Now that the school year has really gotten underway, we have had an incredible week of thoughtful, engaging, exciting and meaningful learning. Here are some highlights from the week:
Kindergarten kicked off their Creation Unit with Day 1 – Light & Dark by creating art projects and playing sensory games to help them distinguish between light and dark.
First grade discussed the importance of forgiveness and explored this concept through water color.
Second grade enjoyed a theatrical performance of the Jonah Story by their teachers, Ellie & Naima, and then journeyed through three stations exploring different aspects of the story – Jonah being tossed into the sea (the same way some Jews traditionally toss out bread crumbs to symbolize misdeeds, a tradition known as Tashlich), reflecting on the experience of Jonah sitting in the belly of the big fish, and a drama holiday game to emphasize team building and communication skills that are necessary in becoming a prophet to the people.
Third grade learned a new expression, “Gmar Chatimah Tovah” which is a traditional saying before Yom Kippur, wishing to all that we are successfully sealed in the Book of Life for the upcoming year, and listened to traditional versions of “Kol Nidre“, a prayer that encourages each of us to keep our promises in the new year. The third graders found some of the more operatic versions of Kol Nidre very funny.
Fourth grade also explored the Jonah story, but focused their discussion on weighing your good deeds and bad deeds on an imaginary scale and the three traditional aspects of Yom Kippur: Teshuvah – repentance and changing one’s behavior, Tefillah – prayer, and Tzedekah – charity.
Fifth grade discussed and debated two traditional Yom Kippur prayers – Ki Hinei KaChomer and Ashamnu. The first prayer, Ki Hinei KaChomer, is a poem that imagines a human being as clay in the potter’s hands, each of us molding and reshaping ourselves for the year to come. The fifth graders used play dough to bring this image to life, by molding and creating a representation of themselves for the new year. The Ashamnu prayer gave the fifth graders an opportunity to write their own alphabetic acrostic version of the traditional prayer.
Sixth grade created their own Yom Kippur machzor based on traditional observances of the holiday, but added their own ideas to make the holiday more meaningful and personally relevant. They also poured over a text about teshuvah – repentance – and debated three real-life scenarios.
All grades had the opportunity to sing with Yoshie and certainly for me, it was a huge highlight of the week to watch how lively and engaged they all were while singing and dancing together as a class.
Wishing all of you a Gmar Chatimah Tovah!