education – 4th grade

Today in class we worked on:
5/15-
1) Happy 29th Day of the Omer! It’s hard to believe we reached the end of another terrific school year at Beth Am!
2) First Morah Ari led us and 5th grade in Shira.
3) Then in our classroom we learned about the holiday of Pesah Sheni and reviewed all of the topics we covered in class. A Special thank you to Rachel Weiser who led us in the Ha-Motzi prayer over the matza that we enjoyed as part of observing this event.
4) Additionally, the class worked on cards for homeless children as part of Beth Am’s partnership with the “Fill a Heart for Kids” organization.
5) Then we were treated to presentations, on the topic of Comparative Religion, by the 6th grade class. We are very grateful to Morah Shapiro’s students for sharing what they studied this year with our class!
6) Before retiring to our last Tefilla of the year, Rabbi Prass shared with us the experiences of his great-grandmother as a Jewish pioneer on the prairies of North Dakota in the late 1800’s.
7) We wrapped up our school year with a Joint Tefilla Session for all of the grades in our Religious School. I’d like to personally express my appreciation to the 4th grade class for their hard work this year and to all of the CBA families for contributing towards this year’s “Teacher Appreciation” gifts!

Today in class we worked on:
5/8-
1) Happy 23rd Day of the Omer! We had a great day in class that started with an all-request Shira with Morah Ari!
2) Returning to class we looked at the ideas of great Jewish thinkers such as the Rambam and the Baal Shem Tov. The talmidim enjoyed a very spirited discussion as to whether they supported the passive or pro-active models of Jewish living offered by Rabbis Eliezer Papo and Yehuday Alcalay.
3) We also saw a video explaining the important lessons the upcoming holiday of Lag B’Omer offers, namely that, just as Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai learned, we need to listen to others and see where they are coming from, even if we don’t share their perspectives, before we rush to judge them.
4) The day ended, with the school’s Annual Parent Day Tefilla. Two of the talmidim in the Fourth-Grade glass, Rachel Weiser and Sophia Olansky received “Olim Certificates” from Rabbi Prass as well.
5) Next week, the sixth-grade class will be coming to visit and share with us some of the topics in “Comparative Religious Studies”, they have experienced in this school.
6) I look forward to seeing all of our talmidim at class for next Sunday’s final session of school!
L’Shalom-Moreh David
Homework to be completed by next class:
5/8-
See you next week!

Today in class we worked on:
5/1-
1) Chodesh Iyar Tov! We had a great day in class that included a joint Shira-Tefilla with the primary grades and Rabbi Bellows and Morah Ari to start up the morning.
2) Returning to class we ventured outside, despite the cool weather, and recited the spring blessing on trees just in front on the JCYS building.
3) Back in the classroom we looked at the experience of the once large Iraqi Jewish community. We saw how Iraqi Jews balanced their identities as both followers of Judaism and Arabic speakers until they were forced to emigrate, almost en mass, to Medinat Yisrael. We also saw how the experience of Jews from Arab Countries has, sadly, been overlooked and is starting, largely because of the efforts of the State of Israel, to be acknowledged.
4) We ended our classroom learning with a Kahoot reviewing everything we’ve studied this year since the fall. This included topics in the American Jewish Experience as well as our second semester look at Israel and Jewish communities in Chutz L’Eretz.
5) Finally, Morah Ari led us in, over in the JCYS gym, Israeli dancing just like in a Jewish summer camp.
6) We had a great morning, and I would just like to emphasize how important it is for all of our talmidim to come to class each week as we are coming to the end of our school year.
L’Shalom-Moreh David
Homework to be completed by next class:
5/1-
None

Today in class we worked on:
4/24-
1) We had a fantastic morning in class. First, we saw how the Moroccan Jewish holiday of Mimouna has evolved into a universal day of fun for all Israelis as they get to enjoy “regular food” after Passover.
2) Since Morah Ari was out with laryngitis, Rabbi Prass led us in a special activity focusing on Yom Hashoah and Yom Hatzmaut in place of Shira.
3) Back in class we learned about the transitional period of the Sefira we are now in. Additionally, we looked at the Hungarian Jewish experience and saw how different it was from other Jewish communities in Europe. The talmidim were interested to know that in Hungary, they would be addressed by their family names first!
4) Before Tefilla, we also looked at a 1957 photo essay of life in the young Jewish state. The class was fascinated by the photos of Israelis working as fishermen and the old vintage cars they were driving at the time.
5) At Tefila, Rabbi Prass discussed the relationship between prayer and movement in Jewish life.
6) All in all, it was a great day of learning for the 4th grade!
L’Shalom-Moreh David
Homework to be completed by next class:
4/24-
No homework this week.

