My name is Zoe Oppenheimer and I am a 5th grade Hebrew teacher at BJEP. As a Brandeis student studying elementary education, Hebrew Language and Literature and Judaic Studies and possibly looking towards a career in Jewish education or Hebrew language teaching, working at BJEP brings together many of my passions. Preparing for our Friday night Shabbat service is challenging because most of the prayers are made up of difficult words and complex melodies–but this did not stop the students from working hard while still having fun along the way.
We learned the words of the prayers through games and interactive activities. A class favorite was when we learned the words of the prayer Aleinu by playing “Lech Ladug,” a Hebrew version of “Go Fish” that I designed, in which we were practicing reading and pronouncing the words of the prayer while having fun. From watching the students this past Friday night, you would have never guessed that they learned most of the prayers this year. Their hard work and dedication has clearly paid off. Coming together to lead this service was the prefect way for the fifth graders to show their family and friends what they have been working on all year at BJEP.
While we recited the Shehekhiayu blessing – a prayer that we say on joyous occasions – towards the end of the service, I looked up at the 5th graders on the bima and was so proud of all that they have accomplished this year. They far surpassed my expectations. Fifth graders rock! It was a great feeling to look up at their smiling faces and think to myself that I am helping to educate the next generation of the Jewish people.