always get or want to get the same things as someone else:
- Maybe some people got different notes because they got bad grades and they need to tell the teachers they got better.
- I wouldn’t want toddler toys that are monsters.
Then each kiddo wrote brachot for two of their stuffies, figuring out what kind of unique brachah each individual stuffy might need:
- I bless my polar bear that he can camouflage easily.
- For my penguin Bluey Blue that he can learn to be in hot environments. And for Cutie my jumpy guy that he will learn how to stay calm.
On Thursday, the Shorashim found objects in their homes that represented the brachot Bnei Yisrael would need to cross the Jordan River and enter the Canaan.
- My mask, for going outside and to stores. It keeps me healthy and the Jews need to be healthy because if not they may not be able to cross [into the Land of Israel].
- A smooth rock that is lucky. They need luck cause if they are not lucky they might not like the place.
- A super Spiderman stuffy because Spiderman has power and they will need power to cross the river.
- A smiley face because you will need to express feelings to cross this river. It can be hard and you need to express that to make it not.
Last week in Nitzanim, we took a deep dive into the brachot (blessings) that we sing in tefilah. We attempted to sort them into different categories: brachot that thank God, brachot that praise God, and brachot that ask God for something. We talked about different kinds of brachot that we engage in, and why we sing the same ones every single day.
- If we just say it once it doesn’t have meaning. If we get into a habit of doing it, it’s more real.
- To show how much we thank God.
- To show that we’re thanking God, praising God, and asking God for something every day.
- So that God knows we’re talking to him and remember him every day.
The Nitzanim have been working on mastering brachot this year. In order to master a brachah, we need to be able to sing it, read it, and ask 3 good questions and have a conversation about it to Noa’s satisfaction. By studying them so intensely, we’ve developed a greater appreciation for the Hebrew words that we sing every day. I asked the kiddos what their favorite brachah was, and why.
- Kiddush is most important to me. It’s challenging, but with a little time and a little help I’ll master it soon.
- Kiddush is most important to me. I feel like it’s thanking God over and over again.
- Kiddush is most important. I feel happy when I’m singing it.
- The third paragraph of V’ahavta, I practiced it with a friend last year and it reminds me of him.
- Adon Olam, we’re saying thank you but we get to have fun with it. It makes me happy.
- Amidah, I was the first person to master it so I feel proud of myself.
Hearing more and more kiddos lead tefilah on Zoom has been an absolute joy for me (Noa). I’m so proud of them, and it brings a smile to my face to see how proud of themselves they are.
How can your family bring more brachah into your lives? What do you do that makes you brachot for each other? What brachot do you feel compelled to write for each other or for the world right now? We’d love to hear about them!