Brachot (blessings) help us articulate our hopes for our loved ones and notice amazing things in the world around us. Those brachot can look like a lot of different things – special words, art and nature, supportive actions, and more. Let’s see how our learners unwrapped text to help them articulate brachot last week.
The Garinim (preK and K kiddos) reviewed another set of stories about the avot ve’imahot (forefathers and foremothers). In the first story, Yitzchak had one super special brachah (blessing) to give to his first born son Eisav. But, with Rivkah’s help, Yaakov tricked Yitzchak into giving the brachah to him instead. We unpacked Yitzchak’s special brachah and reimagined it for people that we love. Here are some of the ideas we came up with:
- My brachah for my mom: water, food, air, energy, shelter, brain
- My brachah for my grandpa: plenty of hoagies to eat, plenty of Phillies tickets for him and his family to use together
- My brachah for my brother: plenty of bamba to eat, plenty of presents for his birthday
Eisav was very angry with Yaakov for stealing his brachah. Rivkah was worried for Yaakov’s safety, so she and Yitzchak sent Yaakov back to her hometown to get married. Yaakov packed his bag and set off on the long journey alone. Along the way, he found a special makom (place) where he decided to rest for the night. He set up a rock to use as a pillow and settled down to sleep. He dreamed that he saw a ladder stretching from the ground all the way up to the sky with angels traveling up and down it. Then God appeared and established the brit (two-way promise) with Yaakov just like God did with Yitzchak and Avraham. Yaakov woke up from his dream of WOW feelings.
I asked the Garinim to think about where they’ve found a special makom and had an experience that made them say WOW like that. Here’s what they came up with:
- We were flying our unicorn kite and it almost went above the clouds.
- I found a horseshoe crab at the beach when I was 2.
- I finished my sandcastle and said “wow” in my head.
- We were out camping and I found a hissing animal that I didn’t know what it was.
- We got a grocery delivery and it had peanut butter pillows in it!
- These are piles of rocks and sticks that we collected to paint.
Last week the Shorashim (1st graders) and Nitzanim (2nd-4th graders) unpacked the different kinds of brachaot each tribe of Bnei Yisrael (the Jewish people) received. Some tribes received a blessing that gave them strength over their enemies, some received a blessing with ritual instructions, and some received a blessing that protected them. The kiddos reflected particularly on the protection piece, and how not every tribe got that in their brachah:
- Shorashim kid: God is everywhere so [the tribe of] Binyamin is protected everywhere. I think this is the best protection so far. Also I think I want to be next to God even though I already am.
- Nitzanim kid: The rest of the tribes might have been more independent and done more things. Binyamin was the youngest. Reuben said his dad was embarrassed by him. They needed extra help.
Protection can look different for every person. The Nitzanim noticed that there are kinds of protection and help they used to be able to offer, but can’t now due to quarantine.
- I used to give food to the poor, but I can’t since we aren’t going outside a lot.
- I didn’t get to see my cousin and give her love when she was scared.
- I can’t give hugs or share my lunch.
Instead of focusing on what we can’t do, we encouraged our learners to focus on the kinds of protection they still receive:
- Someone that cares about me – like in Harry Potter how his mother dies to save him – they care to protect them and do something to themselves.
- When I say protection what I usually mean is… it depends who I say it to. When I say it to my mom it means stay in the house, hold my hand in the street, don’t wander off. Be safe. But maybe not for the rest of my life.
- My mom gives me protection from bad dreams by singing a song to calm my brain down before sleep.
- Parents pay for health insurance, food, and shelter.
- My parents are protecting me right now because of Coronavirus by not ordering in food or drinks. They’re being careful with putting on gloves and masks. It’s not mean. It’s for my own protection and safety.
Then we reflected on the kinds of protection we can offer to our friends and family:
- You could give them a blessing.
- You could give them advice on how to stay safe.
- You could also go with them and correct their mistakes and tell them I don’t think we should go this way.
- Staying near someone and making sure they’re safe.
- I offer protection to my brother to help him when he’s crying.
- I offered my brother protection from monsters by sleeping in my trundle.
For our project on protection, the Shorashim each chose a different artistic way to represent what protection looks like in their lives. One kiddo made a song and dance where each section represented a different aspect of protection:
- This part is about staying home and social distancing.
- These keep other people and me safe.
- This is for interacting with people on zoom.
- This shows keeping me safe by still learning.
Another chose a series of different Zoom backgrounds to represent feelings of protection and protecting others:
- A map so we are sure we are going the right way.
- My brother and me wearing our masks.
- Me with my mother.
- A picture of the ground.
With everything that’s going on in the world, it’s easy to feel like we can’t do much to help. Though we may think the protection that we’re offering may not be so important, hugs, offering to share a room, singing songs, they’re a huge deal to the person receiving it. Even the little things make all the difference. Looking forward to seeing you all on Zoom for all the togetherness we can muster right now. Stay safe, and take care of each other.