וְכִֽי־יָג֧וּר אִתְּךָ֛ גֵּ֖ר בְּאַרְצְכֶ֑ם לֹ֥א תוֹנ֖וּ אֹתֽוֹ׃
כְּאֶזְרָ֣ח מִכֶּם֩ יִהְיֶ֨ה לָכֶ֜ם הַגֵּ֣ר ׀ הַגָּ֣ר אִתְּכֶ֗ם וְאָהַבְתָּ֥ לוֹ֙ כָּמ֔וֹךָ כִּֽי־גֵרִ֥ים הֱיִיתֶ֖ם בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃
When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I Adonai am your God.
Yavneh is fortunate to have a close partnership with Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley, an organization here in our building that helps refugees from all over the world relocate to Silicon Valley to start a new life. Kitah Hay’s work with JFS began when we were given the honor of performing at the Good Morning, JFS Breakfast Fundraiser to support the crucial work they do.
In accepting the honor and responsibility of singing for a cause bigger than ourselves, it felt important that Kitah Hay understand the importance of the work of Jewish Family Services in the lives of refugees in our community. Furthermore, immigration is a key component of our 5th grade curriculum. In Jewish Studies, the children are exploring Jewish conceptions of holiness as defined in Leviticus which focus on how we treat those on the margins of society.
First, each student chose from four novels that highlighted different immigration experiences. The main characters in our stories were either refugees, fleeing their country of origin due to war, or immigrants moving to another country for varying lengths of time and reasons. Our novels also gave us the opportunity to converse about the struggles of legal and illegal immigration, and the acclimation process of settling in a new country.
Next, Mindy Berkowitz, the Executive Director of Jewish Family Services visited our classroom to share information about the important work they do. We discussed the mitzvah “to protect and help the stranger,” which is mentioned thirty-six times in the Torah. Because each of us can access a time in our lives when we felt like an outsider, wanting to fit in and needing to connect with other people, the students could relate in some way to hearing about the refugees supported by JFS. This idea led to Kitah Hay leading BINGO with a class of English learners who are also refugees being supported by Jewish Family Services. The adult learners and 5th grade students played the game side-by-side, sharing in the anticipation and excitement of winning BINGO.
On March 6th, Kitah Hay performed with heart and spirit at Villa Ragusa in Downtown Campbell, clearly taking their roles as Yavneh and Jewish Family Services representatives seriously. ~ Sam