The annual Sunday School Model Passover Seder was just the right mix of seriousness and fun. The tables were decorated with pyramids made by Rachel Rockwell’s 2/3 class, and the ritual foods were beautifully laid out by Lisa Sullivan and her team of parent volunteers. The Seder itself was planned and led by volunteer guest teacher Jenny Ginsberg, who visited each classroom to give kids their parts. Everyone got a chance to participate in reading and song. The 2/3 kids enjoyed showing the audience special Passover foods. Taffy’s K/1 class provided entertainment with a rousing rendition of the frog song. The two oldest classes read the Humanistic interpretation of the Passover story. After the final Dayenu, we ate!
In addition to the Model Seder, Passover was the theme in most of the classrooms for the month of April, except in the Mitzvah class where Saul Haffner led a discussion of Humanistic Judaism and belief in God. Read more in the teacher’s own words below.
Kesef (Taffy- K/1)
4/3 - We covered Passover, retold the story, talked about the symbols and the songs. I hope that when your kids have a Seder with family and friends it will all seem very familiar! You should ask them some questions about the story and the meaning of the Seder. I think you will be surprised.
In the forth coming sessions we will be learning about Israel. We will be looking at pictures and talk about life there now for kids their age.
Zahav (Rachel – 2/3)
4/3 - Passover and the story of Exodus was our theme today.
To begin class, we reviewed our parts for the Model Seder next week. We will be introducing the items on the seder plate.
Following this, I read from the children's bible. As always when we discuss the bible stories, we spoke about how we cannot know whether any of the stories are true or not. However, what is important is the lessons that we can learn from the stories. We read from baby Moses being left in the reeds all the way to Mt Sinai and the 10 commandments.
Some of the lessons that the children drew from the stories were (their ideas/suggestions):
4/3 - This past week at Sunday School we welcomed a new classmate, Leandro, whose family has just joined CHJ. (He had visited last week.)
We then reviewed the story of Passover. We looked at our timelines to find the holiday's context in Jewish history and we talked a little about myths and legends, what they are and why they arise.
Because some of the kids in the class are very familiar with the story and others have no background in it at all, I tried to find an activity that would make our review fun. What I came up with was a team version of hangman. We divided the class into two teams who took turns guessing the letters of a mystery word associated with the holiday. However, before they could guess, they had to answer a question about how Passover came to be. If a team did not answer the question correctly, the question was passed to the other team. I made sure there were veteran CHJers on each team, so both teams got most of the questions correct -- and the newer kids got to hear the story of Passover.
At several points in the game, we took time-outs to discuss some big questions -- such as how the various legends associated with the holiday might have come to be and what it meant to be a slave in Egypt.
In Hebrew, Mrs. Snow reviewed several Hebrew words associated with the Passover holiday and then focused on the letter "aleph."
4/10 - This past Sunday we had a short class before our lovely Model Seder and we spent the time rehearsing our parts of the service. I'm sure that those of you who were there will agree that the kids did a great job reading the four questions and telling the history of the holiday.
In the time that remained, we reviewed the symbolism of the seder plate and talked about some Passover customs around the world. (Did you know that in Iran, it's customary to whack the person on your left with a scallion -- to memorialize the whipping of the slaves? Or that some people grind a little bit of actual brick dust into their charoset to commemorate the bricks made by the slaves?).
Mitzvah (Donna & George)
4/3 - We had a most interesting and thought-provoking class last Sunday, when we invited long-time CHJ member Saul Haffner into our classroom to talk about Humanistic Judaism and its relationship to God. Or, at least his relationship as he sees it. But also how Humanistic Judaism articulates that relationship. Our students were engaged and asked very good questions. Saul, for his part, described his experiences growing up and what he believes for himself. He, at no time, told our students what to accept. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Saul emphasized that they are going to have to make decisions for themselves. Donna and I think it was a very good conversation.
After that, our students had a brief Hebrew lesson and then we continued our discussion about immigration.
Link to article and more Westport News photos of CHJ's Purim celebration.
Below, Pied Piper music teacher Dylan Cotton leads Sunday school children down to Bedford Middle School's cafeteria.
Thanks to photographer Mike Lauterborn for documenting the party.