BY LEAH LEVY / AJT //
The Katherine and Jacob Greenfield Hebrew Academy honored its second-graders by presenting the students with their first chumashim on May 17. This Chagigat Chumash was attended by an audience of nearly 150 friends and family members.
Organized by Judith Swartz and Cheryl Kunis, the presentation took place entirely in Hebrew. The second-graders demonstrated their knowledge of the five books of the Torah with posters, songs, recitations and dance and were accompanied by a student rhythm section featuring drums and tambourines.
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Their presentation was so lively and moving that it ended with the whole group – teachers and administrators included – joining in a spontaneous and unscripted dancing circle.
Head of School Rabbi Lee Buckman addressed the students, sharing the midrashic story of an angel teaching unborn babies the entire Torah only to press their upper lip just before the babies are born to erase all the information.
“Why,” asked Rabbi Buckman of the students, “do you suppose the angel would erase all that knowledge?”
Many of the children volunteered thoughtful answers.
“Because there’s always more to learn,” Natalie Newman suggested.
Zachary Amdur pointed out that you’re supposed to not just know the information, but to apply it to your life.
“Maybe it’s not enough just to know Torah; maybe we’re supposed to learn it our whole life,” Gil Slomka offered.
Rabbi Buckman shared his own interpretation.
“Like that angel, we at GHA want you to continue learning Torah for the rest of your life,” he said. “Sometimes the story is perplexing, but we hope that you will always be curious, and always want to learn more Torah.”
Next, Principal Leah Summers stepped to the podium, asking the students how the Torah might be compared to a GPS.
“It tells you about the Torah – it leads you to Torah,” Idan Azani said.
“It is the guide to life,” Amichai Susson added.
“We want you to have your very own GPS in life, and we don’t want you ever to be without it,” Summers told them. “If your chumash ever wears out, Rabbi Buckman has a universal replacement policy – come back and we’ll give you a new one.”
The second graders were then given their chumashim, along with a chocolate bar.
“Because we want the words of Torah to taste just as sweet to you, if not sweeter, than Nestle Crunch bars,” said Rabbi Buckman with a smile.
Leah Levy is a paraprofessional at GHA and the author of “The Waiting Wall,” a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for 2010.