lreeves's blog

Shoresh team meet: Won’t You Be My (Jewish) Neighbor?

Shoresh is “only” three hours per week (two and a half hours on Fridays and half an hour during Hebrew@Home). But Shoresh guides students as they develop their Jewish roots—their Jewish identities. We’re charged with an important task, one that we do not take lightly. We understand how sacred it is to spend time with your child each week, helping to grow those Jewish roots. Developing our teachers’ skills to teach Judaism is only part of the puzzle. The other part is their ability to build community and make Judaism relevant to children’s everyday lives—that is what we worked on at this most recent team meet.

What's Jewish about recycling?

This year our 6th/7th grade class at Shoresh is learning about Jewish perspectives on the environment. They have learned about what Judaism says about water and conserving water, decorated their own reusable water cups, and making Jewish holidays more sustainable. The students noticed that some classrooms don't have clearly visible recycling bins (as well as some common spaces at KAM Isaiah Israel) so they wanted to ensure every space has a recycling bin. They studied a verse from the Torah, Genesis 1:28, about God creating and keeping the earth, and created a rap about the Jewish importance of recycling.

Red Sea, Blue Feet: Experiencing crossing the Sea of Reeds

A lot of Shoresh families know that I love to go big. So this past week at Shoresh, few were surprised when our 2nd/3rd grade group recreated walking through the Sea of Reeds ('Red Sea') by stepping through blue paint.
Ben, the 2nd/3rd grade teacher, led the group in a visualization exercise to get them ready to "walk through" the Sea of Reeds. They pictured themselves in the desert after escaping from Pharaoh, talked about the courage and faith the Jews needed to cross the Sea of Reeds, and imagined what it would feel like to step towards freedom.

Engaging each child as they are: A story of the Ten Commandments and Mr. Rogers

I hear somewhat regularly from parents who want Shoresh to make explicit connections between some more secular concepts (think recycling, interfaith relationships, feeding the poor) and Judaism, so here’s the explicit Jewish connection to watching a Mr. Rogers documentary and learning mental health first aid training. These experiences help me continue to try to create an environment at Shoresh and KAM Isaiah Israel where we welcome each child for who they are. We engage with children and don’t shy away from difficult concepts. We recognize talents on and off stage. We connect with children and help children connect with each other and create community. The community at Shoresh and KAM Isaiah Israel may just be the place where your teen meets the adult to whom they can reach out and say “I’m having a hard time and need help.”