July 20, 2024 |


Posted on October 22, 2017

After a month of holidays, Columbus Day, and our first “Service Sunday” (last Sunday at Temple Beth Am), the Gesher class came together today in our own space to begin our (Sunday morning) curriculum in earnest.  We set up our binders, labeled the dividers and explored the concept of cycles.  One student noticed a poster illustrating the life cycle of a pumpkin.  Another was excited to highlight sports cycles.  We brainstormed the Jewish life cycle and looked at Pirkei Avot 5:21.  Two thousand years ago the rabbis, developed the lifetime of a Jewish person:
At 5, one is ready to study Torah
At 10, one is ready to study Mishnah
At 13, one is ready to observe the mitzvoth
At 15, one is ready to study the Talmud
At 18, one is ready for the marriage canopy
At 20, one is ready to earn a living
At 30, one is at the peak of strength
At 40, one has wisdom
At 50, one is ready to give counsel
At 60, old age creeps in
At 70, fullness of years
At 80, the age of strength (gevurah)
At 90, the body is bent
At 100, it is as if one is dead
Some say that the rabbis created three stages of life: youth, adulthood and old age, and ascribed certain expectations or qualities to each milestone within the stages.  We were intrigued by the idea of marriage at 18 and prior to livelihood.  And we noticed that even 2,000 years ago, the rabbis had a concept of living to 100.
Bar Argaman, our Israeli friend, taught us about Gilaad Shalit.  In 2006, Shalit, a 19 year old soldier in the Israeli army (IDF), was kidnapped by the Hamas militants. They held him captive in Gaza for 1,941 days.  The Israeli government was finally able to negotiate his release but had to free 1,027 Palestinians in exchange for Shalit.  On October 18, 2011, Shalit was returned to his family. 

Students were amazed that Israel was willing to give up over a thousand prisoners for one soldier and gained a new respect for how much Israel cares for and values each soldier.