Cantor/Educator, March 2023

Dear United Jewish School Family,

 Last month, students in the United Jewish School did all sorts of fun activities to teach them about honoring Tu Bishvat – the birthday for the trees! 

 In the 7th Grade, they looked at a text study about “shmita.” They studied in-depth the Torah portion of “B’shalach” — the Torah portion where the Hebrew crossed the Red Sea and celebrate by singing the Song of the Sea!

 In Mitzvah Core Jr. (the 8th Grade), they took a class field trip to New Beginnings restaurant for Breakfast (underwritten by the Winkelman Family). They conversed about how trees go through cycles in life.  Do not all of us go through periods of growth?  Periods of growth may alternate with times of stagnation and dormancy. Spring always brings new life to trees we too can find renewed energy and enthusiasm for life.

 In Mitzvah Core (Grades 9-12), we had a Tu Bishvat Seder and ate lots of fruits! We had some powerful discussions about the Jewish people’s sacred relationship to trees and fruits. Our seder was completely funded by Sheila Bates! Thanks, Sheila!

 The Pre-Kindergarteners, Kindergarteners, 1st and 2nd graders did a family program with their parents called the “Bedtime Shema Pillowcase Program.”  Co-led by former UJS teacher Rhonda Pappas, the morning included breakfast, a discussion and singing of the Shema prayer, a reading of the PJ Library book “the Bedtime Sh’ma” by Sarah Gershman, and a Shema pillowcase art project. Fun!

 This month, students at UJS begin the unit on Koach HaDibbur: Understanding the power of words. Students study Lashon Hara (gossip and rumors), Martin Luther King, Theodore Hertzl, the power of words and electronic media, the value of freedom of speech, and more. We’ll also start talking about Pesach. What is the significance of Moses and his speech? We’ll look at the “chametz in our words.” And what can we glean from Moses and Korach and the concept of “Speaking out?” It’ll be a month of powerful conversations!

 Yom Hashoah is next month and we’re pondering how we can make this day very special and meaningful for our students. One thing we are trying to arrange is getting a Holocaust Survivor to visit the United Jewish School. We are raising money for what we are calling the “UJS’s Holocaust Survivor Visit Fund.” We will need to arrange for this person’s travel, accommodations, and an honorarium to compensate them for their time. I am looking for families to donate to this fund so we can bring in this honored guest. At the end of the school year, I will be publishing a book listing all of our donors from this past year. I would love to include as many donors as we can. 


Cantor David Fair