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The Shorashim Alef children (Early Childhood 3-4) moved and grooved to a game of musical "letter" chairs. When the music played, everyone showed off their best dance moves. When the music stopped, each child sat in a chair and had the opportunity to identify the letter on the chair. Some students even said a word that contained their letter! Such a fun way to learn how to identify letter symbols!
As part of Nevatim's (grades 5-6) study of early Israel (early Bronze Age/Canaanites through the Roman conquest), students worked in four groups to create models of the Judean cities of Beer Sheva, Hebron, Beit El, and Shechem. Students used their knowledge of Bronze and Iron Age settlements to craft cities with outer protective walls, wells for residents to drink water, and homes with small courtyards. The groups were also asked to include features specific to their city such as Hebron's Cave of Machpelah.
Once the intricate details of each model were completed, student groups shared their model and discussed the history of their particular city with the rest of the class. In this way, students learned about the scope of Jerusalem’s history as a class.
Schechter’s Coding elective has been a huge hit with our Middle School students! Under the direction of Sarah Montag, Director of Teaching and Learning, students have been learning how to block code. They are moving into a unit where they are creating their own computer games through the coding program Scratch. Each Wednesday, students begin class by discussing aspects of their coding that are posing challenges as well as things that are working well. Other students offer suggestions and provide feedback about what they especially like about the projects and design. As they create these amazing and creative projects and games, students are also developing computational thinking and problem solving skills while practicing collaboration and self-expression.
In Monday’s Animation elective, students have been creating short stop-motion animations using small toys, rocks, scissors, and handmade characters. They are also using Scratch to code some animations. In a fun Jewish Day School twist, they will be applying their animation skills to create a stop-motion Purim play using puppets made by the lower school!
The Graphic Design students started by designing their own names in different fonts before applying those skills to creating a Google Doodle and designing a Google graphic. Next up: logos and other special projects! Stay tuned...
In order to provide students with options that appeal to their varied passions, other electives offered this session include Broadway, Ping Pong, Chorus, and Music Technology.
Mazal tov to the Scorpions basketball team, who wrapped up their season with a 21-16 victory against Renbrook School. In an extremely close, hard-fought game, the Scorpions were tied with Renbrook at the end of the first quarter. Throughout the first half, our small but mighty team caught rebounds and made some amazing shots.
In one really exciting play, Renbrook stole the ball and made it to their hoop, but when they tried to shoot -- and missed -- 7th grader Noah C. got the rebound. Noah kept possession of the ball while three Renbrook players surrounded him. Noah passed the ball to 6th grader Sam W, who saw that Evan S. was already positioned at the other end of the court at Schechter’s hoop. Sam threw the ball down the court, enabling 7th grader Evan to make a layup and break our tied game.
This kind of positive thinking, hard work, and teamwork was evident throughout the season for our players Avi K., Orla L, Noah, Sam, and Evan. Kol hakavod!
Speakers of modern Hebrew know that litrom means “to donate.” “Donors” are known as tormim, and terumah is a donation. The root is a simple one—tav, resh, mem. The word would seem to trace back to this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Terumah.
But look a little deeper, and all is not so simple! The verb litrom never appears in the Torah; it didn’t develop until the Rabbinic period, many hundreds of years later. In the Torah, the verb used is le-harim, which means “to raise up.” It turns out that there was no specialized word for “donation” in the Torah; instead, the way you expressed the idea of donating was to say the word “elevating.” You were taking something material and making it sacred. (We have a similar idiom in English — “fundraising” — but we generally say the word without thinking about its true meaning.)
There is a beautiful lesson in this etymology. We might view our donations to Schechter, our synagogues, Federation, et cetera as mere transfers of funds; we are helping important causes, but the money itself just goes from this account to that account. In Hebrew, though, something else is happening: we are elevating the spiritual level of our possessions by dedicating them to a higher purpose.
On Sunday, March 19th, our community will gather to support Schechter at the annual Ner Tamid Gala. It will be a fun event, providing a chance to connect with each other, offer tribute to our honorees, and strengthen our school. Whatever you are able to give, it is a true opportunity for terumah. May we be inspired by the Torah portion to give all we can, for the good of our community!
Rabbi Jonathan Berger
Head of School
Questions for the Shabbat table:
1. The precious items that were collected in this parashah went to construct the mishkan, or desert sanctuary. What are some reasons that sanctuaries and synagogues are supposed to be beautiful?
2. Donating can feel like a chore or a special act. What can you do to make it feel more special? Could we at Schechter do anything different to make the process feel sacred?