June 19, 2024 |


Posted on January 28, 2018

Today was a day of stories, story telling, texts and tastes.  We began with the story of a middle school boy who was arrested for selling Ritalin for recreational use. The parents at his Hebrew school wanted him expelled claiming that he was a bad influence on the other children.  The rabbi countered that perhaps the influence of good people and Torah values could change him for the better.  Our students discussed the story and came to their own thoughtful conclusions then considered rabbinic texts on the subject. 
Gesher students loved learning with Robin Kahn this morning.  She was our very special guest teacher guiding them in an exploration of Jewish education as part of the Jewish life cycle.  In their thank you note to her, they said: We are grateful to your for teaching us about education and that Jewish education should be as sweet as honey.  We are also grateful to you for coming to our class and talking with us.  We wonder why people chose honey to be the sweet thing? And we wonder who came up with the idea of having kids eat the honey from Hebrew letters? We wonder about the meaning of that problematic text (Mishnah Torah 2:1)?  We wish that a city would not be excommunicated even if it did not have Torah scholars.
We wish that you’ll come back to Gesher and do more fun activities with us.  We wish that you’ll return and share more your knowledge.
Later in the morning, the students heard and wondered about a Torah Godly Play story by Rabbi Sandy Sasso.  In her Tu B’Shevat story, having traversed a wide, hot, dry desert, a man is tired, hot and thirsty.  He finds a tree and after enjoying the comfort of her shade, her sweet fruit and the cool refreshing water flowing beside her, he wishes to express his gratitude by blessing her.  Recognizing that she is already blessed with sweet fruit, lush branches and cool water; he says, “May all the offshoots taken from you be like you.”   Many years pass, and this man, now old, is walking along with a sapling. Some children are running along his path and find him.  They wonder what an old man is doing planting a sapling after-all, it is unlikely that he will live to enjoy its fruit.  He responds, “As my ancestors planted trees for me so I would have shade and sweet fruit to enjoy, so I plant for my children, the next generation.”  Miraculously, the man does live many more years.  He returns to the place where he planted the sapling and finds a beautiful tree in its place.  He recites a special blessing, “Blessed are You, Eternal God, Ruler of the universe, who has made your world lacking in nothing, but has provided goodly creatures and goodly trees for all to enjoy.”  So it has been for all time: one generation plants for the next.
We observed and tasted fruits from four categories; completely edible like a fig, having a hard pit like a date, having a hard shell like a clementine and having both a hard pit and a hard shell like an avocado.  We compared these four categories to the four species that we shake at Sukkot.  The four species are categorized for fragrance and taste which are then related to Torah learning and mitzvot.  Since we are currently thinking about a mishna from Pirkei Avot 1:14 (If I am not for myself who will be for me?  If I am for myself only, what am I? And if not now, when?), we wondered about categorizing our fruits with respect to being for oneself and/or for others and connecting each of the fruits to a symbolic position.

Hard pit & hard shell
Not for oneself
Not for others
Hard pit
Not for oneself
For others
Hard shell
For oneself
Not for others
Completely edible
For oneself
For others