Today in class we worked on:
4/10-
1) We had a very nice morning in class, although we missed our outstanding Madrich, Charlie Schwartz who was away at a NFTY weekend at OSRUI!
2) First, Morah Ari led us in several Passover songs!
3) Returning to class, the talmidim learned about Jewish communities in Africa, such as the Abuyadaya kehilla in Uganda. We then broke into groups and presented this information to the primary grade students at our CBA Religious school.
4) Next, we enjoyed looking at Jewish recipes, posted in an online exhibit from Tel Aviv’s Museum of the Jewish People, sent in from Museum supporters all over the icworld. There was a great deal of enthusiasm for a donut recipe that came from a Moroccan Jewish family living in Canada. Rachel Weiser noted that all of the recipes made her hungry
5) At Tefilla Rabbi Prass continued to get us into the spirit of the upcoming Passover holiday and how our prayers from our school siddur related to the freedom the Jewish people experienced when they left Egypt.
5) I’d like to wish everyone a Chag Pesah Sameach!
L’Shalom-Moreh David
Homework to be completed by next class:
4/10-
No homework. See you on 4/24!

Today in class we worked on:
4/3-
1) It was good to return to class after Spring Break!
2) First, Morah Ari led us in several Passover songs!
3) Returning to class, the talmidim learned about unusual Jewish communities such as the Kaifeng Jews of China and the Hidden Polish Jews. We saw how Shavei Yisrael is working to help these communities re-connect with World Jewry and even to go on Aliyah to Israel. Cheers to Brady Greenspan who correctly guessed as to the proper pronunciations of Polish cities. We also enjoyed seeing how the Belmonte Jews in Portugal, who practiced Judaism in secret for 500 years, now have a beautiful Bait Knesset in their town.
4) Next, we learned about Jews in France, South Africa, Yemen, and Ukraine. We saw how Jews from Yemen had their own special Shabbat bread known as Cubana.
5) We then ended our class time looking at the results of the 2020 World Zionist Congress elections and enjoyed calculating on our phones, the percentages each delegation received of the vote.
6) Finally, at Tefilla Rabbi Prass got us all in the spirit of Passover by having us all reenact the trip our ancestors made when they secured their freedom and began the long journey to Eretz Yisrael.
L’Shalom-Moreh David
Homework to be completed by next class:
4/3-
None at this time

Today in class we worked on:
3/13-
1) We began our day in our classroom with attendance, saying boker tov, and getting ready for Purim Sunday! It was so much fun seeing all the Purim costumes!
2) The entire school met for a t’fillah filled with Purim songs, seeing the real megillah, and having our madrichim lead us in a Purim Shpiel (play)
3) Then we broke into 3 rotations where we:
a. Made a dream catcher/fortune teller which helped us think about Queen Esther and how she handled the tough decision she was faced with. We then talked about how we handle tough situations.
b. Looked at the 4 traditional Purim Mitzvot and talked about ways to make them modern and we even made new Purim Mitzvot.
c. Had a Purim Sing Down, where we competed over who knew more songs with the Purim themes of: King/queen, happy, celebration, and more!
4) Then we all regathered in the atrium for more Purim Shira.
5) We ended the day gathering outside for the food truck. It was so nice to be in the sun, noshing, and enjoying Purim Sunday with each other.
Homework to be completed by next class:
3/13-
1. There is Hebrew school this week.
2. Then we have Spring break from March 20 – 27.
3. Happy Purim

Today in class we worked on:
3/6-
1) We had a wonderful day in Religious School this week.
2) First, using special Purim song sheets Morah Ari led us in several Purim songs and polled everyone as to what their favorite flavor of Hamantashen was.
3) Returning to class, the talmidim enthusiastically engaged in a scavenger hunt, across our classroom, searching for clues related to Israel’s many wars since its establishment.
4) Next, we learned about the different jobs that were performed in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Purim story. The class also asked some very good questions as to how Jewish courts might deal with law breakers in the Temple.
5) We then ended our class time watching a video on the history of Yemenite Jews and how they were able to come to Israel in 1949.
6) Finally, at Tefilla Rabbi Prass discussed the current tragedy in Ukraine, one that has strongly impacted the Beth Am community, and Morah Ari led us in two very special prayers for peace.
Homework to be completed by next class:
3/6-
None at this time.

