Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dear Kitah Vav Parents,
      This past Sunday was a non-stop busy day for us.  The students, working alone or in pairs, had already created learning puzzles for Kitah Hey (Gr. 5). They have been learning The Torah Service, so our puzzles were based on verses from this service.  Now Kitah Vav tried out the puzzles, hiding pieces for three 5th grade groups at a time.  The Fifth Graders loved our project!
      Then we had Tefillah with Gesher and with Kitah Hey, who joined us for the first time.  We continue to explore Kedusha, the concept of holiness.  The Gesher class then led us in The Amidah through Kedusha, while Kitah Hey led us in Sh’ma and V’ahavta.  In March I plan to work on The Aleinu blessing so that Kitah Vav feels comfortable enough to lead it.
       Next Kitah Vav helped prepare for a T”U Bishvat seder that I put together for them.  There was fruit to be cut, the logistics of organizing the space to make one big community, and parts to be assigned.  The students spontaneously took over the white board and created a wonderful tree mural.  I’ll try to include it in this letter.
       On Tuesday/Wednesday we continued our work on The Kedusha, the third part of the Amidah.  Many of your students have mastered the first three parts, and should turn over the page to practice Parts 4 and 5, with the goal of smooth, confident reading.
       We are on February break now, so no Hebrew School next Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and the following Sunday, Feb. 19-26.  We meet again on Tuesday/Wednesday, Feb. 28 and March 1.  I am headed to California to play with my grandsons, but will be available by email the whole time I am away. 
       I wish all of you a safe and fun break from the school routine.
All the best,
Rav Elana

Monday, February 13, 2017

Gimel Goings On

Shalom Gimel Families!

So far February has been a busy month!  I hope everyone is staying warm and enjoying the sheleg (snow).

Students completed their study of Ein Keloheinu and are now working on the Friday evening Kiddush.  They are doing a great job mastering this and are very motivated to practice it.  During the week a new game was created - Musical Cards.  Cards with a phrase from the Friday night Kiddush were placed around the perimeter of a table.  Students circled the table to music (Friday night Kiddush).  When the music stopped each student read the phrase at the card they landed at.  So much fun had by all!
On Sundays, in addition to Morning Meeting (pegishah), Hebrew involves 3 10-12 minute rotation stations:
1.  Practice reading and singing the Friday evening Kiddush.
2.  Practice reading from reading packets from the book, Zman Likroh
3.  Hebrew Reading Games.

Students completed their study of the Tu Bishvat and the different station rotations.  Yesterday we had a Tu Bishvat celebration in class.  Students sampled grape juice, apples, clementines, bananas and grapes (accompanied by the appropriate blessings).  While students were enjoying the fruits they listened to the story The Great Kapok Tree which is a story about saving the rain forests.  Students also did a tree flap project.

Underneath the apple flaps students wrote down important things we get from trees.  Ideas included oxygen and homes for animals.

Last week students also played an online jeopardy game to review all the holidays learned so far.

Our next story focuses on Moses at the Burning Bush and going to Pharaoh to tell him to "Let the people go."  Through these stories students will explore the value of leadership, what makes a good leader, what made Moses a good leader, and other modern day community leaders.  We began with a journal entry, "What is a leader" and ,"What makes someone a good leader?"  Some of the responses were:
A leader is someone who will help you make the right choices.
A leader is someone who sets an example.
A leader is someone who helps other people when they need it.
Someone is a good leader when they make sure everyone is included.
Someone is a good leader when they are encouraging and responsible.
Someone is a good leader when they make good decisions.
Someone is a good leader when they are brave and stand up to people.

We played a game of Indian Chief and then discussed why people wanted to be leaders in the game and why others wanted to be part of the crowd.  The Tuesday group read a short play of Moses at the Burning Bush and identified reasons why Moses was reluctant to be a leader and instances where G-d helped Moses to gain the confidence to be a leader. (Wednesday group will do it this week.)

Special Activity
Last Wednesday we were visited by Josh Satok of Camp Ramah who shared his photos and experiences of his recent trip to Israel.

Wishing everyone a great week!

Elana and Marc

Sunday, February 12, 2017

alef--Tu B'Shevat Seder 2-12-17

Dear alef families:

I’m glad the children were able to get to the Temple this morning.  For tefillah with the kindergarten, Cheryl Gelfand led the service (in the Cantor’s absence).  I sang several Tu B’Shevat songs, such as Trees are Blowing in the Wind and Tree of Life. Three students—Tahlia, Alia, and Olivia held the Israel flag for Hatikvah.

