January 5, 2017


Day 3

As I poured the warm mixture into nine individual serving dishes, I was delighted—delighted—that my vanilla pudding had no lumps in it. That meant I had avoided cooking the eggs. Unfortunately, it turns out I avoided cooking the eggs by avoiding cooking the pudding, and it never set. Today, I poured out nine individual serving dishes of murky yellow liquid.

Day 4

I am volunteering to teach at our Hebrew school. This is somewhat problematic, as I don’t know any Hebrew. Consequently, they’ve given me a class of two first graders and a kindergartener, although the kindergartener doesn’t join my group until after the Hebrew portion because he’s in a higher Hebrew group than I am. All I have to do is stay one letter ahead of the two first graders, which is harder than it sounds.

I couldn’t figure out why Hebrew school day was stressing me out so much. I like the kids, I enjoy the classes, and I’m successfully learning about a third of the Hebrew alphabet. Yesterday, I realized it: teaching little kids is all about stuff. When you teach teenagers, you show up with a book and a pen. When you teach first graders, it’s all projects. And projects require supplies. Lots and lots of supplies.

To review the letters after the break, we made sugar cookies and decorated them with Hebrew letters and the English letter that makes the corresponding sound. I didn’t make the dough in advance. I don’t like when people do that. If you are baking with kids, bake with kids. I brought in all the supplies, realizing half an hour before class that I forgot the flour. Because stuff is hard for me.

I ran out to fetch the flour. The kids creamed butter, cracked eggs, and shaped dough into balls they then smashed to disk-shaped. The synagogue filled with the smell of baking cookies and also a bit of smoke because one cookie kind of melted over the edge and burned on the bottom of the oven.

The lesson dovetailed nicely with my Jewish life lesson about blessings. By the end of the afternoon, my students not only had reviewed their letters but also were walking around telling their parents, “Butter and eggs are blessings” and “Butter makes everything better.”

I’m such a good teacher.

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