Today in class we worked on:
2/27-
1) We had a very different day in Religious School.
2) First, we enjoyed an “All School” Tefilla, that included the “Aufruf” component of the 5th Grade wedding.
3) Returning to class, we looked at how the prayer the famed Israeli writer Shai Agnon composed, with some of his friends, for the “Welfare of the State of Israel” has evolved as different movements in Judaism adapted it for their respective prayer books.
4) Next, we had Shirah in the middle of the morning with the other grades. Morah Ari led us in songs for the upcoming holiday of Purim.
5) Getting back into class we saw a brief video, prepared by the CTV network in Canada, of young Canadian Jews serving in the Israel Defense Force. We also participated in an activity where the talmidim experienced the process of buying a home or apartment in Israel. We saw this varied from city to city and also included special real estate taxes that go straight to the Israeli government.
6) Finally, since the current conflict in Ukraine has impacted the Beth Am community, may we all see a speedy return to better times in that country which boasts a large Jewish presence!
Homework to be completed by next class:
2/27-
None

Today in class we worked on:
2/20-
1) We had a very busy day in Religious School.
2) First at Shira, Morah Ari took us to a camp setting and led us in singing several folk songs along our imaginary campfire. Rabbi Prass explained the Jewish relevance behind several of them.
3) Returning to class, we first made “Get Well” cards for members of our Beth Am family who were under the weather. We saw how this lived out some of the teachings of Rabbis Heschel and Soleveitchik, who studied last semester in our unit on the American Jewish experience, in terms of making mitzvot active parts of our lives.
4) Next, we had a Kahoot where we reviewed much of what has been covered in class in our unit on the modern state of Israel.
5) To finish things off, we learned about Israel’s Prime Ministers and Chief Rabbis. Rachel Weiser was very happy to see that at least woman, Golda Meir, had held this office in Medinat Yisrael and the class enjoyed a very thoughtful discussion on the qualifications one would need to hold down the job of Chief Rabbi of Israel.
6) At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass and Morah Ari facilitated a Havdalah Service and we tied it into some of the other themes we have been studying weekly during our school service.
7) All in all, it was an amazing morning of Jewish learning for the 4th Grade.
Homework to be completed by next class:
2/20-
None at this time.

Today in class we worked on:
2/13-
1) We had an awesome day in Religious School. First at Shira, Morah Ari led us in different versions of the Israeli national anthem “Hatikvah”, including a contemporary zemer, based on it called “This is the Hope.”
2) In class, we saw how Israel’s electoral system, that embraces what is known as “Proportional Representation” is very different from the “First Past the Post” voting used in most communities here in the United States. Most of the talmidim thought that the American system was better and less complicated than the way Israelis vote in their country.
3) Next, we broke up into teams; each team made a presentation about an important Israeli writer such as Rachel Blaustein or Erez Bitton. The class was very interested in how the mother of Adon Bitton had lived in a cave in North Africa before going on aliyah and that as a boy in Israel his family shared a communal oven with their neighbors on their block in Jerusalem.
4) Later we saw a video on how the upcoming chag of Purim is everyone’s favorite holiday in Israel with costumes, parades, and family barbecues.
5) At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass continued our exploration of the morning brachot; we had the chance to read one page of these blessings from our siddur entirely in Hebrew. Before the morning ended Rabbi Prass retold the story of Zishe the Strongman and how he lived out his Jewishness. All in all, it was a terrific morning!
6) Please note, next week we will have a Kahoot in class; all talmidim should bring some kind of electronic device to Religious School for this activity, where we will review many of the topics, we have studied this semester regarding Modern Israel.
Homework to be completed by next class:
2/13-
None at this time.

