Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Grade 2/Kitah Bet 2018-2019


Shalom Bet Families

We have finally had a regular week of religious school and we took advantage of every minute!

In Hebrew we began the second chapter of our text book.  We added the letters 
Gimmel ג and Dalet ד.  We have also added the new key word "dagדג to the ones from Chapter 1, "bat"  בת and Shabbatשבת .  Please ask your child if s/he remembers what they mean.  We have been practicing reading and the kids are constantly amazing me!

We began our Torah studies with "Beresheit", the beginning of the book of Genesis.  We read about what God created on each  day of creation, and began to create art work to decorate the bulletin board in our classroom.  

Homework began this past week.  I hope that you have all had the opportunity to see the homework sheet and to hear your child read.  In class we discussed that the expectation is to read 5-7 minutes for each assignment. Some children might read the entire page and that some children may not be able to do that in 5 minutes.  I stressed that accuracy is more important than speed, and that everyone reads at their own pace in every language.  It is important the reading be done out loud.  Please sign the homework sheet after your child reads, prizes will be given out after ten assignments are completed.  The work is meant to reinforce what is learned in class, not to learn new material.  If you have any questions please be in touch.

Looking forward to seeing you this coming Saturday at Synaplex, 



Hi Kitah Bet Families, 

We had a very busy first class today.   

We began with Tefillah (prayer) with Cantor Ken and the younger students in the sanctuary.  We talked about things we are thankful for, sang "Modeh Ani ", the Shema and Oseh Shalom.  We also saw that the Torah scrolls are still "dressed" in their special white clothes for the New Year celebrations.  

In the classroom, we played a "Getting To Know You Game", had snack,  created class rules, learned about Sukkot and had a VERY short taste of Hebrew.  Rachel's mom, Anna, came in and helped us make decorations and hang them in the Sukkah.  

The students created the list of class rules, or "will try to" as we phrased it, on their own with very little teacher input.  Please ask them if they remember any of those promises and if any of them may be challenging for them to try to do this year in class. (A little hint, we talked about expected classroom behavior and respecting each other.)

I'm looking forward to getting to know all of your children as they grow and learn in Kitah Bet this year.

Wishing all of you a Happy Sukkot, 

Grade 1/Kitah Alef (2018-2019)


Hi All,

It was wonderful to be back with the children today at Temple Israel. We reviewed the Hebrew letter bet and learned two new letters: tav and shin. Ask your children to tell the sounds that the two letters make. Today we also reviewed the story of creation from the book of Bereshit. We read a beautifully illustrated book titled Genesis which uses word directly from the Torah and illustrations by Ed Young. We sang  a Hebrew song about creation and also did a creation chant/rap (see the words below). The children then each chose a day of creation to illustrate. When you have a moment, please come into our classroom to check out our days of creation wall. As usual, the children had tefillah in the sanctuary with Cantor Ken. We took a few extra minutes with the Cantor to look at the beautiful torahs in their covers and to learn about more about a number of items in and around the ark including the eternal light, the torah pointers and crowns. The children had some great questions for Cantor Ken. Finally we played Simon Says in Hebrew and read Once Upon A Shabbos as an introduction to next week’s lesson about Shabbat. Our shinshin, Nitzan was away this week but will be back with us next Sunday.  Have a wonderful week! Joanne

Here is the creation chant/rap we learned:

Once upon a time it was right in the start
God said I’m gonna make light and dark

God said, (do two quick claps here) it’s the ____________ (fill in with first, second, third etc) day
And I did very good work today

Once upon a time
It was day number 2
The waters they parted, the heavens came through

Once upon a time
It was day number 3
The land appeared all covered with trees

Once upon a time
It was day number 4
The sun and the moon and the stars galore
Once upon a time
It was day number 5
The fish in the seas and the birds in the skies

