The buzz for JLC this year is tremendous! We welcomed the new school year with a fresh new teaching staff, filled with experienced teachers who embrace our student-directed and experiential style of learning. As a result, all three of our JLC classrooms are filled with students eagerly working around the classroom on Hebrew and Judaic curriculum that engages the senses and entices students to learn using a variety of methods that are creative, fun, and modern.
Our K-1 classroom meets every Shabbat morning and is led by Morah Rachel, a favorite Shomrei Preschool teacher. In their first few classes, children worked with a large, handmade Torah scroll, placing scenes from Torah stories on the scroll and engaging in conversations about what is found inside the Torah. The students also created a giant classroom sukkah, placing real branches on top of an oversized cardboard box and decorating the sukkah from top to bottom. They had fun investigating what is needed to build a real sukkah, while taking turns sitting inside their classroom version. Children also explored the Hebrew letters Shin, Nun, Hay, which spell the Hebrew word for year, shanah.
Our 2nd-4th grade classroom meets every Wednesday afternoon and Shabbat morning and is led by Morah Anat and Morah Anat. The children love how their teachers share the same name, and they are convinced they must be sisters! (We promise, they aren’t!) Our “middle” classroom is off to a fast start, with students devouring Hebrew letters, creating Rosh HaShanah cards filled with Hebrew messages, and working on projects for all the fall holidays. They practiced writing and saying Hebrew words for the High Holidays, including d’vash (honey), tapuach (apple), and degel (flag). The children took turns learning to blow a shofar, and enjoyed a lesson on the meaning of this ritual. Last week, each student also worked to create their own sukkah, using real leaves to create the skach, or branches that serve as the sukkah roof. They also proudly made their own flags for Simchat Torah, and we hope you will bring them to celebrate with us next week on Thursday, Oct 12th in the evening. Both Morah Anats are assessing the students’ Hebrew levels, and they are receiving materials appropriate for their own ability. The teachers take turns working individually and in small groups to assist with Hebrew decoding and meaning.
Our 5th-7th grade classroom also meets every Wednesday afternoon and on Shabbat mornings and is led by Morah Yael. She instantly impressed the children with her love of cooking, and she continues to introduce the theme of Judaism around the world through a weekly cooking station. The cooking activities incorporate Jewish traditions from world Jewry, in addition to customs associated with the fall holidays. This past week, the students enjoyed making Mexican hot chocolate, which they learned has a connection to the Jews of Mexico and Yom Kippur! Did you know that 17th century Crypto-Jews living in Mexico adopted the ritual of drinking the popular Mexican beverage, in order to blend in to society. They would drink it at the start and end of their Yom Kippur fast.
Our oldest classroom has also been enjoying taking their knowledge of the High Holidays and delving deeper. For example, students were introduced to the meaning behind common Rosh HaShanah greetings, in Hebrew and Yiddish! They are also learning about the cycle of the holidays, matching them to their correct Hebrew months and discovering how this adds meaning to the rhythm of our Jewish world. The classroom buzzes with students working on individualized and group projects, and they are eager to approach the material. A highlight of last week included a lesson from Rabbi Greenstein on shofar blowing, and everyone enjoyed trying their skills on the Rabbi’s shofar.
High Holidays also provided a wonderful way to showcase the strong tefillah skills of our students in all grades. Morah Lily loves to highlight their davening skills in our High Holiday Hinei Mah Tov service, where different grades are called upon to lead various prayers. Our oldest students confidently ran the Torah service, which will help them not only for their approaching b’nai mitzvoth, but also as capable Jewish adults for the rest of their lives.
What an inspiring start to the new year! L’shanah Tovah!