Today in class we worked on:
2/6-
1) We had a great day in Religious School.
2) First at Shira, Morah Ari shared with us different melodies for the song “Oseh Shalom Bemromav.”
3) In class we learned about the challenges some Israeli farmers are facing this year in observing the mitzvah of Shmitta, to leave the land on their farms fallow every seven years. We saw how Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, Rav Kook, believed that by observing this mitzvah Jews in Eretz Yisrael would spend a year focusing on helping others in need, drawing closer to their families, and becoming better persons.
4) We then saw a video on Israeli wildlife which depicted two Jewish teenagers from South Africa who had volunteered to work on a game reserve in Israel on a conversation project where they took care of many animals indigenous to the Jewish state such as elks and desert tortoises. Afterwards, the talmidim had the opportunity to make posters advertising Israeli wildlife conservation.
5) At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass continued our exploration of the morning brochot and also shared with all of us, his three different talitot and the importance of this ritual item.
6) All in all, it was a wonderful day in Religious School.
Homework to be completed by next class:
2/6-
None this week.

Today in class we worked on:
1/30-
1) We had a very special day of Religious Schools, thanks to the creative efforts of many!
2) First at Shira, Morah Ari shared with us different melodies for the traditional song “Hinei Ma-Tov Omaneyin’
3) When we returned to class, I was happy to turn things over to our very talented Madrich (Student Assistant) Charlie Schwartz. Charlie facilitated a wonderful lesson in the development of the Israeli flag and afterwards, each talmid had the opportunity to draw their own version of a national standard for Medinat Yisrael.
4) We then had the opportunity to visit, virtually, Israel’s Tel Aviv based “Museum of the Jewish Diaspora” The students were particularly interested in a new exhibit depicting Purim costumes over the last century, mostly from photos donated by friends of the museum in both Israel and Chutz L’Eretz.
5) We then spent some time looking at religious life in Israel; seeing how the Modern Jewish State is home to many different faith traditions as well as diverse groups within Judaism.
6) Additionally, after Sophia Omansky asked where the 6th graders were during Shira, they are now attending Trope Class, we had a nice discussion about Torah cantillations and training for Bnai Mitzvot.
7) At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass continued our exploration of the morning brochot with a short story about the fabled Jewish community of Chelm.
8) All in all, it was a terrific day in Religious School.
9) Next week, we will look at how this year’s Shmitta has impacted the land of Israel.
L’Shalom-Moreh David
Homework to be completed by next class:
1/30-
See you next week!

Today in class we worked on:
1/23-
1) It was good to see so many of our talmidim in class yesterday, despite the snowy weather! At Shira, Morah Ari led the 4th and 5th grade classes select songs to sing, since the 6th graders were now in Trope class.
2) Back in class we looked at our Hebrew language scripts for an Israeli radio program, based on our study of Israel’s different school systems. I was very impressed with the excellent work done here, especially with the things Jake Izen wrote as to why he would want to attend the Arabic schools in Medinat Yisrael.
3) We then broke up into groups and reported on the different sports that are popular in the Jewish State. While everyone knew beforehand that Israelis loved a good soccer game, we were all very interested to learn how curling, a sport originally developed in Scotland, had attracted a good following in Israel as well thanks to the work of Canadian olim who introduced it there.
4) We then looked for clues around the room regarding what Israel’s main cities were known for. The talmidim were surprised to learn that at one time, in the 1500’s, the Israeli city of Sfat was being considered as a possible capital of a new Jewish country that, sadly enough, never came into being. Additionally, our student assistant Charlie Schwartz filled us in about the medieval Christian Crusades and how they related to the Israeli city of Acre.
5) Right before Tefilla, we read a play on the importance of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.
6) At Tefilla itself, Rabbi Prass continued our examination of the morning blessings in our Siddur.
7) All in all, it was a wonderful morning of Limud Torah!
L’Shalom-Moreh David
Homework to be completed by next class:
1/23-
No homework this week

