Published in The Hebrew Watchman, September 6, 2018
A new school year at Bornblum Jewish Community School has brought new and exciting learning and celebrations of Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish High Holy Days.
According to Jewish Studies Principal, Michal Almalem, “We say Rosh (head) Hashanah and not ‘new’ year in Judaism because it is all about what is happening in our mind, and how we get ready for the upcoming year to make it better and to be open to all the blessings from Hashem. At Bornblum we provide many paths for our students to prepare for Rosh Hashana, and engage with the holidays. Students explore the deep meanings of the Jewish text, the history and the traditions of these holidays through learning, through literal arts, visual arts, and tikun olam projects.
Each school day during the Hebrew month of Elul, the sound of the shofar rang out throughout the school. Students also learned how to blow the shofar and middle school students made their own shofarot at Chabad’s Shofar Factory with Rabbi Levi Klein, Rabbi and Director of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Memphis. “It was great seeing the students interest as each of them crafted their own Shofar out of a raw horn of a kosher animal, by sawing, drilling and sanding the horn into a real Shofar that they then learned how to blow. When a child makes his own Shofar they treasure it forever, and want to know everything about it. I have had many adults share with me, that they still have the Shofar they made years ago as a child.” says Rabbi Klein.
Artistically inclined students could choose to participate in the school’s Rosh Hashanah Card Contest, creating the cover for a Rosh Hashanah greeting card. The winner of the contest was chosen by The Hebrew Watchman and their design appears on the cover of the Rosh Hashanah edition of the newspaper. This year, Bornblum added a poetry contest for students, encouraging students to use poetry to express their thoughts and feelings about the Jewish High Holy Days. The contest winner was third grader, Daphne Knoph, who’s poem read in part, “The many, different sounds of the Shofar blasts remind us of the Jewish people’s past…Most adults want the holiday to last, because let’s be honest nobody looks forward to the fast.”
Every student in the school also created a piece of Rosh Hashanah themed pottery in the Hornik Family Pottery and Printing lab. “It is amazing to see the creativity and level of work our students do in the pottery lab. It is fantastic that Judaism is embedded to every aspect of learning and that our students get an opportunity to create Jewish Art for their families to be used on their high holidays table,” says Almalem.
Students also began a new tikkun olam project for the High Holy Day period with Memphis Rox, a rock climbing center adjacent to Stax Museum. According to Almalem, “Memphis Rox is not just an incredibly fun place to explore fitness and climbing, but it is giving back to South Memphis by helping to create community and provide for the needs of children and families in this area.” During the holidays, fourth and fifth grade students visited Memphis Rox to experience the facility and learn about their mission and services, and then students will return to school and run a collection drive to gather items that children and teens need which will be distributed by Memphis Rox.
The school’s observance of Rosh Hashanah culminates with tashlich and model seders. To learn about tashlich, which occurs on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, students walk to the Wolf River to cast away their sins. Then, on Friday, September 7th, students close out their holiday preparations with model seders where they will share holiday songs, practice all the Rosh Hoshanah blessings, learn about traditions like having a head of a fish on the Rosh Hashanah table, and enjoy the various items placed on a sephardic seder plate.