Keeping Connected with Dale, our Education Director
In early April I observed eight fifth-grade and two sixth-grade students prepare their wimples for their B’nai Mitzvot in coming years. This is a remarkable project indeed. When I drove home after work that Sunday, I had wimples on my mind…
This particular project is a multi-generational endeavor. Yes, it is set forth ostensibly for fifth graders to create wimples for their B’nai Mitzvahs. However, within the Congregation Shalom synagogue community, it is an artistic enterprise which involves artists and volunteers from many walks of life. I enjoyed the process of watching the fifth graders sketch out their wimples on paper, under the guidance of Morah Deborah Morrissey, and weeks later transfer their thoughts and personalities onto silk swaths bathed in color and stretched upon wooden frames. Students were inspired to create artistic masterpieces because they felt part of an ongoing process of creation, dedication, and affirmation within the temple community.
While the finished wimples are fantastic and students will surely treasure them for years to come, the process by which they are created is critical as students fine-tune their identities as Jews within a loving and supportive community. More
Students at Congregation Shalom are a community of explorers and travelers. Some class expeditions happen as flights through the mind’s eye and imagination, while others involve real-life journeying.
This past month has included two trips for our students. One trip was for Chai Schoolers in grades eight through ten to visit the Hindu temple, New England Shirdi Sai Parivaar (NESSP) in Groton. In our other trip, third-grade families boarded an imaginary El-Al plane which flew them to Israel. Rabbi Shoshana Perry was the ‘pilot’ and leader and third-grade teacher Rich Laider served as a ‘tour guide’ to Marc Chagall’s Windows at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. These world-famous windows depict the twelve tribes of Israel.
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