This week, our Teva Means Nature Outdoor Program went on a field trip to the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. Here they are at the La Ronda Parakata Gathering Space.

October 2, 2020
Volume 17, Issue 3
Candle Lighting: 6:10 p.m.
Parasha: Sukkot
Sukkot - the Holiday of Spending Time Outside
by Carla Goldberg, Early Childhood Director

The holiday of Sukkot is upon us. This year, more than ever, I am thinking about the meaning and practices surrounding Sukkot. We celebrate Sukkot mainly outside in the Sukkah, the temporary dwelling that reminds us of the Jews wandering the desert for forty years, living in tents. This year we are all looking for ways to spend more of our time outdoors. 
In the preschool and Kindergarten, we have been finding meaningful ways to learn in nature. The Kindergarten took several nature walks around the block and to the park during which the children collected lots of natural materials. This week preschoolers built their own sukkahs using these treasures. Each sukkah is unique and special and represents the children that built them. The children worked tirelessly on their creations, determining how to build a sukkah with at least three walls and a roof through which you can see the stars, and creating a space that would be welcoming to family and friends. The children employed their critical thinking skills to create structures that were balanced and would stand up. I love watching how classes can engage in similar activities and then the children make it their own. 
The Purple Room students created Sukkahs out of recycled materials and used different natural scents to decorate them, such as cinnamon and crushed flowers.
This week in the Teva Means Nature Outdoor Program, we took a field trip to the Burnham Park Nature Center at 35th Street and the Lake. I loved witnessing the children and their parents or caregivers exploring this beautiful area together, laughing, running, and leaving their worries behind. Research shows that spending time in nature helps reduce stress and anxiety. I can attest that these walks through the prairie with our children did that for me. I took some deep breaths, enjoyed the spectacular scenery, delighted in the children's discoveries and was present with and grateful for our children. 
During such uncertain times, when we are all feeling the stress of months of isolation, I encourage you to spend some time outdoors enjoying your surroundings and your family.  
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!
School under COVID-19 - For Your Reference
Dvar Torah    
The Upstairs Preschool created paper chains to decorate our Sukkah.
Sukkot: The Festival of Champions
by Rabbi David Bauman, Head of Judaic Studies and Community Engagement

7th/8th graders putting up the Sukkah on Thursday
This year, more than any other year, we are mindful of the intellectual, spiritual, and physical energy that we have expended over the month of Elul, celebrating two days of Rosh Hashanah, and fasting on both Tzum Gedaliah and Yom Kippur. It is perfectly normal to claim that we are exhausted. Yet, precisely at this time, the Jewish calendar presents a host of additional festivals: Sukkot, Hoshanah Rabah, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah. For a little over a week, we continue to celebrate each holiday with its own set of rituals, songs, and customs.

Compared to the other holy days of the season, none has as many Mitzvot (commandments) and Minhagim (customs) associated with it than does Sukkot, the Festival of Booths. Jews around the world build sukkot; carry the four species, lulav-palm, etrog-citron, aravah-willow, and hadas-myrtle; and eat festive meals in the sukkot. In many regards, Sukkot contains similar themes to the American holiday of Thanksgiving.
With all of this flurry of activity awaiting us, what can these practices mean? 

Judaic texts have explained the lulav and etrog in several ways: According to the Midrash Va-Yikra Rabbah, the etrog, hadas, and aravah symbolize the three Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Lulav symbolized God. By holding the three against the Lulav, we act out the lessons learned from our ancestors to enable us to serve God and better the world. According to this understanding, the lulav and etrog represent our connection to Jewish history.

The Midrash Pesikta De-Rav Kahana understands the lulav and etrog differently. Accordingly, each of the plants represents a different type of Jew: one who is learned in Torah and rich in good deeds, one who is learned is learned but has performed no good deeds, one who is uneducated but demonstrates acts of loving-kindness, and one who is uneducated and has not performed acts of loving-kindness. When we bring all four plants together, we pray that God will see the Jewish people as a single unit, each responsible for the other. Therefore, the lulav and etrog represent our unity as a people and celebrate our diversity as individuals.

Lastly, Rabbeinu Bachya's Kad ha-Kemah teaches that each of the four plants corresponds to a different human organ: the heart, the spine, the eyes, and the lips. Just as these organs can steer a person to error, so too can they become the means for self-improvement and for elevating others. The lulav and etrog, therefore, represent our determination to physically help others and ourselves, to serve God and make the world holy.

When we look at the meaningful lessons of each of these midrashim, it is easy to account for the details of already established observances. However, there is another approach, which encourages us to look at the big picture, not the details. Let's go back to the Midrash in Ma-Yikra Rabbah. In it, we learn that Rabbi Avin compares the lulav and the etrog to a scepter awarded to a victorious combatant. After struggling with the change in our daily schedules that COVID-19 has brought, after adapting to a new reality what the High Holy Days look and feel like, after spending ten Days of Repentance considering who we are and who we want to be, we the Jewish people emerged energized, enriched and motivated to deepen our relationships with God, with each other, and to work towards improving the world we live in.

