Keeping Connected with Dale, our Education Director
What is it to be created B’tzelem Elohim/In the Image of God? Religious School students in grades K-7 spent time grappling, exploring, and playing with this lofty concept one recent Sunday morning.
Whilst parents met with their children’s teachers, students moved from station to station in our sanctuary learning that they are created B’tzelem Elohim.
Congregation Shalom congregants, school parents, and musicians Adam Schertzer and Steve Ball practiced a new medly of songs in preparation for the event. From: B’tzelem Elohimby singer Dan Nichols https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HIczUE8OnQ to Shalom Rav/Prayer for Peace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLRltTs2Rs4 and the well-known and beloved Tree of Lifesong https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSUCbQO8qn0and much more. Students sang along in unison as they explored spirituality and Godliness with ruach/spirit and simchah/joy. More
On January 6th, sixth and seventh-graders joined members of the Congregation Shalom adult community to learn about the cemeteries of Massachusetts.
A slide presentation by Lisa Berenson of the Jewish Cemetery Association (JCAM) of Massachusetts, encouraged everyone present to take space and time to learn about an vital Jewish organization, and consider a topic not easy to broach, the matter of mortality [see link #1 below].
That morning, our students absorbed many facts about cemetery tradition and Jewish law and ritual. They learned, for example, a ‘Geniza’ stores religious books no longer in-use, while books and other objects bearing God’s name are buried in a Jewish cemetery.
Congregation Shalom is planning our own burial-site for religious books in the future (more on that in the months to come). Students learned that a ‘Matzevah’ is a Jewish Monument, and that JCAM restores abandoned Jewish cemeteries state-wide. They also learned our congregation has a section of the Beth El Cemetery in Chelmsford set aside for our community. Moreover, they learned, it is a Mitzvahto purchase a grave, just as Abraham bought a grave for his wife Sarah in the land of Israel, in Hebron [see link below #2]. More
When is a Box Not a Box? This was the question posed to educators recently at a workshop titled: The Power of Play, sponsored by the Experiential Jewish Educational Network in Boston. Educators were presented with one or two empty boxes and offered artistic materials (tape, pipe cleaners, tinfoil, and colored paper) to turn different sized box(es) into something else. We had ten minutes in which to complete the task.
Long story short, my particular group created a cruise liner, complete with smoke stacks, a climbing wall, portholes, a pipe-cleaner captain, ship’s prow, and a ship’s wheel. My self-imposed job was to secure the smoke stacks, choose supplies I thought the group might need to accomplish our agreed upon project, and I even came up with the idea of a figure head on the prow of the ship. At the end, I have to admit feeling inordinately proud of our accomplishments! More
December 2018 Newsletter Article
Our collective heart is broken. The attack on The Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh is an assault on Jews throughout this country and the world. Three synagogues share the space at the Squirrel Hill synagogue, and on that particular Shabbat, October 27th, there was a Bris taking place in the building; an event always celebrating life, instead foreshadowed death. By now, the details are well known and this crime has gone down in history as the deadliest attack against a Jewish community on American soil.
As part of their core curriculum on the Holocaust and Human Behavior, our 9th and 10th grade high school students are presently exploring the origins of anti-Semitism and the rise of Nazism prior to and during WWII. As our students learn about a history we hoped was long past, we are tragically confronted with an attack on one of our synagogues and our religion. The reason given by the alleged perpetrator is that we are Jewish. The 46-year-old shooter also spearheaded his attack against the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), an American Jewish nonprofit organization which provides humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees. More
November 2018 Newsletter Article
In preparation for this article, I googled ‘What is a Brit Kavod/Honor Covenant?’ I received about 15,600 results in 0.21 seconds. “WOW! We must truly need support in this area,” I thought.
A cornerstone of our religious school experience at Congregation Shalom is Kavod/Respect/Honor. Ours is a community built upon the tenets of kindness and helping those in need, all of which complete the circle of Kavod. One has to only peruse our website to see a thriving Sisterhood, Brotherhood, and Shalomite Youth Group, each dedicated to Mitzvot and acts of Tikkun Olam/Repairing the World.
In my short time at Congregation Shalom, I have been captivated by the kindness and compassion members of this temple extend toward one another and the broader community. During the summer I met with a Madrichah (her suggestion) to discuss the student she works with and how best to meet his needs, a web master and calendar expert both so involved in communal life they give way beyond the description of their volunteer positions, and an Office Manager who wears so many institutional hats that she is a walking encyclopedia of communal knowledge. The warm welcome I received personally as an outsider demonstrated the concept of Ushpizin/Welcoming the Stranger, and circling this all, is a love and reverence of Torah, recently revealed as the congregation literally wrapped itself in the embrace of an unfurled Torah Scroll on Simchat Torah. More
October 2018 Newsletter Article
מַזָּל טוֹב/congratulations! We have 17 Madrichim signed up to work in our Hebrew and Religious School programs this year. WOW!! Definitions of a ‘Madrich/Madrichah’ include “guide, trainer, educator, youth counselor, or supervisor”.
When I think about Madrichim, the expression which comes to mind is ‘role-model’. Madrichim offer students a bridge between more formal instruction and fun, hands-on Jewish learning. Madrichim help students explore their future goals and how they can participate actively in the Jewish community. Madrichim present students with someone to talk to, look up to, and simply enjoy learning with, and from. In their best incarnation, a Madrich or Madrichah is a peer and mentor, rolled into one.
Caitlyn Curry, an 11thgrader, is entering her fourth year as a Madrichah in our program. She is enthusiastic about the work she does. “I decided to be a Madrichah, because when I was younger, the people who made Hebrew school fun and interesting for me were not only the teachers, but especially the Madrichim assigned to my classes.” Caitlyn says when she initially considered becoming a Madrichah she was inspired by “the thought of these people [Madrichim] who always were fun to hang out with and [were] easy to connect with and learn from.” Caitlyn says when she was a younger student, “Madrichim made Hebrew School way better! I wanted to have that same impact on other people.” More