HEBREW:  Our Hebrew letter today was  ק “koof”.   Some words beginning with  קare “keshet” (rainbow, as in the Noah story) , kiddush, kehillah (gathering), and “kof” (monkey).  We then picked out letters from our review packs.

STORY:  I read The Littlest Tree.  Other trees dreamed of becoming the bima, the ark, and the walls of the new synagogue.They made fun of the littlest tree, imagining him as a chair leg or a door knob.  However, the tree was chosen to be the Etz Hayim, the rollers of the new Torah scroll! We still refer to both the Torah and the rollers as Etz Hayim.

SPECIAL EVENT: Cheryl and I read parts of a seder for the children.  After the brachot, we drank four cups of juice—white for winter, add a little “pink” for spring, add more pink for summer.  The final cup is all red for the rich colors of fall.  We tasted different kinds of food, accompanied by the bracha for fruit of the tree.  The first fruit is one which you peel—clementines.  The second fruit has a pit that you cannot eat.  Because of the season and allergies, we substituted apples.  For entirely edible fruit, we ate strawberries and seedless grapes.

Cheryl and I led discussions of sections of the Torah—do not cut down trees of your enemies in war, let the land lie fallow the seventh year, etc.

After a break for games and books, the class played Azero, my holiday bingo game.  Then with Shalom Chaverim, a handshake, sticker, and reinforcemnet paper, it was time to go home.

NOTE—NO CLASS THE NEXT TWO SUNDAYS.  I WILL SEE YOU IN MARCH.  March is also our month for the JF and CS contribution, arranged by Gesher.  They hope that each alef family will bring in two 4-roll packs of toilet paper.


Judy and Cheryl  (Esther and Tzipporah)

Grade K - Gan Class Update 2/12/17

Hello Gan Class Families!

I hope that you are all safe and warm at home during our latest snowstorm!

Today's class was all about Tu B'Shevat!  On Tu B'Shevat we celebrate the trees.  Without trees we would not be able to live.  They provide us food, oxygen and materials we need. To observe this holiday, we enjoyed a fun Tu B'Shevat seder together.  Below is a picture of some of the fruits that were a part of our seder.

Students made great personal connections between the Tu B'Shevat seder and the Passover seder.  A specific focus was the number four.  In each seder, we have four glasses of wine, or in our case, grape juice.  Students enjoyed watching the color of the white grape juice become darker as the red grape juice was gradually added to their cups.  Together we were able to connect the four glasses of juice to the four seasons and describe the changes to the trees in those seasons. 

Another special activity was that each student planted two things.  Before we planted we heard the story about a man named Honi who sees a farmer planting a carob tree and questions him about doing so even if he will never get to enjoy the carobs.  The farmer answers that he is planting the tree because someone else planted the trees that he enjoys and so he is doing the same for new generations.  To have the same experience, we planted apple seeds.  Apples won't grow from these seeds for many years but we enjoy apples from trees that someone else planted for us. We also planted parsley.  Parsley grows much quicker and in fact will be ready to use by Passover!  

At the end of the day the 7th graders came to share a skit with us.  They are working as a class to set good examples and increase Tikun Olam efforts.  Each month, they have encouraged the students in our Religious School to take an active role in performing a mitzvah for others.  This month, they are encouraging collections of 4 packs of toilet paper.  To help remind students, they offered each Gan student a toilet paper bracelet.  If your family is able to donate toilet paper, there is a collection box in the main lobby year round for 4-packs of toilet paper.

Due to February vacation, our next class will be on Sunday, March 5th.  Enjoy the next few weeks!

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


February 11th in Kitah Bet

Kitah Bet students and teachers already have begun preparing for our Kabbalat Siddur Program on April 2nd.  The children have begun learning and practicing some songs and prayers for the program. With the guidance of Cantor Ken, the children have spent quite a bit of time examining the meaning of the words in the shema and the v'ahavta, creating movements to accompany the words. Even without the cantor's help today, the children did a great job recreating the movements and singing those difficult Hebrew words.

We all enjoyed a delicious fruit snack today provided by the synagogue in honor of Tu B'shvat.  We drank different kinds of grape juice (white, purple and mixtures of the two) in honor of the 4 seasons.  Hamorah Margie explained the tradition of eating fruits or nuts with a hard outside and an edible inside (for instance, almonds, bananas ), fruits with a pit in the center (examples include avocado, peach, mango) and fruits that are entirely edible (grapes, apples).

