December 17, 2020
Hannukiot and Jewish values- Morah Alex leads the way!
Parents consider question: Where is tzedek in the Hannukah story?

Talking about the Hannukah story means talking about violence at some point. The Jews were oppressed by Antiochus, they went to war to be able to be Jewish, among other things.

"The Maccabees were able to get justice for themselves, they were able to take it," said one parent. Another parent agreed and added, "this was about advocating for themselves, not relying on a savior to swoop in and help."

This led us to the question: when is it OK to have a war? "When people are being killed" said a parent. "When you are fighting for your family and friends" said another. "When all diplomatic options are exhausted" said yet another parent. But what if diplomacy was never a choice? raised another parent.

Noa, a student, asked via her mom: "was there a way both sides could have got what they wanted?"
How do we show respect
-to others?
-The place we are in?

-Sage sharing her knowledge that the miracle lasted for 8 days

-Gabe sharing his 9 things that are bringing him simcha

-The parents for leaping into the breach and having a continuing conversation about tzedek.

-Joon sharing and explaining why both the Macabees and the 5 Banot were confident and brave in their stories.

Julia for being brave and leading the shema for the first time

Jacksanna noticed that her group "was really paying a lot of attention and listening, because we said a lot of details."

Rabbi Lewis for participating and then leaving when Phoebe expressed he was making her nervous

Julia and Soli for working together and talking about the others ideas agreeing or disagreeing respectfully

Hazel and Violet asking to hear the story again to get ideas for drawing

Tova saw cavod when: "In my breakout room, when I didn’t know what they meant by a person being a dreidel, they helped me."
We find ourselves considering the visual difference between resh and dalet. One is rounded (resh) the other has a dogstail (dalet). OK that we can remember. But what about Ayin and Tzadee? Ayin is lyin' (down) and tzadee is trying to stand up and be a tzaddik. OK maybe that's a little harder to wrap our heads around. Because you would have to know what a tzaddik is. Which conveniently we will be learning as a school as we continue our exploration of tzedek!
The Breton Boraks family leads TAA Hannukiot lighting on Saturday night. Kai Rumi (below) lets us know he loves us a "latke" with his shirt.

We listened to the Hannukah story read by the Morim. Then we got into breakout groups and drew, talked and wondered about the connections to the story we know so well.

Rohin: the evil king is saying "you can't do your holidays." This person down here is saying, "Waaaaah!" (top picture)
Tova: This is the Temple and the evil king. Those little pieces are pieces of shattered glass. (bottom picture)
Kai made a connection right away: "5 sisters worked together and the Maccabees worked together to get what they wanted."

Rose added "the Banot and the Maccabees were both fighting for tzedek, and they were fighting for what they wanted!"

Aviva: the 5 sisters and Maccabees both stand up for what they believe in, and then they both get what they wanted

Joon: the 5 sisters and the Maccabees were both confident and brave!

Gabe: the 5 sisters and the Maccabees both took a risk to get land and freedom!

Elliot saw connections too: Judah Maccabee is like Moses. There are 5 daughters and there are 5 Maccabee brothers. But "I think that the stories were completely opposite, 5 girls and 5 boys; one used peaceful negotiation and the other used (force)"

Morah Emma asked: Why did the sisters ask for justice and the Maccabees fought for it? Elijah said: "the Maccabees were being killed and not able to practice their religion and the sisters were not being killed and were allowed to practice religion. What happened to the Maccabees was worse." Lemi agreed with Elijah and added about the difference in the stakes: "the sisters knew that they could ask and there might be a chance that it could happen but they’re not going to want to start in a camp full of a million tents with no actual city. Plus nobody wants to start wars. The Maccabees wanted to stay Jews and all of the Jews are probably going to disappear if they go to war. The daughters knew Judaism could continue without them. Their religion didn’t need fighting for. When Judah was there were a lot of reasons to be fighting for."
Talmidim consider: What is the Shema FOR? What is the Shema AGAINST?

To answer this, after making our way through the opening blessings, the shema and the Amidah, we looked at the midrash of Jacob/Israel on his deathbed, surrounded by his sons ("did he not have any daughters?" asked one student. Yes! Dinah! Why doesn't Judaism count her?).

Jacob is worried that the kids won't believe in one G-d. They say: "listen dad, Adonai is our G-d, only Adonai." And he can die peacefully.

Talmidim took a meta approach: Why is this one family so important? And: how did you know they said that?

We turned to the question above- talmidim said that the Shema was for one G-d, and not having multiple gods. We then asked: what about one-ness? Is it possible to be ONE? To be totally united?

Noach said no: "People are always just going to be greedy and want more and it will never be fully peaceful."

Erez saw a different picture: "Because on earth anyway they are all made out of the same atoms." To which Tal (Tyler) added "we're all carbon based!"


We reminded ourselves of OUR Abrams. Arrogant, afraid, nuts. But what did the ancient Rabbis make of a guy who was ready to leave home at 75? Their answer: something must of happened to him to make him faithful when he was younger.

We looked at a new-to-us midrash about the young Abraham. He was born under a star that ATE FOUR OTHER STARS (Sefer Ha Aggadah), he was a threat to the ruler Nimrod (so said the wizards- yah, more wizards) and so his dad puts him in a cave. G-d makes sure the cave is stocked with flour and oil (they come through the walls in a tube) (yes) and when Abram is three he walks out of the cave, sees the sun, then sees the moon and stars and thinks: something is making all this happen, and it's not me. I'll pray to THAT.

Students drew what they heard in the midrash. Then Erez a Jewish Leader in Training asked them: "How do this story compare to the version of Abram you said last week? And if they different, how are they different?"

[Abram as a kid] is EXTRAORDINARY -Violet and Joon
Joon and Violet thought that the midrash Abram was intellectual and extraordinary. "How did he even learn to talk in a cave?" It was Erez who pointed out to us that maybe it was because Abram was away from the politics- Nimrod and his wizards- that he got a different view of the world, one where there could be a G-d in charge, not a person.

Next up: making our own midrash.
The Sylvia Cohen Family Learning Project
of Temple Ahavat Achim
Director: Phoebe Potts