by Carol Oseran Starin
In the Talmud we learn that Torah is acquired by 48 means or qualities (Pirke Avot 6.6).
These qualities include: study, attentive listening, reasoning of the heart, awe, fear, humility, painstaking examination of a subject.
I’ve always loved this passage because it looks like a prescription for good teaching. How wise were the sages of the Talmud! One of those 48 ways to acquire torah is through simhah—joy. That’s the subject with which we’ll begin our “5 Things” columns for this new year of 5764.
How can we create a joyful Jewish learning experience in our classrooms? What’s involved? Here’s a list of ways:
We are proud of this one. Two college kids called the office today and asked to be reminded of the theme song to Torah-Toons. They were remembering their Hebrew school days and were trying to sing the Torah-Toons theme. How many Hebrew school books are remembered all the way into college? We are proud to be a source for Jewish memories. The best part of the story is that these students were interested in purchasing a copy of the Torah-Toons videos for their own use. Not Bad!
To find out about the Torah-Toons book, check out:
by Laurie Bellet
Every lesson, throughout 4 years of high school French, Madame Jarman began by requiring us to recite the daily calendar information in French. Today, more than 30 years later, I am still able to complete the recitation entirely. Teaching the daily calendar provides learning experiences in language, time, season. General education teachers, especially at the elementary levels, take this daily recitation as a necessary component of their classroom day. Yet, relatively few Jewish educators offer students the opportunity to recite the calendar, in Hebrew.
At its most simple, for our youngest students, reciting the calendar can be as simple as recognizing the Hebrew month and orientating time to Shabbat and any proximal holidays. On the recording ‘Schlock Rock for Kids,’ the band sings the months to the tune of ‘My Darling Clementine.’ Once learned, this is not a song anyone soon, if ever, forgets. When students begin attending mid-week Religious School sessions, they can expand to include the day of the week, the date, the season and the weather. Older students can incorporate the language of ‘yesterday was,’ and ‘tomorrow will be,’ the parashat ha-shavu’ah and the relationship to the moon’s phases.
If you are uncertain how to begin, head over to www.Judaicrafts.com. They offer ($19.99) a full calendar package: calendar grid, month headings, daily cover-ups, holiday cover-ups. You can also purchase each component separately. I have long been disappointed that otherwise Jewish calendars have oriented from left to right. This year though, many Jewish retailers are offering the ‘new’ Calendar of the Jewish People. With dramatic art by Mordechai Rosenstein this calendar ($14.00 approx.) reads from right to left. Either of these options will greatly enhance both your program and your classroom décor.
But, if you prefer, you can Do It Yourself…: