April 15, 2021

You can match my gift of $36 to each place of these organizations in honor of the three tzaddikot who came to speak to us and who do the tzedek work every day! Double Chai!

Alaska Sealife Center (Rebecca used to work there)
We were joined this past Sunday by East Boston Elementary school teacher Chelsea Unis. Chelsea is an African American woman who lives in Gloucester. She spoke to us about what it is like to be on the receiving end of Black Lives Matter signs as a person of color. She told us how she started seeing BLM signs in Gloucester last summer after the murder of George Floyd. When she and her sons would see them they would honk or wave, and she would feel like she was welcome in the community. This was important to her because of other experiences she has had where people have tried to intimidate her with their "All Lives Matter" signs. Tova asked why saying "all lives matter" was bad. "It's not bad," said Chelsea, "but it means something not supportive right now." We talked about how all lives do matter, but right now Black lives are in danger and need our attention and support. If your house is on fire and you run to your neighbors and say "help! my house is on fire" and they say "all houses matter" it isn't supportive at all. The Morim were glad Tova asked that question, because she is not the only who had it.
Chelsea said that children making signs supporting Black Lives does make a difference for her and her family.
To recognize the time and effort Chelsea gave us, we are making a donation to an antiracist organization of her choice.

1. Reflected on Chelsea Unis’s visit.
2. Studied “Pirkei Avot” “Rabbi Hillel used to say: be like Aaron, loving peace and making peace, loving all people and drawing them close to the Torah.”
3. Hebrew Yoga Rosh, Yadayim, Eynayim, Reglayim, Peh, Lev
4. Free Draw Rewarded ourselves for great listening with a free draw. 

Question: What Did We Hear from Chelsea Unis?
Answer: Kai: She felt really welcomed here.

Question: Where are we going to put our signs?
Answer: Hazel: I'm gonna put it on my front door.
Rose: I'm going to put it in my back yard.

Question: What does peace mean? 
Answer: Kai: Peace is like “peace and quiet.”
Rose: Peace is making friends.
Ezra: Living in harmony.
Question: Where do we go to find peace? 
Kai: I go to my studio and have peace and quiet by making art.
Hazel: I usually go to my room and play with slime.
Ezra: I go to a shady spot in a park under a tree.
Tova: I make a fort and go into it to make peace and quiet.
Rose: I usually go on my bed.
Katie Kanter is learning Hebrew with her son Ryan. Ryan is learning Hebrew with his mom, Katie. Both of them log on to "Ivrit b'Bayit" and work their way through Hebrew letters and vowel sounds and vocabulary words. What happens when Katie starts to read out loud? Ryan is usually whispering the right vowel sounds to his mom. What happens when Ryan gets stuck? Katie will prompt Ryan. This is called proximal learning. You know it from having learned with a friend. It's when you get to be the expert and the novice at the same time. You also get to build memories of learning something together with your parent or your child.

Now that we have heard from expert tzaddikot, we are ready to create our own list and start doing some tzedakah (righteous acts- not just charity!) with our families.

We heard the talmidim share some ideas they had for tzedakah for the environment! They made connections to what Chelsea said this morning about making signs.

We heard students make connections to the story of the banot, and made connections to things they already do in their lives that are tzedakah for the environment!

Soli said that the jaguars needed shelter and protection, so we talked about how we could give local animals more shelter and protection. We heard that Aviva could make a home for a squirrel, Joon shared that her teacher recently made an osprey nest, and Soli shared that his family has a bat house!

Over in the homes for people conversation, Gabe told Julia that lots of people are homeless and that they have a shelter where people can go and how rent is very high
Lemi told Julia that most people that are homeless are kids.

When asked what they would possibly do over break for a project:
Gabe said: "money-- you could do anything with it really."

The talmidim also talked about saying hello to people, making friends, and treating homeless people with cavod, as humans.

When asked to come up with ideas they drew pictures Julia drew herself giving food to a 5 year old
Gabe drew a person with a box giving it to a homeless person. Lemi drew a diagram where you give a homeless person money so they can pay rent and then get a job/car.

The Jewish antiracist workgroup started writing a MANIFESTO.

