Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Electives (Birkot Hamazon) 2018-2019

12-12-18 - Week 4

Embroidery

Fall electives are going strong. The embroidery elective is making challah covers with words inspired by the Birkot Hamazon. The students learned how to use special threaders, embroidery thread, bamboo embroidery rings and stencils. They made beautiful challah covers!

We are looking forward to summarizing our electives as a group and sharing our beautiful covers. Also, looking forward to winter break!

You can ask your child What is the Birkot Hamazon? And when is the "Birkot" sung?

11-27-18 - Week 2

Local Food (Tuesday Only)

We discussed what it means for a food/plant to be "native" to an area. We also discussed, the advantages/disadvantages of the majority of our food coming from the same place or region.
We talked about why we eat latkas for Chanukah (answer: potatoes are root veggies available in Eastern Europe in December "Ashkenazi." Lastly, we tasted root vegetables: daikon radish, watermelon radish, celery root/celeriac, turnip, parsnip, horseradish.

Ask your child: Why do we eat latkas? And How did the root vegetables taste?

11-14-18 - Week 1

Embroidery

We discussed why we sing the Birkot with joy. We are grateful to God for providing us with food. As we read the translation of the Birkot, we chose words or phrases that would be chosen to embroider on a challah cover. We watched a few Youtube videos of basic embroidery stitches. We chose a handkerchief or napkin to use. We began stenciling onto the fabric. We are looking forward to beginning to use the bamboo hoops, the embroidery thread and needles.

Week 1 was interesting, enjoyable and all of the students are happy with their elective choices.

-Marsha Horovitz

Local Food (Tuesday Only)

On Tuesday, We learned the process of making bread and how they relate to prohibitions of Shabbat (eleven melachot). We also, played "Guess that Grain." Lastly, we grounded wheat into flour.

We are looking forward to learning more about where are food comes from.

You can ask your child about the different stages of wheat and if anything really makes food Jewish?

-Leora Mallach


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Madrichim 2018-2019

12-9-18


The Madrichim are discussing learning styles and how they differ in the classroom. Each Madrichim was asked to find out their learning style and how they see that style being addressed in the Hebrew School classroom. "My style of learning was visual.  An example of a visual learning style is watching a video or using pictures to learn a lesson.  One example of visual learning that I saw in the classroom was Margie reading to the kids with picture books to help the kids understand the story and to keep the engaged."
- Justin Linden.

12-2-18

My learning style is visual learning. Visual learning is when one uses graphs, charts, diagrams, and maps to learn. An example of visual learning is using a map to learn how to get to one destination from another. I learned something new about the way I learn because now I know I learn visually. In the kindergarten classroom we are making a visual representation of the Hanukkah blessing. This can help the kids learn the blessing through  visualization. 
- Bina Landis

11-11-18


What is your learning style and how does this help you in the classroom?

After taking the survey, I discovers that my learning style is tactile/ kinesthetic. An example of this is taking notes in class. I tend to write notes on what is written in a textbook or on the board, it is easier for me than writing what was said. I am not always a fan of all hands on learning, but it does have a big presence in the Hebrew classroom through the new Hebrew through movement curriculum. I both enjoy the activities and think it helps the students learn a lot of new Hebrew words.- Ari Klawans

10-14-18



What did you hope to gain from being a Madricha? I enjoy doing this (4 years now) and I enjoy being in the Jewish classroom. My students make me happy- Bina




What did you hope to gain from being a Madricha? I want to learn how to work with a variety of ages. Last year I was in the 4th grade classroom and now I am working with 3rd grade. What a difference!!- Naomi

10-7-18



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

Grade 2/Kitah Bet 2018-2019

12-9-18

Second Grade this week was full of Hanukkah spirit.  Midweek we began with a school-wide candle lighting ceremony.  In Hebrew the students played a reading game "Spin and Read", using a dreidel they needed to read a word beginning with the letter the dreidel landed on.  The students then created beautiful "Stained Glass Art" to go with the theme of  Hanukkah as the Festival of Lights.  On Sunday we were treated to a party hosted by the Men's Club with yummy snacks, singing with Cantor Ken and lots of Dreidel spinning.  The children also had the opportunity to share some of their favorite Hanukkah activities (the word presents was banned from the discussion!).  We heard about lots of family parties, dreidel competitions, and mountains of latkes which were consumed.  I read two of my favorite holiday books, both by Eric Kimmel, Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins and The Golem's Latkes.
I hope that everyone had a fun and joyous holiday!



