Today is 06/20/2024 -

Congregation Beth Israel

A spiritual oasis for the Jewish community

6 Dundee Park
Andover, MA 01810

(978) 474-0540

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Religious School News

Religious School News By Esther Kaufman
As I write this bulletin article, we are engaged in the counting of the Omer. Agriculturally, this represents the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot that begin with an omer of barley being brought to the Temple in Jerusalem and ending with the start of the wheat harvest. In spiritual terms, this is the period between the Exodus from Egypt and the receiving of the Torah. The people are preparing themselves and counting the days until the great revelation on Mount Sinai.
Numbers play an important role in our lives. There are many numbers that are significant in Jewish life. The number four is repeated over and over in the Passover Haggadah as we ask four questions, speak about four sons, drink four cups of wine to remind us of the four Hebrew promises that G-d made to the people of Israel. In addition to the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot, the number seven figures prominently in the seven days of the week, the seven blessings at a Jewish wedding ceremony, the seven branches on the Menorah that serves as the symbol of the state of Israel, the holidays of Passover and Succot that are both celebrated in Israel for seven days, and the seven species, that are mentioned in the Torah as crops grown in the Promised Land. These include dates, figs, pomegranates, olives, wheat, barley, and grapes.
The fourth book of the Torah is called “Numbers” in English, because Moses is instructed to take a census and count the number of Jewish people in the desert. We keep records, like Moses, of the number of members in the synagogue, and the number of students in the school. We keep an inventory of the amount of school supplies and kitchen staples. We count the number of people attending services to make sure we have a minyan.
At this time of year, we also begin to count the days until the end of the year. School officially ends on Sunday, May 22. Realizing that the end of the school year is rapidly approaching brings with it a number of mixed emotions for both teachers and students. This year is especially poignant as the Religious School will be closing at the conclusion of the school year. There is the sense of anticipation of having more free time to enjoy the warm spring and summer days, and pursue other interests rather than being confined to the classroom. Along with that, there is the sense of panic that I often feel of having so much more that I want to teach the students and so little time to accomplish everything. Finally, there is the feeling of satisfaction on the part of both students and teachers at all the achievements accomplished in the past school year.
I am somewhat in awe of the fact that it is already May and the year has passed so quickly. Yes, there are a million more things I would like to teach the children, but that will always be the case. We have a long proud history as Jews that continues to this day. Every day there are new developments in Jewish history, new inventions in Israel to benefit the world, new political situations to analyze, new initiatives formed to engage in Tikun Olam, repairing the world, that we can join. I am satisfied that we have equipped our students with some basic Jewish life skills, have developed a sense of community, have instilled feelings of pride in our heritage, and have sown the seeds for lifelong Jewish learning.
I offer my thanks to Barbara Moverman for her support and assistance in instructing, nurturing, and guiding the students of this Religious School to reach their utmost potential. Thank you to Jesse Girrell and Seth Grosz for their dedication and devotion to assisting the students and the school through their participation as TAP students. Their sense of commitment and responsibility to their volunteer positions was exceptional. My gratitude goes out to the parents for giving us the opportunity to begin the process of shaping and molding your children’s Jewish identity. I hope that some of the lessons and values learned here will make their way into your homes as you continue to emphasize the joys of Jewish living for yourselves and your children.
As you settle into your new home and begin your new venture at Riverwalk, I offer Congregation Beth Israel