BHC Elementary Educators' Mifgash – May 29th/30th (Shabbat Naso)
This blog entry was written by Aviva Scheur, Religious School Director of Temple Beth David (TBD) Westwood. This is the second year of the TBD-Nofim partnership, and the first year that Aviva is involved at TBD. Aviva brings a lot of experience to partnership work, previously guiding the Gann-Ironi Heh partnership, and she is excited about the potential of this partnership for her community.
On Friday afternoon, we were greeted with hugs from our Israeli partner educators and we headed up to Jerusalem to spend Shabbat together. We began personal conversations with each other that deepened throughout our weekend. We shared pictures of our children, talked about our work and our own Jewish backgrounds, and learned about our similarities and differences. When we arrived in Jerusalem, we went outside to a beautiful park overlooking the old city to join together as Boston-Haifa sisters and friends to welcome the Shabbat. As we were taken with the beauty of the Jerusalem landscape and the joy of being together, our voices and hearts joined in singing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold) and the Sheheheyanu blessing – that we have reached this special time of being together. We shared personal blessings. We spontaneously broke out into Israeli dancing. Our 23 voices joined in Hatikvah as our joint hope and commitment to the Jewish people reverberated through the hills.
Our Shabbat was filled with services at synagogues of our choice, a thought-provoking visit with Women of the Wall activist Rabbi Susan Silverman, deep reflective conversations among members of our group, and an illuminating tour of Jerusalem. How inspiring it was to travel the road of Mt. Zion and to the Western Wall together. We opened each other’s eyes.
We brought Shabbat to a close by sharing samples of our teachings to our students on Shabbat, Torah and God followed by spirited singing and dancing and a beautiful Havdalah service. Our braided Havdalah candle, lit and raised high, was a fitting symbol of the way the lives of the Boston and Haifa educators had interwoven and joined to create a powerful shining light which could inspire our work together for our students and for each other. One teacher captured our learning so well by saying:
“I am my student. I am part of this program, because now I know my partners. I felt it. Learning the simple things about each other, the small details of our lives, is important. In order for Boston-Haifa schools to be true partners, our students need to be able to see, hear, feel and laugh together. Otherwise, the relationship will not be real, and we will not learn from each other about our Jewish identity."
Onward to Tel Aviv as we continue to be students!
Temple Beth David, Westwood
Here is a summary of Aviva’s lesson plans for the 5th grade students at Nofim:
My lesson will focus on the concept of a “Mitzvah Hero,” a concept that we have explored with students at TBD. I will ask the Nofim students to brainstorm what they think of as a “mitzvah hero” and ultimately compare it to what our students have said. Tikkun Olam is a very important part of the Jewish Identity of students at our school, and it will be fascinating to learn and bring back to our students the ideas from Nofim.
We will read “Partners,” a children’s book whose lesson is that every Jew is God’s partner in making the world a better place. We will unpack (with a handout) some brief Torah texts that talk about what it means to be God’s partners. I will have students discuss why they do good things and to what degree they think of it as a part of their Jewish identity. We will end by singing (and maybe learning) the song “lo alecha hamelacha ligmor.”
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We had a momentous time together in Jerusalem, celebrating Shabbat with our Haifa partners! We truly can say we know our partners more deeply and that we have grown together through this shared experience.
BHC Project Manager
School to School Partnerships