Monday, May 25, 2009

Continuing with song

Last Sunday we had five minutes of hiney ma tov - Psalm 133. The letters for the Shema were still up from the previous week, so I showed the one letter difference from אחד to יחד. From the quiet circle, I put the song in the middle, and like bees to honey all noses converged onto the text as I sang the song and followed the letters of the psalm with my finger - careful - it's easy to get the direction confused when you are reading upside down.

After 3 or 4 times through, some were singing clearly and everyone was trying. Must repeat the songs and let the letters fall out from them. No Sunday School next week - high mass for Pentecost and a special Palestrina choral feature with several visiting singers.

After a year, I must think how to continue the teaching process. Blocks and singing and lessons with action seem to be the best for retention for children and adults alike. But this much is true - five minutes a week makes a difference.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


The subject this morning was the Eucharist - so I put the Shema as counterpoint and taught the word 'one' with the blocks. There were a number of new people in Sunday School so it was good to restart at alef and repeat a song. I will likely repeat this next week and also do psalms 133 again - just for singing. Maybe I will prepare some music on paper too...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thinking about Isaiah 61

Jesus reads Isaiah 61 a long time ago in that Synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:18-19). He closes the roll and returns it to the attendant. All eyes are fixed on him. And he says: today...

There are so many possible lessons in today's words that I noted as I prepared for this part of the class, on its own, about the presentation of 'ancient time' and 'today' to those of us with only a few years of memory.

Then I also covered the upper room and the institution of the Eucharist - It was of necessity brief - but again time, memory, and presence are in the story.

Honey cake for the feast. Jewish New Year and Anointed Time all in one. Delight yourselves in fatness (Isaiah 55:2).

After Job or even in tandem, I think Isaiah 40-66 a good next project.

The 35 minute lesson was successful. The door keeper and I acted out the reading. She handed me the 'scroll' to read, I read the frame in English and the Isaiah portion in Hebrew, showing them a scroll in English and Hebrew, then I handed the scroll back to her and sat down. In contrast to other godly play lessons where eye contact is not the norm, this one with its lesson - all eyes were upon him - required action and eye contact. A student had helped me prepare by finding the Spirit רוח (ruach) and 'on me' עלי (alai) with the blocks. The whole class 'learned' these two words.

We made a time line to illustrate the 'length' of 2000 years. We started with a question to the young Korean - how old are you - and he held up his five digits with open palm. So we marked on the time line our points, the dates of the events of the gospel and the time of Isaiah, 600 to 800 years prior to them.

For such a long lesson everyone was quiet. It is a good lead in to Pentecost.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Next class - Spirit on me - Isaiah 61

The next class is mine to teach again - it is on "Synagogue and Upper Room" and has an elaborate building structure. The text is Isaiah 61:1-2 which is in the Godly Play in English of course. But we will do it first in Hebrew and compare Luke 4:18-19 with the passage in the Hebrew Bible. (I will not be using the Vulgate which includes the Dies Irae.)

Here is the Hebrew text in an image (till I find out why Mac's don't display some Hebrew right!)

Read it with me (cover the following if you don't need it):
ruach Adonai יהוה alai
ya`an mashach יהוה iti
'lebaser anavim
shelachani lachvosh lenishberei-lev
liqro lishvuyim dror
vela'asurim peqach-qoach
liqro shenat-ratson la יהוה
vyom neqam le'elohenu
lenachem col-avelim

And translating:
the spirit of the Lord יהוה is on me
because יהוה has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor
He has sent me to bind up
the brokenhearted
to proclaim to captives liberty
and to those who are bound, emancipation
to proclaim the acceptable year of יהוה
the day of vengeance of our God
to comfort all those who mourn

Spiritus Domini super me,
eo quod unxerit Dominus me;
ad annuntiandum mansuetis misit me,
ut mederer contritis corde,
et prædicarem captivis indulgentiam,
et clausis apertionem;
ut prædicarem annum placabilem Domino,
et diem ultionis Deo nostro;
ut consolarer omnes lugentes,

The children don't do Latin yet - but soon :)

Where does Jesus stop in his reading?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Repeat lesson on head and shoulders

Today we did some review from the beginning - recalling the first word they learned 11 months ago, כּי-טוב. I reintroduced each body part in the head and shoulders song one at a time - singular and plural when required for the song.

head - ראש
shoulder - כתף - shoulders כתפים
knee - ברך - knees ברכים

When you see knee, right away you know that it is the same word as bless. One kneels for a blessing - right?

extremity - toe or finger - אצבע - toes אצבעות

One nameless nine-year-old had offered foot instead of hand to the teacher as a greeting. So as distraction, I could appeal to the lesson that toe and finger are the same word in Hebrew.

eye - עין - so very like the English eye in pronunciation
ear - אזן - the hardest to open though it has no lid!
mouth - פה
nose - אף - as anger

When we had finished - all sang the song with me - and all did the movements. As the light is good and the Lord is good - so also the blessing to us in our limbs is good.

Notes and miscellany

No lesson last week. Trying to organize this week - may just do a bit of review. I have put reusable papers in envelopes - a long way from card stock and stand-alone exercises. Next week I have a whole hour on Church and Synagogue. That will be a challenge for my thought this week.

We have been going nearly a year - time to consider results...