Geared towards 8-12
Written by Nechama Retting (Thank you to Michal Glatt for her ideas) this is really 2 or 3 lessons in one!
Succot is one of the 3 Pilgrimage (Harvest) Holidays (with Pesach and Shavuot) when Jews from all over Israel would gather at the Holy Temple to give gift offerings to the Kohanim (High Priests) to say thank you to Hashem for all their blessings. It also commemorates the time during the Exodus when Jews were traveling in the desert and living in temporary dwellings. There are 3 Mitzvot related to the holiday: Dwelling in a Succah, Rejoicing with family and friends, and the Four Species. Use the songs “All Shook Up” from the CD Purim Torah or Greatest Hits 10 – The Early Years and “Succot Nights” from Shlock Rock Almost on Broadway to teach about the Succah and the 4 species.
Other related Shlock Rock songs: “Lulav” from Shlock Rock for Kids Vol. 1, “My Succah” and “Hachnassat Orchim” from Shlock Rock for Kids Sing Together, “Succah Hop” from Shlock Rock for Kids We’re in the Band, “Oh it’s My Succah” from Shlock Rock for Kids Party Time, “Kohain” from Shlock Rock – To Unite All Jews, “Baruch HaGever” from Shlock Rock Greatest Hits 2 (GH2), “Streets of Jerusalem” from Shlock Rock – Stories from the Holy Land.
Goals: Used as an introduction or review of the holiday Succot specifically related to the Succah and the Arba Ha minim (4 Species). This can be broken down into 2-3 lessons (Steps one, two and three as the first lesson and then a second short geography lesson from Step four, and a third lesson from Step five to the end).
Materials Needed: CD player, “Purim Torah” CD with song lyrics , “Almost Broadway” CD with song lyrics, paper, markers and/or highlighters, map of Israel and if possible samples of the Lulav and Etrog.
Step One: Review what your students already know related to the holiday and the Arba Ha minim as an assessment. Write down on the board or paper their facts. Write down any questions the students have (or that you want addressed later – see Step Three for sample questions) related to the Lulav, Etrog or Succah.
Step Two: Give students the lyrics to the song “All Shook Up” and play it. Have students highlight facts they did not know on the lyric sheet to share after the song is completed. Add these facts to the board or paper in a different color marker. Were all their questions answered?
Step Three: Begin discussion to answer any other questions that were not addressed (examples: Can you name all 4 species in English or Hebrew? What is the bracha we say before we shake the Lulav? When do we shake the Lulav? How is it shaken? Why do we shake the Arba ha minim? (Where is it mentioned in the Torah?) Find the answers and add to the board in a third colored marker. Compare what you knew, to what you have learned. Show the Arba ha minim if available (or pictures), also use them for the next step as well.
Step Four: To help instill a connection to the land of Israel, we will use the 4 species as a geography lesson. With the advancements in agricultural technology, we are able to grow the 4 species in many places throughout Israel today, but biblically, they grew only in the areas mentioned in this lesson. All 4 of the species grow in Israel. 3 of the 4 species grow without help from people, but the Etrog (citron) must be planted and tended to achieve maturity. Each of the species needs specific climates to grow properly. Use a map of Israel and explain that Willows (Aravah) need to grow near water and can be found along the Jordan River. Myrtle (Hadas) needs rocky soil and can be found in the Judean Mountains near Jerusalem. Date Palm tree fronds (Lulavim) thrive in desert conditions near the Negev. And Etrogim can grow almost anywhere provided they receive help from people (water, pruning etc…) I usually place them more to the north around the Tel Aviv area. Imagine in Biblical times, how all of B’nai Yisrael needed to rely on each other in order to fulfill the mitzvah of the Arba Ha minim. Each family could not possibly go all over the land to collect each of the species; they needed each other to provide what grew naturally where they lived in order to fulfill the mitzvot at the Holy Temple.
Step Five: Using the information board created in Steps one through three, create a “Web” to review what the children know about Succot. Start with the word Succot in the middle and web out from there. (Examples: Temporary hut, s’chach for the roof – then web off of that –stars through the roof, Ushpizin (web off biblical or current day people to invite as guests), Harvest, Bikkurim, Holy Temple, etc….)
Step Six: Hand out the lyrics to “Succot Nights” and play the song. Are there any new things to add to our web? Did you know that the idea of the American holiday, Thanksgiving, came from the Torah and our holiday of Succot?
Conclusion: Have the class come together in an Israeli Kumsitz type setting and tell about their experiences with Succot. Have the children share stories, songs or poems related to the holiday. Can they create a new verse to one of the Shlock Rock songs they listened to incorporating what they have learned? Remember to email parents to share all the learning happening in your classroom!