Summer is just around the corner! As the rhythmic clock of the Hebrew School academic year winds down, ShalomLearning students are concluding with our seventh unit, Shalom. As many people know, the three most popular translations of Shalom are “hello,” “goodbye,” and “peace.” In the ShalomLearning Jewish values lessons, we take a deeper dive into the etymology via the word’s shoresh (root) which is shalem meaning “completeness.”
Our curriculum designers intentionally and brilliantly saved Shalom to be the final value of the year because there is a sense of peace in being complete. And of course, in Judaism we look towards the next question, “are we ever truly complete?” Part of our nature is to continue to grow and learn and strive to become the best authentic selves we can be. What we do in life, our actions (hopefully mitzvot) are of paramount importance, to strive for social justice and contribute to a better world (tikkun olam) but even higher, the zenith, the ultimate destiny is who we become. We grow in order to be. Where are we growing? What are we becoming? As I look back on the years with ShalomLearning, I am constantly amazed by our growth.
In 2011, founders Devin Schain and Andrew Rosenberg created our first cohort of seven students with one teacher (Rabbi Yakov Majeski) at one partner site in Bethesda, MD. We grew our team and resources to include a curriculum for grades 4-6. Incrementally we added on additional features and levels, expanding our Jewish communities of practice and commitment to pluralism and inclusiveness. The 2018-2019 enrollment consisted of 5128 students and 643 teachers at 98 partner schools. Collectively, if we look at our community as one and complete, this is the largest Hebrew School in the world!
This fall, you will notice we’ve expanded our offerings to include:
- Lessons (28 per grade) for eight different grades (K-7),
- More hands on training and mentorship for teachers with seven in person workshops this summer and additional webinars,
- A new iteration of learning prayer through gamification (ShalomLearning Escape Room 2.0), and
- Meaningful partnerships with over 120 synagogues across North America – both large and small of various affiliations.
We are committed to be more than just a provider. Rather we are partners with each congregation, helping every community make their educational independent visions a reality. I am so proud of what our learning community has accomplished. May you all continue to grow to be your best selves and enjoy the journey in striving for Shalom. “Summer lease hath all too short a date,” (Thank you Shakespeare!) and I look forward to starting anew in the fall as we continue to grow together.
This year, Shavuot begins the Saturday evening May 19. ReformJudaism.org provides a great basic summary of the holiday.
It is a tradition in some communities for people to stay up all night studying. Here is an explanation of the custom from My Jewish Learning.
If staying up all night is not your thing, how about reading the Book of Ruth on Shavuot? Here is a video from Aleph Beta explaining why we read this text on this holiday.
Shavuot is unique among the Jewish holidays in that instead of eating chicken or brisket, it is traditional to have dairy foods for Shavuot. There are actually many different reasons given for this custom. Here are a few from Chabad.
Chag Shavuot Sameach – however you celebrate!
This year, the holiday of Shavuot comes just about on the heels of Memorial Day.
As this holiday often falls after the end of the Hebrew School year, many are unfamiliar with the holiday. You can get some basic background at Judaism 101.
It is traditional to read the biblical Book of Ruth on this holiday. To find out why, check out My Jewish Learning.
If you have never read the Book of Ruth, it is quite short and can be found at Jewish Virtual Library
If you are already familiar with the book, here is a new way to study the text: A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit
It is customary to eat dairy foods on Shavuot. Of course, like many Jewish traditions, there is more than one explanation. Aish.com offers up 7.