Desert Wanderings & Passover Prep!

Jewish Studies

Andrew’s Monday/Wednesday Class

We are continuing our deep dive into Moses in conjunction with Passover! On Monday and Wednesday the students were challenged to analyze what is the meaning behind Moses striking the rock? They were asked to think of a time they were challenged with what seems to be an impossible task, and it felt to overcome it. They put on mini skits demonstrating the story and wrote stories and drew cartoons of a time where they felt they conquered a challenge. We also starting prepping for our very own mini-chocolate seder! To prep, we researched more into why each item is on the seder plate and what chocolate goodies could be used in place of the items. The students also created their own mini-seder program that will be conducted with our treats next week!

Lee’s Monday/Wednesday Class

This week students read about the 10 Plagues, and how the Jews finally got their freedom from Pharoah! They reflected on the question, “Have you ever asked for something even though you expected the answer ‘no’? And reflected on how they felt in times they received the answer they expected and times when they didn’t. In exploring the plagues, which eventually led to Pharaoh letting the Israelites go, students worked alone or in pairs to make an artistic representation of one of the plagues, which will come together as a class project. In making their pieces students considered the effect each plague had on the Egyptians. They shared their feelings about the plagues and how they may have felt if they were the ones to experience them.

David’s Tuesday/Saturday Class

As we near the end of the curriculum, this week we learned about Moses hitting the rock and the “tragedy” when we read that he would not be entering the Promised Land. We tried to understand where the misunderstanding stemmed from when he did not follow God’s instructions for how to get water from the rock. We saw an interesting opinion in the midrash (commentary) that connects the whole story to his sister, Miriam, and her connection to the water. We also suggested that Moses was the fitting leader for the generation of slaves that left Israel, but when this new generation was about to enter the land, he was no longer the right leader for the task. During the class we played water games, with syringes I brought especially, and the children enjoyed it very much! On Tuesday we began to learn about Pesach/Passover, watched a few videos reviewing the nature of the holiday, and conducted a class-based class quiz that aroused a lot of excitement.

Lee & Marna’s Tuesday/Saturday Class

On Saturday we did a review and pretended our challah was manna. We explored the magic of manna and the lesson in taking only one portion, with the exception of on Shabbat. We then discussed the question of whether people are naturally good or bad and, in the same vein, whether humans need laws or not, and why. The kids had a great discussion raising the question of how our family values impact our personal values. And we explored the range of differences between people, even despite living in the same home. It raised the question of what our individual souls need to learn in this lifetime and how some people do stray off to a different path than the ones we may assume they’re on because of their families and status.
Students then made a list of “good laws”, “bad laws” and laws we’d like to see implemented in our current world. Some examples of “good laws”: follow the speed limit, do not murder, free meals at school, curb your dogs & laws that protect the environment.” Some “bad laws” included those relating to bans on immigration. Students then shared they would like to see free healthcare for all and affordable housing for the homeless.

After this activity, we imagined ourselves as Israelites wandering the desert and what rules would probably be needed there. Ask your child what they came up with! To conclude Saturday’s class we read the story of the Israelites receiving the 10 Commandments and compared their ideas for laws to these 10. We then began the story of the golden calf and spent some time making props for their play.
On Tuesday, we continued reading about the golden calf. Along the topic students reflected on the question, “Was there ever a situation where you lost faith in something or someone (where you thought you could count on it/them but then you weren’t so sure)?” Afterward we discussed other possible ways that Aaron could have persuaded the Israelites to wait for Moses, and why they ended up building the idol. Then the students began to work on costumes and props for their play.

Richard’s Tuesday/Saturday Class

Saturday we learned about Korach’s rebellion against Moses. We discussed and learned respectful ways to argue through discussion. We also learned what makes an argument for the sake of heaven with a fun children’s video about a midrash (commentary). Students then illustrated how people could fight in a disrespectful manner vs a respectful one. On Tuesday we focused on Pesach/Passover and the importance of asking questions. Is it important to ask questions and why? We did a Passover review and students made a booklet that would help them answer the 4 questions around the seder table.

Hebrew through Movement


This week we focused on vocabulary around the Four Questions in the Passover Seder – “Ma Nishtana” and played rounds of “Find the Afikoman” using their vocabulary.
Day – yom – יוֹם / Night – Lailah – לַיְלָה / Nights – Leilot – לֵילוֹת
Hametz -חָמֵץ / Matzah – מַצָּה
Vegetables – Sh’ar yerakot – שאר ירקות / Maror – מָרוֹר
To dip – matbilin – מַטְבִּילִין
One time – paam achat – פַּעַם אַחַת / Two times – shtei pe’amim- שְׁתֵּי פְּעָמִים
Sitting – yoshvin – יוֹשְׁבִין / Reclining – mesubin – מְסֻבִּין

In addition, in the last few weeks some kids have started to give their own instructions in Hebrew!! It’s so great to see how much they learned and apply it in class.


This week we focused on the 4th question of the Ma Nishtana by following the commands to sit (yoshvin) and recline (mesubin). We continued to learn and engage in Hebrew with more of the seder plate foods (in their plush form!) and students were encouraged to say as many of them that they could in Hebrew. Their reward was a small piece of chocolate covered matzah!
Words included: charoset, maror (bitter herb such as horseradish), chazeret (another bitter herb/romaine lettuce), z’roah (shankbone), karpas (spring vegetable – we had a plush potato but this could be represented by parsley or celery) and beitzah (egg).

In addition, we played a few rounds of “Find the Afikoman.” We learned to follow the commands for the Hebrew words liftoach (open) and lisgor (close) einayim (eyes) while closing our eyes when a child hid the afikoman. We also followed the commands l’hachbi (hide) and limtzo (find). Finally, we munched on a little matzah after saying the Hebrew bracha, “baruch ata adonai eloheinu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat matzah.” The kids were super engaged and enthusiastic. Please try to reinforce some of these words with your children during Passover!


1. Upcoming Closures

Yachad will be closed for Passover break from Friday April 19 through Sunday April 28.

2. CBE Mini Camp

Although Yachad will be closed the above dates, CBE’s After School is excited to offer a mini camp from 4/22-4/25. Please click here to find out what fun activities will be held and to register! Please be in touch with Bobbie Finkelstein with any questions

3. This Saturday! Passover Family Workshops & Concert!

Saturday April 13: Shabbat services begin at 9:30, followed by Passover Family Workshops at 10:30
Kindergarten through 4th grade families will travel the world learning about different Passover traditions through crafts, recipes, songs and more!
5th and 6th grade families will participate in a Seder Around the World!
All Yachad families are invited to join us! K-4th grade students must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.
Following our Passover Workshops, join artist in residence, Noah Aronson, for a special family-friendly performance at 11:45. Free and open to all!

4. Havdalah Hootenanny Celebrating Sarah Grabiner

Saturday April 13, 5:30-7:30
Sing, learn, and say thanks to Sarah Grabiner for her 2 years of dedicated service as CBE’s cantorial intern! A brilliant, multi-talented teacher and prayer leader, Sarah has endeared herself to the Brooklyn Jews community; to Gan Shabbat families; to teen Torah chanters; and especially to our 2018 b’nei mitzvah, whose preparation she oversaw during Cantor Josh Breitzer’s sabbatical. Sarah recently accompanied many of those former b’nei mitzvah students to Israel as part of CBE’s largest-ever annual 8th grade trip. Following her ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in May, Sarah will relocate back to her native United Kingdom to serve Radlett Reform Synagogue. Join the clergy team, together with artist-in-residence Noah Aronson and musical members of all ages, as we send Sarah off with singing, stories and profound gratitude!