Looking Back on Makor

Dec 1, 2021 | Rabbi Azriel's Column

When the Covid-19 Pandemic began, we were wearing masks, celebrating that we had survived an oppressive Persian dictator. It was Purim 2020, and shortly after that, we quickly moved to remote education, distance services, and online programming. Forecasts said that we needed to stay home for two weeks, then four weeks, then the summer, and we would quickly make it back to ‘normal’ life. 

  When Makor was being planned for the school year 2020-2021, we knew that the entire year would be virtual. It was disappointing not to be together in our building, but it was necessary to ensure our community remained safe. The year went smoothly; students spent Zoom time together learning about holidays, Hebrew, Jewish morals, and even making crafts with at-home supplies. 

  Fast forward to the school year 2021-2022; we knew the importance of being back together in the same space, sharing classrooms, interacting with each other in person. The education committee, teachers, parents, and students came together to make this hope a reality. Through our Fall 2021 semester, we have achieved a fantastic semester thanks to the dedication of all those involved in Makor. Students continue to learn together, in-person, safely, sharing meaningful Jewish experiences in our building. I could not be prouder of our team, especially our teachers, who have stepped up to the occasion to make this semester as successful as it has been. 

  Our youngest students have spent the semester learning about holidays, singing together, laughing, and doing amazing art projects, many of which have made their way home! They learned Hebrew colors, made edible dreidels, and created new friendships with Jewish students across Dayton. 

  Our elementary school class has been hard at work learning about the land of Israel and all of the fantastic places found throughout Ha’artz (the land). They created their own Western Wall and wrote personal prayers to fold up and put in the cracks. They have read many stories about the beauty and majesty of Israel and learned how to make a map of Israel using their bodies. It has been an incredible semester. 

  Our middle school class has spent an incredible semester digging into meaningful discussions about the complexity of Israel and all that goes into making a Jewish state. They discussed the kibbutz movement and how Israel was founded. And they have spent time creating digital media projects about what it means to be Jewish. 

  Our junior high school class has been engaged in learning about text and ritual items that make being Jewish so unique. They are in the process of creating their own tallitot and have gone on a tour of the synagogue to see the many ritual items that they might have passed without even noticing them. They continue to build a project about how being Jewish is meaningful to them and hope to share it with our community at the end of the year. 

  And finally, our high school class has had an amazing time with Rabbi Chessin. They did a deep dive into the image of Jews in media, social media, and comedy. They have debated boundaries in stereotypes and tried to determine where to draw the line with regard to gender, race, and religion parody. And they have discussed current events concerning Israel and antisemitism. All of this has been accompanied by great crafts, delicious food, and wonderful music. 

  It has been an amazing semester at Temple Beth Or Makor, and we want to thank all the students and parents for being a part of it. We look forward to another terrific spring semester!

Rabbi Ben Azriel

Rabbi Ben Azriel

Assistant Rabbi of Temple Beth Or

Ben is originally from the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. He is an Alum of The Ohio State University, where he earned a dual-major in Political Science and Economics with a specialty in American judicial politics and economic regression analysis. While in school, Ben was a Youth Engagement Director for a local synagogue. After finishing at OSU, Ben worked as a tax accountant for two years in Columbus, Ohio. In addition, Ben was the Financial Director of a Columbus congregation. Ben also served on the staff of Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute for five years in various positions and has staffed multiple trips to Israel. During rabbinical school, Ben worked as a student Rabbi at Temple B’nai Israel in Northern Michigan and B’nai Israel In Parkersburg, WV. Also, he served Hillels at Texas A&M University, University of Texas-Austin and Miami University in Oxford. Ben strives to bring his love for Judaism, which formed the ethics he lives his life by, with his knowledge for program development and administration, to create meaningful education, program, service, and fiscal opportunities. Ben lives in Mariemont, outside of Cincinnati, with his wife Rachel (his high school sweetheart), a medical student at the University of Cincinnati, and their dog Wrigley.

Contact Rabbi Azriel at rabbiazriel@templebethor.com