Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trope Update from Cantor Ken - Haftarah Blessings

We're snowed out on Tuesday, and if we're back in school, we'll be on for Wednesday.
A couple quick reminders: 

1) A reminder to please make arrangements for the 6th graders to take off school for at least the morning of Wednesday, May 31, for our Shavuot end-of-year celebration, and for parent/s and/or another adult to be able to be with them.  (for those of you who will be out of town on this date, I've noted that, but I'll start to divide up portions for everyone else soon)

2) For those students with Torah readings coming up, please work on those!

3) The students should be practicing regularly and should be getting fluent with the blessings before and after the Haftarah (tracks 14 and 16-21 on this page:, links are also below)

  1. Blessing Before Haftarah 
  2. Blessing After Haftarah 1 
  3. Blessing After Haftarah 2 
  4. Blessing After Haftarah 3 
  5. Blessing After Haftarah 4 
  6. Blessing After Haftarah 5 
  7. Blessing After Haftarah 6 
Thanks, and stay safe and warm!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Alef--Godly Play Shema, March 19, 2017

Dear families:
A busy, delightful day today!  We began with tefillah with Cantor Ken.  We are learning the melody and motions to the v’ahavta, thanks to grade 2.  We also began singing the Four Questions with him.  Our class will officially begin our unit on Pesach next week.

Thank you, Eliza, a grade 6 aide, for assisting us in our activities, today. 

After singing in Hebrew about the weather and discussing our day’s plans, we began our Hebrew lesson. This week, we learnedנ.  Some  נ words are “ner tamid,” and “nerot” (candles).  We also did a paper on locating some letters in the shema like alef, yud, dalet, among others.  The children are doing so well  recognizing the letters and sounds.

GODLY PLAY: We engaged in the story of The Shema: the Promise of Israel.  In Egypt, Israel (Jacob’s new name) feared that his children would become like the Egyptians in dress, in language, and religion.  They assured their father with the shema: “Listen, Israel, Adonai is our G-d, Adonai is one.”  Reassured that his descendants would remember the G-d of Abraham and Isaac, Jacob softly said the second line of the shema, “G-d’s glorious kingdom is forever.”  Then Israel died.  Though the Israelites remained in Egypt for 400 years, many of them as slaves, they kept their Hebrew names and their religion. 

These words and the rest of the shema are on the klaf (parchment scroll) we place in the mezuzah we hang on our doorposts.  We examined my mezuzah and its scroll.  This scroll is parchment, written by hand by a sofer in the traditional way.

The children respond so well to the wondering portion:  I wonder what part of the story you liked best, I wonder where you are in the story.

REINFORCEMENT activities included a description and illustration of what they think of when they say the shema.  We also made a model of a mezuzah to hang at home.

Shavua tov!  Have a good week!

Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)

Grade K - Gan Class Update 3-19-17

Hello Gan Class Families!

I am so glad that the forecast of snow didn't prevent us form having another wonderful morning together.

During Tefillah this morning we began learning the chorus of L'cha Dodi a song from Kabbalat Shabbat.  We will have the opportunity to help lead this prayer on Friday, April 7th at the Religious School sponsored Shabbat dinner.  We will continue to practice each week with Cantor Ken to make sure we sound spectacular on the 7th!  To prepare for Passover, we have also begun to practice the Four Questions.  Many of the Gan Class students were already familiar with them.  Cantor Ken taught us some hand motions to help us learn the meaning of each of the questions.  

We illustrated our ideas about the Tower of Babel story after a quick review of all the stories we already know.  Students are looking forward to meeting some new characters in our Torah stories next week,

There were two new letters today.  Mem makes the sound m- and begins the word mezzuzah. Aleph is very tricky.  Like ayin, it has no sounds when its all alone.  A word that we learned that begins with aleph is aron kodesh which is the ark where the torahs are kept.  We practiced all of our letters and sounds with Bina and worked on our letter recognition skills through some word work activities. 

In our Celebrations curriculum, we explored the building in search of mezzuzot.  We first learned about the mezzuzah and how it contains the Shema.  We searched the Temple and found 28 mezzuzot of different shapes, sizes and materials. During our exploration, students noticed that not all of the doors had a mezzuzah and wanted to know who they could talk to about changing that.  We also learned about the Shema.  This important prayer is around us all the time. We discussed what the prayer meant, and how it helps us connect to God and the Gan Class students had some excellent ideas!  We also practiced saying the Shema with our fingers in the shape of a shin.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about the Gan Class.

Have a wonderful week!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

alef--Purim 3-12-17


First, thank you so much for including me in your mishloach manot baskets.  It was most thoughtful of you.  I will share the goodies with my husband.  The hamantaschen were delicious!

Today was the culmination of our unit on Purim.  Some of us wore costumes (I was Super Hamantashen.).  See the letter I sent you, with a picture of the class, Cheryl, and me in our costumes.  Cheryl is the Morton Salt girl—“when it rains, it pours.”

