Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Reflections on 6th Grade Charleston Trip

Davis Middle School overnight trips offer a carefully crafted mix of fun, bonding, learning, and opportunities for individual and group reflection. That's certainly the case on our 6th grade trip to Charleston where students explore the beautiful city but also address the topic of the slave trade as well as the Mother Emanuel Church Shooting and also visit the city's Holocaust memorial. Here are a few journal entries, published here with parental permission.

During our trip, we learned that Charlston was a state founded on religious freedom. Before the Civil War, the whole state of Charleston lived off of slavery. As a Jew, I know that  Jews have been treated as slaves in the past, and I strongly disagree and dislike the topic of slavery. This is not only because it happened to my people, but because I hate seeing innocent people suffer. We visited two different places connecting the topic of slavery between two different groups of people. The Jews and African Americans were both treated as slaves. In Charleston, we visited a holocaust memorial for the six-million Jews who were murdered only because of what they believed in. The Jews were enslaved and taken to concentration camps where they were hurt and killed. On the other hand, we also visited a slave market, where African Americans were sold to people as property, and as slaves. The African Americans were bought, taken to a plantation and worked out of their minds, so hard that by the end of the day, they could barely get to their cabins, before passing out. Even though the Jews and the African Americans were treated differently, they were still both under control of slavery. Slavery is a brutal idea, and I am overjoyed that in the United States, it is no longer practiced, but we must know that even though slavery is not here, people are still being enslaved around the whole world.
          When we visited the slave market in Charleston, there were many sad things I saw and read, but the worst was probably the Rattle Leg Shackle. This device was bound to a slave’s ankle. Whenever they would move, the shackle would rattle. This prevented them from escaping without getting caught. Even if they tried to sneak out at the darkest hour of night, the rattles in the shackle would still be heard. Thankfully, once the slaves cleverly discover that they could mute the noise by shoving mud into an opening in the shackel, the rattle leg shackle could no longer be used. Even though the rattle leg shackle is not being used today, there are still weapons that were used in the past for slavery that are used today. For instance, an invention that came from the rattle leg shackle, handcuffs.  Handcuffs are pretty much modern day shackles, except for the fact that they don’t make loud noises. However, handcuffs are not a problem to me, because they aren’t used against innocents, unlike the rattle leg shackle, which is. I strongly dislike the topic of slavery, but I am so thankful that for the people living in the United States today, slavery has been abolished. I learned a lot on my trip to Charleston, South Carolina and I am so glad I went with all of my friends and teachers. It was such an amazing experience that I most definitely will remember for my school years to come. -Sadie Hoff

       Charleston was an amazing experience even though I have been many, many times before. However, some people didn’t have fun there. Those people were the slaves of the plantation owners and other places, who suffered years of harsh beatings, which we should think about. I had a really great time on the Catamaran because it was so relaxing and so pretty looking at all the buildings feeling the cool breeze. What more could you want? It was amazing, unlike the experiences the slaves had in Charleston. They never got to enjoy the freedom of a wonderful boat ride on the harbor. Being Jewish people, we should hate slavery. Imagine thanking the heavens for your freedom, while your slave is fanning you. In that case, you’re not the greatest person, you are the greatest hypocrite. An artifact I chose was the shackle, which are chains they used to put on the slaves to keep them from leaving. This item was first used in the French area of Haiti in the 1700s. The item is now a U shaped link to connect and stabilize vehicles or tug a boat. This reality of slavery is terrible and we should not name a link after a slave torturer. I believe that we should try to give freedom to all human beings, even if they look, talk or act different. They are still human, and so are we. -Will Morrison

I really enjoyed my trip to Charleston and I learned a lot. The activity I will remember the longest on our trip to Charleston is the ropes course. At first I was scared to do it because of my fear of heights, then when I went on it, I overcame my fear, and enjoyed it. In Charleston, we learned of its history of slavery. I believe that slavery is wrong because we are all created equal. In the Jewish religion, we believe in our Menschlichkeit values, which are wisdom, respect, spirit, righteousness, and community. Slavery goes against all of these values. In the Slave Mart Museum, I selected shackles to write about. I choose the shackles because I was shocked when I saw that they used these kinds of materials on humans. I think white people back then thought of African Americans as animals. The shackles proved that to me. Today, shackles are still used, but in a different form. Prisoners are regularly shackled when being moved from a location and in court. Charleston taught me a lot about slavery and I had fun with my friends. -Zach Notte