12-2-18


Shalom Second Grade Families,

It was great to get back into the classroom after Thanksgiving. 

In Hebrew, we began Chapter 6 of our text learning  Koof, and a new vowel "oo" and a vowel combination "ooey".  The class continues to impress me with wonderful their reading.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Rabbi Libben came to say hello and answer any questions that the students wanted to ask him, we had two very different discussions.  On Tuesday the kids were interested in talking about their Hebrew names which led to a discussion about where many of our families came from and immigration.   On Wednesday the discussion was centered more on God and "How do you know.... if you can't see God?" We talked about things existing that you can't see, such as wind and love, and about having faith in something that you believe in even if you can't prove it's existence. 

We've also been learning about Hanukkah.  We reviewed the basic story and discussed the miracles associated with the holiday.  The class agreed that a small group of Jewish farmers turned soldiers going up against a huge army and winning was indeed a miracle. 
Cantor Ken talked about Hanukkah in relation to the Jewish calendar and that it spans two Jewish months and in class as a follow up, we read a story called "Hanukkah Moon" by Deborah da Costa.  We also made decorations for the room using metallic markers on black paper.

On a sadder note, we discussed some of the rituals concerning Jewish mourning.  We focused on the process of sitting Shivah and learned that it has its roots in the Joseph story in the Torah.  We talked about trying to make a friend feel better, by playing, listening or just by being there.  We then made condolence cards for Emily and Jason.  I was very proud of how respectful the children were during this discussion, how they listened to each other's experiences of going to Shiva Houses and seriously they took the task of making the cards.

Homework this week is both simple and fun-to light Hanukkah candles!  Ask your child the difference between a menorah and a hanukkiah.

Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah,

Margie

11-11-18

The second grade learned נ Nun and י Yud and two new vowels (and ן Final Nun). Which allows us to be able to read Nitzan's name! We read "Finding the Fruits of Peace," - Cain and Abel. A very child friendly retelling of the story, which was new to many of them. The students met with Temple Israel veterans in honor of Veteran's day and got to ask them questions. We are looking forward to continuing with our Torah stories we have begun Noah. Also, learning about your children's homes this coming Sunday. We discussed different strategies which Cain could have used. Ask your child: What do you think he could have done instead of throwing the rock at Abel?

11-4-18


Second Grade continues to be a busy class.  In Hebrew, we have been practicing our reading and writing and have learned a new game, Oy Va Voy.
It’s great to see how nicely all of the students work together in class.  I continue to be impressed at the student’s level of excitement about doing the homework reading.   Keep up the good work!
 
 In our Torah studies, we read “Why the Snake Crawls on Its Belly” by Eric Kimmel.   The book retells part of the Adam and Eve story and explains what the snake’s consequences were for tempting Eve.  We discussed that this story is not directly from the Torah but rather is based on a Midrash about the Torah passage. We then discussed a question I once heard Rabbi Kushner pose, “Was it good that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden?”  We delved a bit into the question to understand it as was it better for Adam and Eve to have everything provided for them or was it better to be challenged to learn to provide and create for themselves?  I wonder if you and your child would agree on an answer?


10-28-18


On Sunday we began Chapter 4 in our Hebrew text, adding the letters ה Hey and  צ Tzadi.  We also looked at the ץ final Tzadi, and discussed that this is the letter to use if there is a Tzadi at the end of word.  We learned that the Hey makes an H sound in the beginning or middle of a word and is silent when it comes at the end of a word.  The class is excited as we learn more vocabulary words.  We played two Hebrew reading games this week in class; “Buzz Off’ using Popsicle sticks and try not to get “stung” and a Candy land type game trying to get to the finish line before the other player.

