Image from Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky
This is a special Chanukkah season, for both Chanukah and Christmas are overlapping! Our school, like many Jewish communities around the country, contains a majority of interfaith families. I want to wish everyone a Happy Chanukkah and for those who celebrate Christmas, a Merry Christmas too. Please scroll down for some (interfaith) family friendly links with games, recipes, basic history and more.
But first a Chanukkah story from Valley Forge for us all. (for the record, this has been a folktale floating around long before this book was published). Here's my version:
You know it was a hard winter in Valley Forge, right? The fighting was terrible. it was bitter cold Could the ragtag revolutionary army continue? Could they make it through the winter? General Washington was not sure. He decided to go undercover, incognito and try to assess the morale of his army. It was worse than he thought. There were not enough winter coats to go around, clothes were becoming worn, boots were developing holes. The tired despair was felt as he silently went from fire to fire.
But then, General Washington spied a small group of men gathered around a log. Curiously, they were singing softly. He noticed they were lighting a few sticks that were on top of a big log. He pulled his hood close and went over and asked what they were doing. It turns out, this small group of men were Jews. They had gathered around to celebrate Chanukah, the holiday of lights. They were remembering a time, nearly 2000 years previously, when the Syrian-Greeks began to make laws that prevented Jews from being Jews. "They were terrible like the British are today", they explained.
Than a great hero, Judah Maccabee rose up, "he's kind of like General Washington", they said proudly. "He inspired the Jews to rise up, to fight back, that even though we were outnumbered, we could achieve great things if we worked together! And we did."
"Another great miracle happened too. When we reclaimed our temple, one day of sacred oil burned to last 8 days until we could make some more. Normally we would light candles, but because we are here, we are lighting these sticks to remember that this is the season of hope and miracles."
The hooded stranger, choking back tears, said "Thank you good men for your hope-filled cheer. If they could do it, I think we can too! Blessings and good tidings for us all." And then he disappeared back into the night. Later that week, the Revolutionary Army staged a successful surprise attack that changed everything.
Happy Chanukah! Here's to the renewing light and hope of family, community, love and friendship during these days of darkness. David
A great 20 page document filled with ideas and background.
Fun coloring pages and Menorah crafts for the very little ones. Scroll all the way down for a fun animated, 3 minute sesame street Chanukkah.
A kid friendly version of the Chanukah story
Another URJ page of Chanukah activities.
Lastly, fun video's including Veronica Monica's Chanukah reporting!
This program is supported by the Grinspoon Foundation and the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires.
This program will allow everyone to learn the ancient art of the Sofer, of Hebrew calligraphy, bookmaking and illuminating pages. Below you can find an example from an ancient Jewish Haggadah. Dec 11th, from 10-1 will provide skill building and the materials will be available throughout the winter to practice and create.
Shalom! I hope this note finds you and your loved ones enjoying a fun filled and active summer. Here at CBI we’ve been busy planning for a new year of educational programs and are delighted to share them with you.
We continue to have three classes this year. Alef Tav, our K-3 class Ne’arim our 4th-6th grade class, and our Bnai Mitzvah class of 7th graders. We are all excited to greet your children for the first day for our CBI Community Hebrew School School on Monday September 12. We’ll meet at the same time from 3:30-5:15
Pending grant confirmation from the Grinspoon Foundation, we have added exciting new monthly family programs titled, People of the Book/ People of the Story. These programs will be available for our whole community, not just the littlest ones. Stay tuned for details on these new Sunday art making programs. Our pre-schoolers and their families will still have special programming just for them during the first hour of these new programs.
I am thrilled to be part of this community school and look forward to building community together. My director position is 10 hours per week- which means that running this school is definitely a team effort; parents are an important and vital ingredient. Please know that your input and time are welcome. Whether helping in the classroom, tutoring Hebrew letters, providing snacks, driving in a carpool or joining the education committee. I look forward to welcoming everyone as we begin our new year together. Feel free to write with questions, reflections or just to say hello email@example.com.
