We have eight gifts for you on this eighth day of Chanukah. Please enjoy the following seven short reports from our student's week, plus one beautiful dvar torah video from an eighth-grade student.
Yesterday, we went on a splendid trip to the World's Largest Hanukkiah at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. We went up in cherry pickers to light the lanterns in the Hanukkiah before taking a quick trip to the Brooklyn Jewish Children's Museum.
Shorashim streamed into our room to put on a Hanukkah puppet show. With puppets made from brown bags and a Hebrew script that they wrote themselves the first graders told us the story of Hanukkah another time. By the time they were done with their show, we were done with snack, which gave us a perfect opportunity for a Q&A. We asked the performers about how they created their puppets, how they could read the script in Hebrew (it turns out they transliterated it), and whether it was hard to perform while hidden away from the audience. Finally, we gave Shorashim a huge round of applause and thanked them for the wonderful show.
Today we went on a Hanukkah Hunt! We left the school building today, and instead of walking towards West End like we normally do, we turned right towards Broadway and marched onwards. Our mission was to spot anything Hanukkah-related. The students were told that rather than saying "Stop" as they do in the case of an emergency (generally a fallen shoe), they should yell "Hanukkah!" After a practice round of Hanukkahs that seemed to go on for eight whole nights, we were underway. We did a small loop along Broadway, up to 91st Street, and then back down West End. As we walked, we stopped occasionally to look at Magenei David on shop signs and Hanukkiot in windows. When we were approaching the final stretch of our Hanukkah Hunt, we noticed a Hanukkiah through a building doorway. We backed up so that everyone would get a chance to see it, and the doorman, Victor, invited us in. We told him thank you and that while it was a very kind offer, we would have to take him up on it at a different time when we weren't on the loops. We counted the candles on his Hanukiah to ensure he had the right number, and then we returned to school.
A strange thing happened this week… a student noticed that a bag of assorted Chanukah candles on the windowsill were melted together! Students were astounded. HOW DID THEY MELT? Well, to figure it out, we had to think like scientists! Students suggested some theories and hypothesized why the candles might have melted. Maybe the room is hot, a student said. So we left a new bag of candles in the room, on a small table in the corner. The next day, we observed the candles. They hadn't melted! Hmm! We needed a new hypothesis: maybe the sun on the windowsill made the candles melt because the sun is hot, a student suggested. So we tried that, and we placed the blocks on top of a big block to get close to the sun shining through the window. The next day we observed the candles. They hadn't melted! Hmm! We needed a new hypothesis, and this time, we needed to make a closer inspection of the windowsill! First, we listed all of our senses, and then, students used those senses to explore the windowsill. Do we hear anything, smell anything, see anything, or feel anything? (We did not taste.) Wait, one student exclaimed, the windowsill is HOT! It's right above our radiator. Did the heat melt the candles? We put the bag straight onto the windowsill (above the heater) and checked them the next day. They. Had. Melted! After many attempts, we had solved the mystery by thinking like scientists. We held a final discussion about our results. We spoke about how candles melt from the heat of the flame, and students shared their observations of what happened to their own candles from the first night of Chanukah:
We held a very successful Shuk for Good at the Community Chanukah Celebration. We sold handmade gifts that students prepared from upcycled materials and raised over $1,000 to support displaced people in Israel.
We had some marathon Tefillah this week, adding Al Hanisim to our Amidah (and Birkat Hamazon!) and joyfully adding Hallel as well. And, we had one of the longest Amidah experiences of the year on Wednesday when it was Rosh Chodesh Tevet, so we also added Yaaleh Ve'yavo!
We learned about the Book of Maccabees, which is not in Tanach. It is in the Apocrypha. We chose a quote from the Book of Maccabees to put on our classroom door. Everyone participated in decorating the door, even the people who were home sick this week. They supported us with their spirits.
A dvar torah from Aviya Leong, in eighth grade: