Enjoy watching and discussing this week's Torah portion, from www.G-dcast.com, which is full of short, thoughtful and cleverly produced animated videos about the Jewish holidays, the weekly parashot (portions) of the Torah, and other Jewish texts and folklore! The videos are narrated by a wide spectrum of Jewish voices representing "every movement of Judaism, including the secular one."
I encourage you to check out this site with your kids. On each page, you will also find a box with discussion questions, called "Table Talk." These are great prompts to start a Jewish conversation with your family at the dinner table, or anytime!
My Hebrew class, this week, did some reading practice with the third part of the Shema, which comes from Numbers 15:7-41. This paragraph from the Torah contains the commandment (mitzvah) to remember God's ways and laws by wearing fringes (tzitzit) on the corners of our clothing. Conservative Jews tend to fulfill this mitzvah using the fringes on the corners of the talit that we wear on Shabbat, when the Torah is read. By using this piece of the Shema for our Hebrew practice, we were also able to gain some practice in synagogue skills! We will continue to use this selection for reading practice, striving to become familiar with the words and phrases to achieve greater fluency.
This week's Torah portion included the story of the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael from the house of Abraham. Using the resources of the Godcast website (see left), we listened to a thoughtful commentary about the "suffering" of Hagar, which mirrors the suffering of the Jewish people, and seems to be part of God's "recipe" for creating nations and shaping their identities. I asked the students their opinion on whether or not suffering is a normal part of growing up. They shared examples of their own "suffering"--and debated which ones really qualified as suffering! Together, we identified some different kinds of suffering, which helped to clarify each person's opinions. Several of them said that always getting what you wanted might tend to make a person spoiled or greedy. And they observed that sometimes suffering can make you appreciate things you might have taken for granted. Once again, it was a very mature and perceptive discussion!
Following our discussion, we did some tefillah practice with V'ahav'ta. Many of the kids were familiar with the first few words of the prayer, but tended to be less sure of the following sentences. Since our class will be responsible for leading this prayer in our Family Shabbat Services, we need to take the time to practice it and commit it to memory. The words and transliteration are below, and I would like students to review it at home. They can use the Youtube video below for help with the tune!
The V'Ahavtah which is part of the Shema, is also a good paragraph for reading practice because there is a lot of repetition of grammatical patterns and forms that can help us with our learning of the language!
V'ahav'ta eit Adonai Elohekha b'khol l'vav'kha uv'khol naf'sh'kha uv'khol m'odekha.