One of the best things about homeschooling is how you can utilize the resources around you in your community. I’m a huge fan of this, even before my homeschooling days.
So, when we arrived in DC and began My Father’s World’s 1st grade curriculum. I noticed the first project was to talk about the history of the Bible, specifically about how it began by being written on scrolls. I thought, hmmmm, we’re in Washington, DC, and I just bet one of the Smithsonian museums has a scroll we can go see for real!
And would you believe it? There is not one scroll (available to the public. Only for scholarly study, and it turns out that one isn’t a “Jewish” scroll anyway.) So back this homeschooling mama goes to the Internet. I start looking at local Jewish synagogues, but I don’t want to offend anyone, and I’m not quite sure of the rules. Would we even be allowed to see one?
Then I remembered, back eons ago, when I used to babysit and I once babysat for the rabbi of a Messianic congregation in New York. (Messianic refers to Jews who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, but worship with their Jewish customs and traditions. Somebody correct me if I’ve explained that incorrectly.) And I thought, these folks might be less likely to be offended by a former-Southern Baptist gal bringing her kids in to see a scroll as part of a home school project.
Luckily, I found a wonderful congregation not too far away, that has a fabulously welcoming atmosphere (and actually had homeschoolers in their group, so they “got” that whole bizness.)
And it was amazing. The rabbi spoke so eloquently and both the hubby and I were spellbound by his “preaching.” (Question – is “preach” or “sermon” the proper terms here? Probably not, but remember I grew up Southern Baptist. I don’t know any better, LOL.) He brought out these tiny points of Hebrew (grammar and conjugations) that don’t translate well into the English Bible, explained them, and frankly we both felt like we were truly understanding the real meaning behind a very well-known verse for the very first time. It was awesome.
The service was also VERY child-friendly, and very open, with lots of audience participation! (Which might not mean much to you, unless you come from a “stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down” tradition and you have two very active young children with you.)
Plus, my oldest was able to see a REAL scroll. This particular one was over 400 years old, and was one of the ones that were smuggled out of Poland before WWII. It was beautiful. And I lot bigger than I expected!
We loved our experience there. We have attended a few times, and since we are now living here for a while, we plan to get involved whenever we have a chance. (Just a FYI, the service we attended was long. At least two hours. So if you have small children, bring snacks and drink, perhaps some crayons to keep them occupied if they get restless.)
A few pictures from a service:
If you are using My Father’s World 1st grade curriculum, or any Christian-based curriculum (that specifically studies the history of the Bible), then I would strongly encourage you to investigate your area and see if there is a Messianic congregation or perhaps a regular Jewish synagogue nearby that might be open to visitors. I personally loved the experience of worshiping very similar to how Jesus might have when He was on the earth.
Here are a few links that can give you more information:
What is Messianic Judaism? – very good, detailed explanation
Kehilat Sar Shalom Congregation – this is the Messianic congregation we visited.
Heart of Wisdom’s Biblical Holidays Page – Awesome, awesome resource for helping kids understand Biblical holidays. Lapbooks, coloring pages, games, etc.
Chosen People Ministries – umbrella organization, with lots of good information on their website