Intergenerational Chavruta: Starting a New Thanksgiving Tradition (School Edition)

Family celebrations and holidays are opportunities for the generations to spend time together, tell stories, and pass on wisdom.

This year, when families might not be able to get together as they have in the past, Sefaria offers a new feature which makes connecting and learning together easier.

Chavruta combines face-to-face video conferencing with Sefaria's extensive library for an exciting learning experience. Click here for instructions for using Chavruta.

Start a new Thanksgiving tradition of grandchild/grandparent, parent/child, or any other combination of intergenerational learning.

Tips for facilitating chavruta learning for your students and their families:

  • Demonstrate and practice using the Chavruta feature with your students in class (in person or on Zoom)
  • Choose a text that everyone will be studying or select 1-3 options.
  • Learn the text(s) with your students before they learn with their partners.
  • Provide your students with sample questions that they can ask during the chavruta session and encourage them to think of their own questions to add.
  • Remind your students to listen to the stories that their partners tell them. Hearing their stories is an important aspect of learning together.
  • Encourage your students to tell their stories too! The older generation will enjoy hearing about their partners' lives.
  • Optional: Ask your students to write down one story or insight that they received from studying with their partner. Share the experience in class. Write a blog post or email to parents summarizing the experience.

Below are examples of texts that you might like to study this year. Each text is followed by suggested discussions questions.


Saying Thank You
תניא היה רבי מאיר אומר חייב אדם לברך מאה ברכות בכל יום שנאמר (דברים י, יב) ועתה ישראל מה ה' אלהיך שואל מעמך
It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Meir would say: A person is obligated to recite one hundred blessings every day, as it is stated in the verse: “And now, Israel, what [ma] does the Lord your God require of you” (Deuteronomy 10:12). Rabbi Meir interprets the verse as though it said one hundred [me’a], rather than ma.

This passage from the Talmud expresses the importance of gratitude.

  • What types of occurrences or actions require a blessing (beracha)? Hint: A siddur is a good place to look for blessings.
  • Why do you think it is important to say blessings, which acknowledge and thank for the good in the world that has been done for us?
  • What is your favorite Jewish blessing?
  • What have been some major blessings in your life?

Just Get Started!

(טז) הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה.

(16) He [Rabbi Tarfon] used to say: It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it;

This well-known saying from Pirkei Avot reminds us that some challenges are so large that we can't necessarily complete them, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't stop working on a solution.

  • What do you see as the big challenges for the future?
  • What can you do to work toward the solution?
  • What were the big challenges when you (older generation) were my (younger generation) age?
    • Are they still challenges today?
    • What improvements were made?
    • How did you work toward a solution?
    • What would you like me to do to continue your work?

Starting a Journey
וַיֵּצֵ֥א יַעֲקֹ֖ב מִבְּאֵ֣ר שָׁ֑בַע וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ חָרָֽנָה׃
Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran.

Studying the weekly Torah portion is a wonderful way to begin the practice of learning together. The Torah portion for the Shabbat of Thanksgiving weekend 2020 is Vayetze. The Torah portion begins with Jacob leaving his family and traveling to Haran. In Haran, Jacob meets his future wife, Rachel, at the well.

  • What journeys have you gone on?
    • Was it hard to leave your home?
    • Why did you leave
    • Was it a successful journey?
  • In this week's Torah portion, Jacob meets his wife, Rachel. How did you meet your spouse?
  • What do you think are the most important traits for a spouse?
  • What other stories of couples meeting do you remember from the Torah?