May this New Year truly be the one in which our dreams come true. 

Shabbat Shalom v'Chag Sameach!
The Kindergarten read the book The Hardest Word and talked about how everyone can say, "I'm sorry for what I did." At the end of the last week they went to the park, where they did Tashlich. Instead of throwing their bad things into water, Ms. Rubin wrote them out in chalk and then the children poured water on the words and rubbed them away with their feet. They really enjoyed getting rid of the things that they did not like from the past year and seemed excited to start anew.
Upstairs Preschool: "To the Sukkah we will bring..."
This week the ZoomRoom began their study of Sukkot. After learning the Mitzvah of hachnasat orchim (welcoming of guests) from Carla, the children drew blueprints for their Sukkah. Then they shared and described what they are planning to create. Next they are using loose parts and recyclables to build.
Grades 1 - 8
Taking class pictures is a challenge in these days of social distancing but the 1st/2nd graders did quite well taking this one at their Tashlich ceremony last week by the lake.
Yaakov's rendering of Tiberias from the 7th/8th grade IDL unit on "What Makes the Heart of a Place?" Students are working in groups; each group is focusing on one city in Israel. With the Tel Aviv Stories guidebook as inspiration, they are creating their own guidebook through group and individual writing, drawing and Hebrew projects.
Art class took advantage of the nice weather and drew from nature in the park.
7th and 8th graders in the Pandemic IDL unit are learning how mathematical models tell stories. Here they are discussing the kind of data models that will best illustrate the impact of the virus in their simulation. Each group must give a detailed description of all parameters of their model to the math expert, Mr. Amiel, who then produces the model for them. They are learning to be very detailed and clear in considering the impact of each factor. Otherwise, they may not quite get what they want!
In the 5th/6th grade Motion IDL unit, students have been learning how graphs tell motion and action stories that cover the time and distance of a narrative. If a prey and a predator character are in motion at particular rates, they may or may not intersect with each other. Are they ever in the same time and place simultaneously? If they change their rates to speed up or slow down mid-story, they may or may not intersect. Students studied rates, functions, scales, and ordered pairs, and tried to predict from looking at a graph whether the slopes of lines meant characters were speeding up or slowing down. Here Isaac has graphed what happens to his characters before they intersect.
8 Questions for an 8th Grader   
In each issue of the Kibitzer, we feature one of our 8th graders. In this edition, it is Robbie Berks:
  1. Since when have you been at Akiba? I have been at Akiba for 11 years since the Blue Room when I was three.
  2. What neighborhood do you live in? I live in Hyde Park.
  3. What do you hope to accomplish in 8th grade? In 8th grade, I hope to improve my writing and math skills and prep for high school.
  4. What is your favorite subject at Akiba and why? My favorite subject is Hebrew because I really like my Hebrew teacher, Morah Dorit.
  5. What do you think is special about Akiba? What do you particularly like and why? I think Akiba is special because I know everyone here and everyone is friendly. I have even gotten to know all of my teachers.
  6. If you have had your bar mitzvah or are preparing for it, what did you learn from it? From my bar mitzvah, I learned that knowing Hebrew can sometimes be very rewarding, as I was able to do seven Aliyot. 
  7. When you're not at school or doing homework, what do you like to do (hobbies, special interests)? My hobbies are video games and sports. I play baseball and soccer and am an avid MLB watcher.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow upWhen I grow up my dream is to be a major league baseball announcer.
Reminder: Parent Zoom Meeting next Wednesday, October 7 at 9:00 p.m.

Join the Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School community from wherever you are - all over Chicagoland and the world - for a 5k Fun Run or Walk. You can even be a virtual spectator and cheer on runners and walkers on social media throughout the day! Sign up for the Virtual Akiba-Schechter Shuffle on October 18. More info here

If you're interested in joining the PTO committee, please email

Mazal Tov our security guard, Monique Willis, on becoming a grandmother!

Dates to Remember
Wednesday, October 7
9:00 p.m.
Friday, October 9
Erev Shmini Atzeret
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 
REMOTE Half Day for K-8
Preschool in session with 2:30 p.m. Dismissal
Monday, October 12
Middle School Parent Night
6:00-7:30 p.m. on Zoom 
Tuesday, October 13
Preschool and Kindergarten Parent Night
6:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Zoom 
Tuesday, October 13
Lower School Parent Night
6:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Zoom
Sunday, October 18
Virtual Akiba-Schechter Shuffle
throughout the day

Affiliated with the Associated Talmud Torahs and supported by the Kehillah Jewish Education Fund