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5th/6th grade 9/21/14

Dear Fifth and Sixth Grade Parents,

It was a pleasure to meet with your children for our first day of class this school year. I think we are going to have a great year of learning about Israel together!

During the course of our first class, we listened to two Israeli songs, one rap from the 2000s and one folk song recorded in the 80s. We will be revisiting these songs and learning how their lyrics relate to Israeli history and Israeli society today. We did an activity in which I read a list of statements about Israel, after each of which the students stepped forward if they thought the statement was true and remained standing in place if it was false or did not describe them personally. We also began talking about Israel using a three-category framework that we'll continue to use throughout the year. This involved listing ways that Israel is the same as all other countries; the ways Israel is the same as or similar to some other countries; and the ways in which Israel is unique. These last two activities helped me to get an idea of what my students know already and what might be new territory for them. In the course of this year, I hope that your kids will learn not only about the history of the Land of Israel, Zionism, and the State of Israel, but also about what Israel is like right now, how it is changing, and how it relates to the Diaspora. I hope that by the end of the course, your children will also know enough to begin to make decisions about how they want to relate to Israel and where they stand on the issues confronting Israel today.

Next class I hope to spend a bit of time explaining my own family connections to Israel, and I will be curious to learn about each of your children's family histories, regardless of whether or not they involve Israel. Thinking about our origins in the old country, wherever that may have been, will help us segue nicely into learning about the early days of Zionism and its different strains. If you'd like to talk with your child about how your family came to be where it is now and to where you trace your roots, that would be great!

Wishing you and your kids a Shana Tova u'Metukah!


Daniel Virthiem

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