I can’t express to you enough how wonderful these first 2 and a half weeks have been!
We took off straight away, reviewing classroom expectations and establishing procedures.
More exciting-ly, we dove right in to our Jewish studies learning, since there is just so much to learn!
As school started, we ushered in the last month of the Jewish year, as well. We took an in depth look at the FIRST mitzvah that G-d commanded the Jewish people as a nation- keeping a Jewish calendar and consecrating each new month! 1st and second graders learned about the foundation of the Jewish calendar and how it revolves around the moon, rather than the sun. We discussed the importance of keeping a Jewish calendar and acted out how this was done in the ancient times.
Our fist JS assignment was a success, as each student created their own lunar cycle/ Jewish month picture diagram.
We also explored the significance and customs of the month of ELUL. ELUL is the month when we take stock of our deeds in preparation for the new year and “day of Judgement.” The students can tell you that, while the mitzvah of Shofar is really a mitzvah to be fulfilled on Rosh Hashana itself, the Jewish people have adopted the custom of sounding the shofar each day in the month of Elul as a wake up call and reminder to do TESHUVA, or “return” (to G-d and) the best selves that we can be.
Each child thought of one thing that they can do to bring themselves one step closer in anticipation of the new year. We debated about the best manner in which to choose “new year resolutions” and concluded that it was best to stick with one resolution at a time. We also discussed that this is not simply an in class exercise but something that we really try to follow up on each day. Ask them about it!
Lastly, we have begun our unit on BECHIRAH, our power to make our own choices. We discussed the gift of BECHIRAH and how it differentiates us from other forms of life, such as animals, why we were given this responsibility, and how it shapes us, our lives, and our world.
The kids are loving our “choose your own adventure” book that is helping us understand this important Jewish concept. Our “POWER TO CHOOSE” will be a year long project in Jewish studies class.