Today in class we worked on:
1/16-
1) It was good to see so many of our talmidim back in class yesterday!
2) At Shira, Morah Ari reviewed with us new songs related to today’s holiday of Tu B’Shvat .
3) Back in class we saw a video on the life of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda who worked to revitalize Hebrew as a modern language. We saw how critical having one language was to the development of Eretz Yisrael as a Jewish state. I’d like to personally thank our new School Assistant, Moreh Michael Schneider for his assistance in replacing our Internet connection when the JCYS WIFI shut down. This enabled our class to enjoy and learn from the video on the life of Adon Ben-Yehuda.
4) We then looked at different schools in Israel. The talmidim learned about the different systems of school that operate in Israel. After examining them, the class thought that the secular and Tali schools would work the best for them. Lexi Goldstein, for instance, liked the idea that the Tali schools built in regular field trips as part of their curriculum.
5) With the remaining fifteen minutes of class, we worked on articles for our class Hebrew language presentation on Israel’s schools. The talmidim drafted up short narratives that will be translated into Hebrew.
6) At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass went through certain prayers that enable us to be thankful for the ordinary miracles in our lives.
7) We enjoyed a wonderful morning of Jewish learning and community, all in all!
Homework to be completed by next class:
1/16-
No homework

Today in class we worked on:
1/9-
1) It was good to be back in religious school after winter break! At Shira, Morah Ari taught us two new songs related to the upcoming holiday of Tu B’Shvat
2) Back in class we first made appreciation cards for Gveret Betty Cohen who has served the Beth Am community for many years, including in the Religious School. Gveret Cohen will soon be retiring, and we wanted to thank her for all that she has done for our Bait Knesset.
3) We then saw the second half of the Rick Steves Israel Travel video. The class was particularly interested in the different foods Rick enjoyed at a Tel Aviv restaurant with some of his Israeli friends. Jake Izen liked the idea of dipping pita bread into different salads.
4) Speaking of salads we saw how in the early years of the Jewish state, food was rationed in Israel and Israelis relied on salads, such as eggplant, for their meals. We also had an interesting discussion on how Jews from Iraq weren’t allowed to take their money or possessions out of their former country when they made aliyah to Medinat Yisrael in the late 1940’s. The talmidim were astonished to learn that since Israel was a new country, Jewish immigrants, like Holocaust survivors or those from Iraq, had to live in camps called maabarot until permanent housing could be arranged for them.
5) At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass showed how this week’s Torah portion was related to the many prayers we recite each week in Beit-Sefer Dati. All in all, it was a great Sunday morning.

Today in class we worked on:
12/12 –
1) We had a very exciting morning in the 4th grade class for our final session of the first semester.
2) At Shira, Morah Ari led us in song, including one taken from the traditions of the Abudadayah community in Uganda
3) Back in class completed our unit on the American Jewish experience, by looking at important events in the last seventy years and how they related to topics we had covered earlier this term in class such as immigration and Jewish education. We also had a lively discussion over whether the models of Jewish life offered by Rabbis Joseph Soloveitchik and Abraham Joshua Heschel made sense to today’s American Jewish community. This enabled us to see that both directions were needed in Jewish life today and were very much a part of our own kehilla at Beth Am!
4) We then transitioned into next semester’s unit on the State of Israel by watching the first half of a Rick Steves travel video on modern Israel and heard from former Beth Am student assistant Daniel Blatt on the year he spent in Jerusalem on a post high school gap year experience.
5) At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass challenged us to be ready and focused when we approach Jewish prayer. This enhanced our last “school minyan” before winter break.
6) Finally, I’d like to express my appreciation to the entire 4th grade class for their excellent achievements this past semester. I look forward to seeing everyone in January!

Today in class we worked on:
12/5 –
1. We began the day with an all school t’fillah led by Rabbi Prass and Morah Ari. As part of the t’fillah, our madrichim and several 6th graders led a short skit which told the Chanukah story.
2. Then we went back to class where we:
a. We watched the classic Channukah film “Lights”.
3. Then we did an all school program with rotations looking at the current holiday of Chanukah. The stations were:
a. Dreidel: The letters on the dreidel, what they stand for, dreidel competition
b. ABC Chanukah: thinking of a Chanukah related word for each word in the English alphabet.
c. Craft which helped us think about how we can shine a light as Jews.
d. Creative Chanukiah Competition: the most creative chanukiah they could think of
4. We ended the day with an all school Chanukah shira.
5. Each child was given a dreidel to play with and an edible ring pop shaped like a dreidel.
6. Lihitaot (good-bye)
Homework to be completed by next class:
12/5 –
1. Please remember tzedakah and Box Tops For Education.

