It was great to get back from my first visit to Israel in 15 years! My main purpose for going was to reunite with many friends all over the country, and to see the incredible changes in Israel since I was there last in 1999. Luckily, my first day back at the Cohen school coincided with a visit from Matan Graf, our Israeli Emissary. I showed the kids some of my pictures and explained about some of the places I had been and what I had seen. Matan also gave us a "virtual tour" of Israel via the interactive web site of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. Matan also talked about Passover in Israel and how he and many Israelis celebrate the holiday--with a Seder, of course, but also with hiking and camping. Pesach is a big school vacation in Israel, so many families head out into the natural beauty of Israel.
Our discussions about Passover focused on the structure of the the Seder and some history of how the Seder was celebrated over various periods of history. The kids rehearsed singing the 2nd of the Four Questions, which they performed beautifully at the school seder.
Here's a video of them singing it!:
While I was away in Israel, the class created collages based on our prayer project. The goal was to collect images that evoke the kinds of images and feelings we have when we pray. Our latest assignment was to write a few paragraphs about the difference between praying in public with others and praying on our own in private. I also asked the kids to write about their "best" prayer experiences. These responses will be incorporated into the prayer video project that we began back in early winter.
Looking ahead, we will be celebrating Israel's Independence Day, and looking at how Israel became a state, what it means for us that there is an Israel in the world, and what some of the challenges and hopes are for the future of Israel. We will also soon be selecting a tzedaka project that we can work on as a class. Stay tuned! Shalom!