Also in honor of Tu B'shvat, the children  each decorated a clay pot and planted parsley seeds. A number of the children remembered that we use parsley to dip in the salt water at the Passover Seder. We are hopeful that the parsley plants may grow in time for this year's seder. A friendly reminder-parsley plants like sun and moist soil.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Kitah Hey- Diana's Update

Dear Kitah Hey families,

The fifth graders have been learning so much in Hebrew School over the last couple of weeks.
In values class last Tuesday and Wednesday, we began talking about gratitude through the lens of family. The students had a chance to talk about what they were grateful to their families for. One student, who just recently became a big brother to a second sibling, shared that he was grateful for the opportunity to be a role model for his little brother.

 Another student shared that he was thankful for his mother and listed all the ways she cares for him. This exercise proved to be a very positive one and allowed the students a chance to reflect on all they have. During this same class, we also discussed the parasha of that week, which revealed that Moses had a speech impediment. We discussed the idea that all of us have some sort of disability. We all have strengths and weaknesses but our weaknesses don't stop us from succeeding.

The Wednesday class had a chance to participate in a Bible play about three important characters in the Bible; Jacob, Isaac, and Moses; each of whom had some type of disability. The students discussed these disabilities and connected them to disabilities those close to them have as well as disabilities that they, themselves, have. One student shared that many significant challenges people have are genetic and that we should all be very kind to those people because "it could have been us". Another student explained that she learns in an inclusive classroom and it has been an eye-opening experience for her because she has realized that the students in her class who have physical disabilities are just like us, but just need a little extra help. We also talked, at length, about not passing judgments on those with significant disabilities. One student mentioned a book she recently read called, Out of my Mind. This book, she explained, is about a girl with cerebral palsy. Throughout the book, she is regarded as mentally challenged. In reality, however, she is smarter than most adults. This becomes evident when the girl gains access to an augmentative communication system which enables her to transmit her thoughts.

I thought this was a fantastic example of why it is important not to pass judgment.

This past Sunday, the fifth graders were able to participate in an exciting program called "World Wide Wrap", where they learned about the significance of tefillin in Judaism and then were given time to make their own pair. The students had so much fun with this and showed off their talent!


This week, during our Tuesday and Wednesday class, we talked about Tu Bishvat, a holiday also known as the birthday of the trees. We discussed the importance of this holiday and Judaism's beliefs about nature.
During Tuesday's class, we continued working on our Hebrew greetings and time was devoted toward having each student participate in an informal conversation with a peer, asking questions such as, "How are you?" and "Where are you from?" and responding to each of these. We also finished up a discussion we had about a story we had read. In this story, there is a shopkeeper and every time this shopkeeper prays for G-d's help, his prayers are answered. The shopkeeper explains that once his business was doing poorly so he went to another town to find other businesses and to look for a new business partner. Instead of taking a human as a business partner; however, the shopkeeper decided to take G-d as his partner. The shopkeeper said that since that day he puts half of his money in one cash box for himself, and half of his money in another box for G-d. This was to be used as tzedakah. 

The students had so much to say about this story. Some students shared their belief that if you trust G-d, G-d will help make your wishes come true. One student explained her thought that people can't always depend on G-d. Rather, people must work really hard in order to be successful. Something else that emerged from this discussion was the idea of G-d as a kind of "Santa Claus". Just as people must do good deeds in order to get on Santa's "good" list, people must do good deeds in order for G-d to answer their prayers.

The Wednesday class, yesterday, was able to benefit from a very engaging program led by the director of Prozdor Hebrew High School. The students had an interesting debate about whether or not certain roads in Israel should be shut down on Shabbat. The students had many thoughts on the matter and came up with a number of compromises with which they felt all Israelis would be satisfied.
The class has just recently mastered both the blessing before the Torah reading and after the Torah reading. A copy of the February calendar with the next prayer we will be studying, V'zot HaTorah, is included below. A copy of this prayer as well as a youtube link to the tune used for this prayer are also included as well as a picture of the homework assignment for February 12th, which the students will be receiving via hard copy.

Thank you for your support,

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Grade 6 Trope Update 2.8.17

Nice to see the 6th graders today and yesterday.

They should make sure to learn the Blessing Before the Haftarah really well for next time.
Here are recordings of me singing it with the words and with the trope names (they can practice both ways)
  1. BlessingBefore Haftarah (with words) 
  2. Blessing Before Haftarah (with trope names) 
In addition they (especially Daniel, Sam, and Max) should use the March 4 portions to practice their Torah reading.

Thanks, and enjoy the definite/probable snow day--
Stay safe--
Cantor Ken