Monday, January 23, 2017

Gimel Goings On

Shalom Gimel Families,

It has been a busy few weeks in the Gimel Class and students have been hard at work on a variety of activities.

This month we focused on learning the prayer, Ein Keloheinu, which is sung at the end of the Musaf service on Shabbat and Holidays.  Students are doing a great job learning to read and sing it and I enjoy receiving their Google Voice calls.  Please keep practicing at home.

This year we are studying some of the stories from the Book of Exodus with a focus on Jewish values and how they can be applied in the community.  We have completed our unit on courage where students discussed this concept as it relates to the story of the midwives saving the Israelite babies from being drowned and Pharaoh's daughter being drowned.  Students have also explored this concept in the context of their own lives and community.  Gimel students shared good insights as to how they can show courage in their own community such as standing up to bullying, helping others and being considerate.
In our next unit we will focus on the concept of leadership.

Before we know it, Tu Bishvat (Birthday of Trees) will be upon us.  This unit was introduced with a story called Gods World which explores how the world looked at the time of Creation.  Students then visualized and illustrated what they think "Gods World" looks like.   The final project for this was a technology project in the form of a class power point on Google Slides.  Each student worked on a slide where they photographed their illustration to import into a slide and typed their description into the slide.  Students had so much fun using the school iPads to complete this project.

Yesterday students started working on a Tu Bishvat scavenger hunt.  In groups they researched some aspects of Tu Bishvat and completed a graphic organizer to organize their information.  During this week they will transfer it onto index cards and make a wall hanging.

On Sunday, January 8,  we were visited by Gary Alpert who presented a program on hearing disabilities.   Students enjoyed hearing Gary's first hand account of what it was like to grow up and live with a hearing disability.  Students learned the alef bet in sign language, learned to finger spell their names, participated in a lip reading activity and saw what a hearing aid looks like.  Thank you to Gary and the parent volunteers!

The same day we were also visited by Olympic fencer, Eli Dershwitz.  He spoke to the students about his experiences in the Olympics,  competition, and good sportsmanship.  He also shared that he grew up at Temple Israel, attended the pre school and Hebrew School (same class as my son!) and celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at the Temple.  Thank you to Eli for his informative presentation and autographs for the students.

Synaplex is this Saturday,  January 28.  Their will be programming and snack for the children from 9:15-10:30 followed by a family service at 10:30 and then the Birkot Hashachar banner presentation at 11:30.  Please click on the link below to let us know if you will be attending.  We hope to see everyone there!



Sunday, January 22, 2017

Kitah alef, The Israelites and God’s Laws (January 22, 2017)

Dear Families:

I was so delighted to be back with the class today!  We began with tefillah with Cantor Ken.  Several students told him what they were thankful for—such as family and animals.

Back in class, we sang about the weather (ananim—cloudy).  Then on to Hebrew: first we reviewed vet from the last class.  Then we learned dalet, the first letter in “dag.” (fish) “degel” (flag) and “d’vash (honey).  We used the mnemonic “Dalet has a dent.”  We also wrote a thank you to Eli for his presentation on January 8.

Then it was time for snack—I showed pictures of my recent visit to a banana plantation, to explain why we do not say the blessing for fruit of the trees over them.  Bananas are plants.

Our story was about The Israelites and God’s Laws.  We brainstormed what we knew about the life of Moses.  We put events of his life in order.  Several students added details they had learned elsewhere—Moses killing the cruel overseer, Moses and the midrash of the crown or the fiery coal.  The latter explains his speech impediment.  As we discussed the story of Mt. Sinai, one student mentioned the Golden Calf episode.  You can be proud of how much they know!

Then we discussed how to served G-d by positive actions and refraining from hurtful ones.  Students listed and illustrated what they could do to follow the Commandments.

The children are wonderful.  Thank you for them and for your support.

Shavua tov—have a good week.

Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)

Grade K - Gan Class Update 1-22-17

Hello Gan Class Families!

It was great getting to spend the morning with you to make some delicious challah and beautiful challah boards.  I can't wait to hear how it tasted when I see you all next weekend.

