That's a phrase we get to hear often as Fall brings us a string of Jewish holidays! Hag Sameah to each and all of you! Today was the last day of Sukkot, tomorrow is Shmini Atzeret, and tomorrow night we will celebrate Simhat Torah--literally "Rejoicing in the Torah"! Simhat Torah marks our completion of the annual cycle of the reading of the Torah. We will gather as a community at 6 pm on Thursday to read the last portion of our cycle and begin the new cycle. We'll also take out all the Torah scrolls and dance around with them as we sing songs and blessings. And as if that wasn't enough, we'll have sweet snacks and beverages to enjoy!
In class, we've learned about the themes of "memory" and "remembering" that permeate our High Holy Day observance. For Sukkot, we talked about the significance of the holiday as a reminder of our time living in the desert, and as a celebration of the harvest that we thank God for. We also watched an animated video about the many rules for building a sukkah. Rabbi Levin taught the class about the symbolism of the lulav and etrog, and everyone had the privilege of saying the blessings and performing the mitzvah of shaking the lulav and etrog in the sukkah.
The students also created some lulav and etrog decorations to hang in our room. While they worked, we learned about another view of the lulav and etrog as symbols for different types of people, and how by bringing them together in the sukkah, we remind ourselves that we need everyone to come together--all Jews of all types are part of our family!
As you know, we have divided the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grade students into two Hebrew classes. Alexa Goldstone, our 6th/7th grade teacher, is teaching those students who are working on their mastery of the alphabet and their phonetic reading skills. I am working with the students who have demonstrated a solid grasp of the aleph-bet and a good foundation in phonetic reading. We'll use a combination of online resources, games and traditional textual materials for reading practice and vocabulary development. We are particularly interested in using elements of the siddur (the daily and Sabbath prayer book) to help reinforce both reading and vocabulary, as well as to build familiarity and comfort with the fundamental elements of Conservative Jewish worship. But we will also be presenting vocabulary that is useful for everyday communication. Thus far, we have begun learning the days of the week and related vocabulary, and have talked about Hebrew's use of feminine and masculine grammatical forms. I'm teaching the class also to be able to identify the plural endings for feminine and masculine, and to know which is which.
Another of my goals is to remember to take more photos of the kids in action!! Hopefully we'll have a video or two, as well, in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I'll share these few snaps!
If you happen to be in the building, please feel free to look in at what we're up to! Hope to see you Thursday for Simhat Torah!