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Carmel Academy Students Connect With Ancient Jewish Traditions

Carmel Academy students got their hands dirty and their toes wet as they experienced the rituals surrounding the Hebrew month of Tishrei.
 
In the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah, Carmel Academy’s sixth grade students spent the afternoon with Rabbi Schneur Wilhelm, who teaches about the crafts of Judaism. Rabbi Wilhelm, who is the Rabbi at the Chabad of Milford, led the sixth graders in a hands-on shofar workshop, as each student cleaned, sawed, sanded and created their very own shofar.

“The Rosh Hashanah Amida is made up of three parts: Shofarot, Zichronot (remembrance), and Malkhuyot (kingship). At Carmel, each Middle School grade studies one of the sections and each has a corresponding experiential activity to help them grasp the meaning and relevancy of the ancient liturgy,” said Rabbi Jordan Soffer, Carmel Academy’s Rabbi-in-Residence.

“Our sixth graders learned about the powerful sound of the shofar, the blast for ultimate redemption, and then built their own shofarot,” he said.
 
“Our goal is to re-mystify the rituals by demystifying the rituals,” he said. “We hope to create a sense of awe and wonder that emerges from a familiarity. By making the shofar with their own two hands, our students gained a deep appreciation about how remarkable a shofar is, and, at the same time, how accessible it is,” Rabbi Soffer said.
Carmel Academy students got their hands dirty and their toes wet as they experienced the rituals surrounding the Hebrew month of Tishrei.
 
In the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah, Carmel Academy’s sixth grade students spent the afternoon with Rabbi Schneur Wilhelm, who teaches about the crafts of Judaism. Rabbi Wilhelm, who is the Rabbi at the Chabad of Milford, led the sixth graders in a hands-on shofar workshop, as each student cleaned, sawed, sanded and created their very own shofar.
 
“The Rosh Hashanah Amida is made up of three parts: Shofarot, Zichronot (remembrance), and Malkhuyot (kingship). At Carmel, each Middle School grade studies one of the sections and each has a corresponding experiential activity to help them grasp the meaning and relevancy of the ancient liturgy,” said Rabbi Jordan Soffer, Carmel Academy’s Rabbi-in-Residence.
 
“Our sixth graders learned about the powerful sound of the shofar, the blast for ultimate redemption, and then built their own shofarot,” he said.
 
“Our goal is to re-mystify the rituals by demystifying the rituals,” he said. “We hope to create a sense of awe and wonder that emerges from a familiarity. By making the shofar with their own two hands, our students gained a deep appreciation about how remarkable a shofar is, and, at the same time, how accessible it is,” Rabbi Soffer said.
 
Sixth graders Lyla Dynner and Abby Malkin said the workshop gave them an entire new appreciation of the shofar.
 
“I thought it was really interesting to have a chance to make my own. Now, whenever I see a shofar I know what goes into making it,” said Lyla.
 
“I learned what makes a shofar kosher and not kosher, and I also learned just how much work it takes to saw and sand it,” Abby said.
 
In the days leading up to Yom Kippur, the entire student body traveled to the beach to learn together, reflect and then to have a communal Tashlich. The students sat in small groups on the sand, as the school’s 5th-8th graders taught the younger students about the meaning and significance of Tashlich. Each student wrote or illustrated their intentions for the new year on dissolvable paper. Then, they walked to the shore to cast them into the flowing water.
 
“It was a really different experience and I liked spending time with the Lower School students teaching them about Tashlich,” said sixth grader Maddie Wisse.
 
As the students gathered along the shoreline, Rabbi Soffer invited them to glance at the horizon. He told them: “Take a look at the water and notice how the horizon stretches as far as the eye can see. Think about our potential to change and to do mitzvot, which is as wide as the vast water in front you.”
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  • Carmel Academy is a private school for children of all Jewish affiliations, serving children from transitional kindergarten through 8th grade.

Carmel Academy is a recipient of UJA Greenwich, the United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien, Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County and The UJA Federation on New York.