Model Seder Precedes April Break.
Our annual Model Seder brought the whole school together with its families to celebrate Passover. All the students participated by reading from the haggadah, lighting candles, and singing Passover songs. Taffy’s Kesev class performed the Frog Song on stage to the delight of the audience. The Pre-Mitvah class read from a haggadah it wrote. The four questions focused on the promotion of peace and why we humans often fail to achieve it. The plagues were “global warming, war, bullying, unhealthy food, disease, ignorance, unemployment, animal extinction, racism/sexism, and unfair trade.”
We drank juice and tried ceremonial foods such as matzah and parsley during the service and then enjoyed a larger spread provided by the families, including sweets! Thank you Lisa Sullivan for organizing the food table and setting the Seder tables, Jenny Ginsberg for preparing the kids for their parts and leading the Seder, and all the parents who helped set up and clean up. We impressed a few guests at this event and are hoping for some new members!
Pre-Mitzvah (Marnie - 4/5)
Today's recap is a quick one. As a class we made charoset and reviewed the symbols on products that identify them as being kosher for Passover. Then we joined everyone for the Model Seder, where we finally shared our class haggadah.
Mitzvah (Rachel -6/7)
Today we continued our unit on Israel with the BBC's documentary on the subject. Some students got into a lively debate while discussing the United Nations division of Palestine and whether it was a fair deal for both sides. Following this we had the Passover Seder.
When not Covering Holidays, Classroom Discussion Focuses on Jewish Patriarchs, History and Art.
Whether celebrating Purim or preparing for Passover, the kids spent much of their time on holidays this month. The little ones (Kesef - K/1 and Zahav – 2/3) are just learning the meanings of the symbols, stories, songs and traditions. The middle ones (Pre-Mitzvah – 4/5) are writing and illustrating their own Hagaddah. The big ones (Mitvah – 6/7) showed of their knowledge of the holidays by playing a form of Trivial Pursuit.
Just in time for Passover , Zahav learned about the patriarchs Jacob and Joseph and how the Jews found themselves in Egypt. The Mitvah class continued to study modern Jewish history and looked at the Holocaust and Jewish segregation through the eyes of Jewish artists. So, this month wasn’t all fun and games.
Scroll down to read more in the teachers' own words.
Shalom Sessions Feature Jewish Art, Purim Party and Tzedakah.
The Shalom sessions this month began with Rachel Rockwell’s sampling of Jewish art . “I chose to focus on art of the 20c, including Marc Chagall, Rube Goldberg, George Segal, Louise Nevelson, Robert Frank and Ida Applebroog. Following a group discussion, our Mitzvah class students each became the facilitators of a discussion with 1 or 2 of the young students about artworks made by Jewish artists. The majority of interpretations that the students (of all ages) offered were that Jewish artists make art that can speak to and relate to all people, not just those who are also Jewish.”
The next session was the Purim party, which was featured in the Westport News (http://www.westport-news.com/news/article/Congregation-for-Humanistic-Judaism-celebrates-3398225.php).
We ended the month with the Book and Bake sale. Under the leadership of Emily Snow and Julian Garrison, both Sunday Schooi graduates in 2010, the Teen Tzedakah club raised $460.The money will go to Nothing But Nets, a non-profit organization that provides mosquito nets to people primarily in Africa and has the goal of ending malaria deaths by 2015.
Kesef (Taffy - K/1)
During the month of March, we have been talking about the holiday of Purim. We have discussed the people involved, the bravery exhibited by Esther, and all the details, so that the children would be ready to participate, understand and fully enjoy the Purim party.
We have begun reading about and discussing Passover. I want them to be familiar with the symbols and order of events in the story so they can be active at their Passover Seders.
[We made Matzah covers the last time we met.] We will use them in our model Seder, and the kids can then take them home to use with family and friends.
Zahav (Batia - 2/3)
3/4 - We started the day with Purim songs: “My Hat It Has Three Corners” (and the Hebrew version La Cova Sheli); (Oh Once There Was…) “A Wicked Wicked Man”; “You Can Change the World”; “Chag Purim” (and Purim Day, the English version). The kids enjoyed playing instruments to drown out Haman’s name. We also did Debbie Friedman’s “Alef-Bet Song” and “Hinei Ma Tov”.
In class I read the picture book Queen Esther Saves Her People (retold by R.G. Gelman, illus. F. Lessac). This took up most of the class time, as we wove discussion about Purim into the reading. During a lingering snack in the pod, the kids played a board game called “Road to Shushan” that helped solidify the plot events they learned about earlier from the Book of Esther. I found it online—in case anyone who missed it wants to play, you can print it out:http://www.cajestl.org/documents/RoadtoShushanboardgame_000.pdf
After class we went to the Shalom Session in the older kids’ pod and participated in a presentation on 20th century Jewish artists.
Next week we will be making cartoon megillah scrolls (of the Book of Esther)—so don’t miss it! I also hope to see everyone in costume for the Purim party (held at the end of class). Also, please bring a grogger or box of mac ‘n’ cheese to shake at the Purim shpiel.
Today we talked briefly of the tradition of sending “shalach manot” to friends on Purim. Shalach (or ‘mishloach’) manot are baskets (or boxes, or bags) of treats (like hamentaschen, candy, wine/grape juice) that Jewish people send to others at this time of year.
