Mazal tov to the Siegal and Henderson families on Maddy’s Bat Mitzvah (March 18) and Mikayla’s Bat Mitzvah (March 25). Both girls were spectacular! It was an honor and a blessing to share their simchas.
In class, we continue to study the weekly Torah portion with an emphasis on engaging our teens and developing personal meanings. Recently, some struggled with the idea of animal sacrifices and others suggested that we must understand these events through the eyes of the ancients for whom animal sacrifice was a natural method of worship. Parashat Va-yikra presented the five types of korbanot (“sacrifices” though the Hebrew root means ‘to draw close’). The mincha offering was an offering of flour, oil, salt and frankincense. We passed around a bottle of frankincense oil and invited students to sniff. For some it was a pleasing fragrance, others did not care for it. We wondered about the Biblical assumption that frankincense is pleasing to God.
Our study of the Jewish life cycle ventured into Jewish marriage and Jewish divorce. Students wondered why these ceremonies were so highly gender specific and were able to ask the rabbi their questions when Rabbi Liben joined us to share his expertise on the subject.
Pirkei Avot, The Ethics of the Sages, a tractate of the Mishna, has been a focus on Sunday mornings. Students learn verses from Pirkei Avot and some commentaries on those verses, then they become movie producer-commentators as they create their own short videos about what the verse means to them. Their videos are amazing and demonstrate thought, creativity and deep understanding.
Two Opportunities to experience Prozdor:
- On April 4 (4:00-5:00) at Temple Israel, Dan Brosgol, director of Prozdor will be teaching our 6th and 7th grade students. Parents are welcome to join the class: Shifting Narratives—Retelling Passover and considering Alternatives and to get a taste of the Prozdor experience.
- On April 30 (10:00-12:00), there will be an open house at Prozdor (located at Hebrew College, 160 Herrick Road, Newton) especially for 7th grade students. Parents and students will have the opportunity to see the Prozdor campus,visit classes, meet with instructors and to speak with students and staff.
We hope that every Gesher family for the continued Jewish growth of their Gesher student. Prozdor provides extraordinary opportunities for traditional and experiential learning and to meet other Jewish teens.
This Sunday (April 2) our focus will be the Prophet, Elijah. We have spoken about him briefly because he is an honored guest at every brit milah. He has an important place at our Passover seders as well and so, in preparation for Passover, we will learn more about him and why he attends the brit milah and the seder. Since he is also an important character in Jewish folklore, a proper study of Elijah must include some stories.