Learning the values of tikkun olam, repairing the world, the Strelitz Early Childhood Center students created projects that have an impact on the Sandler Family Campus, the Tidewater community, and to Israel.
This “home grown” approach took place right in the campus backyard. Toward the end of the year, it was preschooler M.J. Lemke’s turn for his “Family of the Week” presentation in Gan Gimel 2. Family of the Week gives preschoolers one of their first experiences at public speaking as they stand in front of the class and talk about their family. M.J.’s family owns a local landscape business so they taught the students how to “work the ground.” They prepared a patch for a garden near the picnic area and bordered it with stones. The children used their creative talents to paint the stones in bright colors so the area can’t be missed. M.J.’s family then helped the children plant two apple trees, some blueberry bushes and strawberries, too. Plus, students in another class bought a fig tree to add to the garden. The garden’s beauty enhances the campus and the students now excitedly wait to taste and share its bounty.
The Gan Bet 1 class developed a meaningful way to celebrate birthdays and help others. In lieu of extravagant classroom parties, the students bake and decorate birthday cakes for each other. Their families then make donations to the classroom tzedakah collection in their honor. At the end of the year, using the funds in the tzedakah collection, the students shop for specific items, which are then given to Jewish Family Service for families in need. In her note to the Gan Bet students, Debra Mayer, director of clinical and adoption services at JFS said, “We greatly appreciate the wonderful collection of new children’s clothing, puzzles, books, backpacks, crayons, and toys that you bought for us from your weekly tzedakah collections. We will be sure to give them out to several local Jewish families with young children and we are sure they will all be excited to get these items as ‘surprise gifts’.”
The project undertaken by the four-yearolds in Gan Gimel 1 reached Israel. During the preschool’s study and celebration of Israel. Gan Gimel 1’s Tel Aviv During the Day and Tel Aviv During the Night included a three dimensional representation of the Shuk ha’Carmel— the Carmel Marketplace. After deciding to include items in the market that parents and others would actually be able to purchase, one of the students wanted to know what they would do with the money. A classroom discussion ensued and they decided to collect the money and give it to tzedakah. Remembering their tzedakah project earlier in the year, which raised funds for the “babies at CHKD,” they decided to send this money to “the babies” again, but this time to the babies in Israel. They decided to send the funds to Neve Michael Children’s Village, a multidisciplinary children’s home in Israel with a long link to the Tidewater Jewish community. Other students throughout the Strelitz preschool were so excited when they heard that the money was going to children in Israel, that many supported the cause by either purchasing items from the shuk or by donating their class tzedakah money to the project. More than $200 was raised.
From helping children in Israel to literally planting seeds for the future, Strelitz Early Childhood Center students are learning the values of tikkun olam, repairing and healing the world, as a foundation for lifelong learning. For more information about the Strelitz Early Childhood Center preschool, or to schedule a personal tour, contact Carin Simon, admissions director, firstname.lastname@example.org or 424-4327.
Strelitz Early Childhood Center is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
by Alene Kaufman