Tishrei is my favorite month of the year. It contains my favorite Jewish Holidays, it falls during my favorite time for weather (autumn), and it provides so many opportunities for celebration. As we approach the beginning of this new year of 5777, I will challenge all of you, as I have in the past, to think about your “new years resolutions” for this year. This year however, let’s make them uniquely Jewish. We can save our weight loss goals and exercise aspirations for the secular New Year – I mean, who wants to try to loose weight during a Jewish Holiday season anyway? So, over the next couple of blog posts, I’m going to challenge you to make some commitments that I think are uniquely Jewish.
This week’s challenge – Choose to be Authentic
This past July, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a Jewish educational conference in Chicago. Of course, I learned a ton about new ways to educate our youth and the overall synagogue community. I heard incredible music and met some really amazing people. But the trip had an unintended consequence as well. Maybe it was because I was particularly vulnerable, we’d just lost our dog of 12 years the day before I left, but whatever the reason, I found myself doing some incredible soul searching while I was there. I kept asking myself, am I being authentic? What does that even mean? What does being Jewish really mean to me? Is it celebrating Shabbat, bringing my kids to religious school, having a mezuzah on my doorpost? I found that it was deeper than that for me. There are certain things that make me who I am. My love for the outdoors, bluegrass music, and home cooked meals. My intense faith in God and the comfort that I receive from prayer. These are all part of what makes me the Jew that I am. I think all of us come to Judaism with different goals, different expectations, different beliefs. At Temple Or Rishon, we have created a place where people of different beliefs and levels of observance can feel comfortable and fit in. We respect each other and I think we do a pretty good job of reserving judgement. The challenge that I find is making sure that I am being true to the things that make me who I am inside, while expressing my love for Judaism and living a life that God would deem righteous – in short, being an Authentic Awesome Jew.
I work at a synagogue. I am surrounded by the symbols of my faith every day. But how I embrace those elements and live my life outside of my job is what makes me authentic. Are you being authentic? How can we help you to be the Authentic Awesome Jew you are meant to be? Think about it.
++++++++++ Announcements ++++++++
Wednesday, September 21 – 6:30pm Hebrew School
Wednesday, September 21 – 6:30pm Teen OR
Saturday, September 24 – 6:30pm Selichot Dinner, 8pm Selichot Service – prepare for the High Holy Days with this wonderful community service.
Sunday, September 25 – 9am Religious School
Sunday, September 25 – 11am – Annual School Fundraiser Meeting – We need your help to plan the annual school fundraiser!
I need people to sign up for the many opportunities to help out this year. Please follow this link http://signup.com/go/kM8rfz to sign up to help!
++++++++Religious School Update ++++++++
Our youngest learners spent time this week learning about the Hebrew letters, Alef and Bet. They discovered that Grover from Sesame Street is learning Hebrew too! The kids also started talking about the High Holy Days and learned that it is a good time to say your sorry for things you might have done wrong. They played a “hot potato” game with a toy shofar. If they ended up with the shofar when the music stopped, they thought of something they were sorry for and practiced saying they were sorry. We had fun singing songs with Carol and our 1st and 2nd grade friends as well.
Our 1st and 2nd grade class learned about the symbols of Rosh Hashanah this week. They made an apple craft and learned about dipping apples in honey for Rosh Hashanah. Then they heard the story of King Solomon. They made a neat bee from yarn and cardboard and learned the Hebrew word for bee – d’vora and talked about its similarity to the Hebrew word for honey – d’vash.
Ask your child about the story of Solomon and have them tell you what the different symbols of the new year are
Ms Erica was able to start with her Shalom Learning lessons this week. The kids learned about Teshuvah. They learned about how the High Holy Days are celebrated in Israel and compared them to the United States. The lesson is very interactive with music and videos. Ask your child to tell you about what they learned this week. In addition, see if they can tell you the different commands they have been learning in the Hebrew Through Movement curriculum. They all know what to do when Ms. Erica tells them to sit down or stand up in Hebrew!
Morah Sara’s class also started with Shalom Learning this week, learning about Teshuvah. They have been learning a lot about Hebrew as well. Ask them to show you what they have written in their composition books and to tell you about each of the words. Remember to have them bring their notebooks back to class each Wednesday and Sunday!
The 5th grade also moved to the computer lab this week and had a pretest to gauge their Hebrew proficiency. We are hoping to have all of the bugs worked out of the lab by this coming Sunday so the students can begin the online instruction element of our program. I truly believe that the 1:1 and 2:1 ratios of students to madrichim is going to help tremendously with our Hebrew program in 5th and 6th grade this year.
In Barry’s class, the students learned more about the Jewish calendar and compared it to the traditional secular Gregorian calendar. They also spent time talking about the meaning of the Ein Kamocha prayer. Barry began his pre-assessment of the students to measure their Hebrew proficiency. The students also spent time in the new lab, practicing their Hebrew with the madrichim.
As you go through this week, ask your 6th grader the following questions to continue the learning.
What is the name of the prayer that we express G-d’s uniqueness? (Ein Kamocha)
What is the main difference between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars? (Moon vs. Sun)
What is G-d’s most precious gift to the Jewish people? (Torah – 5 Books of Moses) Why?
This week, Avi was able to start working on the prayers with the students. It is extremely important that students practice their prayers nightly. As they begin their preparation for Bar/Bat mitzvah, nightly practice is essential. Each student should have a CD with the prayers and a paper copy of the prayer packet. In addition, all of the prayers can be found on this website, click on the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Prayers tab above for audio recordings of every prayer.
The students are also working on completing their wimple squares. Rachel will be in class one more week to help the students with their designs. Please email her if you have any additional questions. firstname.lastname@example.org