Imagine that you are a new Kindergartener. It’s rainy, it’s cold, you’re only five (or six) years old, and you’ve already been at Kesher for three hours because it’s early release Tuesday. Maybe you liked snack today (carrots, Life cereal, and green peppers), or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you miss your parents. Whatever the case may be, odds are that at 4:00 learning Hebrew wouldn’t be your number one choice of activities.
All the factors are working against the teacher. But, in grand fashion, Kesher staff member Rena Gray Fein has constructed a beautiful classroom where the children are signing, learning, and speaking Hebrew for forty-five minutes on a damp and drizzly October Tuesday. The kids begin each class by saying and finding their names in Hebrew and singing three Hebrew songs- HaKovah Sheli Shalosh Pinot, Hineh Rakevet, and Yadayim LaMa’alah. Throughout the activities and songs, the children are speaking, learning, moving, using their hands, and smiling. Later on they will engage with the letter shin, the letter of the week, by writing it and making popsicles into shin shapes. It is, in a word, joyful.
Now imagine that you are an adolescent pre-teen coming to Kesher on Tuesdays. You’ve spent all day in middle school, maybe you had a quick soccer practice, and your assignment notebook for the week is full. You are tired (no doubt), you are hungry (absolutely), and if you were not at Kesher you’d be texting and doing homework until dinner. Coming to Kesher for three-plus hours would seem to be an unattractive option.
Yet, the opposite is true. Seventeen middle schoolers bound in to Kesher each and every Tuesday. Starting with social time, which can include either doing homework, talking about Glee with friends, playing soccer in the gym, or simply lying around on the rug, and continuing through their 90 minutes of class time, our Te’enim and Rimonim love coming to Kesher. Whether that love is rooted more in love of their friends or of learning doesn’t concern me: their smiling faces and contagious laughter are enough to make my day.