Once upon a time
It was day number 6
The people and the animals were here to mix
Once upon a time
It was day number 7
God said:  I finished the earth and the heavens
God said: sh…sh…it’s the 7th day and I’m gonna rest all day today (2Xs)


Hi All,

We had a very busy morning today in Kitah Aleph. We joined the rest of the religious school and other members of the TI community in the sukkah this morning for hallel. Then after learning a bit about the holiday of hoshana rabba, each child was given a willow branch and allowed to beat it on the ground. We listened to the sound of the beating of the willows, which sounds a bit like the rain we begin to pray for starting tomorrow on Shemini Atzeret.  Back in class, we met our shinshin, Nitzan, who played a number of “getting to know you” games with the children. The children learned three new Hebrew words (mishpacha-family; rikud-dance and machzor-cycle/the siddur we use on the high holidays).  The children had snack and heard the book, The Sukkah on the Roof. We began our study of the Hebrew alphabet today with the letter Bet and the children did the first pages in their Hebrew workbooks. Finally, we had a chance to sing with Cantor Ken in preparation for Simchat Torah. The cantor taught the children how to sing the beginning of the first hoshana for erev Simchat Torah (Monday evening services).

A couple of reminders: There is no school next Sunday October 7th as it is Columbus Day weekend. I look forward to seeing your children on the 14th when we will learn another letter of the aleph-bet and begin to review Torah stories from the beginning of the book of Genesis. We do have a couple of children with food allergies in our class so please be extra careful that whatever your child brings for snack is free of nuts and nut residue!

Chag Sameah,

PK and K/Kitah Gan 2018-2019


Hello Gan Class Families!

Today was our very first time enjoying Aleph Bet Centers.  This is always a fun way to practice our letters.  Students used cookie cutters and Play Doh to shape the letters, used dot markers to practice writing our letters, played a game of Aleph Bet Go Fish to practice naming our letters and played Aleph Bet Adventures, a Candy Land type game, to help us recognize our letters.  We are now experts at shin, tet, dalet and lamed.  In the Sanctuary, Cantor Ken showed us the Torahs again.  They looked much different from when we saw them just after Yom Kippur.  They were dressed in pretty colors instead of white.  He showed us the yad and the ner tamid which we will study later in our year.  It was a great way to practice standing when the ark is open and an amazing opportunity to ask questions about the Torahs we have at Temple Israel. Each student illustrated their own Story of Creation book.  Together we focused on learning the things that God made on each day of Creation.  As we were working, there were some excellent questions about God that were answered by other students.  I was so impressed at how thoughtful our Gan Class students are!

During our class next week, we will meet Adam and Eve who live in the Garden of Eden.  We will also learn three new letters, tav, caf and nun.
During Tefillah today, Jo taught us how to say the Shema in Sign Language!  Ask your students to show you what they learned!  It was very cool.

Below are some pictures of time together this morning..

See you all next week!



Hello Gan Class Families!

Today we experienced our very first Torah story.  It is the story of Creation.  We learned that God created the world in one week.  For the first six days God was very busy making all the things we need and on the seventh day, God rested.  We call the seventh day Shabbat. Nitzan shared that she is going to teach us three Hebrew words every week.  This week she taught us three words that are about the holidays.  She taught us the words fro dance, family and cycle. The posters she has made for these words will hang in the hallways upstairs so that everyone can check them out.  Cantor Ken helped us to prepare for tomorrow night's Simchat Torah festivities.  Our class will join with the Aleph Class to lead a song during the first hakafa.  The song that we will lead is Torah Torah and we sounded GREAT as we practiced.  I just know that tomorrow night our class will be the stars of the evening.  After leading our song, we will join in and dance with the Torahs.  Cantor Ken showed us some of the ways that we could dance - it was very silly! I can't wait to see all your dance moves tomorrow.