Jacksanna and Elliot both had things to say to people in power, so they went right from the tzedakah idea to the action: “don’t put families in cages, it’s inhumane.” “Police should not be making people feel different or unwelcome, that is the opposite of their job.” 

Rohin recommended giving food and money to neighbors who need it, Noa “added on” to that idea. She was concerned people might be embarrassed receiving stuff so she suggested giving it to an organization instead. Rohin said “OK.”

When we “pictured” what we could do, Rohin saw himself at another BLM parade. Elliot saw a letter to President Biden, Noa suggested Gov Baker.

More on our tzedakah menu soon!
Seeing? Hearing? Are these really names Leah should have given her children? And: was Rachel jealous or frightened?

We practiced our Amidah blessings and saw the smoothness that comes with practice. Then we looked and listened to Leah naming her four sons, Jacob's first children:

Reuben: Look! Over here! I had a son!

Simeon: God has HEARD me.

Levi: Now my husband will be attached to me

Judah: Thank you God

What can we tell about Leah from her naming practice?

Soli said "she's cocky. Look at me! Look at all the kids I'm having!" Also, "maybe she's going insane. Who names their kid 'Hearing'?"

Erez said: "she's proud, too proud, and very talkative."

Joon said: "She hopes that this means Jacob will take care of her and the children."

Other questions came up "Did they know they were going to be in the Torah?" Which led us to talk about facts and sacred myths, and who wrote the Torah, and if God wrote it, and if you believe in God.

Then we heard from Rachel "Give me children or I will die!" We tried saying that a few different ways: plotting, scheming, angry and very scared.

One last class BEFORE ice cream fest!
They came, they warmed up slowly, they led the service. In the vaccum of cricket-like silence, Miriam jumped in and led as well as offered some salient points. This was a helpful lesson for her teacher, who fears student silences and forgets that silence can also mean that students are thinking.

Our study of "Why 13?" continued. Using a piece of Pirke Avot ("At 5 one is ready to study Torah....") the talmidim questioned the text and compared it to the norms of today. This text is the only one we have that claims 13 is when a person "is ready to be responsible for the mitzvot."


Erez started us off. "13 is the right age for some of the mitzvot but not all."

Noah thought that 13 was "just right. 13 is like when you become a teenager you have responsibility; I wouldn’t argue if they moved it to 15, its a bit more, 13 you are still more of a kid."

Alex said "I agree with Erez, some are ready some are not."

"13 is the right age" according to Miriam because then one can "be able to read Hebrew and understand Judaism."

This same text says at 18 one is ready to be married, and everyone disagreed with that.

We also learned about the first BAT mitzvah ever- the daughter of the Rabbi of the Reconstructionist movement here in the USA in the 1930's.

What's next:

April 25: 5782 Families meet with Rabbi Lewis and Phoebe

May 1: Final Bnei Mitzvah class of 5781
How do we show respect
-to others?
-The place we are in?

Everyone in K&1 was super engaged today. They shared their thoughts on our Torah learning and participated in all of our different activities. 

The 2nd grade showed cavod by listening and turn taking. Saying “no thank you” to adding a comment;

Chelsea Unis showed cavod by speaking with us about her experience.

Tova showed cavod to herself and others by asking an honest question

Cavod to Gabe and Lemi for giving Julia a recap of last week; Cavod to Julia for thanking them for that

The talmidim showed cavod by sharing their ideas to the menu. Aviva showed cavod by not giving up when her Zoom connection got glitchy! Joon showed cavod by making connections to her garden at home. 

The Relational Judaism Team invites TAA members to learn how to conduct One-to-One conversations so that we can get to know each other better and build community.

This interactive training program will take place on Zoom. We will explain and demonstrate how to do a one-to-one and then give you the opportunity to practice.

We hope you will join us with your cameras on and ready to have fun!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 7:00 – 8:15 PM Eastern Time
For more information, please contact Ruth BudelmannDebbie ColtinEllen Gradwohl, or Sam Silverman.
The Sylvia Cohen Family Learning Project
of Temple Ahavat Achim
(Why yes! Love IS our middle name!)
Director: Phoebe Potts