Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

A new perspective on Jewish history through Lag B'Omer games at Temple Israel


Aubrey Stern becomes a hero, helping classmate Hannah Neely cross the "river" while other heroes Lily Morgan, Dylan Sachs & Justin Langman watch.

Parent Ron Stern and teacher Adele Lipofsky help Sam Morgan affix the "bricks" to the wall.

There is a Jewish joke that says "Every Jewish holiday is the same... they tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat!" But how many of us can truly appreciate the reality behind the joke and the depth of our history? And how many of us understand what we achieved by meeting those challenges and surviving? Well, the children of the Meitin Religious School at Temple Israel now have a new perspective on Jewish history thanks to the innovative Lag B'Omer games that they participated in on the last day of school.

Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with 10 symbols of Jewish historic periods the students traveled through time to experience a piece of life from each era. As the students completed each station the appropriate symbol was checked off on their T-shirts.

From building bricks in Egypt to coin-making with Bar Kochba, from a Town Council meeting in the time of the Caliphs to deciphering encrypted messages during the Spanish inquisition, and from facing obstacles in escape from Germany to fighting fires in Eretz Yisrael, these students gained a remarkable sense of their heritage.

"Two of the most compelling moments for me were listening to the students argue about how to come up with a plan to pay the money demanded by the Caliph," said Cathy Swerdlow, congregational life coordinator for Temple Israel. "They were passionate and compassionate as they argued the merits of various options including using the community Tzedekah funds vs. the business tax revenue vs. closing the school and using those funds."

The obstacle course escape from Germany presented a different challenge. The students were told that they were to work as a team and the team would succeed even if only one person made it all the way through. The obstacles required students to make decisions-do I help others and not proceed or focus on just getting myself through? According to Swerdlow, "It was amazing to see students make a choice that was difficult. As we told them, they became the heroes that enabled the group to succeed."

Having history come alive for the students is an important component of the educational program at the Meitin Religious School. Temple Israel's program will resume on Sunday, Aug. 17. For more information about the school and its curriculum please contact Temple Israel at 407-647-3055 or on the web at http://www.tiflorida.org.


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