March 25, 2021

The question put to the parents this week was the same question the talmidim pondered: What do we wonder about when we wonder about racism, homelessness and the environment? What questions do we have for tzaddikim (righteous ones) who work on those challenges?

Adam H wondered: how do they scope the work they do on these issues? How do you set goals so it does not seem insurmountable?

Jeff asked: What do they need from their kehilla? Time? Money? Letters? He also wondered: where do these issues intersect?

Laura wondered: how does one BE antiracist? How do we put ourselves forward, outside of our own lives, to do that work? Brian seconded these questions.

Ashley wanted to know how and where do we find age appropriate things to participate in these causes if we want to be more active?

Katie asked: how do they explain and teach people who have not experienced these issues directly? Laura added that she has heard our visiting tzaddik Rabbi Margie talk about having the people who are most affected be the leaders of the work. How do we make sure that happens locally, wondered Laura, if the people who are effected don't live where you live?

Sara asked: how do people who work on this hard and important work take care of themselves?

On Sunday, April 4th, we will be able to hear answers to these questions and more when we ask our experts!

With Moreh Matt, the K-1 class looked at the segregation signs in the book As Good As Anybody about MLK and Heschel. We talked about how the signs would make us feel if we saw them. "Sad" and "bad" were some of our answers. During Art/Project Time: drew our own ideas for signs. We also looked at a handmade sign for inspiration. The students described their signs. Rose: "Two people making friends. The words say "I love love'"
Hazel: "mine says Black lives matter and there's a person who's Black."
Ezra: "It says Black lives matter, we hope Black people get more money someday and get a home."
Lucy: "it says black people are allowed. It has a black person and a white person.
When is a vav not a vav? When it is a vowel sound like "ooh" or "oh!" For "ooh" we think- ooh! punched in the belly and for "oh" we think "oh what's that up there?"

But then there is the part where vav and vet make the same sound. This is interesting. Why? And why is there a caf and a koof? Maimonides said to say when you don't know an answer, then you are open to learning. I don't know. But I do know that all of our Hebrew at Homers can now tell the difference between a vav and a vet, and a oh from an ooh. So the world is their oyster!


After a rousing round of Hebrew and movement with Morah Alex, we broke into small groups to come up with a list of questions about the issue we feel needs more TZEDEK in this world. Our guests on 4/4 will be none other than Rebecca Visnick, Rabbi Margie Klein and Melissa Dimond. Here are some of the questions our talmidim will be asking three Jewish women who work hard at bringing tzedek into our world:

"How do we help? We're only kids!"

Aviva: What can us kids DO to help the environment and the animals?
Did you ever find out why the minke whale passed away? (connection to an article we read)

Ryan: What ARE the bad things that we are doing, that we might not know we are doing? 
What was the first animal YOU rescued?

Violet: How do we help? We’re only kids! What do you do for your job that helps the environment and the animals here in New England?
When I grow up I want to be an animal rescuer! What animals have you rescued so far? What is your favorite marine mammal?

Soli: What does a typical day at your job look like?

Joon: How do you give tzedakah and also what inspired you?

What we wonder about racism and what we want to ask Rabbi Margie:

Elliot began by asking- Why does a person think it's ok to treat someone badly just because of their skin color?
Rohin followed up on that with this question: who invented racism/ it shouldn’t be right to treat people differently because of what they look like/ Which person even started racism? Jacksanna wondered why white people got excused more often than Black people. Noa asked: if there are different kinds of racism, what are they?

After looking at what ECCO does locally to combat racism, we thought about the story of the Banot again, and if Rabbi Margie's work was like that. We looked at photos of Rabbi Margie doing the work she does. Our questions for the Rabbi will be...
-Is it hard to change laws for people without getting arrested?
-is it easy to get people to be by your side?
-if you could get anyone to help you change the laws to be less racist, would you go right to that person, or would you still bring everyone with you?
-why do you need so many people by your side to fight racism?
-How do you get people to listen to you?
How do we show respect
-to others?
-The place we are in?

Violet was especially participatory today!
Rohin asking Elliot to repeat his question; Zev saying he didn’t know, Noa connecting to Jacksanna’s ideas; Emma grabbing extra students from a different group with a different theme! 
Elijah and Lemi showed cavod by having their whiteboards ready to go! Gabe showed cavod by helping come up with a question for the group learning about homelessness.
Lucy shared an answer through chat when she was reluctant to say out loud. Ezra really participated today verbally as well as with art and writing. Lucy and Hazel were super engaged and full of ideas and comments. Joon was ready with answers about the Amidah. Erez added a lot to our conversation about the Amidah.

Featuring our own

and talmidim reciting the 4 questions.
Rabbi Lewis asked us to think about the Jewish practice of blessing something before and after the event. Noah had this personal contribution: "when I get a ride I thank them- when they arrive to get me and when I am dropped off." Exactly!
Asked what was the blessing after about… is it still gratitude as with the  first blessing or something else as well?.  We were asked what else has blessing before and after and it was Erez who reminded us "Torah!" 
What if a grandparent was giving you a book that had been in your family for generations with stories and recipes and ideas about how to live your life.  Cherished in your family and now you are receiving it… What would that mean, what might you say or feel upon receiving it?  These questions and more for next time.....outside and in person!
How are the Avot vImahot related in the Amidah?
What are the stories behind Yakov, Rachel and Leah?

First of all, we reconsidered our treat choices for the big "I can lead the first blessing of the Amidah" feast. Ben and Jerry's they said. Many flavors they said. Better than veggie burgers they said.

We recited the Amidah with Phoebe and then we did it on our own. Violet and Joon were our brave volunteers today and read it through with minimal support.

Then we looked at the names- who did we know about already? Who do we have left to learn about? Jacob, Rachel and Leah of course. We looked at a family tree to see how the avot were connected, and Erez reminded us of the story of Yitzach giving the birthright to second born Yakov. We watched a video that told the story of what happened next with Yakov- how we met Rachel, was tricked into marrying Leah. The question we came up with was: Why is this the family in the Amidah? WHY THIS FAMILY? We will start answering for themselves when we meet again to learn more about....

The Sylvia Cohen Family Learning Project
of Temple Ahavat Achim
Director: Phoebe Potts