Tu B’Shevat at Westchester Day School is used as an opportunity, through project based learning, for students and faculty to focus on appreciating all the blessings they have in their lives. This year, that goal was accomplished primarily through a focus on brachot in different ways throughout the school. At the beginning of the month of Shevat, kindergarten through fifth grades were each assigned one of the blessings said on food. The grade learned about their assigned blessing and then designed bulletin boards to adorn the lunchroom, encapsulating their bracha and encouraging a greater focus on blessings. To go along with the visual display, classes also had to create a word cloud for their bracha which included 20 English and 10 Hebrew words. Morah Deena Zlotnick, student activities coordinator, marveled at how “everyone started with the same assignment, so it was incredible to see how different creative minds translated the assignment into their own vision.” Additionally, middle school students also learned about the importance of saying 100 blessings per day, and students were encouraged to keep their own tally and strive for those 100 daily blessings.
Elementary and middle school students also enjoyed a Tu B’Shevat program with the WDS shlichot, Gitit and Donna, on the topic of planting on Tu B’Shevat. While planting trees and flowers may seem to be impractical in the middle of the winter in New York, students learned about the laws and philosophy on planting in Judaism, played a creative game on iPads and then engaged in a “planting” activity to beautify the WDS campus: each student received and decorated a stone with a motivating and inspiring Jewish saying and/or picture. The stones will be used in a walkway on the campus.
The culminating focus on brachot included grade level competitions, with students in third through fifth grades participating in a traditional bracha bee and middle school students in a Kahoot! competition style game, and awarded points to students for accuracy and speed. Congratulations to all the participants and to the two top winners: second place finalist—Beni Romm and first place winner—Rebecca Silber.