Category Archives: Religious School

Jewish Value for January: Teva (Nature)

The Religious School’s Jewish Value for January is Teva (nature). The concept of Teva begins in the Torah in Bereishit (Genesis) when God creates the world and everything in it. According to the Torah, “God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and watch it.” That’s our first clue that the land is not ours. We are guardians of the earth, but we do not own it. We are merely borrowers.

According to the rabbis (Shulkan Aruch), borrowers may use any part of what they borrow, but they must leave the property at least as valuable as it was when they first started using it. So when we use the earth and its resources, we must make sure it is equally valuable to future generations. This means that we must protect the environment.

We don’t just protect the earth – a healthy earth protects us. You might be surprised by how much our rabbis knew about environmental effects hundred of years ago. For example, the great teacher Maimonides, who was also a doctor, saw the effects that a bad environment could have on human health and he suggested ways to fix the environment in his Treatise on Asthma. Rabbi Yitzhak ben Sheshet in the early 14th century wrote about noise pollution and its effects on people who lived in noisy cities.

Our job today is to protect our environment to make sure that it stays healthy and valuable for future generations. It is not an easy job to ensure that we have clean air and water, that animals have safe habitats to live in, and that we act against global warming. We may not be 100% successful in creating a healthy planet, but we still have to try. What are some ways that we can protect the Earth?

Laura Naide, Lifelong Girl Scout!

Director of Religious Education


December Value: Ometz Lev (Courage of the Heart)

Our Religious School’s Jewish value for December is Ometz Lev, “courage of the heart.” A strong, brave heart helps us to conquer our fears or to stand up for our personal beliefs. Ometz Lev is central to retelling the story of Chanukah. It was Ometz Lev that empowered Mattathias to refuse to bow down to a foreign idol, and it was Ometz Lev that inspired the Maccabees to battle the Assyrian Greeks. Just as these ancient folk overcame their fears, our children can be empowered to do so.

We can encourage our children to develop Ometz Lev and build strength of character. Here are some character traits that contribute to courageous behavior:

* Candor, the courage to speak and hear the truth
* Purpose, the courage to pursue lofty and audacious goals
* Will, the courage to inspire hope, spirit and promise, by persevering in the face of frustration
* Rigor, the courage to find better protocols and make them stick, with the serenity to accept the rules that cannot change, the strength and creativity to change the rules that are getting in the way, and the wisdom to know the difference
* Risk, the courage to empower, trust and invest in relationships

Encourage your children to demonstrate these traits. Recognize and praise them when they work hard on an assignment (rigor) or try something new (risk). Talk with them about individuals who have displayed courage, both in ancient times (e.g., Queen Esther) and modern day (e.g., Rosa Parks). Working together we can create courageous children who will have the skills they need to make our world a better place.

Laura Naide,

Director of Religious Education

Sukkot Family Program Recap

On Sunday, October 8, Preschool and Religious School families enjoyed lunch, singing and crafts in the Sukkah. The families learned the significance of the lulav and etrog and participated in the lulav ceremony (shaking it in all directions!). Fortunately, the weather held up and we were able to eat lunch in the sukkah and play outside on the playground. Thank you to Rabbi Bass and Will Rivlin for leading songs and prayers and thank you to Alexis Joyce and Laura Naide for planning the event.



Religious School: A New Year of Learning

Sunday, September 10 was the first day of Religious School for Congregation Etz Hayim. Our students, parents and staff prayed together and said a blessing for a new year of learning at our Family Minyan. The day was full of high energy, fun, and learning. Highlights included a Hebrew Through Movement session for our students in Grades Gan – 3, music pop-up classes, and the first session of Jews and Film for our 8th and 9th Graders. Thank you to everyone who helped make our first day a success!