When we meet again in two weeks, we will revisit our first Torah story and create a craft to help us remember all the things God made.  We will also have our first Aleph Bet Centers where we will get to practice the letters we learned today through games and activities.
Something new that students learned about was Hoshanah Rabah, when we ask God to provide the rain we need for our crops to grow.  We joined the rest of the school in the Sukkah to "beat the willows", a tradition where we hit the willow branch of the lulav against the ground five times.  When we do this it makes a special sound. Please ask your students what this experience was like and what sound the willows make when we hit the ground with them all together.

Below are some pictures of our adventures today.

There is no class net week due to Columbus Day weekend.  Our next class together will be on October 14th.  I hope to see many of you tomorrow evening, starting at 6:45pm for Simchat Torah.



Hello Gan Class Families!

Today was such a fun and bust day.  It was so wonderful to have everyone together in the classroom for the first time and I just know that it is going to be an amazing year!

Today was about making new friends.  We met lots of new student friends as well as teacher friends in the Gan Class.  A special friend we met was Nitzan.  She lives all the way in Israel and will be with us all year to help us learn about Israeli culture, geography and more.  Today she helped us play a get to know you game where we all shared our favorite foods and animals.  Nitzan's favorite animal is a turtle and she likes pizza just like many of the Gan Class students! Together, as a class, we created a class brit, or contract, about the important ways we should treat others in our class.  Our whole Gan Class community signed their names to the bottom promising to be kind, helpful, respectful and responsible. Thank you to Charna Westervelt, and Sisterhood at Temple Israel for helping us make some creative decorations for the sukkah.  Many of you got to see our beautiful creations at the end of the day but if not, hopefully you will be able to stop by the sukkah during sukkot to see the various decorations made by our Religious School students.  

Next week we will get to hear our first Torah story.  It is the story of Creation and we will learn about all the things that God made in just one week. We are also looking forward to learning some Hebrew letters. Our first letters will be shin, tet, lamed and dalet.
During Tefillah, Cantor Ken was kind enough to let us take a peak at the Torahs.  Students got to stand with Cantor Ken on the bima as he shared some information about how they are dressed and decorated. When we see them again in a couple of week they will be dressed very differently.  We counted how many Torahs there were in the aron kodesh.  Ask your student to share with you how many there were.

Below are some pictures of our adventures today.

I look forward to seeing you all for our class next week!


Grade 5/ Kitah Hey 2018-2019


Dear Kitah Hey Families,

We have had a wonderful start to the year!  Fifth graders worked together to create a class Brit, the class discussed why we celebrate Simchat Torah and several reasons to read the Torah again each year, and, most recently, students began learning about American Jewish history.  In preparation for our upcoming field trip to Touro Synagogue in November, we have been studying the Jewish community of Newport, RI in the 1600s and 1700s. In addition, students worked in groups to discuss the significance of a community's first Jewish synagogue.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Madrichim (2018-2019)


What I hope to get out of my Madrichim experience is:
I hope to become a better teacher and connect more to each of my students.  I want to engage each of the students in the lesson so they gain a better sense of appreciation for Jewish learning.

- Justin Linden

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Grade 7/Kitah Zayin 2018-2019


Dear Parents,

I hope you all enjoyed the Sukkot/Simchat Torah holiday.

This past Sunday, we had a number of special programs, and continued with our Life Cycle curriculum:
  1. We joined the Temple's morning minyan for holiday services for the Hoshana Raba holiday, including a festive Hallel service. The Religious School students then remained in the Sukkah to take Willow branches and perform the Hoshanot ceremony of striking them on the ground, to welcome the rainy season in Israel.
  2. After Hoshanot, we returned to the classroom to review the students' parts in the Simchat Torah service on Monday evening with Cantor Ken. The kids learned their verses from the Ata Horeita with the holiday tune.
  3. The remainder of the morning we had a brief program with our Shinshinit, Nitzan, and then we discussed the idea of the Covenant between God and the Jewish people, and how it relates to all of our life cycle ceremonies, starting with Abraham and the birth and Brit Milah of his son Isaac.
When we meet again a week from Sunday, we'll be focusing on the following:
  1. We'll continue our study of covenants between God the Jewish people, and the biblical sources of these covenants.
  2. What significant events are included in our Jewish life cycle.

