Category: Weekly Learning

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Anafim: Becoming TextplorersAnafim: Becoming Textplorers

What can we learn from the relationship between Moshe and God? This is the question that our Anafim (5th-7th grade) students have been mulling over since the beginning of the year. In the texts we have been discussing, Moshe asks God for Their help in leading the Jewish people. He also asks God to show him Their splendor, so that…

Garinim: Budding CommunityGarinim: Budding Community

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,…

Makom – A Great Place to BeMakom – A Great Place to Be

Mah tovu ohalekha Ya’akov, mishk’notekha Yisrael!  How great are your tents, Yaakov, the places where you live, Yisrael! We began our year exploring what makes Makom Community a great place to be! During our first week of Jewish Enrichment, we welcomed over 80 students from Pre K through 7th grade to Makom Community in both our Center City and South…

Jewish Placemaking Conference Reflection

What a joy to be back in the virtual room for our 3rd annual Jewish Placemaking Conference! We had 60 directors and educators from across the country register to join us for three packed afternoons of learning and reflecting together.  After brief introductions to Makom Community and the conference facilitation staff, Beverly, Gaby, Terri, and Sara, we jumped right into…

Top 10 Highlights from 2021-22Top 10 Highlights from 2021-22

We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of our favorite moments from this year with all of you! Which one is your favorite? 10. Makom @ Home A 3rd grader in Makom @ Home who usually insists that she hates singing and turns her camera off during Tefilah (prayers), got very excited when we brought in some…

Empathizing with Yocheved and MosheEmpathizing with Yocheved and Moshe

Makom @ Home kiddos have been writing their own commentary on the Exodus story as we read about how Bnei Yisrael (the Jewish people, originally the children of Yaakov AKA Yisrael) were enslaved in Mitzrayim (Egypt). In the early weeks of the story, one of our learners requested artsploration in addition to textsploration, so we introduced many of our texts…

Walking With God and Finding SanctuaryWalking With God and Finding Sanctuary

Our learners have been busy exploring the story of Noach and playing with ideas of sanctuary, lawlessness, animal communication with God, and much more! Garinim (kindergarteners) wondered about the Noach story: Why does the text say that people are nothing but evil? I don’t think that’s the way people are now.  It’s really sad that Noach’s family is the only…

Plagues vs. The EnvironmentPlagues vs. The Environment

SO. MANY. PLAGUES. This week, our learners explored more plagues: frogs (tzefarde’a), lice (kinim), wild beasts (arov), cattle disease (dever), boils (shechin), and fiery hail (barad).  The Garinim (kindergartners) unpacked plagues 2-7 as we moved towards the climax of the Yetziat Mitzrayim (leaving Egypt) story. We’ve particularly enjoyed making a hands-on physical portrayal of the cumulative effects of each plague…

Uncovering Big Feelings in Megillat Esther & Yetziyat MitzrayimUncovering Big Feelings in Megillat Esther & Yetziyat Mitzrayim

IT’S PURIM – one of our (or at least Gaby’s) favorite times of the year at Makom Community!  The Garinim (kindergartners) spent the week leading up to our Purim spiel (play) and megillah reading celebration familiarizing ourselves with the story, making silly masks, illustrating the holidays four mitzvot (commandments), and generally having a giggly time.  We examined the whole story…

The First Plague and God’s PowerThe First Plague and God’s Power

This week, learners delved into text and examined Pharaoh’s reaction to Moshe and Aharon’s request for Bnei Yisrael to retreat to the wilderness to worship God. We also considered Bnei Yisrael’s resentment towards Moshe and Aharon for their attempts to free them. Learners also explored the demonstration of God’s power as the first plague turns the Nile into blood, causing…

COVID Policy Update March 2022

Dear Makom Community Families, First of all, thank you so much for all the ways you have supported each other and all our kids through the pandemic. I am thrilled to share that our educators are 100% vaccinated and boosted, and our learners are 100% vaccinated since early January.  In light of those incredible rates of vaccination, current COVID numbers,…

South Philly’s Praiseworthy Photography ProjectSouth Philly’s Praiseworthy Photography Project

During our second unit, Holy Me, learners explored the light around us, and it can help us grow the light and holiness inside ourselves. We further investigated this concept with a photography project, learners were introduced to a disposable film camera and took portraits of subjects in our neighborhood they deemed praiseworthy. Many of the kiddos were unfamiliar with film….

