Continuing on the Path to Becoming a Mensch
My September article told you how we can help our
children become honorable menschen –
good human beings – who not only see the world through Jewish eyes but also act
to repair it with a Jewish heart. This year, we continue our focus on several
specific Jewish values and virtues. Students will learn a Jewish virtue or
value and then demonstrate that knowledge by doing the related action.
Talmud Torah (Torahlearning): In October, soferet (Torah scribe) Jill Kaplan explained how
a Torah is written. The students
learned about the materials used since ancient days. Each was able to hold Jill’s
feather pen and see the letters in a Torah.
Jill showed the students different sections written with different spacing
including where the Ten Commandments were and the crossing of the Red Sea. The
message we hope our students recognize is that learning does not end once the
scroll is rolled to the end.
Future “valuable” experiences include:
- Tzaar baalei chayim (being kind to animals):Students will learn about our ethical imperative in the treatment of animals. They will examine stories, laws and Biblical sources explaining why we must treat our animals with care and kindness. We will be bringing in all sorts of domestic and exotic animals and holding them!
- Mazon (hunger): Religious School alum Michael Keschner will speak about his special cause, “Veggies for Vets”. The students will learn about mazon, the Jewish response to hunger, through Biblical sources. Michael will speak about the many military veterans on Long Island and students will have the opportunity to help Michael by bringing in vegetables which will be distributed to local veterans.
- Pidyon shevuyim (freeing the captives): Our Israeli teenage emissary on staff, Aviv Zaro, will speak about the incredible story of the Ethiopian Jews whose history and culture date back to Biblical times! Aviv’s parents were part of Operation Moses and Operation Solomon in making Aliyah to Israel. In addition to holding an Ethiopian Jewish experience for our students including Ethiopian food, music, culture, language and more, we will teach the Jewish commitment to pidyon shevuyim.
- Simcha (happiness): We demonstrate the virtue of simcha by celebrating holidays with joy. Congregant Joe Kassner, a brilliant costumer for many local theater companies, will teach our students how to make fantastic Purim masks. They can then wear their masks to celebrate Purim in March!
- Bal tash’hit (not destroying): We will look at the Biblical origins of how we are expected to treat the earth. By fully understanding the Jewish perspective on ecology students will get a chance to adopt ways to fulfill the value of Bal tash’hit.
By learning about, practicing and making these values,
virtues and deeds rote our children will indeed enrich their lives, be an
example for others and make the world a happier and better place to live. I