A Year of Learning & Building

A Year of Learning & Building

“And let them make me a sanctuary, so I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8)”.  


Almost a year ago, Beverly, Gaby, and I reflected on what text we would bring to our learners for our third unit, which would also be the unit that wrapped up our school year. We ultimately decided on the big idea of “Being in Kehillah (Community)”. At first, I wondered why not start the year with this text to preview to our learners all that they might experience by being in community as they come to Makom Community each afternoon. Then I saw the immense value of teaching it in the last few months of the year. As we traveled through this unit, our learners had real-life examples to connect back to the text. They were able to refer to the many other communities they belonged to this year from school to sports teams and more. They were also able to deeply explore what it means to be in kehillah at Makom Community. 

By learning about two characters, Betzalel and Oholiav, learners reflected on the skills and talents that they bring to a community and vice versa. I noticed how easy it was for some of our youngest learners to celebrate each other, specifically naming what they bring to the kehillah. This was made obvious by the selfless way these kiddos acknowledged the strengths of their peers. Whether a Kindergartener was describing their peer’s expert digging skills or naming someone else for their great dance moves, I could see the strength of their connections.It was clear that our learners both value each member of their kevutzah (group) and that their educators have truly helped shape a kehillah where everyone gets to be themselves and is invited to bring their own gifts of talents and skills. 

Our oldest learners examined our big idea through an additional lens by asking themselves how we can use what we learn about building community from text to enhance our experience of holiness and traditions within our communities. I had the pleasure of being interviewed by two of our Nitzanim (2nd-4th grade) students in South Philly. They asked me about what I thought would be important to include in virtual Hebrew game. Other students asked me about my hopes and wishes for snacks at Makom Community and what it might look like to incorporate more fresh produce. I watched as others planned a family program rooted in community and driven by our weekly rituals. In their planning, they explored the connection between light in our text and the Shabbat candles we light each week.

Rav Nahman of Bratslav said, “Each one brings the good desire of their heart. The mishkan (sanctuary) is built from the goodness that emerges with clarity from every member of Bnei Yisrael. Each one brings their unique point of goodness, with their distinct coloring.” As we conclude this unit and begin summer break, I’m confident that our learners know what it means to be in kehillah. They also have a deep appreciation, which doesn’t come naturally, to see everyone’s distinct colors, skills, and talents, and most importantly to celebrate them and dwell among them. 

It has been a pleasure continuing to build and be in community with each of your families this year. From Family Shabbat, Holiday celebrations, Showcases, Family Retreat, and so much more, thank you for also bringing your goodness, skills, and talents to this kehillah. I look forward to seeing all that we continue to do together in the 2023-24 school year. 

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