Butterfly Blessings

May 18, 2015


I learned a few simple lessons from the blessings of second graders this Tuesday. The students witnessed the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies these past few weeks. They observed, collected data and became intrigued by their life cycle. And when the cycle was complete and the butterflies were ready for release, they stood around their new butterfly garden and shared these blessings, filled with bits of wisdom: Unknown

1. Care about the creatures of the earth. Daniel certainly does. He wrote: “I hope the butterflies will have the strength to survive out in the wild where there is danger.” Claire wrote: “Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, please say that the butterflies will be protected from their enemies.”

Unknown2. Say thank you.  Zahava demonstrated this beautifully: “Dear beautiful butterflies, Thank you so so much for letting us observe you, and I hope you live a nice long life.” 

3. See things through a Jewish lens. Just as Morah Sarah Beth and Morah Lizzie were about to release the butterflies, one student shouted: “They are like the Israelites!” Indeed, some of them were reluctant to leave, some were eager to fly away, just like the Israelites when they left Egypt.

4. Let yourself feel emotions. Caleb shared his: “Dear Butterflies, I’m so sad to let you go but I know that you belong in nature. I hope you like your new home.” Unknown-1

5. Express your gratitude. As the students watched the butterflies flit away, they sang the Shehechiyanu and, without prompting, began to sway arm in arm.

6. Take time to breathe and play. After the release, the students gathered around the fledgling butterflies, watching them adjust to their new environment, calling out with glee to share their observations with each other.

Watch a moving video of the release here.

Unknown-2Our intention is that your children don’t feel that Jewish time must be separate or different. We hope that they will see the world through Jewish eyes and be guided by a strong sense of responsibility to the earth. We hope they will grapple with their own ability to partner with God in the repair of the world, and that they will lead with confidence and make decision based on their Jewish values. And, it turns out, all of that can be reinforced in a science lesson.  

Shabbat Shalom