December 4, 2016
As we continue our study of prayer, next week we will be learning about the Amidah and our prayer for our ancestors. PLEASE send your child with a photograph of a grandparent or older relative. If you have time, talk to your child about their family history and send them with a few sentences about where their family is from, why they came to the US and the way they interacted with their Judaism in the country they lived in before. This is a great time to take out the family album, recount your own memories of great-grandparents and even cook a traditional meal with your child! Please let me know if you have difficulties with this or are unable to complete this assignment for any reason.
This past week we continued learning about Jewish prayer by learning about the concept of Hallel or praise and by learning fun ways that Jews pray. We also attended the music elective with Morah Molly and had a great time at Tiffilah.
To begin our lesson, we explained that the commonly used phrase, Halleluyah, means “Praise to G-d.” Hallel means praise and ya is another name for G-d in Judaism! We went around and said one amazing thing that happened to us in the past week (we heard about sand castle competitions, festive Thanksgiving dinners and birthday parties with basketball) and then we shouted HALLELUYAH! This was our way of learning to appreciate and notice the wonderful parts of our lives.
Afterwards, we learned the psalm “Halleluyah” of Psalm 150 which recognizes that we can praise G-d through musical instruments. In line with this expression of prayer, we made our very own instruments out of recyclable objects, yarn and many, many beans. We gathered back on the carpet with our instruments and sang “Halleluyah” while playing our instruments. We created a wonderful (if not cacophonous) symphony that truly expressed our joy and gratitude!
Finally, we played freeze dance to the song Halleluya by Nava Tehila which was an interpretation of Psalm 148.
Overall, we had a great morning of singing and praise!
PLEASE send your child with a photograph of a grandparent or older relative.
If you have time, talk to your child about their family history and send them with a few sentences about where their family is from, why they came to the US and the way they interacted with their Judaism in the country they lived in before.
November 20, 2016
Thank you all for coming out to the JJEP breakfast! It was great seeing you all and having the time to get to know all of the families a bit better.
After you all left, we continued learning about prayers. Last week we learned about prayers for peace. This week, we learned about the morning prayers.
To start, we learned the story behind the prayer “Mah Tovu.” The prayer honors the beautiful tents of the Jewish people and the way in which that beauty halted an evil sorcerer from cursing the Jewish people. In response, we made our own tents out of sheets and blankets and then sang “Mah Tovu” over our beautiful encampments.
Afterwards, we learned the prayer for the Tallis and put on tallit in partners. We also created our own tzit tzit by passing around a ball of yarn to each student and then cutting a piece to make a fringed bracelet.
Lastly, we reviewed the Birkot HaShachar. This is a blessing we sing every morning during tiffilah at JJEP. We played charades, acting out the different actions that the prayer is blessing.
Below is a picture from our lesson today!
Just a reminder, there is no JJEP next week but there is JJEP the week after. Our next days off are December 25 and January 1st.
If you all have any more questions for me about the class or about your child’s progress/engagement in the class, please let me know!
Have a good week,
October 23, 2016
I hope you all are having a great week enjoying your sukkot or just getting outside and appreciating the changing leaves. This week we learned about Simchat Torah, finishing up our study of the Fall Jewish Holidays. We also cooked hummus during our elective and welcomed new JJEP families into our community during consecration.
Throughout this semester we have learned about the completion of life cycles that our Fall Jewish holidays celebrate. Rosh Hashanah celebrates the cycle of a year, Shabbat (not a fall holiday but a holiday we learned about a few weeks ago) celebrates the cycle of a week, Sukkot celebrates the cycle of the harvest and finally, Simchat Torah celebrates the cycle of our Torah reading.Our Fall Jewish holidays help us process the changes of our natural world and reflect on the beauty of the cyclical nature of our lives. At a time when the seasons are changing, flowers are beginning to die and leaves are starting to fall from trees, it is important for us all to be reminded that spring will come again, flowers will one day bloom with life and our trees will soon be full of green leaves.
