Pause and Reflect

Pause and Reflect
Pause and Reflect

A new group in the Lower School is practicing the Jewish tradition of Havdalah.

Just as school was getting underway this fall, so too was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year—and with it, the launch of a new affinity group at the Lower School. Third grade teacher Marilena Siegel and pre-K teacher Erin Weisman have created space for Jewish friends—and anyone interested—to make Havdalah, a ritual that involves reflecting on the previous week and setting intentions for the week ahead. “We have found that Judaism and Quakerism go very well together,” says Siegel. “They have many overlapping values, including, an emphasis on service learning, honoring a diversity of voices and perspectives, and the practice of reflection.”

When Lower School Principal Adele Paynter first approached Weisman and Siegel about the idea, they leapt at the chance. “We felt that this was a wonderful idea and one that was close to both of our hearts,” says Siegel. The pair also saw the Havdalah group as a chance to recognize the diversity of Sidwell Friends. “It is important to showcase as many of the identities that make up our school community as possible,” says Weisman. “We welcome all friends and families to participate in our weekly meetings, when we focus on the Jewish tradition of making Havdalah.”

Now the Havdalah group has hit the ground running on creating a Sukkot assembly for the end of the month. Sukkot celebrates the gathering of the harvest and includes making and then dining in a sukkah, an outdoor hut—often composed of natural materials—that keeps a focus on the land and our connection to it. “We are currently in the process of building our very own sukkah,” says Weisman. “Fingers crossed it turns out!” The assembly is also a chance to show the rest of the School what the group has been up to. “Highlighting Sukkot this year during our assembly will be a great opportunity to educate and engage all of the members of our School,” adds Siegel.

All Lower School friends and families are invited to participate in the weekly Havdalah meetings.

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