Papyrus-logo oval gold edited-2

Debbie Chessen closeup
Debbie Chessin Director of Education

February, 2017

The curriculum in our Religious School is based on the text from Pirkei Avot 1:2 which teaches us that the world stands on three things: on Torah, on service (avodah) and acts of kindness (g'milut chasadim).

The Hebrew word "Avodah" that is used in the Bible has two distinct yet intertwined meanings: "worship” and "work". The word invokes the image of the Israelites performing “work” in the fields and at the same time remembering to “worship” the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. The Israelites understood that "avodah" could be a way to love both God and one's neighbor.

The dual meaning of this ancient word conveys powerful wisdom for modern times. We have come to understand that “avodah” involves not only ritual worship of God but also serving one's neighbor.

This is a message that we continue to teach over and over to our children, and it is one that was exemplified by a community project that all of the children in our Religious School took part in this past January. As a community, the children fulfilled their work of worshipping and connecting to God by creating a visual interpretation of the Shabbat morning prayer service. During the morning, the children worked together with Rabbi Lader and explored the individual meanings of the prayers by making beautiful pictures to accompany each one.

The morning continued as our children participated in a “service” project where they made more than 80 bagged lunches that would be donated to homeless families in need of food. Kol HaKavod to our amazing youngsters who together illustrated how “avodah” - service of the heart and the hands - brings us close to God and to each other.

Enjoy the pictures!

Debbie Chessin, Director Of Education*

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

*This position is partially funded through the Fund for the Jewish Future of the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland.