Rachel Jury, Director of Jewish Studies
The holiday of Shavuot—the celebration of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai—begins this Thursday evening at sundown. Our BZ celebration of Shavuot exemplifies how we celebrate Jewish traditions in a way that is both meaningful and joyful. Throughout the year, we invite our students to see Torah as part of a toolbox for living well and as a way to use tradition to add meaning to their lives. Below are a few highlights of our special Shavuot celebrations!
Our SK students receive a symbolic mini-Torah as part of a celebration of their EC learning. We call this ceremony, Bikkurim, in recognition that the first learning for our students complete. One of the names for Shavuot is in fact, Chag HaBikkurim, the holiday of the first fruits.
In SK students learn Torah stories each week and are regularly applying it to their own lives. When asked what they’ve learned from the Torah, the students recalled learning to respect their parents and teachers, being kind, telling the truth, not hurting someone more when they are down and not engaging in gossip. The students remembered to love your neighbor like you love yourself, and felt that this best summed up their Torah learning.
Students stand under a chuppah (wedding canopy), that they create as they mark the end of the Early Childhood Jewish journey. In eight years, they will stand under that same chuppah when they graduate from Bernard Zell as 8th graders.
Fourth Grade Siyum
Fourth grade students have been learning about the value of Hachnasat Orchim, welcoming guests and new friends, all of this year. In Jewish Studies class students read the text from the Chumash (5 books of Moses) about Abraham and Sarah welcoming three guests into their home and discussed how we can implement the model of welcoming that Abraham and Sarah exhibited. In their General Studies classes, 4th grade students learn The Nora Project, a disabilities education curriculum, and together 4th graders think about connecting the values in Chumash to their learning about welcoming people with disabilities in society.
Eighth Grade Tikkun Leil Shavuot
This evening, our 8th-grade students are leading their families in a Tikkun Leil Shavuot evening, the practice of learning all night in preparation for receiving the Torah. The evening will begin with a private installation and explanation of the 8th grade Rychnov Torah Holocaust project, an appropriate connection to the holiday of Shavuot in which parents learn about the process students went through while exploring the history of the Torah and the potential designs for it.
The students planned and will present lessons to their families on topics they learned this year while connecting them to Jewish theme, value, text or prayer. The topics included “Ideas have an impact”, “The Beduin people and why details matter”, “Learning from the past” and “Jewish Persistence”, just to name a few. The evening will conclude with a symbolic Havdalah service and the blessing over the children recited by the parents to symbolize the students' transition from Bernard Zell to the world beyond.
Earlier today, we watched these students do a dry-run for the 7th graders. They did a phenomenal job exemplifying how they can find points of connection between their personal interests and values and their Jewish identity. We hope they will continue their Jewish educational journey finding opportunities of continued study and exploration. B’Hatzlacha (Good luck), Kita het!
Students across all grades celebrated Shavuot with the shinshinim through fun water play on the field. The gorgeous weather allowed students to engage in one of the less known customs of Shavuot—water play. Although the origin of this widely practiced custom in Israel isn’t verified, there is a common notion that the Torah and learning Torah are compared to the life-giving properties of water.