Ourselves and Each Other

We returned to learning from Rabbi Hillel this week with a 3-part text from Pirkei Avot that we explored both in writing and by listening to and singing two different musical settings of the text. We thought about how we are for ourselves, for each other, and the importance of timing.

The first line of the text, “If I am not for myself, who is for me?” led us to think creatively about things that you can do for yourself that no one else can do for you:

  • Go to the bathroom
  • Fall asleep
  • Feel happy

The second line, “But if I am for my own self [only], what am I?” What’s it like to imagine that you’re the only one doing things for yourself? Is anyone else responsible for you too?

  • It would not be good.
  • My mom and my dad get what I need and I get that stuff too.
  • I can’t cook so my family has to, but that’s not my fault.

We put these two together and thought about how to apply this text to our lives. We pondered who we should take care of first – ourselves or other people?

  • Ourselves. If you give lunch to a friend, then you don’t have any. if you eat first and share what you don’t eat, then you both get to eat
  • Ourselves, but we also help younger siblings
  • Both. It’s important to care for everyone

The third and final part of the text was “And if not now, when?” We thought about things that are good to do right now:

  • Wear a mask
  • Get vaccinated

We also thought about things that might be better to do later:

  • Eat, cause I’m not hungry
  • Go to the doctor – wait til you need to go

We also thought of things that we want to do right now, but we have to wait or plan in advance:

  • Have dinner
  • Watch High School Musical
  • Go to stores

We got to apply our learning about being for ourselves and each other by planning how we wanted to welcome our Zoom neighbors, Makom Community’s BMitzvah cohort. This meeting was inspired by our Makom @ Home students when they asked about who the people passing through our Zoom classroom were.

We brainstormed several welcoming ideas:

  • Say “shalom” (hello)
  • Ask them questions, especially about themselves
  • Don’t say ” Welcome to Makom @ Home!” (in the background at the beginning of class)
  • Instead it can say “Shalom Welcome to Makom”

At our next class, we put those ideas into action! The Bmitzvah cohort also planned a welcome for us. They showed us around Ionic Street where the in-person Makom classes have their snack outside. We learned that Makom kids have painted murals on the walls there! We played the game “A strong wind blows” to get to know each other and find things we have in common. Then we went into our separate zoom rooms for the rest of class.

The next week, our text from Kohelet 4:9-10 was about the benefits of companionship and asking for help. Makom @ Home kids were able to make a personal connection to the idea of two being better than one right away, listing lots of activities they like to do with one or more other people, but that don’t work when you’re by yourself:

  • Guess Who????
  • Hoot Owl Hoot
  • Freeze Tag
  • Poison dart frog
  • Opposites
  • Hide and seek
  • Kickball, baseball, basketball, handball, soccer
  • Pattycake
  • Lemonade
  • Miss Mary Mack

We know that it’s okay to disagree with a text. We discussed whether it’s always better to have a buddy or if there are also times when it’s better to be by yourself:

  • It is better when there is more people
  • Better to have more people cause you can play more games, more games you can play with two people. 
  • But if you’re doing work, better to be by yourself. Can’t think if someone else is talking
  • Sometimes by yourself too
  • Better to do work by yourself so you can’t get distracted 
  • When you need help: Moving to a different house
  • Building something – you need someone else who knows how

We added a new tefilah to our repertoire this week, Ashrei, which talks about people who live in God’s house being happy. We thought about places we feel happy:

  • I feel happy when I’m at stores with my family
  • I love Maine💃🏾❄️❤️💓💞💝💘💕
  • Me too I love love love Maine

Next up, we’ll be exploring different Chanukah traditions and developing our own. I look forward to seeing what our Makom @ Home kids come up with!

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