Holy Listening and Loving

You may remember the whiteboard check-in that one of our kiddos invented a few weeks ago. It was not just a one-time thing! Other kids have brought it back and it’s now part of our regular pool of check-in options. Here is this week’s: I’m so glad we are building a community in Makom @ Home where we feel safe…

God Hears Bnei Yisrael’s CriesGod Hears Bnei Yisrael’s Cries

We have had ENOUGH! Last week, we read the bit of our story where Bnei Yisrael (the Jewish people) can’t handle the burden of slavery any more and cry out to God all at once. God hears them and decides to finally help (Exodus 2:23-25). Garinim (kindergarteners) had some thoughts…… What are some different ways people ask for help? Asking…

Along The Nile….Along The Nile….

This week, we continued the Exodus story and tried to empathize with our main characters, Moshe, Yocheved (Moshe’s birth mother), Miriam (Moshe’s biological sister), Batya (Pharaoh daughter and Moshe’s adoptive mother), and Pharaoh. Garinim (kindergartners) love this story. Everyday, when we pause the narrative, they shout and want to hear more! Here’s some of what we unpacked last week. There…

Immersing In The Exodus StoryImmersing In The Exodus Story

This week we continued our unit three learning exploring the Exodus story!  All week I watched students absorb and embody this story through building, play, art, puppetry, dress-up, and more. It was such a joy to observe students immersing themselves in this essential story of the Jewish people, a story they know well already and are eager to expand upon….

How The Holiness Inside Ourselves Contribute To Our Communities ~ A Nitzanim ShowcaseHow The Holiness Inside Ourselves Contribute To Our Communities ~ A Nitzanim Showcase

Nitzanim worked so hard during our second unit to create an open gallery showcasing their exploration! Learners were particularly inspired by the text that says: Torah Temimah on Ecclesiastes 7:13  “When God created the first human, God took them and showed them all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to them, ‘See my works, how beautiful and…

Wrapping Up “Holy Me” and The Nitzanim Showcase!Wrapping Up “Holy Me” and The Nitzanim Showcase!

Can you believe we’re halfway through the school year? This week, students reviewed and wrapped up our second unit, Holy Me.  The Garinim (kindergartners) looked back at the highlights on our journey of exploring the holiness in ourselves and how it interacts with the holiness in the world around us. We played games to revisit this unit’s texts and stories,…

Relationships and Praiseworthy Action Relationships and Praiseworthy Action 

This week we reviewed our learning from unit two where we explored our inherent holiness. We revisited some of our favorite projects and conversations and continued work on some long-term projects including a community weaving, a lego wall, and personalized supports to live in the Pinat Shalom (peace corner.)   Kiddos reiterated ways in which we can nurture other people. We…

Rosh Pinah Presentations!Rosh Pinah Presentations!

Mazel tov (congratulations) to our whole class on their fantastic Rosh Pinah (capstone) project presentations last week! Not only am I extremely proud of how well they did, they are very proud of themselves! I am proud of myself for singing in front of people. Inside I was so nervous! I am proud of how well the coffin came out….

“I Feel God When I Wear A Tallit…”“I Feel God When I Wear A Tallit…”

What are tzitzit (fringes)? Why does God think we need reminders about commandments? How can the clothes we wear help us connect to our own personal holiness? Do you tie any strings around your fingers to make sure you remember that big, important thing? Jewish tradition doesn’t have us tie strings on our fingers, but God does instruct Bnei Yisrael…

Remembering to Make Good Choices in the Pinat Shalom Remembering to Make Good Choices in the Pinat Shalom 

This week we explored how tallitot, tzitzit, and other ritual objects empower us and act as a reminder to make good choices. Throughout the week we wrapped ourselves in tallitot, tied knots, and wove together ideas about connection. As we dove into the topic of making good choices, we looked to our own space and considered what supports we rely…

BMitzvah: How the Torah Does ItBMitzvah: How the Torah Does It

  Our learners have been hard at work finishing their Rosh Pinah projects. Today we did a run-through of their presentations for each other, giving feedback and sharing things we liked. Wow, it’s amazing how much you learned, and you sounded really confident talking about it. I really do feel proud of myself after saying all of that. What you…

Holy Makom @ Home!