In our Torah studies we went onto the story of Adam and Eve.  We discussed who the children would hold responsible for Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit.  The answers varied from just the serpent, just Eve, Eve and the serpent to both Adam and Eve.  We then had a short conversation about people making their own choices as to what they do.   Ask you children who they think is responsible. 



10-21-18


Did you know that we begin Sunday mornings with T’filah (prayer) with the Kindergarteners and First Graders?  We begin with prayers/songs thanking God for creating a new day, continue with the Sh’ma and personal thanks and a prayer for peace.  We often end with songs appropriate to the holidays or perhaps popular Israeli children’s songs.  This week the Second Graders were amazing role models for the younger children, singing beautifully, sharing what they are thankful for and answering questions about the different prayers.

In Hebrew we continued on to Chapter Three in our text, learning/reviewing the letters Alef א and Mem מ. While the final Mem מ is not introduced until later in the text we did cover it in class in order to understand that when the sound m comes at the end of a Hebrew word with no vowel we only use the final Mem מ.  We also learned a new vowel, which makes the “EE” sound.  We have two new important key words-Ima אמא and Abba אבא, ask your children if they remember what they mean.

In our Torah studies we continued discussing creation and that people are were created in God’s image.  We agreed that we don’t actually know what God looks like, though many of the students had their own ideas. The answers included God looks like a human (more often a man than a woman), an angle, different elements of nature such as the sun and the stars and God is invisible.  We discussed the need to treat each other with respect since we are all created in God’s image.  The students then created self-portraits to add to our bulletin board about creation.

10-14-18

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, 

Margie

9-23-18

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, 
Margie

Grade 6/7 / Kitah Vav/Zayin 2018-2019

12-9-18

Hello 6th Grade families!

This week in religious school, we had fun celebrating Chanukah with the ultimate dreidel champion and some gelt checkers, and then finished our celebration off with latkes and cider from the Men's Club. We also continued our Bnai Mitzvah lessons, talking about important issues like how choosing our own outfits is related to becoming an adult, gender identity and expression through clothes, and expectations that society sets up for us. It was a lively discussion where our students felt comfortable to share their perspectives.


We are so excited about our upcoming Tallit making workshop! It will be this coming Sunday 12/16 from 9-12. I look forward to seeing everyone there!

12-2-18


Hi 6th grade families!

This week we had an exciting Skype session with the Habonim School in Haifa! This was something we have been preparing for by practicing introducing ourselves in Hebrew, and saying one thing about ourselves that we like. Ask your kids how to introduce themselves in Hebrew - we learned 3 different ways. It was so great to see the excitement in all the kids, and it was especially nice that we were able to light Chanukah candles together and sing Chanukah songs.


Something to look forward to is the next lesson from our Bnai Mitzvah program, and our Tallit making program, with more details coming soon. 

11-18-18



Hi 6th Grade Families!

This week we had a lot of fun participating in the next lesson from our Moving Traditions program to prepare for our Bnai Mitzvah. The focus on this lesson was what it is like to be the center of attention, and if that is something we like or don't like. We played 4 corners, where each corner was labeled strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly disagree. The a series of statements were said, and students moved about the room to where they fit. Everyone was engaged and was willing to elaborate on their answers! The class also learned the words introvert, extrovert, and ambivert. Ask them what they mean!

Remember there is no school next Sunday because of Thanksgiving. Something to look forward to is our Skype conference with the Habonim school in Israel! We were originally scheduled to Skype last week, but due to a scheduling conflict, it was postponed to December 2nd.

Have a great week and happy Thanksgiving!

