On April 8, Kitah Chet (8th & 9th Grade) traveled to New York City for 48 hours of Jewish drama, history and food. We hopped on a bus at Union Station in DC and were dropped off later that morning in mid-town Manhattan. Our first stop was Maoz, a kosher fast-casual falafel restaurant. The food was delicious, but the restaurant was tiny so we ate our lunch al fresco on a cold breezy day! After dropping our bags off at our hotel some of us walked around the Times Square area and others chose to chill out at a local Starbucks.
Our first event was attending the show “The Band’s Visit” at Barrymore Theatre. In this show, a mix-up sends a group of Egyptian musicians to a remote Israeli town. When the locals take them in for the night, their lives intertwine in the most unexpected ways. For some students, this was their first Broadway show. The singing and acting was wonderful and we all appreciated the experience. We spent the rest of the evening eating – first at John’s Pizza, which is located in a renovated church and still retains a beautiful stained-glass ceiling. We stopped for dessert at Magnolia Bakery, renowned for banana pudding and enormous cake slices.
The next morning, we took the subway to the Lower East Side for a visit to the Tenement Museum. Our tour took place in a building originally constructed in 1863 and home to many Jewish immigrants over the years. We saw renovated-to-the-era apartments and learned about the garment work that many Jewish families did to survive (giving rise to the infamous term “sweat shop”). The students had many questions about how families survived, if children went to school, and what life was like within these cramped and dark apartments.
We finished our NYC experience with a kosher Chinese vegetarian lunch at Buddha Bodai, followed by a stop for knishes at Yonah Schimmel’s famous restaurant (tip: try the broccoli and potato knish). There was lots of napping on the bus ride home.
Kitah Chet will take an annual trip to experience living Judaism in other cities. Stay tuned for next year’s trip to Philadelphia!
Chaperone and Knish Lover
Do you know the four mitzvot of Purim? Let’s look at them through the lens of Shmirat HaGuf (Taking Care of Our Bodies).
1) Listen to the Megillah (Book of Esther). Jews are commanded to listen to the Megillah on Purim. How does this relate to Shmirat HaGuf? Many studies show that being part of a community is beneficial to physical and mental health. For an extra dose of Shmirat HaGuf, join us on Wednesday, February 28 at 6pm (partial reading) and Thursday, March 1 at 7am to hear the Megillah twice!
2) Mishloach Manot (Sending Gifts of Food). Jews are commanded to send gifts of at least two food items to friends and family. Exercise the value of Shmirat HaGuf by sending a healthy piece of fruit along with the traditional hamantashen.
3) Matanot La’evyonim (Sending Gifts to the Poor). On Purim we are commanded to give gifts to at least two poor individuals, with the suggested amount being enough money to purchase a meal, or the equivalent in food. Display Shmirat HaGuf by donating healthy foods to a local food bank, such as AFAC.
4) Seudah (Festive Meal). You can eat, drink and be merry and still perform Shmirat HaGuf by partaking in moderation. Although on Purim we are encouraged to drink until we cannot distinguish “Blessed be Mordechai” from “Cursed be Haman,” know your limits.
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
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.
Director of Religious Education
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.
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!
CEH’s Preschool and Religious School are seeking teachers for the 2017-2018 school year. See the full listings on the Jobs Page of this website.