We also had time to practice with Cantor Ken for our upcoming Kabbalat Torah.  We have worked really hard on learning some new songs and creating personal arks for our very own Torahs.  It will truly be a special day!

Next Satuday is Synaplex Shabbat.  We will be honoring the Kindergarten class at Kabbalat Torah.  Activities for students and parents begin at 9:15.  The Gan Class will use some of this time to practice for Kabbalat Torah.  Practice will begin by 9:45.  Another exciting happening during Synaplex is the presentation of our whole school art project.  Though many of you might have seen them hanging today, Saturday will provide you the opportunity to learn more about each piece of the work from the artists who created them.  

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.


Kitah Alef (grade 1) January 8, 2017 Moses and Pharaoh

Dear kitah alef families:

I was sorry to miss the class January 8, but it was in the capable hands of Cheryl Gelfand, (Tzipporah). She reported on how the class went.  Cheryl carried out the lesson I had planned, even though the class did not begin until 9:30.  This report is based largely on her report to me.  Thank you, Cheryl, for doing such an excellent job with the students.

We started with morning meeting and a small tefilla in our room (I did Modeh Ani, Mah Tovu, Sh’ma, and Oseh Shalom with them for tefilla). Our Hebrew lesson was the letter vet, which does not begin any Hebrew words, but is found in aviv (spring) and in lulav.  We reviewed the letters we knew by them naming letters, me writing them on the board, and them telling me what sound the letters make. Students distinguished between look-alike letters, such as bet, vet, chaf, and kaf.

We did the blessings before snack, had our snack, then went to the special program. Eli Dershwitz talked some about the Olympics and using Jewish values to make friends even when they were the people he was competing against. He showed the students his saber and taught them some basic fencing moves. They even got to touch the saber (which has absolutely NO sharp edges or point).

We went back and worked on the pamphlet about Moses and Pharaoh — starting by reviewing what we already know about Moses (the basket, the water, his sister, who actually raised him, etc.), then read the new part of the story in the pamphlet. We talked about the burning bush and how Moses knew it was special because even though it looked like it was on fire it didn’t burn up. We talked about trust and why the Hebrews had a hard time trusting God and Moses to free them.  Students did the activity sheet about whether they would have crossed the Sea or not. (They all said they would cross). They illustrated themselves at the Sea of Reeds.

Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)

P.S. Thank you to Robin Kahn and Temple Israel for sponsoring my attendance at the recent Godly Play sessions at Hebrew College. I learned how to implement the program for the holidays, beginning with Tu B’Shevat soon.--JUDY

This week in Kitah Vav 1/22/17

Dear Kitah Vav Parents,

     Today we began learning the Kedusha prayer, the third prayer in the Amidah.  The Kedusha proclaims G-d's holiness, and sanctifies the name of G-D with the words:  "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the earth is filled with G-D's holiness. It is a "Call/Response" prayer in which the prayer leader begins and the congregation responds, using words of the angels in the prophet Isaiah's "call to prophecy.  
We are focused, also, on the root letters קדש (koof/dalet/shin) as this Hebrew root means holy, and Kedusha means holiness.  In our tefillah service with Gesher today we counted ten times that this root appears in the Kedusha prayer.
      Kitah Vav students received a new calendar which reflects the fact that we will be focused on The Kedusha prayer from now through the month of February.  I've divided the prayer into 5 parts, and have assigned Part A for this week.  We will read Part A for accuracy and fluency this Tuesday and Wednesday.
If you have not responded to Synaplex for this coming Shabbat January 28, please go to this site to RSVP.  Thank you.

Also on January 28, Shabbat Parashat Va'era, some of our Kitah Vav students will be chanting from the Torah for the first time. I am looking forward to "kvelling" with you over their accomplishment!

All the best,
Rav Elana



Gesher is amazing!

Our exploration of the Jewish Life Cycle has included two very special guests.  We are grateful to Cantor Ken for discussing Bar/Bat Mitzvah with our students.  Following the cantor’s presentation, students expressed concerns about invitation lists and especially the possibility that they could drop the Torah during the Torah procession.  We discussed that being a Jewish adult meant many things including self-awareness and courage to know when to ask for help.  We are also grateful to Aaron Brandt for informing us about USY, USY on Wheels and other USY summer programs, and planting seeds about college life being Jewish on Campus.