11-11-18



This past Sunday the 6th grade went on a field trip to Newport to visit the Touro Synagogue, and other historic sites in Newport! We started off our trip at the welcome center, where we learned a brief history. After lunch, we were welcomed into the oldest synagogue and learned about the unique history of the building, congregation, and founders. We learned that the building is in it's original state, and we even saw a 500 year old Torah! Ask your child what their favorite part was and what they learned!

Two things to look forward to:
1. Reflection projects coming from our field trip. So far we have a blog post, Kahoot game, and an iMovie.

2. First Skype meeting with the Habonim school on Sunday 11/18.

11-4-18


Today we talked with the rabbi about The Tree Of Life temple loss that occurred Pittsburgh. The students discussed how they feel about the event and how they can help others feel safe. In the classroom the 7th grade wrote questions about the field trip to the temple in Newport. The 6th graders wrote introductions to say to their pen pals in Haifa. 


10-28-18



Do you remember the game "Cross the River" from gym class? You and your team must work together to figure out how to cross a "river" by stepping on a limited number of stones. It was fun and challenging, and we ran out of time before any team had an opportunity to make it to the other side. When we got back to class, one student asked, "What did that game have to do with Hebrew school?" Instead of answering him myself, I opened up the floor, and these were the top answers from your children:

1. It's like our journey through life
2. Our Bar/Bat Mitzvah will be challenging, but we have other people to support us through
3. We need to work together to succeed in life
4. When things get hard, we can turn to our community

I must say, they had some great insight! We continued with our B'nai Mitzvah program by discussing what is means to transition from childhood to your teenage years. We had fun reminiscing about what it was like to be a kid!



We will continue with four more B'nai Mitzvah sessions with 6th grade before inviting you back for the final family session. 

10-21-18



Hello from 6th/7th! This Sunday we had a great day of service at the Brophy school. Our day was divided into different projects. We started our day with munchkins and hot chocolate (which may have been the highlight for some people)! We met a family of refugees who moved from Syria, and they thanked us so much for all the work we are doing for other refugees in in Syria. He thanked us in Arabic and someone from the Jewish Teen Initiative translated for us. We worked in an assembly line to package 200 care packages from families in refugees! We were careful to package with care and intent to make sure every package arrived intact. We also made cards that we wrote in Arabic to put in the packages. It was great to see the students to engaged in the projects! After the care packages, we split into groups to help with gardening in the front of the school, and painting the blacktop in the back of the school. 

Some students decided to stay at Temple Israel for a day of learning, and it was great to swap experiences with each other when we came back.



Something to look forward to is that we will continue our work with refugees and immigration, as well as prepare for our interview projects with people who have immigrated. If you or a family member have immigrated, and would be willing to be interviewed, please feel free to email Hilary (hilary.henninger@gmail.com).

10-14-18

Today in the 6/7 grade we watched a video about Syrian refugees. The students discussed what they can do to help refugees in the United States. We were shocked to learn how many people have been displaced in 2016...ask your children how many people in the world escaped their countries due to persecution and economic problems.We saw a picture of the Turkish border where millions of Syrian refugees have been living. We tackled heavy questions thinking about why it is important for us as Jewish people to know and care about this, and what can we do about it? We finished the day by 6th grade practicing trope with Cantor Ken while the 7th grade practiced their modern Hebrew. 

Next Sunday we have a service project, and we look forward to be able to give back to our community!

Grade 7/Kitah Zayin/ Gesher 2018-2019

12-9-18

Dear Parents,

Happy Chanukah! I hope you and your kids have enjoyed a great week. At the Religious School, we had a great morning, both in class, and in our school Chanukah celebration:
  1. During the first part of the morning we concluded our Life Cycle unit on birth customs, with study and discussion of adoption in Jewish tradition. We viewed the following video: https://www.bimbam.com/jewish-questions-on-adoption-surrogacy/, and read together the attached article on adoption in Judaism. The students had an amazing discussion about the issues involved with raising adopted children as Jews, especially those children that came from non-Jewish birth parents and required conversion to Judaism. 
  2. After Tefillah, Nitzan gave a fun lesson on how Shabbat in Israel is different from Shabbat observance in the U.S.
  3. We then had a great Chanukah celebration, including candle-lighting, singing with Cantor Ken, Latkes, and Dreidel games.
  4. At the end of the morning, we began our discussion of what is a "bar/bat mitzvah" and "what is a Mitzvah".

