May 20, 2024 |


Posted on January 22, 2017

Gesher is amazing!

Our exploration of the Jewish Life Cycle has included two very special guests.  We are grateful to Cantor Ken for discussing Bar/Bat Mitzvah with our students.  Following the cantor’s presentation, students expressed concerns about invitation lists and especially the possibility that they could drop the Torah during the Torah procession.  We discussed that being a Jewish adult meant many things including self-awareness and courage to know when to ask for help.  We are also grateful to Aaron Brandt for informing us about USY, USY on Wheels and other USY summer programs, and planting seeds about college life being Jewish on Campus.
In our study of the Parashat HaShavua (weekly Torah portion), we have completed the Book of Genesis discussing the idea of a moral compass and blessing one’s children. At the completion of Genesis, we find the children of Jacob living in Goshen and the stage is set for the events of Exodus.  At the beginning, our study of Exodus will not strictly follow the parshiot (portions) as we focus on Moses as a leader and the leadership qualities emphasized by the Torah and commentaries of:
·      Humility and curiosity-asking questions
·      Compassion, empathy, mercy
·      Sense of justice and morality
·      Courage to act according to moral criteria
·      Resilience and self restraint
Another highlight of the past few weeks was a special guest appearance by Eli Dershwitz Olympic fencer and TI member.  Students enjoyed meeting Eli and learning from him. Their Thank you note gives you a window into their experience:
Dear Eli,
Thank you for coming to the Temple Israel of Natick Religious School.  We think that it’s cool that you were in preschool and Hebrew School at TI and that you celebrated your Bar Mitzvah here.  Thank you for sharing your experiences as an Olympic athlete and for teaching us about fencing.  We learned that an outstanding athlete must start young, set goals and believe in him/her-self.  Most importantly, you reminded us to follow our dreams. 
The Gesher (7th grade) class
Today, our amazing Gesher students thought about their roles as maturing Jewish adults.  We discussed that one’s Jewish identity, belief and expression evolve during one’s life and students were encouraged to think about one or more Jewish values that they could commit themselves to now, including:
  • Belief in One God
  • Support for Israel
  • Living an ethical life
  • Torah study
  • Celebrating Shabbat and Jewish holidays
  • Having a Jewish home
  • Making the world better
  • Saying the Shema at bedtime
  • Being created in the image of God
  • Feeling connected to all Jews
After thinking about these values, we introduced the ipad i-movie trailer app and students experimented with the app in an effort to create an i-movie trailer about their selected value.  I can’t wait to see their movies!

And finally, our next mitzvah project is coming together.  We will be partnering with Temple member Daphne Blacker to develop greater awareness and support for Temple Israel’s JF & CS Family Table toilet paper collection.  While making jokes and puns about toilet paper is quite tempting, imagine having none.  Since, in part, leadership is about modeling the behavior, Gesher will be responsible to bring in 4-packs of toilet paper during the month of February in addition to developing a campaign to encourage others to do the same.