Dear Hey 1 & 2 Parents
Pesach has come and gone and we are writing our final update of the year. We hope that you enjoyed your sedarim and that your children participated and shared their knowledge about Pesach and the Haggadah with you.
Here are some of the things we have learned this year:
Our goal was to complete our Hebrew and Heritage book and we are on track for doing so by the end of our school year. We have added to our vocabulary and worked very hard on root words and other grammatical concepts. Reading was a strong focus throughout the year and we read and discussed many prayers such as: The Kiddushim, Torah Service, Ashrei, Aleinu, The Shema and Adon Olam. During our Hebrew studies we also had the opportunity to have many interesting discussions about Jewish traditions, laws, rituals and “tools” for Jewish living such as: mezuzah, Kiddush cup, Siddur, candlesticks etc.
Life Cycle, Commemorations and Celebrations
The end of the year is filled with commemorations and celebrations. We will speak about the Shoah, Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial day), Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day), Lag BaOmer and Shavuot. Additionally, we will speak about Bar/Bat Mitzvah. What is it all about and why is it important?
Torah -Text and Midrash
We started with the very beginning of Genesis and are going to conclude with the Joseph stories. In addition to many interesting discussions on the Ethics in the various stories, we also discussed many key concepts in Judaism like the Covenant, Brit Milah, marriage as it was then, and other life cycles that appear in the Book of Genesis. Throughout, an attempt has been made to show where Judaism differed and why. The Akeda (Binding of Isaac) was a particularly difficult text to confront, but I think I got the point across: In the surrounding cultures--especially the Canaannites--the sacrificing of children was practiced on a regular basis. The father of the family OWNED his children and could do what he wished with them. God’s message to Abraham was “Only God can decide who lives and who dies” and you are not allowed to offer your children as sacrifice. If you are interested in a wider discussion, I based that lesson on commentary by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks which is one of the newer and more comprehensible interpretations. A longer version this can be found in his article, The Binding of Isaac: A New Interpretation.
We are now at the juncture of Jacob being deceived by his uncle, Laban and that is a good lesson on “Mida k’neged Mida”-- just as Jacob deceived his father taking advantage of his blindness to steal the blessing that Esau was supposed to get, so Laban deceived Jacob, taking advantage of the veil (=blindness) during the ceremony to give him Leah instead of Rachel as his first wife. What goes around, comes around. Don’t you wish all of life was that clear?
We are studying about Israel using a very good book called “Atzeinu” We have covered the map of Israel and its different borders (pre and post 1967), the founding of the city of Tel Aviv, and are now studying about Jerusalem . We cover the new Jerusalem (West Jerusalem ) as well as East Jerusalem, as well as the government of Israel and how the Knesset works. We will explore as many of the wonderful sites of Israel as we can in our remaining time, always emphasizing that Israel is a country that they will probably visit when they are in high school or in college at least once (if not more) times in their lives.
It has been a pleasure working with your children this year. Thank you for partnering with us!
We wish you an enjoyable summer.
Mary and Susie