Makom @ Home started off our new unit, Holy Me!, with a holiness scavenger hunt, finding objects in each of our homes that are holy to us. We found so many different colors of objects that we made a holiness rainbow! Our first text says that because God is holy, each of us is too. Knowing this, we thought about…

Ritual and ConnectionRitual and Connection

This week we studied the Shema. We considered what it means to be charged with the mitzvot (opportunity to connect) of Shema. We thought all about rituals and mantras that support us in our everyday lives and worked together to come up with ways to enhance our experience doing repetitive rituals.  After coming up with a definition of mantra “something…

A Two Way PromiseA Two Way Promise

It has been so exciting to watch our Makom South Philly kiddos paint our Brit Mural. A brit is a two-way promise between learners and instructors as well as between the learners and each other. Learners have taken ownership of this project coming up with a list of expectations that are as unique and caring as the kiddos themselves.  In…

Our Relationship With NatureOur Relationship With Nature

This week, learners reflected on our environment, continued our appreciation for trees, and brainstormed what it would look like if the world around us was nurtured and cared for. Following the celebration of Tu Bishvat (the Jewish new year of trees) last Monday, the Garinim (kindergarteners) delved into an exploration of people’s relationship with trees and other parts of creation….

Our Responsibility To The EarthOur Responsibility To The Earth

Tu Bishvat higiya – the 15th of Shvat is coming Sunday night to Monday, January 16th-17th! It is time to celebrate the second of four Jewish New Year holidays, the birthday of the trees.  The Garinim (kindergartners) started off our week scavenger hunting around the classroom for Tu Bishvat facts. We read books about trees, created tree sculptures out of…

The Makom EcosystemThe Makom Ecosystem

This week we studied Gan Eden, (the garden of Eden) and considered the Olam (world) as a creation. Kiddos discussed our roles as partners in creation and considered what it means to be part of an ecosystem. As we looked at the parallels between Gan Eden and our world. We explored what it means to nurture the light around us…

Music Making At GreenfieldMusic Making At Greenfield

In order to keep all kiddos and staff safe, we held Jewish Enrichment outside at the Greenfield playground. At first, some kids were disappointed that we couldn’t be inside, which was totally understandable. But with a few layers and the excitement of the impending snow storm at the end of the week, kids were soon excited to sing Tefilah: prayer,…

Different Is GoodDifferent Is Good

This week we had the pleasure of being joined by Center City Makom educator Gaby Marantz. Upon meeting Gaby, one of our learners remarked, “Does everyone who works at Makom have dyed hair?” While brightly colored hair is certainly not a requirement for employment, we love that our team brings their full self to Makom with diverse backgrounds and perspectives….

Torah through the Generations

Makom @ Home wrapped up our first unit with a text from Pirkei Avot about the transmission of Torah through the generations. We talked about things that get passed down in our families: Speaking Russian Shabbat Jewish religion! On my dad’s side, my grandmother passed down jewelry. My dad’s grandma gave it to my mom. Some of us illustrated how…

Reflection On Nitzanim Unit 1 ShowcaseReflection On Nitzanim Unit 1 Showcase

For our first unit, “Love Your Neighbor,” Nitzanim (3rd, 4th and 5th graders) worked collaboratively for weeks to answer the question: “How might we practice loving our neighbors to cultivate a welcoming environment at Makom Community?”   Using the project based learning model, we started this process by brainstorming things that make us feel welcome like warm/bright colors, fun images and…

Our Holy NamesOur Holy Names

This week we considered a bit of text from the Amidah (a section of daily prayer.)  “You are holy, Your Name is holy, and holy ones praise Your name every day…”  When conceptualizing her connection to this text, one learner shared: “The earth is God’s museum.” Kiddos reflected on what these words mean through discussion, movement, and making. Together, we…

The Holiness of Names and Exploring PraiseThe Holiness of Names and Exploring Praise