In our study of the Parashat HaShavua (weekly Torah portion), we have completed the Book of Genesis discussing the idea of a moral compass and blessing one’s children. At the completion of Genesis, we find the children of Jacob living in Goshen and the stage is set for the events of Exodus.  At the beginning, our study of Exodus will not strictly follow the parshiot (portions) as we focus on Moses as a leader and the leadership qualities emphasized by the Torah and commentaries of
·      Humility and curiosity-asking questions
·      Compassion, empathy, mercy
·      Sense of justice and morality
·      Courage to act according to moral criteria
·      Resilience and self restraint

Another highlight of the past few weeks was a special guest appearance by Eli Dershwitz Olympic fencer and TI member.  Students enjoyed meeting Eli and learning from him. Their Thank you note gives you a window into their experience:

Dear Eli,
Thank you for coming to the Temple Israel of Natick Religious School.  We think that it’s cool that you were in preschool and Hebrew School at TI and that you celebrated your Bar Mitzvah here.  Thank you for sharing your experiences as an Olympic athlete and for teaching us about fencing.  We learned that an outstanding athlete must start young, set goals and believe in him/her-self.  Most importantly, you reminded us to follow our dreams. 
The Gesher (7th grade) class

Today, our amazing Gesher students thought about their roles as maturing Jewish adults.  We discussed that one’s Jewish identity, belief and expression evolve during one’s life and students were encouraged to think about one or more Jewish values that they could commit themselves to now, including
  • Belief in One God
  • Support for Israel
  • Living an ethical life
  • Torah study
  • Celebrating Shabbat and Jewish holidays
  • Having a Jewish home
  • Making the world better
  • Saying the Shema at bedtime
  • Being created in the image of God
  • Feeling connected to all Jews

After thinking about these values, we introduced the ipad i-movie trailer app and students experimented with the app in an effort to create an i-movie trailer about their selected value.  I can’t wait to see their movies!

And finally, our next mitzvah project is coming together.  We will be partnering with Temple member, Daphne Blacker to develop greater awareness and support for Temple Israel’s JF & CS Family Table toilet paper collection.  While making jokes and puns about toilet paper is quite tempting, imagine having none.  Since, in part, leadership is about modeling the behavior, Gesher will be responsible to bring in 4-packs of toilet paper during the month of February in addition to developing a campaign to encourage others to do the same.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Grade 2: Bet Class Update

Shalom Bet Families,

The Bet Class has had a very busy beginning of January! 

We began the week on Tuesday and Wednesday by learning three new letters, the Resh, Pey and Final Mem.  We very briefly discussed that by adding a final Mem to many words we make the plural form of the word.  Many of the students have reached the goal of earning ten homework stickers and have been rewarded with choosing a prize from the basket. What a “win win” situation, their reading is improving through practice, they have a great sense of achievement and they earn a prize!  If a student misses a reading assignment it can always be made up.  If anyone is finding the reading too challenging or the logistics of doing the work at home has become an issue please let us know.

During the week we read the story “Finding the Fruits of Peace, Cain & Abel” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.  For many of the students this was a Torah story they were not familiar with, and a difficult one at that.  The students came to the conclusion that it would have been better for Cain to talk to Abel about his feelings (anger, jealously, and embarrassment) rather than to take physical action.  We also discussed what we thought that the answer to Cain’s question of “Am I my brother’s keeper?” could be.

On Sunday Cantor Ken introduced the class to the V’Ahvta prayer; where it comes from in the Torah, where it is physically found other than in the Torah, and explained that the melody to which we sing it is Torah trope.  We began to learn it and to create hand motions to help explain the meaning of the words.

In honor of MLK Day we read the story “As Good as Anybody” by Richard Michelson, in which we learn about Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Joshua Heschel and their friendship.  The class then discussed how we each one of us can be an “upstander”.

The students were all mesmerized by Eli Dershwitz’s presentation.  Eli shared a slide presentation about his experiences as a member of the US fencing team and participating in the Rio Olympics.  They also had fun learning how to advance, retreat and lunge in a mini-fencing lesson.  

Margie & Joanne