3/11 - We started class by reviewing the Torah stories that we have read so far, up to the lives of Isaac and Rebecca. Then I invited a special guest storyteller, Zoe’s father/my husband Avi, to tell about the life of Jacob, the next in line of the Jewish patriarchs. Avi told about Isaac and Rebecca’s twins Jacob and Esau and their personality struggles from the womb to young adulthood, when Jacob tricks his brother out of his birthright. Avi also told of Jacob’s fleeing to Haran, his dream of the heavenly ladder, his falling in love with Rachel and Laban’s tricking him to marry Leah, his wrestling with an angel that named him “Israel”, and finally his return to Canaan. It was a lot of material to cover, so this worked out well; (as I am recovering from laryngitis and) Avi made the stories come to life. (If any other good sTORAH-tellers/parents want to volunteer, please step forward!)
After the Torah stories, over snack we did a couple of worksheet activities in the pod to review what we had heard about. Then after snack, we made cartoon megillahs. Each child brought this home, so please look it over with them. On one side of the scroll are pictures from the story of Esther, and on the back of each is a sentence about it. Unwind the scroll to read the story together! Feel free to color it in!
3/25 - After singing Passover songs with Jenny [our resident Model Seder leader] in the pod, the kids came into the class-turned-movie theater. We spent almost the entire time watching the animated feature "Joseph: King of Dreams". I introduced this Torah story by reviewing the other stories we have already covered about the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs. At some points, I had to fast forward to fit the movie into our class time; at other times I paused it for comments. The movie explains how the Jews of Canaan ended up in Egypt. It is available on Netflix ('watch now') for those who were absent. If anyone can have their child watch the movie about Moses "The Prince of Egypt" before Passover, it is a good one too. Next week we will review the Passover story and make afikomen covers to use at the model seder and take home, but class time will be just one hour long because the seder starts at 10:30.
3/4 - Lucy Katz joined our class today to help us get ready for what will be our next big project, creating a class Haggadah. We talked about the theme of our Haggadah, the parts we want to include, and why we are writing our own version of a Haggadah. It was just G today, so he helped us decide a direction that he thinks will work for the class. He chose a modern theme that focuses on peace. We decided to focus on 4 things so each child can work on their own page. Our class Haggadah will include; the four questions, the four children, a version of the modern plagues and a modern Seder plate. In the next two weeks we will finalize what each page will look like and create that page.
3/11 - We started by reviewing the ideas that G came up with last week for our class Haggadah. We then discussed what they consider to be the 10 modern plagues. We also discussed the answers to our four questions from the last class. Each student picked a page to work on as their part of our class Haggadah. Finally, they individually worked on the text and design of their page. Next class they will illustrate their pages, create a cover and finalize our class Haggadah to showcase at our Sunday School seder.
3/25 - We started the day with everyone in the pod to learn/sing Passover songs. Then we went to our pod where Mrs. Snow began with a Hebrew lesson. After that everyone took their Haggadah page and finished it. Everyone illustrated their page, Hannah illustrated a page showing the Seder plate and we finalized our class Haggadah. Next week we will showcase our Haggadah at our Sunday school seder.
3/4 – Today began and ended with one of my favorite topics, Jewish art.
We opened class by discussing art made in reaction to the Holocaust. The selections we looked at included the representational and more abstract. Of the artists I chose for us to look at included George Segal's "Holocaust", Susan Hiller's "J. Street Project", selections of the Morris Louis series "Charred Journals, Firewritten", Peter Eisenmen's, "Memorial to the Murdered Jew's of Europe" and Anselm Kiefer's "The Unborn". The last piece is part of the Yale Art Gallery's permanent exhibit, for those interested in viewing the piece in person.
The student's discussion made wonderful, diverse observations and connections about all of the pieces. Below is one example:
About Hiller's J Street Project, students discussed how we believed people would react if there were streets in Fairfield County named for different racial, religious and ethnic groups. Would the streets be renamed or would we keep the older names, now know to be inappropriate and offensive? How would we feel personally?
(If you are unfamiliar with Hiller's Project, she was in Berlin when she saw a sign indicating "Jews Street". On further investigation, she found 303 such places in Berlin. Her work is a photographic series of these places.)
Following this discussion, Rachel D. led a discussion about the NY Times article printed last week. It spoke of a Jewish American hockey player who has gone to play on the German National team.
3/11 - As it was Purim, and the mitzvah class has been a fairly serious place of late; I decided to lighten up the atmosphere. The students broke into two groups, boy and girls. Each group spent an hour on each of the following activities:
1-Board game loosely resembling a Jewish Trivial Pursuit. The questions were divided into 3 categories: Purim, Passover, and TuB'Shvat / Miscellaneous. It was a fun way to brush up on facts from the stories of Esther and Exodus, as well as questions about everything from Who is Sherwin Wine? to What is a Yarmulke?
2-Creating a banner for decoration at the Passover seder.
And of course this was followed by the Purim party.
3/25 - Since the 2/3 class had the projector today, we went old school, reading from books. Can you imagine?
In The Story of the Jews, we read from 1800-1900 about European anti-semitism, Theodore Herzel and the birth of Zionism. We then continued on until we reached the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Everyone took turns reading and answering questions. Next week we will continue with the birth of Israel before the Passover seder.
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.