I hope that you all had a relaxing and meaningful Pessach!
Hopefully, your child was able to share with you some of the many things we learned in 1st grade JS about this special holiday of freedom. Our main focus for 2nd grade was learning about Passover as Chag HaAviv, holiday of Spring. The holiday is not called this simply because it falls out in the season of spring, rather it is a fundamental part of the holiday and its meaning! Even more so, we see that the holiday, according to the lunar cycle (which is how the Hebrew calendar is set up), would NOT always fall out in the spring! It is actually BECAUSE the Torah tells us that the holiday of Passover must fall out in spring that we add leap years to the Jewish Calendar, so that we can ensure the holiday always falls out in the right season! So why is Passover so closely tied with Spring, you may ask? Both Passover and spring embody the power of re-birth and renewal. We spoke about these concepts in Judaism, specifically with regard to trusting in Hashem, never giving up, and Teshuvah.
We are now gearing up for Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s independence day, which is right around the corner! It was fascinating to zoom through the lifetime history of the land of Israel (when it was still called “Cana-an”) and the Jewish people, starting with Abraham. We spoke about Israel throughout all the years leading up to 1948, when Israel was re-Established as the Jewish state, only 70 years ago! The students were fascinated by the long connection we have had with the land of Isreal, a connection that did not die even with years of separation between us Jews and the land. Our first grade focus is to learn about daily life in Modern Israel. We will also review some basics from last year, such as the flag and map of Israel.
At the same time, we are focusing on the special time we are in, the 7 weeks between Passover and Shavuot. This time is called Sefirat Haomer. This is the time when the Jewish people traveled through the dessert towards Har Sinai to receive the 10 commandments and accept the Torah. We are exploring how we can prepare to receive the Torah
Lastly, 1st graders got to participate in a unique and widely unknown mitzvah-Blessing the trees. There is a special blessing one can say only in the current month of NISSAN, also knows as the month with the holiday of Spring. The blessing is said on at least one, but preferably 2 blossoming fruit trees. We discussed the text of the Blessing and took time to appreciate the wonderful gifts of Hashem.
Then we went outside where we are lucky to have not one but 2 different trees of the special 7 fruits of Israel. We learned about these “shivat Haminim” earlier in the year.
Sunday is the last day of Nissan, should you want to take the opportunity to say this special blessing of Thanks.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
שֶׁלֹּא חִסַּר בְּעוֹלָמוֹ כְּלוּם וּבָרָא בוֹ בְּרִיּוֹת טוֹבוֹת וְאִילָנוֹת טוֹבוֹת לֵהָנוֹת בָּהֶם בְּנֵי אָדָם.
Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, Who has made nothing lacking in His world, and created in it goodly creatures and goodly trees to give mankind pleasure.
Wishing you a Chag Haatzmaut Sameach!