When have you received praise? What was that like? How is that experience connected to holiness? Our text last week came from a tefilah (prayer) that said, “You [God] are holy, your name is holy, and holy ones praise your name every day” (Siddur Ashkenaz, Amidah). Here’s how the Garinim (kindergartners) unpacked it. What’s it like to experience praise, either…

The Holiness in OthersThe Holiness in Others

This week, our learners reflected on the ways our souls are absolute and part of people as a unique creation. We discussed what responsibilities come with being holy and having a soul, and empathized with the difficulties Moshe faced while communicating with Pharaoh and all of Bnei Yisrael (the Jewish people) while having a speech disability. In Garinim (kindergarteners) our…

Holy Souls In Dialogue Holy Souls In Dialogue 

This week we dug deep as we discussed what holiness means and how we can tap into it. We also began considering the concept of a soul which sparked a lot of amazing learning.  During Schulchanot Avodah kiddos were playing, talking, creating, and problem-solving. Two students worked together in a conversational exchange to learn about how they each thought about…

Exploring HolinessExploring Holiness

What is holiness? Where can we notice it in the world around us? Last week the Garinim (kindergartners) jumped into an exploration of holiness with a walk to find things that made us say “wow,” a handful of activities and experiments with light, and an artistic analysis of music. Kiddos LOVED getting to play with light on Tuesday. We made…

Welcoming PJDS to Makom South Philly! Welcoming PJDS to Makom South Philly! 

What a wonderful way to kick off the month of Tevet! Seeing some familiar faces and some new faces in our brand new space at Makom South Philly was such a joy. Kiddos joined us in the morning with such ruach.  We took a moment to get to know each other, sharing our names and interests before settling into snack….

The Holiness of ChanukahThe Holiness of Chanukah

Happy Chanukah! This week has been so joyous as we have gathered to light Chanukah candles as a community everyday. This week, each kevutzah reviewed the elements of the Chaunkah story and Chanukah traditions. The Garinim (kindergarten) started off last week with a brief overview of the Chanukah story, and then took a deep dive into the brachot (blessings) that…

Chanukah on S. Juniper St.Chanukah on S. Juniper St.

This week has been full of light and joy. We feel so blessed to have this beautiful space on S. Juniper St. to joyfully learn in, while we grow.  As we gathered outside for snacktime learning this week, the excited energy was palpable. We noshed on graham crackers and apples while kiddos shared what they know about Chanukah. We use…

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…

Brit Brainstorm!Brit Brainstorm!

It’s review week at Makom Community! We can hardly believe that we’re already a quarter of the way through our school year together.  The Garinim (kindergartners) spent last week revisiting the text from our first unit and brainstorming ideas for our classroom brit (two-way promise) from those texts. Here’s some of our ideas. From Leviticus 19:17-18, “You will not hate…

Lehitraot 13th St.Lehitraot 13th St.

We had an unexpected but welcomed day of Jewish Enrichment at our new location on S. Juniper Street this week. As we finish upon 13th street, we are saying lehitraot (goodbye for now) and gearing up for an exciting adventure at our new location.  On Monday, learners were excited to spend the afternoon exploring the new space. After getting our…

BMitzvah Update!BMitzvah Update!

Everyone is doing an awesome job learning to read trope and using what they already know to practice chanting their aliyot. I am really looking forward to our Torah Service next week! Continuing our exploration of tefilah in Rosh Pinah, we followed a 4 minute guided meditation by Alison Laichter, an innovator and leader in the world of Jewish meditation….

A Reflection On Different Kinds Of LoveA Reflection On Different Kinds Of Love

This week, our learners dug deeper into different kinds of love. We started with this bit of text: “All love that depends on something, [when the] thing stops, [the] love stops; and [all love] that does not depend on anything, will never stop” (Pirkei Avot 5:16).  In Garinim (kindergarteners), kiddos answered a few questions: What are some people or things…

(Un)conditional Love.(Un)conditional Love.

What a beautiful week, I am continuously amazed by your children’s thoughtful insights. This week we learned about conditional and unconditional love. Learners reflected on different kinds of love, what change means for love, and what unconditional love looks and feels like.  We sat down in the yard for snack at the beginning of the week and read Pirkei Avot…

Al Shlosha Devarim & Fun With Murals!Al Shlosha Devarim & Fun With Murals!