David Arfa, Education Director
Chef Israel from Israel joined CBI on Wed May 11th. Israeli Independence Day. This was a special event with students and parents too. We enjoyed specially made Moroccan cookies, saw the AWESOME map of Israel that our Ne'arim class has made, and listened to our Ukulele orchestra too! All free of charge. Afterwards, our synagogue board enjoyed a wonderful meal with Chef Israel. Thank you Federation of the Berkshires for making this program possible!
I never would have imagined that A Very Potter Musical could make it into our CBI Community Hebrew School Blog! Yet, here we are...getting ready for a Hogwarts Purim!
To help get in the mood, here's Darren Criss setting the stage with the musicals first number, and then a love song to Hermione Granger (song starts at 45 sec).
Lastly, on a different note, we have our own Felicia Sloin from Western MA singing Vashti's Song. (Do you recognize the melody?) Happy Purim!
Remember- Let's get back to Hogwarts Purim Celebration on Wednesday, March 23 at 5pm! Where everything is Totally Awesome!!
This Monday, March 14, the children in the Alef-Tav class will be putting on a Purim play at Williams town commons. They will also be delivering the delicious hamantaschen they made.
The children were so sweet and thoughtful when we made the hamamtaschan, saying things like, "We better check if anyone needs gluten-free. Maybe some of them are allergic to stuff we are putting in, so we better ask the people at the nursing home. We don't want anybody to get sick."
You have all done a wonderful job of raising kind and caring children.
We could use some help with transportation to and from the synagogue to the nursing home beginning at 3:30.
Your children are fabulous actors. Please come watch if you are able. I hope you can join us.
Talking Hands Puppetry to present comedy performance and workshop on Sunday, March 13 at 11am. For all ages! Preschool and up!
Talking Hands Puppetry will be joining us on Sunday, March 13, from 11am-2pm to help us Prepare for Purim! This program is for our littlest ones, our hebrew schoolers and adults who are young at heart! Come and enjoy a comedic rendition of the Purim story with puppets and create one or two yourself! This program is free and includes a bagels too! Please RSVP by March 6 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Artist and children's book illustrator Robin Brickman is visiting CBI Community Hebrew School and will be teaching us her paper sculpture artwork. We will create a Tu B'Shvat mural similar to this one. Parents are welcome to participate! We'll start with a short seder celebrating the trees, move into artwork, and end all together with closing songs. Chag Same'ach HaIlanot- Happy Holiday of the Trees.
It's Tu B'Shvat- the Birthday of the Trees! Hooray! This is one of our 'minor' holidays that has blossomed during this past two decades. This 'Birthday for the Trees', which began as a tax day, the day to account for the fruit tithe, and became a mystics powerhouse when the day became transformed into the birthday for the Tree of Life! The Tree that brings life to the entire Earth! That was a mere 400 years ago (or so). Very young! They created the fruit seder, with 4 cups just like Passover, that we are riffing off of today.
In the past few decades, Tu B'Shvat has grown again, into our Jewish Earth Day, and a great day to remember that Judaism is filled with environmental teachings that connect us with the world around us. Here's one story I love and will share with the school later today. It's from the Talmud, the book of Ta'anit, compiled around 450 A.C.E. Hardly a fringe story from some hippie Hillel over in California someplace!
When Rabbi Nachman and Rabbi Yitzchak were leaving each other, Rabbi Nachman asked Rabbi Yitzchak to give him a blessing. Rabbi Yitzchak responded with a parable. A person was walking in a desert and he was hungry, tired and thirsty. He happened upon a tree which had sweet fruits, a pleasing shade and a spring of water flowing beneath it. The man ate from the fruits, drank the water and sat in its shade. When he was leaving the tree, he pondered as to how he can bless the tree. He could not bless the tree that its fruits should be sweet, its shade should be nice or that it should have a stream of water flowing beneath it since it already possessed all these things.
Pause: How would you bless this tree?
The blessing he gave was that it should be the will of Hashem that all the shoots planted from this tree should be just like it. Rabbi Yitzchak explained to Rabbi Nachman that he cannot bless him with Torah, riches or children since he already had all that. Rabbi Yitzchak blessed Rabbi Nachman that all his children should be just like him. (5b – 6a)
Chag Same'ach HaIlanot! Happy Day for all of the Trees in our lives!
A simple background pamphlet on Tu B'Shvat can be found by clicking here.