We retold the story, booing Haman.  We reviewed the mitzvot of Purim: hearing the megillah, celebrating, giving mishloach manot (at least two different foods) to friends, and giving tzedakah to the poor.  Using the Hebrew alphabet, we reviewed everything from Esther to Teresh (one of the king’s would-be assassins).

STORY:   We read a book called Can You Guess? Purim Big Book. We reviewed Purim—Esther, Mordecai, Ahashuerus, Haman, Vashti, Adar, the gregger, and more.  The children applied objects to this Purim book.

CRAFT:  Students created a gregger to “give Haman a headache.”  We used them in the tefillah at the end of the day.  First we said several tefillah like the shema backwards.  Then Robin, Cantor Ken , and Rabbi Liben led us in a reading of It Happened in Shusham as the megillah.. They used their greggers to drown out Haman’s name.

HEBREW:  Our Hebrew lesson today was the vowel sound “ee,” represented by a . under any letter.  Some examples are “eema” (mother), “tzipporah” (bird), and “mayeem” (water).  We also learned  עayin.  Some words beginning with ע are etz (tree), etz hayyim (rollers for the Torah), ayin (eye), and eparon (pencil).

Judy and Cheryl  (Esther and Tzipporah)

Grade K - Gan Class Update 3-12-17

Chg Purim Gan Class Families!

We had such an exciting morning celebrating Purim together.  There was a spectacular array of costumes in our classroom from favorite movie and TV characters to princesses, fairies and delicious food.

Today we revisited the story of the Tower of Babel.  Students are enjoying retelling the Torah stories each week and each time we review them together students are able to share more details from the week before.  Next week we will illustrate a picture about this story and meet a new family in our Torah stories.

We continued to learn about the letter vav.  We made a great connection to Queen Vashti from the Megillah.  Queen Vashti's name begins with the letter vav.  Students practiced pairing letter and sounds as a group with Bina before engaging in some great Purim activities.

To learn about Purim, we read together a really cute story about Talia.  Her grandmother tells her the story of Passover while they are making Hamantashen but she thinks that her grandmother called them haman-tushies!
Image result for talia and the haman tushies
One of the things that Jewish people do on Purim is make Mishloach Manot to give to others.  Today each student created a Mischloach Manot to give to their families for the holiday.  Students painted paper plates to look like a hamantashen and then filled the middle with goodies to share with families.  This was a fantastic opportunity to discuss how important it is to give things to others even if you want to keep them for yourself.

Have a wonderful (and not too snowy) week!


Kitah Bet children and teachers had an awesome morning today celebrating Purim.  The children heard Purim stories and played hangman with Hebrew words.  They continued to expand their knowledge of Hebrew letters and worked on their Hebrew reading.  With Hamorah Joanne, the "betnickim" made stick puppets resembling the main character stories in the megillah and reviewed Purim customs through Purim themed crossword puzzles.  We ended our morning with a very silly tefillah program with Rabbi Liben and Robin. Since on Purim, everything is supposed to be "hafuch" or topsy-turvy, we started with the prayers at the end of the morning service and ended with the prayers at the beginning of the service. We also said some of the prayers completely backwards. Finally, the children helped to re-read the Purim story using rebus pictures.

Chag Purim Sameach to one and all!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Grade K - Gan Class Update 3-5-17

Hello Gan Class Families!

I hope you all had a wonderful break!  Yesterday marked the first of  six classes in a row!  This is very exciting because both Purim and Passover take place during these six weeks.

Our day began with Teffilah in the Sanctuary.  In addition to the morning prayers, we sang some Purim songs with Cantor Ken.  Students are learning many of the prayers and are becoming familiar with the siddur.

The story of the Tower of Babel was the focus of our Torah curriculum.  In this story, the people wanted to build a tower that reached the sky.  God did not want them to do this so he made it difficult for them to build by confusing all their speech.  Without good communication, they were not able to build the tower.  To experience this, students engaged in a building activity.  They were asked to work together to build the tallest tower they could without talking.  Below is a picture of their tower.
After all the blocks were used, students were asked to share about their experience.  Many said that they could have built a better tower if they could have talked to each other.  They thought that it was hard not knowing the ideas of their friends.

Vav was the letter of the day.  Vav makes the sound v- and begins the word vered which means rose.  Students were excited to use their bodies to shape the letter vav as its much easier to shape than some of our other letters.  To practice our letters we learned a new game, Around the World.  Students are shown a letter and the first to share its sound is challenged by another student. We are looking forward to playing this game again!

The Gan Class students already knew so many wonderful things about Purim.  They are excited to dress up and eat hamantaschen.  Next week we will spend most of the day experiencing Purim.  Students should feel free to wear a school appropriate costume and be prepared to make some noise during our Megillah reading!  Directly after Religious School is the Annual Purim Carnival which will be from 12:00-1:30pm.  

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about the Gan Class.