BOTH OF MY PARENTS are Jewish, and immigrated to the United States as children escaping the Holocaust. I have celebrated Hanukkah, and other Jewish holidays, my whole life. My sister and I were the only Jewish children in our school growing up and it was really hard to be the only kids who were different, mostly because no one understood what our culture was about or took the time to ask. Even when we made the effort to educate and explain, we were always a minority.
When I grew up, I married a man who isn’t Jewish. Neither of us is religious but we have always honored both of our family traditions by incorporating Hanukkah, Christmas, as well as Solstice, into our winter celebrations. We teach our children that different cultures and religious traditions find different ways of bringing light into the darkest time of the year. For us, Christmas lights, Hanukkah candles, and Solstice bonfires are all different expressions of our shared need to be together and celebrate light and hope in the midst of the cold and the darkness.
Just like when I was a child, my family lights the candles in the menorah at sundown, one more each night for eight days. We say the prayer in Hebrew and teach it to our children so they can pass it on to their children someday. We place the menorah in our window so everyone can see the light growing night by night. Some nights we give small gifts, other nights we do a craft or cook potato latkes and other traditional Hanukkah foods.
Hanukkah is not Jewish Christmas. It is a celebration of religious freedom. It is a living ritual that reminds us that even though Jewish people have experienced prejudice, persecution, and genocide over thousands of years and still today, we live on.
The origin of Hanukkah dates back over 2,200 years to a time when Jewish people were being forced to assimilate and renounce their beliefs. But they didn’t give up; they fought for their freedom and shone their light into the darkness. And so our tradition survives.
For me, celebrating Hanukkah is a time to remember where my people come from and to teach about the importance of fighting for justice, equality, and freedom for all people all over the world.
The BSE Flow thanks Marissa Tenenbaum Potter for her thoughtful views. Please let us know what your family holds dear about the holidays at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I GOT THE “Divergent” series and movie of the first book for Christmas. When I started reading the first book, “Divergent,” I knew right away I would love the series.
The main character is named Beatrice but is mostly called Tris. She lives in a city that is divided into five factions: Abnegation, Amity, Dauntless, Erudite, and Candor. Each faction has different characteristics and beliefs.
Dauntless are the daredevils, Erudite is really smart, Candor always tells the truth, Abnegation is very strict, and Amity is very peaceful.
Each faction has one enemy faction. Dauntless is enemies with Erudite; Abnegation is enemies with Erudite; Candor is enemies with Amity.
The adventures start when Tris’ test results show that she is “divergent,” which puts her in danger:
She is good for more than one faction — she’s good for three (Abnegation, Dauntless, and Candor), which is very unusual.
From then on the book tells about Tris’ adventures getting through Dauntless initiation tests and the fight against Erudite.
Tris is very brave and takes a lot of risks. Whenever there’s a battle she wants to be in it. She risks her life a lot.
I recommend this series for older kids, above age 8, because there are some scary scenes with shooting but it always ends up being happy.
I really like “Divergent” so I am happy that it is a series. I’m happy about that because I get to look forward to more books. If a book I like is not part of this series I will read that book over and over.
So far I’ve read the first two books: “Divergent” and “Insurgent,” and I am starting the third book in the series, “Allegient.” The last book in the series is called “Four.”
I love to reread books before I watch movies made on the book but I have requirements to watching these movies: I must read the whole series before I watch the movie. I think movies of books should include the best parts even if they don’t think they can fit those parts in, they should try.
There aren’t any other books that the “Divergent” series reminds me of but it’s cool that there are no other books like them I like the books because they keep me interested in the story doesn’t drag on.
If people like adventure books these books are for them.
What books do you like to read, and why? Tell us at email@example.com.
Dear Ainsley:My younger brother is just plain rude. What should I do? — Annoyed in Fifth Grade
Dear Annoyed: I think you should just ignore him. If you do that he will eventually get bored and leave you alone.
Are you having problems with a brother or a sister? Are you, yourself, a problem child and need advice? Do you want to share a tip or trick you’ve picked up to make having a brother or sister more bearable? Or hey, do you have a story to share about how wonderful it can be to have a brother or sister?
Tell us: Write firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a note for Ainsley
Bogel, our siblings expert (she’s a twin), in the Flow’s mailbox in the school’s office. Include your name and a way to reach you in case we have questions. We will not use anyone’s name in print. (To protect the innocent.)
HE CAME TO BSE in early 2014 from Mohawk, where he had been a science teacher, to intern with Principal Joanne Guiguere.
While he was here he got experience being a principal, and made lots of friends in the 4-5-6 pod particularly. When he announced to the school assembly on Jan. 14 that his work here was done and he was sad to be leaving, he added that he was going back to teach at Mohawk.
But it turns out Wayne Kermenski has taken on an even bigger job in the district: he’s now the principal at Hawlemont Regional School in Charlemont.
According to Superintendent Michael Buoniconti, the appointment was effective Feb. 2. The former principal at Hawlemont, Travis Yagodzinski, had announced he was leaving Hawlemont due to personal reasons, Mr. Buoniconti wrote Hawlemont families, explaning that he had sufficient time to prepare a graceful transition.
“Please be informed that I have appointed Mr. Wayne Kermenski to become the next principal of Hawlemont… Mr. Kermenski has been a member of the Mohawk educational team since 2007. Wayne is a certified science teacher with a strong background in project-based learning, which I believe will be an outstanding match with Hawlemont’s developing agricultural program,” he added.
Mr. Buoniconti noted that Ms. Guiguere, Mohawk’s most experienced principal, is a former longtime principal of Hawlemont.
“It has been a pleasure having him as an intern. I saw him less as a learner and more as a co-principal. I’ll miss him and look forward to seeing him as a principal,” Ms. Giguere said.
Meanwhile, Jacqui Goodman, fifth-grade teacher, said she looked forward to having Mr. Kermenski stay involved in a wind turbine project he initiated, and which will see many of our students compete at the KidWind Challenge at the Science and Sustainability Expo March 7 at Greenfield Community College.
‘He’ll be missed…’
In part because of his easy nature and clear dedication, BSE’s staff and students say they’ll miss seeing Mr. Kermenski day to day.
Here is a sampling of quotes from other folks who said he’d made a big difference here:
Trish Perlman, sixth-grade teacher: “Any school that has him as a principal is very lucky.”
Clayton McCloud, sixth-grade student: “Learning he was leaving was very upsetting because he was a very nice person.”
Reuben Bassett, sixth-grade student: “He was a very good teacher for the short time he was here.”
— By Areia Heilman, Joy Bohonowicz, and John Snyder
Independent, student-led media for the greater Shelburne Falls area