January 20, 2021 |
Posted on October 30, 2017
“Alef is silent-just say the vowel” and “Mem has two mountains”! Our two new letters, and the “EE” vowel, which is of course colored green, have expanded our ability to read and make new words. We used our letter reading with partners and learned how to write the Mem and Alef. We also learned the that when the letter Mem appears at the end of a word it is called a final Mem, looks different and and never has a vowel.
In our Torah studies we discussed the difference between stories from the Torah and Midrash, which are stories which help explain the Torah stories or fill in gaps in the stories. We read “Adam and Eve’s First Sunset” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and imagined what it might have been to see the sun disappear without knowing that it would return. In the book Adam and Eve create fire to warm themselves-the kid’s loved that detail.
We also read Eric Kimmel’s “Why the Snake Crawls on Its Belly” about the snake, Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. We discussed who was ultimately responsible for the events leading up to the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The students were able to attribute responsibility to all of the players; the snake for tempting Eve, Eve for tempting Adam and Adam for giving in. Two students thought that God was ultimately responsible for putting all of the pieces in place which led us to wander about making decisions and personal responsibility.
We then tackled another question which I have heard Rabbi Kushner ask: Were Adam and Eve better off living in the Garden of Eden where everything was provided for them, or in the wider world where they had to fend for themselves? Once again opinions varied, with some of the students thinking it would be wonderful in the Garden to live a carefree life while others thought the challenge of being self sufficient was a much better way to live. We ended the discussion comparing Adam and Eve living in the Garden of Eden to small children having all of their needs met, and living outside of the Garden as children growing and learning for themselves. One student was concerned that Adam and Eve still needed God to teach them how to do things and I suggested that perhaps that is the role of the Torah.
During these discussions we stress that there are no right or wrong answers and encourage everyone to share their opinions. I am impressed at how respectful the students are to their classmates as they share their ideas.
We sent a package of “Stars of Hope” created earlier in the year to a Temple Beth Shalom in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The students were curious about the synagogue so we googled it. On their website we read that they are only using the building for Shabbat services so we wrote that we hope they enjoy the stars on Shabbat mornings. (I did not share any of the other details about the situation the synagogue and what the needs of it and it’s congregants are). Everybody was hopeful that the stars would bring some comfort to the people who would see them.