Teaching Hebrew school is always an adventure . . . you just never know what will happen on any given afternoon. The kids are absolutely adorable – sweet, good children who probably really don’t want to be in Hebrew school on a Tuesday afternoon after a long day of school. That said, most of them come with their game faces on. Today was no exception. The boys, while a bit ‘bouncy’, were honing their brachot (blessings) skills. They have just begun to master the formula, so to speak, “Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the Universe, who makes us holy through the performance of mitzvot, and commands us to . . . .”
. . . light the Shabbat/Hanukkah/Holiday candles . . . wash our hands . . . put on a Talis (tzitzit)
Or, “Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the Universe, who has brought forth . . .”
. . . fruit of the vine . . . fruit of the tree . . . fruit of the ground.
Boy A says, “What is the blessing for bacon?”
Boy B jumps in and says, “Bacon isn’t kosher!”
Boy A says, “If I say a blessing over bacon, is it kosher?”
ME: No. Anything that comes from a pig is not kosher, with or without a blessing. Blessings don’t make food kosher – brachot (blessings) tell God we are thankful for the food. What makes a food item kosher or not kosher is a longer discussion.
Boy B: “You can’t say a Jewish blessing over bacon! We’re not even supposed to be eating it, but I eat bacon, who doesn’t like bacon?”
Boy A: “I love bacon! And I’m thankful for my food. Why can’t I tell God that?”
ME: “Soooooo right. Ok. There are many Jews who keep kosher, and many who do not. I’m glad you want to tell God and the people around you that you are thankful for the food you eat. There is a bracha (blessing) for food that does not come from the ground, like eggs, meat, and water. So, you know, I guess you could say this for bacon.”
The boys are very excited about this. Who knew they would be excited to thank God. SO. I take a deep breath, pick up a piece of chalk, and write on the board:
שהכל נהיה בדברו – shehakol niheiyeh bidvaro – “for everything created through God’s words”
We practice those three words, and then they say the whole bracha a few times. They are beyond thrilled. Boy A says, “GREAT! Next time I have a BLT I’ll know what to say!”
In jumps Boy C: “NO! A BLT is a sandwich – between two slices of bread! You say HaMotzi!” Boy D: “But if you had bacon and eggs on a plate with NO bread, you could say that!” Boy E: “But if you add toast you’d say HaMozti!”
Be still my heart. They learned something :-) And I suspect a discussion about kashrut (kosher) is up for next week. Cool!! I love my job.
*just to reiterate: my job is to teach the facts, not to preach or judge. the more they know, the more they will be able to make educated choices (or educated choose-not-to’s) in their lives. best. job. EVER!