“Not too baffling… nor beyond reach.” – Deuteronomy 30:11
לֹא נִפְלֵאת הִוא מִמְּךָ וְלֹא רְחֹקָה הִוא
Of course, no single quote can sum up the readings for Yom Kippur, but this one reminds us that one should never assume that understanding is out of our reach. One of the things I am excited for this year is sharing books written for children. I plan to post my discoveries here so you can also share a wealth of knowledge with the children in your life. I have reached out to some writers I know, to ask about the their books, and I hope you will also share your favorites with me. New books are great. Classic are fine too, and please don’t be shy to share a treasured book that is out of print. We still read some very ancient texts, and maybe we can make the old seem new again for a generation of young readers!
Listen Up! “Ha’azinu” Deuteronomy 32:1 – 32:52. Being able to listen, especially to the things we’d rather not hear (about ourselves or about others) is never easy. Often we compliment someone by saying, he or she is ‘a good listener.’ How important it is to have someone in your life who will take the time to listen to you! What a challenge to try and become that kind of listener.
Take a walk and listen to the sounds outside. This requires that your students remain silent as you take them on a walk about their school inside and out. Back in the classroom share the different sounds that everyone has heard. Every student should have a chance to contribute. Listen. Every sound has a story.
This week’s portion, on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashana is Nitzavim: אַתֶּם נִצָּבִים הַיּוֹם, “On this day, you shall stand.”(Deuteronomy 29:9 – 31:30)
What does it mean to ‘stand up for’ or ‘stand up to someone’? What does it mean to ‘take a stand.’ Learning to trust oneself and stand up for someone, or something you believe to be true, despite the naysayers, takes strength and self-confidence, qualities that we can work on over time.
Seat the students in a circle. Toss a rubber or foam ball between them. As a student catches the ball encourage that student to say one thing that she is good at and something that someone else does well before tossing the ball back to you (this way you can make sure everyone gets a turn). Learning to recognizing the abilities of others is a way to begin standing up for them and to begin building a strong community.
The New Year! A New Moon! A chance to start over.
SPEAK UP! Happy Rosh Hashana
The New Year is a time to imagine changes and challenges. Giving voice to our hopes and dreams are steps toward defining these aspirations. And what is the first step to achieving these goals? Voicing them! Learning to express what we want is the first step, and not an easy one, in moving towards a goal. As Channah says in the Haftorah portion that is read on the Shabbat of Rosh Hashana: וָאֶשְׁפֹּךְ אֶת נַפְשִׁי “I have poured out my soul.”
Parents and teachers help children learn to express desires without selfishness or shame. Suggest that each child come up with three wishes : one for themselves, one for another person and one for everyone. You may be surprised to learn what’s on their minds.
Rosh Hashana is a time to think and to encourage,to reflect about how we can improve our world. Put their important words around the room. Quote them as we quote famous people, as visual reminders for the coming year.
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Twice on the PJ list in English and once on the PJ Spanish edition. Jodie’s Hanukkah Dig has reached thousands of children giving them a feel for archaeology, Israel and the joy of discovering Jewish history.
“Levine…writes knowledgeably about the details of archaeological work, including the thrill of discovery, the backbreaking work of digging in the hot sun, and its importance to the historical record… A good choice for classes studying history or countries.” Booklist of the American Library Association.
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Interweaving history and adventure, Levine takes young readers on a Passover trip worth pursuing…Levine’s plot takes kids to a place where the past and the present converge in exciting new ways. Ages 5–9. (Feb.)