Simchat Torah comes at the end of this fall celebration of cycles. As People of the Book, it is apt that we end our celebration of the cycles of the natural world by celebrating the completion of the completion of our religious text, The Torah.
In class today, we learned that Jews celebrate Simchat Torah by dancing around with the Torah. We decided it would be fun to have our own Torah procession too! Each student read or looked at the illustrations of a Torah story from the library’s picture book section. Then, each student created a puppet, a costume or a picture depicting an element of the Torah story. We learned the Mayim dance and danced around the classroom with our Torah story creations!
Below are the videos your children watched to learn about the way people celebrate Simchat Torah:
I hope you all have a great week and have time to reflect on the cycles that our Jewish holidays help us celebrate.
September 18, 2016
I hope you all had a great weekend and enjoyed the Steelers game despite the rain. This week at JJEP, we spent our time together learning about Rosh Hashana. We also went to Hebrew Yoga and sang prayers during t’fillah.
We centered our study around the question: Why are we celebrating New Years in October? The first answer to this question is that we are Jewish and Jews do things a bit differently. But, when we began to investigate this question more closely, we learned that Jews also have a different calendar with our own months (we even found everyone’s Hebrew birthday! Check out this link to find yours!). We also talked about the way Jews mark the months by following the changing moon.
We learned that the Jewish New Year is in the Month of Tishrei which is the seventh month of the Jewish year. We talked about the importance of the number seven in Judaism. We learned that after seven days of the week Jews celebrate Shabbat to appreciate G-d’s creation and to prepare for and look forward to a new week. Similarly, after seven months of the year, we take a few days to appreciate the world around us and look forward to a New Year. For more explanations of why we celebrate Rosh Hashana in the month of Tishrei check out this link.
To celebrate Rosh Hashana we all decorated our own Jewish calendars with all of the fun things we did this past year. We shared our calendars with each other and then came up with goals for ourselves for the coming year.
Just as a reminder, we are closed next week due to the Great Race, but you can visit the JJEP table at the Apples & Honey Festival from 1 to 4.
JJEP will also be closed on Oct 2nd so the building can be prepared for Rosh Hashana.
Have a great few weeks and a great New Year!
September 6, 2016
Dear First Grade Parents,
Welcome to First grade at JJEP! My name is Hannah Weintraub and I will be the classroom teacher for first grade. I am currently a senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Jewish studies, History and Writing. I have taught Sunday school for three years and have worked as a Jewish summer camp counselor and youth group leader. This is my first year at JJEP and I am excited to meet all of you and your children!
This year we will be learning about Jewish rituals that we do at home. We’ll be using Jewish ritual objects like tzedakah boxes, mezzuzot, candle sticks and seder plates to learn about the different Jewish holidays, prayers and traditions. We will also be learning the fundamental Torah stories like Jonah and the Whale, Adam and Eve and the Creation story. Throughout the year I will be asking for parent involvement in a number of our lessons, so stay tuned for those opportunities!
As you prepare your child for JJEP, I would like to ask if parents could write a brief letter explaining why you feel that it is important for your child to receive a Jewish education and to continue engaging in Jewish tradition. Please bring these letters with you on the first day or email them to me! We will be sharing these letters with your children throughout the school year.
As a reminder, Tfillah (K-7) is at 10:30 with special guest Dan Nichols on our first day. Parents are more than welcome to join us on the first Sunday, and every Sunday for Tfillah at that time.
JJEP is also offering a once-a-month elective for parents. You can find more information in the weekly JJEP emails or by contacting Kate Kim.
JJEP Parent Elective: Grow your Judaism through Chai Mitzvah
Join Rabbi Bisno, Rabbi Adelson and others for a unique experiential Jewish journey that blends monthly group study with personal choices of Jewish engagement, called the “Jewish Bucket List.”
To sign up or for more information:
Email Kate or call 412-621-6566 x111
$18 covers the cost of materials
It would be wonderful for you all to walk your kids to class this Sunday at 9:30 so I can meet you and introduce you to our classroom!
Have a great week.