School’s out, but is it really? I am excited to share with you the initiative of our Religious School for the summer of 2020, our “Summertime Bag of Fun” program. Each family received a gift bag (delivered to their homes while social distancing) filled with four hands-on activities and associated craft supplies. Two Sundays in June and two Sundays in July we are gathering on Zoom to enjoy sharing the finished projects with our friends and learning together. Four recognizable Jewish symbols are the triggers for our learning: Tree of Life, Hamsa, Chai and Star of David.
In our discussions about Jews Around the World, we are learning about our own family trees. What are our Jewish roots? What stories do our families have to share with us about our own history throughout the generations? Students are creating their own family trees and grappling with the concept of Torah as a “Tree of Life” which narrates our collective story as a family of Jews.
The Hamsa has become a popular and trendy symbol around the world. Originating in Middle Eastern culture, the hamsa is understood as an amulet of protection from the “evil eye.” What place does superstition have in Jewish culture? How are Jews from around the world different and alike? What are the terms Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrachi?
The third symbol we investigate is the “Chai” or the Hebrew word for Life. The chai is composed of two Hebrew letters. The chet is the eighth letter of the alefbet and the yud is the tenth. Added together it makes 18, which has become a significant number in Jewish culture. We often give charitable donations in multiples of 18 (36, 54, 90, etc.) or with the number 18 in the amounts ($18, $118, $180, $1800, etc.) Our students are familiar with the custom of giving tzedakah. We will discuss how the tzedakah collected throughout the past school year will go to two worthy organizations, one local (Indian River Food Pantry and one in Israel, Leket, which also brings food to the hungry.
Lastly, we will investigate the Magen David, Star of David. After designing their own star, we will discuss how this symbol came to be the most recognizable symbol in Jewish culture. Who was David, anyway? What significance can we give to the six points of the star? How does it make you feel when you see it displayed?
The Summertime Bag of Fun offers students a chance to express their creativity and is a stepping off point to conversations exploring Jewish identity and diversity. This, along with Zoom story time, giggling and socializing, will keep our families connected this summer.
Tot Shabbat virtual services for ages five and under is July 31 and August 28 at 5:30pm.
We now offer a virtual Family Shabbat geared to students ages six and up on July 17 and August 14 at 5:30pm.
We begin the 2020-2021 Religious School academic year in a hybrid fashion. Some classes will be on Zoom and some will be on campus. We will communicate this to our families as decisions are made. Our first Sunday back is August 23 on Zoom. We plan to meet on campus (if all goes well) on Sunday, August 30.
Stay safe and enjoy the summer!
Mindy Lessem Pollack