education – 4th grade

Today in class we worked on:
1) As always, the Fourth-Grade class moved into a very busy Sunday morning starting with a short video on the first 24 Jews in colonial New Amsterdam and their struggles to be allowed to stay there, given the fact the colony’s Governor Peter Stuyvesant was not very open to having a Jewish community in his colony.
2) We enjoyed Tefilla, outside on the tennis courts, with the entire school, where Rabbi Prass blew the Shofar for the entire Religious School in celebration of Elul.
3) When we returned to the class, we accomplished many things. First, we discussed the places Jews in colonial America lived in such as New York, Philadelphia, or Charleston. We also saw what types of occupations they would have had to earn a living in the early colonies.
4) Moving on we learned about the Shadarim, “messengers” from Eretz Yisrael who came to the American colonies to raise money for poor Jews in the Holy Land. Oftentimes, they would remain in these communities for a period of time to help their fellow Jews run religious services and find ways to educate their young people. This created the first bond between Jews in America and the land of Israel.
5) 5) Next, we “met” Gershom Seixas, the closest thing Colonial America had to a full-fledged rabbi. Not only did he lead religious services at his congregation in New York, but he encouraged his fellow Jews to support the Patriot Cause in the American revolution. This led to a discussion of whether Jews of that time were bound by Jewish tradition to side with Chazzan Seixas or remain loyal to the British crown! Additionally, we saw how Haym Salomon, the richest Jewish person in the Thirteen Colonies gave away much of his personal fortune to help General Washington’s army stay afloat in the Revolutionary War. We also saw how, after American Independence was won a new Jewish community emerged in the city of Richmond, Virginia!
6) Finally, at Shira, Morah Ari led us in songs to prepare for the Jewish New Year which starts next Sunday
7) All in all, it was a terrific Sunday for fourth graders!

Today in class we worked on:

  • We enjoyed a very active Sunday, starting with the Opening School Ceremony led by Rabbi Prass, who was dressed as a Candy Bar as a sign of our hopes for a sweet school year of Jewish Learning here at Beth Am. It was great to have so many parents with us.
  • Later in class we started off by voting on our tzedaka for this year. Fourth graders will be supporting the Jewish National Fund to help build and sustain forests in Medinat Yisrael, the land of Israel!
  • Afterwards we started our journey of discovery retracing the American Jewish experience. First, we talked about the end of Jewish life in Spain, in the wake of the great expulsion of 1492, which set the stage for Jews to come to America.
  • Then we read a play in class looking at the different countries Jews lived in at the time they first came to what became the United States. We saw how life could be both enriching and challenging depending on where Jewish people lived.
  • Before the morning was out, we discussed what things and services the first Jewish settlers in America would need to create a connection with Judaism in their new surroundings. We also saw how their lives were very different from ours today in the 17th century in terms of family life, health, and immediate environment.
  • Our first day of school ended with Shira with Morah Ari who encouraged everyone to vocally participate as much as possible.
  • Homework to be completed by next class:
    1) Please remember to have your child bring a loose-leaf notebook each week to class to store their weekly handouts. Next week we will see excerpts of a video on Jewish Life in the Early American colonies and look at life for Jews in Colonial America.