New Year for Trees!
Dear households of the United Jewish School,
Tu Bish’vat higia! Chag ha’ilanot! (Tu Bish’vat is here! The Jewish Arbor Day!)
We are very excited to be celebrating Tu Bish’vat here at the United Jewish School. Every child is being sent home this Sunday with a Tu Bish’vat Goodie Bag of items they can use for the Tu Bish’vat Seder, which will be broadcasted on Sunday evening. Stop by the Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids to pick up a Haggadah and Seder items.
Below are some books the students are reading:
Jewish National Fund
We have partnered with the Jewish National Fund to help us celebrate Tu BiShvat in an innovative way. We are raising money to plant trees in Israel. We are hoping to have the JNF plant trees in the name of the United Jewish School of Grand Rapids, MI. Would that be cool?! Feel free to send money with your child to school. If you go to our page here, you can see how easy it is to donate money online. If you do donate online, let me know. (I am going to have a little fun competition with all the classes to see how much kids can donate.) $18 would be fantastic, as that is a mystical Jewish number – but any amount will still be fantastic. I have attached a letter here that explains this in greater detail.
Some highlights from last week:
2nd Grade: “We discussed the upcoming holiday, Tu B’Shevat, the new year of the trees. We learned about the delicious fruits and grains from Israel: dates, prunes, apricots, olives, wheat, barley, plums, figs, pomegranate and carob. In class discussion we talked about the importance of trees in our environment and ways we can help to repair our world like recycling.
The Hebrew letter of the day was Mem. Mem makes the sound of “M” as in mezuzah and matzah. We reviewed all the letters, Aleph-Mem, and colors of the rainbow.”
5th & 6th Grade Hebrew: “In preparation for T”u b’Shevat, we combined classes to work on some text study: where do we learn that we should celebrate a new year for the trees? Why are trees so important in Judaism? After Tefillah, we learned two songs for the holiday: one is about citrus fruits from the orchard and one is about the almond tree blooming, signaling the holiday. Because students are working on decoding fluidity in Supplemental Hebrew during the week, we learned the songs first by repetition and using transliteration. Next week, we’ll be using Hebrew text, since the words are already familiar!”
7th Grade: “We started by introducing our new unit, achrayut (responsibility). We learned about the phrase “Kol Yisrael areivim zeh bazeh” (All Israel is responsible for each other), and while it was originally meant to teach us about our obligation to prevent other Jews from committing sins, it can mean so much more to us today. Yes, we have a special obligation to other Jews, but we are called to care for everyone in our communities and our world, and our planet itself. The 7th and 8th grade together then had some time to sit down with Cantor David and talk about the special relationship between Jews and African Americans in the struggle for civil rights. We then talked as a class about how MLK Jr was not only an activist for the rights of African Americans but committed himself to the struggle against what he called “the giant triplets of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism”. In short, he held up a mirror to our society and urged us to seek justice; something that the prophets we study did long ago.”
9th and 10th Grade Comparative Religion: “Today’s class focused on a cumulative review of last semester and a brief introduction to Christianity. Our schedule of field trips to different houses of faith is now on hold due to COVID surges. We discussed the Judean powderkeg that existed during the time of Jesus.”
Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr Day
This month, I am introducing a book called The Rabbi and the Reverend, which tells the story of the incredible friendship between Rabbi Joachim Prinz and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Temple Emanuel is having a Shabbat service honoring Martin Luther King this evening. Martin Luther King Day is January 17th.
Come Have Fun Outside!
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Winter Outdoor Fun
Will we sled? Will we skate? Will we hike or make snow forts? Only the weather will know.
Cantor David Fair
1715 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 591-1010 (Private line)
(616) 459-5976 (Temple office)
*Please note that I do not check emails after 3pm on Friday, all of Saturdays, and Mondays.