When we meet again on Sunday, we'll be continuing our discussion of Bar/Bat Mitzvah issues. Please ask your kids to discuss the definition of "what is a Mitzvah?" (It isn't just a good deed.)

As always, 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,

Gerry

12-2-18


Dear Parents,
It was great to see your kids again after the Thanksgiving break. This week we had a couple of special programs.
  1. During the first part of the morning we had a special program with Dr. Jennifer Novick, who is a practicing Mohelet. Jennifer shared with the class texts and explanations about brit milah/circumcision, and the ceremonies associated with birth and Brit Milah. The kids had a lot of great questions and the discussion was great.
  2. Nitzan gave a fun lesson on Hebrew words through a "Super Heroes" game.
  3. During the last part of class, we switched our focus to customs and ceremonies surrounding death and mourning. In part, this was to help the kids understand what happens at funerals and shiva/condolence visits, since many of the students were then going to attend the funeral for Karen Berk. I was very proud of the students - Robin came to discuss the situation with them, and then we shared some BimBam videos on Jewish mourning customs, which you can find here:
---Intro to Jewish Mourning Rituals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyHvRFkqzmw&t=7s

The kids had really good questions, and were very sensitive about the subject, and how to visit with Sarah. We then wrote condolence cards to Sarah, which Robin brought to her during Shiva. All of your kids were wonderful, and handled the discussion really well. I don't have the words to tell you how moving it was.

If you would like to share additional information with your children, or further discuss the topic with them, I've attached a summary of Jewish mourning customs for reference by you and the kids.


When we meet again on Sunday, we'll be having some special activities for Chanukah, as well as continuing our Life Cycle curriculum. This week, we'll be concluding our lessons on topics related to birth, and moving on to Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

As always, 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 - Chag Urim Same'ach,

Gerry

11-4-18



Dear Parents,

This past Sunday we continued with our usual routine: 
1.    As part of our Life Cycle curriculum, we continued our discussion of our birth stories, and the origins and meanings of our names. We then began our discussion of the next milestone after birth, which is the beginning of a child’s Jewish education. We learned the material in the attached source sheet and answered the questions on the attached worksheet.
2.    At Tefillah, we focused on the Amidah, as the part of our prayers in which we ask God to provide for us and answer our requests.
3.    When we returned to class, we had a lesson with Nitzan about Israeli gestures, and how Israelis “talk” with their hands.
4.    We then continued our discussion of Jewish education, and our project was to design the perfect Hebrew School. The kids had some great suggestions!

This coming Sunday, we’ll be taking our field trip to the Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI, after joining the Temple’s minyan for a Veterans Day memorial service. Please remember to pack a substantial lunch for your child.

Thanks,

Gerry

10-28-18


Dear Parents,


After last Sunday's program at the Brophy School, we got back to our regular routine today.


  1. As part of our Life Cycle curriculum, we reviewed Jewish rituals and traditions connected with birth. We then talked about each student's birth story, and what happened in each of your families. I've attached the materials and worksheet that we worked on today - please talk with your child about the events and rituals surrounding their birth, so they can complete the questions on the sheet.
  1. We then had Tefila, in which we focused on the Shema, and how we are commanded to acknowledge God. As an activity, each student wrote a "Six-Word Story" in response to the prompt: Meeting God for the first time. The responses were wonderful - I'll try to post some of them this week.
  1. When we returned to class, we had a lesson with Nitzan about Hebrew slang, and learned the words Sababa (great!), Achla (good!), and Horais (cool looking).
  1. We then learned about sources of Jewish names, and discussed the meaning and origin of the student's names. Please talk with your child to help him/her complete the attached worksheet on their names, which we started in class today.
When we meet again this Sunday, we’ll continue our study of Jewish birth traditions, including our discussion of choosing a name. We'll also start learning about other rituals, including Zeved Bat/Welcoming a Daughter, Pidyon Haben/Redemption of the First Born, and more contemporary responses to Jewish birth rituals.   As I requested above, to prepare for Sunday, please help your kids complete the worksheets on their Birth Stories, and on the source and meaning of their names.




