Dear Families of the United Jewish School,
After a joyous month of gratitude, we are excited to welcome in this month of Kislev, as we celebrate Chanukah! We hope that you will light the Chanukah candles with your children and recite the blessings:
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah.
(Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Chanukah lights.)
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim laavoteinu v’imoteinu bayamim hahaeim baz’man hazeh.
(Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wonderous deeds for our ancestors in days of old at this season.)
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.
(Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.)
This month, our entire school is focusing on “Gevurah,” which means “Using one’s inner and outer strength.” We focus on concepts such as Anne Frank’s strength, standing up for others, strength as a spiritual guide, Joshua as a leader, Israeli Olympians, bullying, Jewish partisans and Holocaust survivors, and the story of David & Goliath. There is much to learn and we looking forward to working with your children as we explore this important Jewish value.
Last month, we welcomed to Grand Rapids Jewish musician and educator, Bodi! We enjoyed a fabulous morning program called “A Jewish Journey Through Contemporary Music and Pop Culture.” The kids really enjoyed themselves and gained a truly memorable and educational experience!
This month, we are excited to welcome Jewish songleader, composer, and prayer leader Noah Aronson. Noah has been creating and inspiring international audiences with his heartfelt and soulful music for the last 20 years. Known internationally for his well-known prayer settings of “Am I Awake/Bar’chu,” “Let There Be Love,” “We Return,” and “Zamru Ladonai.” Noah will be offer an entire weekend to the Temple Emanuel Community, but on Sunday, he will be working with the entire school on Sunday, November 11th, to prepare them for a concert at 11:00am where the kids will sing for us all! The entire community is welcome to come!
We have been amazed at how many parents donated to The Kippah Project. We raised an incredible $709! With this money, we were able to go to the classrooms and ask kids exactly what theme of kippah they are looking for. We have been delighted to start seeing more and more kids wearing them while they learn! We’ve been able to use the surplus to go toward other educational initiatives, such as bringing in Jewish guest artists!
We have another opportunity for you to give. UJS would like to bring in a group called “The Afro-Semitic Experience” on Martin Luther King, Jr weekend.
These six musicians travel around the country offering incredible programming to communities just like ours! Our Jewish community believes in opening our eyes and hearts to the incredibly unique and exciting possibilities that happen when people from different racial and musical backgrounds come together and create, so this program is particularly appropriate for ours. As their website describes: “Our friendship ignites our passion and purpose: we merge our musical roots, Jewish and Afro-diasporic melodies and grooves, combining the core concepts of àse and shalom – power, action, unity, and peace.” As legendary jazz critic, Nat Hentoff wrote “….never before have I heard this lyrically powerful a fusion of Jewish and jazz souls on fire…” The Afro-Semitic Experience’s music is described by critic Carlos Ramos as “a whoopin’, hollerin’, testifyin’ celebration of multicultural soul music. Imagine Charles Mingus sitting in with a Klezmer band, playing Gospel music set to the polyrhythmic pace of congas and bongos.” I would be so excited to expose our students to this awesome music and way of envisioning togetherness. This feels like it could truly be an experience our children would never forget. https://afrosemiticexperience.net/home
But we need your help! We are raising money to pay for them to come to Grand Rapids. They have been so generous as to only ask for $2000. Even a small donation would go a long way toward that goal. We are also in the process of releasing a publication to be distributed at the end of the year of families who made our various educational opportunities possible. We would be honored to include your name in this. If you are in a position to make a donation, please go to https://www.unitedjewishschool.org/donate/. We’d love to bring this exciting educational program to Grand Rapids!
Cantor David Fair