Welcome back to Jewish Enrichment! We’re so thrilled to be back learning and playing every afternoon with your wise and wonderful kiddos. These first two weeks of the year were chock full of ice breaker games, welcoming back old friends, forming new connections, and settling back into the routines of Jewish Enrichment. Here are some highlights from our youngest learners, the Garinim (pre-K and kindergarten).
On the first day back at Makom Community in Center City, an educator brought a new pre-K kid over to a new kindergartner. “Hey, kiddo, have you met each other yet?” she asked, and then shared their names. “Now he’s my friend!” the kindergartner declared enthusiastically. These kiddos are so ready to form new connections and take on the mantle of building our community together.
It’s also been so endearing to watch older siblings and returning students help include their younger siblings and new kvutzah-mates (groupmates) in our space and activities. After carefully showing his kindergarten-age brother around the space, a returning 3rd grader told a teacher, “If he needs anything, I’m right over there.” A new kindergartner finished braiding her birthday challah on Friday and had extra chocolate chips and sprinkles to eat, but didn’t know where to go. No worries, her older sister and another returning student guided her to a teacher and then the back alley to finish her treat.
Several of our staff returned from the summer with new restrictions on their bodies’ abilities and mobility. Some people expressed concern to Gaby in particular over working with really physical Garinim while recovering from a back injury. But Gaby wasn’t worried, and our kiddos have demonstrated deep empathy and care for Gaby’s well-being and safety from day one. One particularly endearing moment happened when a returning Chester Arthur first grader stopped himself short of running into Gaby, asking if he could give her a hug, and then hugging her very gently and sweetly. As much as we as educators hold space at Makom Community for our kiddos to bring their whole selves and be whoever they need to be when they participate in our programming, our kiddos are holding that space for us educators too.
Over in South Philly our space has been enriched by the creativity of our summer campers. With the support and guidance of Ash Fisher-Tannenbaum, campers added a beautiful mural of the words of Mah Tovu to Garinim’s new Tefilah: Prayer, Music and Movement space. Our first week of learning has been devoted to creating open and inclusive gathering space for all of us. The learners using the language of the tents in Mah Tovu to explore what makes a place great. Kiddos reflected on what they think makes Makom Community a great place to be.
South Philly Garinim have been busy! We have a growing group of friends who are settling into exciting new routines and practices of school and Makom. In their first week we had friends excited to reunite with friends from preschool and the neighborhood. We are seeing friendships begin to form and deepen around our amazing time at Columbus Square Park.
Our learners have also begun learning Hebrew letters and vowels. We started to with letters bet and tav, writing with WikiStix, tracing in kinetic sand and also working with shaving cream. Now we’re working on recreating the letter shin. The kiddos love exploring and getting to know the shapes of the characters in this hands-on language practice.
What a sweet start to the school year! We can’t wait to dive into text and deep learning in the weeks and months to come.