“Shimon Hatzadik (the righteous) said, ‘The world depends on three things to stand: Torah, connecting with something bigger than ourselves, and acts of lovingkindness’” (Pirkei Avot 1:1-2). Our Learners spent a day unpacking each of these elements, how the world depends on them, and how we can do them. The Garinim (kindergartners) explored acts of lovingkindness with a favorite book…

Gemilut Chasadim & Alef-Bet ExplorationsGemilut 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…

Community, Judgement, and CommunicationCommunity, Judgement, and Communication

What might happen to both ourselves and our communities if we separate ourselves from them? This week, we explored text from Sanhedrin 37a:15  saying, “If a person makes many coins from one stamp, they are all exactly alike. But even though God created every person using the stamp of the first human, not a single one of them is exactly…

When Are We Truly Connected?When Are We Truly Connected?

As we gathered outside for snack time learning this week, there was a sense of familiarity. The kiddos are getting comfortable with our routines and each other. This week students led each other through the expectations that we have collectively built. I asked: “during snack time learning, how many voices should we hear at a time?” The kiddos all held…

Community and Holiness

Makom @ Home started off our Fall session exploring what community means and what is holiness. We read a text from Leviticus about Bnei Yisrael (the Jewish People) being a community and being holy because God is holy. We started off our questions thinking about who is part of the Bnei Yisrael community while they were wandering in the desert…

Is Two Truly Better Than One?Is Two Truly Better Than One?

This week, we looked at the Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 text, “Two are better than one… for should they fall, one can raise the other; but oh no! for the one who is alone and falls with no companion to raise them!”  Garinim started off our learning on Tuesday with a trust fall activity. Kiddos had the opportunity to fall with a…

Welcoming Warm and Fuzzy Feelings!Welcoming Warm and Fuzzy Feelings!

Another beautiful week at Makom has come and gone. As we worked through themes of companionship, helping, and the mitzvah (commandment) of the essential Jewish prayer, Shema. I observed so many moments of growth and learning this week.  During snack time learning, we tested out our peace walk. Learners have been creating this resource to support problem-solving with agency when…

If Not Now…When?If Not Now…When?

With fall in the air and the High Holidays behind us, we were excited to experience this joyful five-day week with students! We explored Jewish wisdom around boundary setting, independence, communication, and the importance of treating others with kindness.  I was blown away by how much these kiddos already know about themselves and their needs. During shulchanot avodah students had…

Support and ConnectionSupport and Connection

This week as we considered how loving our neighbors shapes our relationships with ourselves, each other, and our world. Student’s displayed true examples of introspection, collaboration, and chesed (kindness). We sat together in the yard taking in the crisp fall air as we discussed different support systems. Learners talked about bridges and other physical support systems. Olivia and I made…

The Whole Torah On One Foot

Our Makom @ Home learners have been working hard and playing hard all month long! We have set out on “Textsploration” expeditions journeying through all the Fall Jewish holidays and singing songs about them too, including this one by Billy Jonas. Our last text for Simchat Torah, the holiday where we finish reading the end of the torah and start over…

Welcoming Sukkot in Our Sukkah!Welcoming Sukkot in Our Sukkah!

Sukkot is here! Our sukkah is up! Makom Community is ready celebrate with our neighbors and strangers! Last week, we explored the commandment to love our neighbors and this week, we unpacked it’s equally important counterpart: to love the stranger and treat them as one of our own people (Leviticus 19:33-34). The Garinim pondered questions like: Who is a stranger?…

Neighbors and Strangers in the SukkahNeighbors and Strangers in the Sukkah

This week we gathered in celebration of Sukkot and discussed pieces of the Torah related to concepts of neighbors, strangers, and welcoming. Learners shared wisdom with one another as we dug into questions which helped us unpack the relationship between ourselves and the world around us.   As we sat around tables underneath the sunshine inside the Sukkah, kiddos grappled with…

High Holidays and Beyond! High Holidays and Beyond! 

