October was a busy month of learning for all of the Religious School students and even the Teaching Assistants!
The Teaching Assistants and our Confirmation Class were able to take part in a special program with the Pittsburgh Shinshinim, two Israeli emissaries who are in Pittsburgh for the year to teach about Israel. Hadar and Raz, our Israeli guests, led the teens in discussion and activities that centered on Israel. Towards the end of the session, they helped the teens consider how they would be able to lead a class for the younger students. The Teaching Assistants, now armed with this new knowledge and a guidebook that Hadar and Raz put together for them, will begin to plan and develop their very own Israel Programs this December!
2nd Grade, Taught by Donni Roth
The 2nd Grade class took a field trip to our school’s Israel Room, where their TA, Lexi, led a lesson about The Holy Temple and King Solomon. Donni and Lexi then helped the students as they designed their own sanctuaries, or safe spaces, from shoe boxes. They used cardboard to make furniture and decorated their spaces with pictures that they thought displayed comfort, safety, warmth and love. Donni did a wonderful job reinforcing this idea of sanctuary, drawing connections between the synagogue’s sanctuary to a safe, warm, loving and comfortable space. This became especially relevant to the students after the tragic events at Tree of Life that left many without sanctuary.
5th, 6th and 7th Grade, Taught by Shelly Andreas, Sarah Savitz and Nava Chernoff
As the older students have grappled with the tragedy that the Jewish Community of Pittsburgh faced at the end of October, they were searching for ways to show support and put a little bit of good into the world. When one of our 7th grade students visited the memorial set up outside of Tree of Life, she became inspired to have her classmates at Religious School create posters to put up as a sign of solidarity and support. She brought this idea to her teachers and classmates, who all welcomed the chance to express themselves artistically. The three classes came together with their teachers and our art teacher, Sharon Serbin, and created three beautiful posters. These posters were taken to Tree of Life by the 7th Grader who led the project. As much as it breaks my heart to see these children grapple with such hard questions and fears after something so awful, I am so proud of their courage, kindness and passion!