Today in class we worked on:
11/21 –
1. We had a very exciting morning in the 4th grade class. First at Shira, Morah Ari led us in songs for both upcoming holiday of Chanukah and Thanksgiving, including the wonderful Debbie Friedman composition of “Happy Thanksgiving, Hurray, Hurray!”
2. Back in class we saw how American Jews have excelled in different fields such as sports and the arts. We also had a discussion as to whether Rabbi Alexander Goode, one of the “Four Immortal Chaplains”, did the right thing Jewishly by giving up his life jacket to another US serviceperson on a ship hit by a German torpedo in 1943
3. We also looked at the ways American Jews, such as Rabbi Stephen Wise and the New York merchant Irving Bunim tried to help European Jews affected by the Shoah and the joy that was felt by the American Jewish community when the State of Israel came into being.
4. Finally, we saw a video on the life of Israel’s only woman Prime Minister Golda Meir, as we start transitioning into next semester’s study of the Jewish homeland.
5. At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass led us in the Havdalah service, and we also discussed the things we are all thankful for as we come into the Thanksgiving holiday.

Today in class we worked on:
11/14 –
1. It was a very cold morning, but we still enjoyed a productive morning.
2. First at Shira, Morah Ari reviewed with us several songs for the upcoming holiday of Chanukah, including the classic Debbie Friedman tune that is based on the Haftarah we read during Chanukah.
3. Back in class we learned how new Jewish religious leaders, such as Rabbis Stephen Wise, Solomon Schechter, and Mordechai Kaplan developed ways of reinterpreting the Jewish faith to the American scene. We also saw how rabbinical schools, such as Yeshiva University and the Jewish Theological Seminary sprung up to train American rabbis at home.
4. We then saw a short video on the legacy of Henrietta Szold, the daughter of an American rabbi, whose Hadassah Women’s’ Zionist organization has built a renowned hospital in Israel.
5. Afterwards we enjoyed a Kahoot quiz, where we reviewed many of the topics, we have covered so far this semester. There was great excitement in the class, and even our student assistant Charlie Schwartz joined in for the competition.
6. Before going to Tefilla, Moreh David shared with the class some photos of Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, Rav Kook and how he even traveled to the United States in the 1920’s to conjure up support for creating a Jewish country in the land of Israel.
7. At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass discussed the various roots of the Hebrew word “Baruch” or blessed and how we can apply that to our understanding of Jewish prayer.

Today in class we worked on:
11/7 –
1. As we enter the Hebrew month of Kislev, we enjoyed a very productive day of learning in the 4th grade. First at Shira, Morah Ari taught us several songs for the upcoming holiday of Chanukah!!
2. Back in class we saw a seven-minute video on the experience of Eastern European Jewish immigration to the US. This generated a lively discussion afterwards. In particular, many members of our class were dismayed to learn that new Jewish arrivals in America lived in very poor conditions, without basic heating in the winter or air conditioning during the hot summers. Additionally, we talked about how many “New Jewish Americans” found jobs, which didn’t always pay well, in the garment industry.
3. We then worked on our scripts for the Yiddish Theatre, which we were able, thanks to “Google Translate”, to translate into the Yiddish language. Our class had great fun trying to pronounce how the lines we wrote for our characters might have sounded before a live audience over a century ago!
4. We then met up with the “forgotten” Jewish immigrants of the early 1900’s, Sephardic Jews from the old Ottoman Turkish Empire. After Moreh David sang a popular Judeo-Espanol (Ladino) song about our patriarch Avraham, we read a play about Moshe Gadol, a Turkish immigrant who launched a newspaper, on New York’s Lower East Side, called “La America” that tried to help Sephardim with their special needs as a “minority within a minority.
5. At Tefilah, Rabbi Prass led us in many familiar prayers and finished the service with an important reminder from Pirke Avot.
6. Please note next week we will be enjoying a Kahoot game, as a review in class, next week.