As we closed our learning about Rosh Hashanah last week, we began reflecting on ideas about Yom Kippur. Although September is full of short weeks, we are packing in all kinds of creative and engaging opportunities for joy and growth.  During these two weeks we have been discussing community, neighbors, how we treat one another, how we understand and rectify…

What Makes A Community?What Makes A Community?

During this short week of Jewish Enrichment in Center City, we shared our own Rosh Hashanah celebrations and gave thought to the question: what makes up a community? Some kiddos in Garinim thought that a community was: A school or afterschool A group of people, plants, and animals A school inside of a school How do we make a community?…

Jewish Enrichment Opens In South PhillyJewish Enrichment Opens In South Philly

Our first week of Jewish Enrichment has come and gone and what a week it has been. We are so lucky to have this special group of students in our very first year of Jewish Enrichment at Makom Community South Philly. Thank you for being part of our community and trusting us with your kiddos! This week our youngest learners…

Welcome Back to Jewish Enrichment in Center City!Welcome Back to Jewish Enrichment in Center City!

Welcome back to Jewish Enrichment at Makom Community! What a fabulous (and also semi crazy) first week of learning and playing with your kiddos. We started off our week with some name games, get-to-know-you-ing, and conversations about how to keep ourselves and each other safe and happy. We also started learning about the upcoming holiday, Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year)….

Nitzanim Unit 4 Showcase: Holy MomentsNitzanim Unit 4 Showcase: Holy Moments

The Nitzanim (3rd and 4th graders) presented their fourth and final showcase for the year! This unit’s big idea was holy moments, viewed through the text of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes). We focused on creating a Pinat Shalom (peace corner) for the Nitzanim classroom. We noticed that we needed a space to rest and relax, and a space to be in if…

Adventures with the ShabbackpackAdventures with the Shabbackpack

In pre-pandemic times, we welcomed Shabbat in what felt like the most natural way. Families would come together every Friday afternoon. We would sing songs, reflect on our week, and bring in Shabbat together. Importantly, this gave families the opportunity to truly connect with one another. Not just as parents of kids in the same class, but as valued members…

A Time for Learning, and a Time for ReviewingA Time for Learning, and a Time for Reviewing

Wow! The end of Unit 4 already! We can hardly believe how quickly this school year is rushing to a close. Last week we reviewed everything we learned from chapter 3 of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) and the associated commentaries. Here’s what each kvutzah (group) did to recap. Garanim The Garinim (preK and K kiddos) had so much fun reviewing and recapping…

Makom @ Home Makes Meaning of Time

Throughout Judaism, we have many traditions that bring markers to the points throughout our year. The seasons of the year are marked by holidays and festivals, the months are marked by each Rosh Hodesh or new month, and the moments of our day are broken down to morning and evening through times of day we have the opportunity to pray….

Taking a Holy Break with ShabbatTaking a Holy Break with Shabbat

Jewish tradition is one that marks holiness in time. One of the clearest examples of this is Shabbat. There are a myriad of ways we could approach and unpack Shabbat. Last week, our text guided us to, first and foremost, look at Shabbat as a way of keeping track of time. What does time feel like? Time feels faster when…

I Am as Important as the Whole WorldI Am as Important as the Whole World

I am the single most important entity in the universe. Also I am as significant as a speck of dust. Jewish tradition invites us to hold both these ideas about ourselves as simultaneously true. How can we manage that? And why would we want to? Two weeks ago, the text of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) invited us to wonder whether people were…

A Rosh Pinah Showcase to Remember

How good it is when we come together.    What greater joy is there to mark a new point in this strange year than with a moment where we can come together in person for some learning? It brings a smile to every one of our cohort’s faces when they get to share what they’ve learned and created with others. …

On the Nature of PeopleOn the Nature of People

What even are people? Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) argues that Earthlings should stop trying to associate themselves with God and just realize that they’re only as good as animals. Both end up the same: coming from dust and returning to dust (Kohelet 3:18-20). What do you think happens after people and animals die? Nothing. We become dirt and then plants. We will…

Leadership under scrutiny: When we make mistakes.

What is the difference between someone is chosen for a role or when they take on the role themselves?    We are working to understand leadership. When it comes to Beha’alotcha , our current parsha, we have ample opportunities to do so. Leadership makes mistakes, changes, and shows emotions in this parsha. Those emotions get in the way of idealized…

Who Controls Meaningful Moments?Who Controls Meaningful Moments?

