Dear Households of the United Jewish School

The school is still buzzing from the excitement of our visit from Elana Arian, our Artist-in-Residence. Elana came and taught all of the children songs. They performed at a school-wide assembly this past Sunday. It was a morning of joy, music, and pride! I’m most proud that our children were exposed to a major figure in Jewish music. Elana’s music is sung in both Conservative and Reform spaces around the world. It was an honor and pleasure to get to know her! If you go to, you can see videos of this wonderful morning!
Outside of Elana’s music making, here are some other highlights of the morning:
In the 1st grade, they began their lesson about Shabbat and Havdalah. Morah Lily explained what Shabbat and Havdalah both represent and mean and they even made their own spice container which is one of the pieces in a havdalah set. 
In the 2nd grade, the focus of the lesson was on the concepts of Tzedekah (giving charity to those who are less fortunate) and mitzvot (doing good deeds for others). They read the PJ Library book, It’s A…It’s A …Mitzvah by Liz Suneby & Dinae Heiman. The Hebrew letter of the day was Kaf, as in kippah (skull cap).
In 5th grade Hebrew, students finished up their unit on brachot for different food categories.  Students learned how to say “I have…” in Hebrew: Yesh li… (which literally translates to “there is to me…”). They told Morah Shoshanah, “I have [food]” and then recited the conclusion of the appropriate blessing: Yesh li tapuzim. Borei p’ri ha-etz. (I have oranges. Creator of the fruit of the tree.) They arranged their chairs into a stepping-stone path and led the rest of the class in a march around the room while they talked about why we sort our foods into different bracha categories.  Students thought about where foods come from, not only the tree or the earth or the vine, but where in the world! 
In 6th grade Hebrew, they are working on the prayer of Adon Olam!  They listened to a couple arrangements of this special poem and practiced reading it rhythmically.  Adon Olam is written in the ‘iambic tetrameter’ poetic meter, which means it consists of four (tetra) arms (iamb) with the weight on the second syllable: da-DA da-DA da-DA da-DA.  They noticed markings in our text that indicated syllabic stress that ran counter to this poetic meter (ME-lech versus me-LECH; “king”), so they talked about how sometimes poetry plays a little loose with emphasis.
In the 7th grade, they talked about the Jewish partisans in the second world war and their story of fighting back against those who wanted to harm them and how their community stood as a proud rebuke to those who claim that the Jews did not try to protect themselves. They also spoke about tzedakah, and Maimonides’ ladder of giving.
We want to remind you that there is NO SCHOOL for three weeks: December 19th, 26th, and January 2nd. We will be excited to see you all again on January 9th.
In general, the UJS is looking for substitute teachers. If you’ve ever thought about how meaningful it would be to become an educational figure in the larger community of Jewish children, here is that opportunity! You do not need to have prior knowledge of Hebrew or Judaism—just a giving and generous heart!
Have you ever thought about getting involved with the running of the United Jewish School? Parents are always welcome to attend a Board Meeting of the UJS. The board is headed by Amy Winkleman and Sharlena Lovy. It meets on a Wednesday once a month. Please contact me and I can tell you when the next meeting is scheduled.
Cantor David Fair
Cantor Educator of the United Jewish School of Grand Rapids

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