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Time to Celebrate

Sukkahfest At Irvine Hebrew Day School

On Sunday, October 16, 2022, Irvine Hebrew Day School (IHDS), hosted the second annual Sukkahfest,  bringing together people and Jewish organizations throughout Orange County to gather and celebrate Sukkot. This program was funded by a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation Orange County.
    The day featured various activities for all ages. It showcased sukkot that had been designed and built, by students of IHDS, as part of a cross-curricular project between the school’s STEAM program and Jewish Studies. The sukkot were part of IHDS’s project-based approach that utilizes Design Thinking and inter-grade collaboration. Over these last weeks, students have been meeting in groups to research architectural ideas, develop and refine their designs, discussing what makes a structure kosher and which materials are suitable for building. Hadar Dohn, the school’s Principal shared, “This opportunity to integrate Jewish learning and Design Thinking is an example of how IHDS supports interdisciplinary learning and authentic Jewish experiences.” Students then explored the cost of materials, availability, and logistics, often altering their design decisions based on the results.
     After procuring the needed supplies, students made their visions a reality. Over the course of days, they built and modified their designs, making the necessary adjustments as physics and weather put their structures to the test. This process not only resulted in improved structures but also provided the opportunity to practice some of the social/emotional skills that are an integral part of the school’s status as a Positive Discipline Lab School. Our school’s emphasis on social/emotional learning supports a project such as this. Our students are taught not only to interact with one another respectfully and productively, but our school culture is one of encouragement and fostering a growth mindset. We welcome exploration and the inevitable failures that come with trying new things. However, we don’t leave the process there. We also build the emotional skills necessary to handle those challenges and the flexibility and resiliency to address them.
    The students’ quick thinking and resiliency resulted in three unique sukkot they were proud to showcase during the event. Solomon Reiner, a 5th-grade student said, “I really enjoyed working collaboratively with my friends to make a creative sukkah, and even when we had a problem, we could find a solution together.”
    The process culminated in a community-wide event held on IHDS’s campus here in the heart of Orange County. Attendees enjoyed an interactive concert presented by The Beat Buds, which had the kids on their feet and singing along. John Fitzgerald ran a drum circle where people were provided various percussion instruments and joyously played together. The biggest hit of the day was the pita station, where dough balls were shaped and cooked on a wood-fired saj oven. Additionally, fresh fruit smoothies and a selection of creative make-and-take crafts made this family event a huge hit. “Sukkahfest was the ultimate community experience. Combining the holiday spirit with so many creative activities… and that was the best pita I’ve ever had,” said parent Melissa Levey.
    If you are interested in learning more about Irvine Hebrew Day School’s unique and innovative programs or other upcoming community events, please contact Hadar Dohn, Principal, at 949-478-6818.

Andie Hardy is the director of curriculum at Irvine Hebrew Day School.



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