Today in class we worked on:
10/31 –
1. We had a very busy morning for our final class of the month of Chesvan
2. First we looked at how important American Jewish rabbinical leaders, such as Isaac Mayer Wise, David Einhorn, Abraham Rice, and Morris Raphall approached the issue of slavery in the years running up to the US Civil War. Some opposed slavery, others felt it didn’t go against Jewish tradition, and at least one of them tried to avoid the issue altogether. Afterwards we saw how the war impacted American Jews and that, when the conflict ended, many synagogues held memorial services when President Lincoln died.
3. Mid-morning, in place of Shira, Morah Ari led us, outside on the tennis courts in Israeli dancing. Despite, the brisk autumn temperatures we all enjoyed this special event!
4. Back in the classroom we were introduced to next week’s activity of writing a script for the American Yiddish Theatre as we get into our unit on the era of mass Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Before class ended, we looked at an old picture book, published in 1973 to commemorate Israel’s 25th anniversary as a country that helped us get an introduction to next semester’s topic, a study of Medinat Yisrael, the State of Israel. The class was very interested in the old vintage photos in the book of ordinary life in the Jewish homeland.
5. Finally, at Tefilla, Rabbi Prass talked about how prayer and our traditions might comfort us in scary times, including the secular holiday of Halloween.

Today in class we worked on:
10/24 –
1. It was rainy and cold this morning, it seems Chicagoland’s extended summer has finally ended but we had a great class today with our “floater” madricha Taylor!
2. Before Shira we briefly touched on how in the 1820’s, Mordechai Manuel Noah tried to provide a homeland for oppressed Jews on a small island near his hometown of Buffalo, NY.
3. After returning to our classroom we filled out a work sheet describing how the Reform movement in Judaism, first launched on German soil in the early 1800’s, began to influence American Jewry as well. Later we read an in class play and saw how Abraham Rice struggled as America’s first ordained rabbi while Isaac Mayer Wise worked hard to build Reform Judaism in the United States. We also discovered the contributions made by Isaac Leeser in terms of translating prayer books and the Jewish Bible into English, as well as launching a newspaper covering Jewish topics and Rebecca Gratz’ role as an important female voice for Jewish charities. Additionally, we discussed the importance of some of the “Tzedakah projects”, Gveret Gratz supported among them funding orphanages for Jewish children. Additionally, we learned about the tragic life of Grace Aguilar who started the first modern Jewish religious school for girls with her mother in England but passed away unexpectedly before she could emigrate to America and launch similar educational opportunities here.
4. Finally, as far as our class work was concerned, the 4th graders worked on their “19th American-Jewish newspaper” project. Already we have articles on new synagogues getting started, the lives of Jewish peddlers, and important Tzedakah projects American Jews involved themselves in.
5. Before leaving the JCYS building, we came together for Tefilla, where Rabbi Prass urged us to take time out to get to know the prayers in our Siddur better. One of the members of our class Ella Ulm contributed to the discussion we had at Tefilla on how to have a clearer understanding of G-d and Jewish Prayer.

Today in class we worked on:
10/17 –
1. Today was a very special day of learning at Beth Am, where we brought the summer Jewish camping experience into our Bait-Sefer Dati (Religious School)
2. At a combined Shira/Tefilla session for the entire school Rabbi Prass and Morah Ari led us in the Havdalah Service, that ends Shabbat each week, as it might be celebrated at an overnight Jewish camp like OSRUI. We saw how Jewish camping has been the catalyst for more families to introduce this ritual as part of their home religious observance.
3. Then we had a brief time in our classroom, where we listened to a very sad song, that some of our students wanted to dance to, as to why many people, including Jews, had to leave Germany in the mid 1800’s for new opportunities here in America. This opened our discussion as the kind of jobs these new Jewish immigrants took on after coming here. Often, they worked as peddlers, who then opened our stores after they settled down in one community. This would give them the chance to start new synagogues in these towns.
4. Suddenly, it was time to start our “Jewish overnight camp rotations” where, in a fun way we learned about Jewish foods, everyone enjoyed their outdoors Smore’s packages, the upcoming Torah portion of Vaera made to come alive through skits, and the importance of personal health in Judaism by enjoying a game of Ga-Ga (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaga), just like at any Jewish summer camp!
5. Finally, we heard from a representative of Reform Judaism’s overnight camp OSRUI (https://osrui.org/), where many members of our Beth Am family have attended each summer, as to all of the amazing things we can experience by coming to summer camp there. It was particularly worthwhile to learn of how Shabbat was celebrated each week at OSRUI and the way every camper is made to feel welcome there!
6. We look forward to returning to our study of 19th century American Jewish life next week!

