This week we celebrated Simchat Torah, a Jewish holiday where we finish reading the Torah and go all the way back to the beginning! It’s a time where we can sing, dance, and laugh, as we celebrate the Torah and new beginnings! Many kiddos have expressed that it is their favorite Jewish holiday.
This week, Garinim answered big questions like:
What are some things we know about God?
- God is everywhere!
- God is all across the world.
- God is in the sky.
- God saves us.
- God helps our city.
- God is a cloud.
- God sees the whole world.
- God created the world.
What are some ways people are like God?
- People can save each other too.
- God is a helper and people are also helpers.
- People who live in the city and build it help it like God.
- Both God and people talk.
- I always think Moshe is related to God because he was God’s helper, so that makes him like God.
- People give each other directions and instructions like God does.
However, there seemed to be a general sentiment of discomfort around the idea of us specifically as individuals being like God:
- I’m not like God at all.
- I think someone miswrote it that people are created in the image of God.
- God can fly and be in the sky and I can’t do that.
On Monday, we unrolled an entire miniature Torah together! We looked at the different books within the scroll and found the beginning where we restart at Simchat Torah. We looked at the details and wondered what about it may be different from a kosher Torah. With the help of our teachers, we learned how to spell our names in Hebrew and searched for those letters in the Torah. On Thursday, we unrolled the kosher Torah! We learned about the yad and spotted the differences from our mini Torah. Very carefully, each child had the chance to hold the yad and read the words betzelem elohim (in God’s image), a concept we have been exploring this week.
On Monday, Shorashim started with the book Just Ask, which discusses disability and diversity, before transitioning into a discussion of how we are all created betzelem elohim, in the image of God. Our discussion of Godly qualities went in some unexpected directions, with some suggesting, based on their perceptions of the world around them, that being godly could include being unfair. Other godly qualities kids brainstormed included being nice, helpful, honest, powerful, or good at math.
We then zoomed out to the idea of “the image of God” and considered different ways that this image could be represented. Ideas ranged from a person with a very long beard–depicting old age–to the Earth, to a group of people/everyone in the world, to nothing. Some of the kids then created illustrations of these images: we saw watercolors of lightning and the moon, an animal, abstract patterns, people holding hands, a paper airline (the rationale being that God is in the air), and the word “Elohim,” another name for God.
On Thursday, we talked about supporting one another and loving ourselves. We read The Rabbit Listened, and discussed how providing support for one another doesn’t always look the same. Some people benefit from talking about an issue, laughing, or just simply listening. There were also a wide variety of opinions on what is or is not a good way of loving ourselves. Taking a long bath? Reading? Spending quiet time in one’s room? Learners did not agree on these, and also pointed out how sometimes things that at first seem like loving oneself could also seem to be in conflict with the needs of the larger community. On the other hand, there was universal agreement around fidget toys as a good way of supporting oneself.
On Monday, Nitzanim pondered what it means to be created betzelem elohim, in the image of god, and how that might inform how we treat ourselves and each other.
We wondered together:
How can we say we’re created in the image of god if we don’t know what god looks like?
- If we are all made in the image of god, we should treat each other well.
What makes people godly?
- Each of us having our own passions and talents
- Being kind and generous
After chanting tefillah together, we started discussing ideas for our end of unit showcase. We can’t wait to solidify our ideas and get started.
On Thursday, we continued our discussion about what it means to be collectively made in the image of god. We reflected on how we as neighbors and we as individuals betzelem elohim can support one another while also asking for help ourselves.
Nitzanim thoughts on betzelem elohim:
- “If you insult someone made in God’s image, you’re insulting god”
- God can take any form
On loving our neighbor through support….
- We can lend people things
- You’re more likely to get something if you ask, rather than taking it
- It felt good to help a friend with a math problem
- It can be embarrassing to get help in a way you didn’t want
Following our discussion around support, we made our very own “self supportraits” using collage. Kiddos reflected on what makes them feel supported and then cut out words, pictures, patterns and shapes from magazines to create a visual of support.
We can’t wait to see what’s in store for our learners next week!