April 20, 2024
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TCA Middle School Has Discovery Day

This past Wednesday, on Ta’anit Esther and in honor of Purim, TCA’s middle school students enjoyed a Purim Discovery Day, exploring different aspects of the era surrounding the Purim story. Faculty took a cross-curriculum approach to Purim to deepen students’ understanding and perspective of that time period by intertwining several disciplines including social studies, math, art, Gemara and Halacha.

In social studies, the students reviewed the cultural, political, economic and religious elements that affected the mentality of the Persians at that time. They discussed the social class structure, natural resources and the military conquests that preceded Achashverosh’s rule. They considered and explored Achahverosh’s failure as a king, and the Persian defeat to the Greeks during his rule. It was fascinating for the students to discover that the Persian culture of those times was in fact the more porgressive and liberal regime that rejected slavery, promoted women’s right to own and/or manage property and respected other cultures.

In Halacha, the students participated in a mini-marathon of Hilchot Purim to review the four central mitzvot of Purim and other laws and topics related to this special day. The students had the opportunity to expand their knowledge and appreciation for the Purim’s story, spirit and mitzvot, and customs. During Gemara, the students discussed the double meaning of למפרע, and how to fulfill the obligation of reading the Megillah. Not only are we obligated to read the Megillah in order, but must also relate to it as a live document that speaks to us today; if one thinks of the Purim story as something foreign, belonging to someone else in the past—the individual has not fulfilled his/her obligation. The students also revealed Hashem’s presence in several meaningful ways, and discovered that the reason Mordechai was the first person to be named a Jew was multi-layered: his repudiation of avoda zara; his hakarat hatov to HaShem—a true character of a Jew; his complete mesirut nefesh, submission to God. In art, the students learned about the fifth century art history and techniques, experimented with soft modeling clay, examined the clay reliefs and then sketched them. Finally, in math, the students turned to Greece for some math inspiration of those times, as Pythagoras and his followers emerged around the time of the Purim story. To bring the concept to life, three students from sixth, seventh and eighth grades presented the background and usage of the Pythagorean Theorem to their junior high audience. They explained the meaning behind a2 + b2 = c2, and then had the students graph and solve for the sides of several right triangles.

The students had a blast discovering different aspects of Queen Esther’s and Achashverosh’s time period, while learning a tremendous amount throughout this fascinating Discovery Day.

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