Today in class we worked on:
10/10 –
1. Well as we moved into the brand new month of Chesvan, the Fourth Grade class moved into a very busy Sunday morning. First before Shira, we saw some of the important Jewish books, from my collection early American Jews might have brought with them to their new homes in the young Republic. These included siddurim, one over 70 years old, as well as copies of the Mishnah and Talmud.
2. At Shira, Morah Ari led us in several of our favorite songs for Tefilla and put out the word that we may have a special guest from OSRUI next week!
3. When we returned to the class, we accomplished many things. To relive how American Jews, especially in New York City, gleefully participated in parades celebrating the adoption of the US Constitution in 1789, we made “floats” we would have liked to have seen the Jewish community enter back then. A special shout out to the entire class, whose floats included images of Torah Scrolls and Chanukiyot.
4. Additionally, we saw how a Jewish merchant from South Carolina, Jonas Philips, worked tirelessly to make sure the new Bill of Rights entrenched the rights of American Jews to practice Judaism freely in the new country.
5. As the hour drew on, we read a play on the importance of tzedaka in the early American Jewish community. We saw how wealthy Jews helped endow new synagogues in the country, assisted poor Jews in Eretz Yisrael, and even built special Jewish hospitals.
6. At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass talked about how we can use the important concept of seder or order to find ways to connect to Jewish prayer and our Siddur. All in all, it was a terrific Sunday for fourth graders!

Today in class we worked on:
10/3 –
1)Well with the chagim behind us, the Fourth-Grade class moved into a very busy Sunday morning.
2)First at Shira, Morah Ari led us in several songs including explaining the important meaning of the V’Ahavata.
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) 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.
6) Finally, at Tefilla, Rabbi Prass shared with everyone the importance of friends and family in helping us on our life journeys.
All in all, it was a terrific Sunday for fourth graders!

Today in class we worked on:
9/26 –
It was great to be back to the JCYS building and start our studies with the 4th grade class.
1)We enjoyed a very active Sunday, starting with the Tefilla led by Rabbi Prass, who reminded all of us about the upcoming chag of Simchat Torah.
2) Later in class we started off by voting on our tzedaka for this year. Fourth graders will be supporting a local northwest suburban animal shelter with the money collected for tzedaka each week.
3) 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.
4) 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.
5) 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.
6)Our first day of school ended with Shira with Morah Ari who encouraged everyone to vocally participate as much as possible.

Today in class we worked on:
9/19 –
1) It was a joy and a privilege to welcome back, in person, all of our Kindergarten – 6th grade students!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!
2) For our first session, we met at the synagogue, because the synagogue has missed our children! And we wanted them to spend time in our Sukkah.
3) We had a brief t’fillah (service) in the sanctuary to start the day and ended the day with shira (music) outside on the lawn.
4) In between that, we had 5 rotations which were:
a. Go into the Sukkah with Rabbi Bellows and shake the lulav & etrog
b. Talk about our best ‘fruits of our labors’ this last year that we would bring to the Temple in Jerusalem
c. We played Lulav, lulav, etrog (think Duck, duck, goose) so we could practice saying these ‘once a year’ words.
d. We wrote our own creative prayers for Sukkot (these were posted to Facebook)
e. We talked about Ushpizin (guests to the sukkah) and who we would want to invite to our sukkah. (these were posted to Facebook)
5) All the rotations were done by class so we could meet our Morim, Madrichim, and our Religious School friends. There was also some time to get to know each other and learn about what we will be studying during this school year.
6) Thank you to the many that brought in items for our Sukkot CBA Tzedakah Drive – Supporting FillAHeart4Kids. If you still want to donate, you can bring in the items thru next Monday, September 27th
Homework to be completed by next class:
9/19 –
1. Please remember tzedakah
2. Reminder, beginning next Sunday, we return to JCYS
3. The time of the session is 9:30 – 11:30
4. Thank you to the many that brought in items for our Sukkot CBA Tzedakah Drive – Supporting FillAHeart4Kids. If you still want to donate, you can bring in the items thru next Monday, September 27th. They are collecting:
a. $10 gift cards to McDonalds
b. New Winter hats/gloves for teens/adults- boys and girls.