Sunday, December 27, 2009

Connecting the Fast of the 10th of Tevet to Jewish Genealogy

Today is the fast of Asarah B’Tevet – the 10th day of the month of Tevet, commemorating the day when Babylonian King Nebuchadnetzar blockaded Jerusalem – the first step to destroying our holy Temple on Tisha B’Av, the Ninth of Av. In my November 14th post I mentioned an Italian custom linking Hanukkah with Tisha B’Av, an important Fast Day on the Jewish calendar that falls between the curriculum cracks because it occurs during the summer. It’s true that some of you are on vacation until January 2nd, and that once again another Fast Day will get lost in the shuffle, but I still want to provide you with an interesting way to tuck this day into a lesson plan.
Israel has an interesting take on Asarah B’Tevet. In addition to stressing the historic importance of this fast, it has designated the day as Yom Hakaddish Haklali – the umbrella day of mourning for all Jews whose date or place of death is unknown. Last night I happened on a religious radio program discussing this very topic and linking it to Jewish genealogy. That immediately caught my attention since my paternal grandmother was a victim of the Nazi genocide and to this day the family has no idea as to her exact day of death. The radio panel pointed out that these loved ones lost in time can serve as the bond to family roots. To my surprise, I then discovered that Jewish Genealogy has been transformed into an academic subject taught at and promoted by The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center at the Hebrew University’s National Library of Israel.The center is certainly not kid oriented but it might give you some good ideas to pursue. In fact, you may want to use the fast of Asarah B’Tevet as your launching pad for a “Family Roots” project that you can start now and end in June. I’ve already talked about Jewish Genealogy and various kid sources to pursue for the classroom in my June 2nd 2009 post, so you may want to go back and have a look. And you may also want to stop and think about the importance of Fast Days. Yes, we want to make sure they go by fast, but behind each day is a lesson in Jewish history that kids should be aware of. FYI: the next fast day falls on February 25th – Yud Aleph B’Adar. It’s Ta'anit Esther -- the Fast of Esther. While Purim is meant to be fun, fun, fun, without fasting Esther wouldn’t have had the courage to expose Haman and his wicked plot. How’s that for “fast” food for thought for your Purim lesson plan?
Kol Tuv...Tami

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