As always, 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,

Gerry

10-21-18



Dear Parents,

Many of your kids were with Hilary at the Brophy School on Sunday, but for those kids who chose to attend classes at Temple Israel on Sunday, we had an interesting morning. Instead of our regular Life Cycle curriculum, we focused on refugees and strangers in Jewish tradition.

1.    We first reviewed several biblical texts about Abraham and his wanderings, and how they make us sensitive to refugees and asylum seekers. You can see the texts and questions that the kids answered in the attached worksheet.
2.    We then had Tefila, in which we focused on the Ahava Rabba blessing immediately before the Shema, and how it shows God’s love for the Jewish people, and our response through learning and doing Mitzvot.
3.    When we returned to class, we reviewed Jewish Rabbinic texts on treatment of strangers and those seeking protection, as well as several videos and sources regarding asylum seekers both in the U.S. and Israel. We watched the first segment of each of these videos:



[Refugees and Passover: African Aylum seekers comemmorate Passover in
detention]

This led to a formal debate on Sudanese asylum-seekers in Israel, and whether they should be accepted or sent home. As the attached sheets, videos, and debate showed, this is a complicated issue!

When we meet again this Sunday, we’ll begin our study of Jewish birth traditions. In particular, we will be engaging in the following activities:
1.    Jewish Names – a lesson on their origins, meanings, and how newborns get them.
2.    Nitzan, our Shinshin, will be back from Israel, and we’ll have an activity with her.

To prepare for Sunday, please discuss the following question with our kids:
Where did your Jewish name come from, and what does it mean?

As always, 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,


Gerry

10-14-18

Dear Parents,

It was good seeing your kids after the Columbus Day break.

This past Sunday, we continued with our Life Cycle curriculum:


  1. We continued our discussion of covenants and biblical sources for them. In particular, after reviewing the structure of the Tanakh, we spent much of the morning learning how to find the relevant chapters and verses in the Torah, and read about the different covenants between God and Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. I’ve attached a copy of the worksheet we used.
  1. During Tefila, we focused on our morning blessings, and in particular the first regarding the rooster’s ability to discern between night and day. We explained this through the attached Rabbinic story, of how people can similarly discern between good and evil, and how we should live our lives with a true understanding heart.
  1. After Tefila, we continued our work on covenants, and then reviewed the Rabbinic “map” of the Jewish life cycle in the Mishna-Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers chapter 5, Mishna 23. A copy is attached. The class discussed why the Rabbis chose these milestones, and how they are different from life cycle norms today (for example, the kids decided that 18 was a bit too young to get married!).
  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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. We'll continue our study of covenants between God the Jewish people, and the biblical sources of these covenants.
  1. What significant events are included in our Jewish life cycle.
  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.
  1. 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
  1. 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
  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.
  1. 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.



When we meet again this Sunday, students will either be attending the service project at the Brophy School, or at the Religious School learning about refugees and asylum seekers in Jewish tradition, and how that relates to those in the U.S. and Israel. For those spending the morning at school, we’ll be learning Jewish texts, and preparing a debate on asylum seekers in Israel.

To prepare for Sunday, please ask your kids the following question for discussion:
What is our obligation, as Jews, to help strangers in need?

As always, 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,

Gerry

9-30-18

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:
When we meet again a week from Sunday, we'll be focusing on the following:


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.



Thanks,

Gerry



9-23-18

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:

This coming Sunday, we’ll be focusing on the following:

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,
Gerry

Grade 1/Kitah Alef 2018-2019

12-9-18

Happy Chanukkah to you all on this the last night of the holiday. Today in first grade we learned the Hebrew letter vet. Vet looks exactly like the letter bet except it is missing a dot and consequently has the sound of the English letter v rather than the sound of the English letter b. The children are doing a fabulous job overall remembering the letters that we have learned so far this year.

