NEWS FROM THE LEARNING KEHILLA AT TEMPLE AHAVAT ACHIM*
*Why yes! Love IS our middle name!
What is the Ger that we are mindful of them?
According to Jack (see above) we are commanded to care for the stranger (we use the word "newcomer" if you are younger than 7 years old) "because you were a stranger too and treating them poorly is like someone else treating you poorly when you were a stranger." What Jack has laid out for us here is the reflexive quality of so many of the commands we are meant to do as Jews. Do this for them, and it also works for you. Do this for them because you know what it is like. The K-2 class also had a similar take on this text
"You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt." -Exodus 23:9
Some students felt excited about welcoming the "newcomer" like for a "playdate or a sleepover" (Rose). Ezra said the word newcomer made him think about being new at school. (see below).
Afterwards we read the Ger quote and stated words that stood out to us the most. We activated our prior knowledge on the most repeated word - newcomer! Hazel said "it's a person." Evan V. said "someone who's new; they can come to your house, it could be a friend." Maayan said "someone who comes to your house that you don't know, for example dad's friend from work." Gunnar and Kai said "like when a pickle becomes a cucumber." Tovah said "a new friend." Lastly, Flora said "a person that's new in your family."
After the K-2 read the story "I'm new here" about new immigrants to a community, Rose said "(the newcomer) might think they're saying no because they don't know the language." Another student said they could "Find someone who knows the language." Miles suggested saying "I don't understand (referring to the newcomer's native language)."
Next time, we hope to use some of the existing scenarios the students are familiar and some new ones to act out what it looks like to welcome a newcomer.
Morah Elizabeth reported that the 4-6 also tackled the text from Exodus:
Today we thought about the "Ger" or newcomer. We did a text study, worked in chevruta, did some role playing, and then generated some questions for the "Gerim" who will be joining us in a few weeks.
During our text study, we read a few lines from Exodus. The students shared words that stood out to them, and questions they had. Several students shared the word "oppressed" and connected the story to the holiday of Passover.
We then discussed times, places, and situations when we have felt like the "ger" or newcomer. Then we transitioned into role playing. Julia and Hazel pretended to be new students in our classroom, and other the students welcomed them, introduced themselves, and asked questions to "get to know them better."
After that, we discussed that we will actually have the opportunity to welcome real life immigrants/"Gerim" to our kehillah in a few weeks!
Here are some of their questions and prompts for us to get to know the ger or newcomer:
Ryan: "How old were you when you moved here?"
Hazel: "Do you have children?" "What is your current or previous occupation?"
Gabe: "Why did you move here?"
Julia: "Tell us something interesting about yourself."
In the 3rd grade with Phoebe and Hadassa, we told the story about how we became the Gerim in Egypt. We weren't newcomers- we had been there since the time of Joseph. We heard that "a new Pharoah arose who did not know Joseph" and there began the trouble for the Hebrews. We learned of their incremental marginalization-- hard work, eventual slavery and the crushing edict: kill your baby boys. We also learned about how the midwives, Jochebed, Miriam and Princess Batia moved to protect the babies. Much of this story was supplied by Avi. Jack, Sylvie and Avi had lots of questions and a few choice statements.They were as follows:
"Were Black people allowed to be Jewish" (They were Black, so yes.)
"There would be no such things as humans- we would still be slaves."
"Who wrote the Torah?"
"Why did she decide to draw him (Moshe) from the water? Didn't she know he was Jewish?"
"How does Pharaoh allow (Moses to be in his house) it?"
"What did the slave do after Moses saved him?"
We then thought more about this commandment. Why is it a commandment? Why are we being told to care for strangers?
Avi posited: "The new Pharaoh was like 'I really don't like these people and they might take over!' and we were not accepted and you will always remember how you felt sad and angry that you were not accepted."
Sylvie's take was more aligned with Jacks: "It's a commandment because you somewhere are a stranger to(o) and if you don't act kindly they won't act kind to you."
Next up: like the other classes, we will practice welcoming a "Ger" and think of some good questions to ask them that also show cavod