The section of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) that we explored last week gave us a lot to unpack. The text makes a few big claims: 1. The stuff people earn as doers doesn’t have any value; the only things that are worthwhile are enjoying ourselves and doing good. 2. People have a vague idea of what “forever” means, but can’t actually grasp…

Seasons for a Reason!

What opportunities does having students on the east coast and west coast offer for our observation of and appreciation for nature? The nature around us is always changing with the seasons from Philly to California. With it, our experiences as a class have changed- the days have gotten shorter and longer, our class traditions have been created- from Shalom Chaverim…

Transitioning Between Holy MomentsTransitioning Between Holy Moments

“Every time and every thing has a season and a moment set for it under the sun” (Kohelet 3:1). Chapter 3 of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) opens with a well-known list of opposites – being born and dying, sewing and tearing, killing and healing etc. The Nitzanim (3rd and 4th graders) brainstormed a list of opposite times in our own lives. Like…

Looking ahead, looking back.

When we think about it, we are often poised towards the future. What will my next school look like? Will I have fun this summer? How long until my day is over? B’nai Yisrael (The Jewish People) is all about the future as they walk through the desert. They are headed towards one goal the land of Canaan. In the…

Holy Moment of Transition to Unit 4Holy Moment of Transition to Unit 4

How can we experience a moment in time as holy? Do they just happen, or do we get to make them? For our fourth and final curriculum unit of this school year, we’re digging into chapter three of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) to unpack the framework Jewish tradition provides to cultivate holy and meaningful moments. “Every time and every thing has a…

Noticing a world made for able bodies

What are the ways that we perceive other people’s bodies? As BMitzvah moves further along with Beha’lotcha, we came across a piece of text that punishes the body for misdeeds. Miriam and Aharon are found at the beginning of a chapter slandering Tziporah for being darker skinned than them. As a punishment, God gives Miriam a case of tzaraat (white…

You Deserve LoveYou Deserve Love

What could happen in a person’s life to make them just want to give up? “Watch a whole city NOT get destroyed” and “lose a new plant they had just received the day before” might not be the first answers you come up with. But that’s what happens for Yonah in the final chapter of his story. After watching God…

Nitzanim Unit 3 Showcase: Challenge and ResilienceNitzanim Unit 3 Showcase: Challenge and Resilience

Our Nitzanim (3rd and 4th graders) had a fabulous third showcase last week! Our learners created an art gallery inspired by the theme of challenge and resilience, and the texts of Megillat Esther (the story of Esther) and Sefer Yonah (the book of Jonah). Each student created two works of art on these themes. We had everything ranging from stop-motion…

Forgiveness and Second ChancesForgiveness and Second Chances

Sefer Yonah (the Book of Yonah) is all about second chances. Both Yonah and the whole city of Ninveh get a chance to try again – Yonah gets a second chance to do the prophecy work God instructs him to do; Nineveh gets a chance to fix its mistakes and survive another day.  How do we view second chances at…

Giving and Getting FeedbackGiving and Getting Feedback

It’s easy to respond defensively when someone comes to you with criticism! But that’s not what the people of Ninveh did when Yonah showed up prophesying their destruction. They did an impressive job of listening to Yonah’s criticism and using it to improve themselves. What is constructive feedback? Giving feedback in a helpful way, not just being mean. Criticism is…

Leading by ExampleLeading by Example

How can our leaders help guide us through challenges resiliently? In the third chapter of Sefer Yonah (the Book of Yonah), Yonah finally goes to Ninveh and warns the people that God will flip their city upside down in 40 days. The whole city, from the king all the way down the animals, dresses in sackcloth, sits down in ashes,…

Spring Break Camp: Olympics!Spring Break Camp: Olympics!

Spring Break Camp was so much fun this week! Our Olympics theme had us up and moving every day, learning about famous Jewish athletes, and exploring the themes of challenge and resilience in sports.  On Tuesday we learned about the Maccabiah Games, a historically Jewish competition created in the 1930s. Kiddos were so excited to make the connection of Maccabiah…