Oreo Cookies and Sunny Side Up Eggs?
The Perfect Formula for a Fun Be Mitzvah Program
By Amy Kopkin Atkins
“Ooh Oreos, are those for us?” said every Open Tent Be Mitzvah student upon entering our classroom last week.
Open Tent Be Mitzvah classes for 2021 began last week with a new crop of eager, enthusiastic learners. We are so excited to kick off our 12th year of Be Mitzvah classes with new and returning families.
You may be wondering, what do Oreo cookies have to do with Jewish coming of age?! A lot actually, if you are learning the phases of the moon and how they correspond to Judaism’s orientation toward “moon time”.
We’ve all heard the phrase, the holidays are early this year, but what does that really mean?
Our students correctly surmised that Jewish holidays begin and end at sunset – orienting us more fully to connect with the moon. The Jewish calendar follows the phases of the moon amounting to a Jewish month that is 29.5 days long. Since the secular calendar has months that range between 28 and 31 days long, they don’t line up. Throw in leap day every 4 years and leap month in the Jewish calendar (don’t get me started), and you have quite a sticky situation on your hands. This is why the Jewish holidays seem to roam freely across the secular calendar like bison on the plains.
But back to the Oreos. If you don’t have a Hebrew calendar tacked up on your bulletin board next to your secular one (does anyone else still even use a paper calendar)? The students learned, through their Oreos, that Jewish months begin and end with a new moon represented by a “clean” Oreo cookie, free of any cream, perfect for the chocolate purists among us. The full moon indicates the middle of the month and let’s you know when holidays like Tu B’shevat are happening. This is represented by a cookie full of cream (which is how I like them best).
And where do the sunny side up eggs come into play? During our first class this year, students played Sunny Side Up, a team building game where you have to throw a ball into the air with a blanket, flip the blanket, and then catch the ball with the opposite side of the blanket. As you can imagine, it’s really hard to do. It’s no coincidence that our ball is yellow!
All in all, the first year of our Be Mitzvah program is about building community, learning about Judaism in a way that is accessible and meaningful, and above all having fun!
Amy Kopkin Atkins, Open Tent Be Mitzvah Educator