          Recently my sixth grade class and I went to Charleston, South Carolina and it was both awesome and interesting. I think the most memorable activity that we did would have to be the Slave Market Museum because we don’t ever think about how lucky we are to be able to go to a private school and have loving parents.  When we went to the Slave market the whip caught my eye because people are still being abused today. Also, because Adrian Peterson, a football player got arrested for abuse with a belt. Although the slave owners didn’t whip the slaves because it left scars and it was illegal to abuse slaves, they still used other things like it. Its purpose was if the slaves were bad their owners would whip them. Although most people use belts now, abuse was and is some of the worst things people can do and some people commit suicide because of it. We went to a church where many people were killed because of their race and during that all I could think about is people discriminating against Jews. Also, with slavery this stuck to my mind, because I don’t know why people see Jews differently. I made so many great memories and learned so much, I will never forget this trip.  -Ryan Altmann

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ask a Davis Academy student what "LOVE" means and they're likely to tell you something unexpected. LOVE means: Living Our Values Everyday. Below are beautiful pictures of a project undertaken by Jamie Rindsberg, our guidance counselor for grades 3-5. She has been exploring The Davis Academy's menschlichkeit values (to which this entire blog is devoted) with her 5th grade students. See below for examples of the thoughtful ways that our students think about what it means to LOVE at The Davis Academy. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Wise Words from Davis 8th Grader in Honor of Simchat Torah

The Davis Academy's 2018 Simchat Torah celebration was immeasurably enriched by a Dvar Torah written and shared by 8th grader Reese Baker. As you read her speech (included below) take a moment to consider the strong feeling of connection that Reese describes. Connection to the Torah, but also connection to her own story, to the generations that have come before and are yet to come, to Jews around the world, and the the values that Jewish tradition teaches. It's wonderful to see a young adult having such a strong sense of self and connection to the broader stories of the Jewish people. 

Chag Sameach!
My name is Reese Baker and I am an 8th grader here at Davis. About a week ago, Rabbi Micah asked me to give this Dvar’ Torah and to describe how the Torah impacts my life. After much thought, I concluded that it is not what the Torah says that impacts me personally but what it symbolizes. I started to think about the amazing tradition here at Davis of unwrapping the entire Torah around our community, which will take place in a few minutes. I thought about each grade that the Torah surrounds and the connection that they all have with it. A couple of memories quickly came to mind of the many ways that I connected to the Torah through my nineyears here at Davis.

First, I thought of kindergarten, in Mrs. Weiser's class, making small Torahs and decorating them with my friends for this holiday. As I continued through the years, the 2nd grade siddur ceremony definitely stood out. Learning the hebrew prayers right out of my own personalized siddur gave me a connection to the Torah at a young age. I next thought of the 5th grade Torah service, where my class nervously learned and read from the Torah in front of our parents and other classmates. Then, onto 6th grade, when my friends and I got very excited to finally hold the Torah for this celebration, as we had watched the older kids do year after year. In 7th grade and 8th grade, each and every student in our class learned their very own Torah portion for our Bnai’Mitzvot. We learned what they meant and found a deeper meaning within the words.

And now, here we are. It is very strange for me to think that this is my last year as a student celebrating Simchat Torah with my Davis community. The process that I just described to you was a shared experience with all of my classmates that all of you will also get to go through in the coming years. It is not only an experience that we, as Davis students encounter, but it is also one that we share with other boys and girls around the world. The Torah provides a connection between us and them. It is a connection to our heritage, to our family and to all of the Jewish people around the world. As we constantly say here at Davis, L’dor Va’dor, from generation to generation. The Torah connects these generations and will always continue to do so. As the Torah is unrolled, that is what I will be thinking of. I will be thinking of the journey that I experienced, from kindergarten all the way to 8th grade, and the way that the Torah has connected me to my classmates and different Jewish communities. The connection that Davis has given us from the Torah has provided us with a connection that we will always have with each other, no matter where we go in life.

And to the 8th Grade, I can not wait to experience the ultimate Davis Torah connection with you on our trip to Israel later this year.
Thank you.