Gemilut Chasadim & Alef-Bet Explorations

Another magical week at Makom has come and gone. We settled into this week with a spirited interest in Hebrew reading and finished it with passionate conversations about our Gemilut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness) box. 

Throughout the week we explored a text from Pirkei Avot 1:1-2

“Moshe received the Torah at Har Sinai (Mount Sinai) and transmitted it to Yehoshua, Yehoshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly. Shimon Hatzadik said: The world stands on three things: Torah, Avodah (connecting with something bigger), and Gemilut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness).”

When they first heard this text, kiddos immediately began to ask digging questions starting with a focus on the characters in the text:

  • Are Moshe and Moses the same?
  • Who is Yehoshua? Why does his name sound like that?

Discussing Hebrew names during snack time learning provided a wonderful connection to our Hebrew activity for the week. This week we shared the Hebrew name challenge with students: once you learn all the letters in your name, you can write your name with honey or chocolate chips and then eat it! Learning is so sweet around here!

Suddenly our Hebrew shulchan avodah became very popular. One of the older kiddos who has studied Hebrew for several years modeled for everyone what mastery looks like. They wrote their name in chocolate chips, then pointing to each letter they made the associated sound and named the letter. They shared how the sounds change when vowels are added in. “This vowel makes an ‘ah’  sound” they said as they pointed out the patach vowel. 

As students explored the letters in their names I heard excited remarks. 

  • This one sounds like a y!
  • Wait, I’ve seen this one before, it’s called alef, right?

One kiddo asked me: “how do you spell my name in Hebrew?” I wrote the letters down, and he began to ask questions. “So this one is called gimel?” he inquired. As I pointed to each letter he repeated the letters name and associated sound. “gimel, gah” he said as he searched for it on the Alef-Bet rug hopping from one letter to the next. Another student began to work on a wiki-stick gimel creation, carefully coiling up small waxey spirals into organ-like shapes. Then he held up the image and proclaimed “this is the anatomy of a gimel.” 

During Tefillah we explored Gemilut Chasadim by taking a close look at the psalm Tzadik Katamar (righteous like a Palm tree). Kiddos talked about how we can flourish like a tree through acts of loving kindness. We began a Gemilut Chasadim box project where learners explored ways we can engage with loving kindness that go beyond monetary gifts. 

Kiddos brainstormed ways we can show loving kindness: 

  • Donating food to a shelter. 
  • Giving someone a hug, if you ask them and they consent. 
  • Sharing information (like Moshe did in this week’s text!)
    • Not sharing secrets. 
    • Not talking over others. 
  • Believing each other. 
  • Respecting each other’s boundaries. 
  • Giving a gift to yourself or someone else. 
  • Taking care of yourself so you can show up for others. 

We discussed how we might use this box for Gemilut Chasadim

  • We could bring in candy or canned goods. 
  • We could bring in food, socks and water. 
  • We could donate tzedakah (charity) coins.
  • We could donate notebooks, paper, and drawing utensils from our homes. 
  • We could bring in small toys and books from home.
  • We could donate drawing supplies from home. 
  • We could donate legos from Makom because we have extra. 
  • We could bring cars from home. 

Learners thought about what we might call this box: 

  • Something Something Something.
  • Kindness Box.
  • Makom Box. 
  • Hebrew Box or The Box for Hebrew.
  • Give Away Box. 

We considered where and how donations might go: 

  • We could leave it out for people to take. 
  • We could donate to separate places. 
  • It could go anywhere needed, Makom or to houses. 
  • To a community pantry or cabinet. 
  • Goodwill or buy nothing. 
  • To other little libraries. 
  • We could write our names down and take turns choosing where to donate. 

Kiddos have already started putting coins in our Gemilut Chasadim box. I am so inspired by the kindness, empathy, and generosity of these kids. I can’t wait to see what we end up doing with this project and continuing to grow alongside these amazing learners. Next week we will be exploring safe spaces and how we can make the world better for the future.

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