To prepare for Sunday, please aske your kids the following question for discussion:
What Jewish events are part of our life cycle?

Finally, some housekeeping matters. Please remind your kids that cell phones do not belong in the classroom. If a phone comes to school, unless needed for an in-class academic project, the phone will be checked into a pocket on the classroom wall until the end of the class day. Also, please send your child to school with a dairy or pareve, nut-free snack.




Dear Parents,

It was a pleasure meeting all of your children on Sunday. We’re looking forward to a great year.

This past week, after introductions and sharing our wishes for the New Year, we covered the following:
  1. Class Rules – we learned about respect for each other and for adults, as well as proper behavior, based on Jewish sources. A copy of our class rules is attached.
  2. Introduction to the Jewish Life Cycle – we discussed sources relating to the birth of the world, and how it relates to the beginning of the Jewish life cycle. A copy of the sources is attached
  3. The remainder of the morning, before Tefillah/Prayers, we learned about Ushpizin/Ushpizot – the traditional guests we invite into our Sukkah. Later in the morning, after meeting our new ‘Shinshinit’, Nitzan, we also prepared decorations for the synagogue’s Sukkah. Information about our study of Ushpizin/Ushpizot is also attached. At the end of class, we reviewed Sukkot with a viewing of the “Sukkot Lego Movie,” athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRHkgWGyn4Y

This coming Sunday, we’ll be focusing on the following:
  1. Hoshana Raba – for the first part of the morning, we will be joining the Temple’s morning minyan for the Hoshanot parade, with Lulav and Etrog.
  2. After our time with Nitzan on Sunday, we will be learning about the beginning of the Jewish life cycle, and how it is the beginning of God’s covenant with the Jewish people.

To prepare for Sunday, please aske your kids the following question for discussion:
Where did your Jewish name come from, and why?

Finally, some housekeeping matters. Please remind your kids that cell phones do not belong in the classroom. If a phone comes to school, unless needed for an in-class academic project, the phone will be checked into a pocket on the classroom wall until the end of the class day. Also, please send your child to school with a dairy or pareve, nut-free snack.

Thanks, and Shabbat Shalom,

Grade 3/Kitah Gimel 2018-2019

Shalom Gimel Parents,

We had a GREAT opening day! It was a pleasure to see/meet the children. They started their day by looking at the welcome goody bags and reading the poem explaining all the items that were in it.

This year students will be introduced to some modern Hebrew and this is presented through our Sunday morning meeting. Each week different students will have opportunities to take attendance (and answer “ani po”), greet each other in Hebrew, learn different parts of the schedule, days of the week, Hebrew calendar, weather and seasons. They will also practice counting in Hebrew with our magic number game which involves counting around the circle in Hebrew and sitting down if they land on the magic number.

On Sunday students received their Hebrew binders containing some prayer sheets, a homework calendar and a letter explaining the prayer curriculum and homework. Students will start working on the Barachu next Sunday.

We spent some time talking about the Jewish value of Derech Eretz (good manners) in the contexts of the various communities we belong to. Students did a great job sharing some of the rules they follow in these communities. In their table groups they talked about ways in which we take care of ourselves, each other and the world around us to ensure a successful year of learning. These ideas were the basis for our class contract (Brit) which was signed by both students and teachers.

The highlight of the day was making decorations for the Temple Sukkah. Thank you to the Temple Sisterhood for making this possible. Students were very creative and had a blast hanging their projects in the Sukkah.

We are thrilled to welcome Naomi Hoffman who will be working as a madricha in our room on Sundays.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns at

Below is a copy of the welcome poem that the students received in their goody bags:

We are super excited for a fun year of learning and growing together.