We had tefilah this morning with kindergarten and second grade as usual. However we were missing Cantor Ken, as he was busy at minyan. We discovered together that many of the children have been lighting their very own Chanukkiot this holiday and a number of them use Chanukkiot that they themselves made. We also discovered that most of the children have the shema hidden in their houses somewhere. Ask your child if he/she remembers where the shema is tucked away in your house.

The children finished up work on their Chanukkah fun packets and decorated dreidels with Chanukkah stickers. Please ask your child to show you the lovely tissue paper, “stained glass” dreidels that we made last week. We watched a somewhat silly but also informative video on the history of Chanukkah. You can catch it here if you want to watch it with your child: https://www.bimbam.com/?s=chanukah+video. Please note that the video we watched is entitled: God Cast Spins Chanukah and can be found partway down this link.

We had great fun at the Chanukah party with the rest of the school this morning. We sang the Chanukkah blessings and many Chanukkah songs with Cantor Ken and the rest of the school. The children played with the dreidels at our table and pretty much everyone had their fill of yummy latkes, apple sauce and apple cider. Many, many thanks to the brotherhood for preparing and serving this delicious feast.

Back in the classroom, we finished our morning with two wonderful Chanukakh books: Nathan Blows out the Hanukkah Candles and The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes.


Next week we will resume our torah stories with more about Jacob and Esau and will learn the Hebrew letter Dalet.  Have a great week! 

Best, 
Joanne

12-2-18


Hi All and Happy Chanukkah!

First grade students reviewed the Chanukkah blessings and sang Chanukkah songs today with the cantor. From Nitzan, we  learned a bit about how Chanukkah is celebrated in Israel.  The children especially enjoyed playing a charades game with Nitzan acting out some of the symbols of Chanukkah. They learned that in Israel, Chanukkah is a time when we think about heroes. Each child shared a personal hero like a parent, sibling or grandparent and what makes that person heroic. We made “stained glass” dreidel pictures which are currently drying in the classroom and worked on Chanukkah fun packets. The children listened to one of my favorite Chanukkah stories, the Chanukkah Guest. Ask your children if they can tell you the Chanukkah trivia question they learned today during tefillah. We all are looking forward to continuing to celebrate Chanukkah next Sunday with latkes and other treats.

In Hebrew today, the children learned a new Hebrew letter, chaf. Chaf is tricky because it looks exactly like kaf but is missing a dot. The mnemonic for chaf is that it has a cough (in contrast to kaf which has a cough drop). Another challenging thing about chaf is that it makes a sound that we do not have in English. Overall, the children are remembering the letters we have learned beautifully. Since we meet only once a week, I do not really expect them to learn to read this year but I do hope that they will become familiar with most if not all of the letters and be able to name at least many of them.

In our torah lesson this week, we acted out the story of Eliezer meeting Rebecca at the well. The children also learned of the birth of Jacob and Eisav and how Eisav traded his birthright to Jacob for a pot of stew. To be continued…

Best wishes for a delightful Chanukkah!

Joanne

11-18-18


Hi All,


Our new Hebrew today was the letter resh which has a round back and makes the sound “r.” The letter resh begins the Hebrew expression “Refuah she’laymah” which one says when wishing someone a speedy recovery from illness. In class today we began to learn a bit about the mitzvah of bikkur cholim, visiting the sick. The rabbis tell the story that God demonstrated this mitzvah by visiting Abraham when he was not well. Today the children made get well cards to be kept at TI. These will be sent out to students and faculty at the school who are sick during the year. In our study of Torah today, we reviewed the story of Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, who goes to find a wife for Isaac. He determines that Rebecca is the right person to marry Isaac after she not only offers to give him water but offers to give water to all 10 of his camels. The children concluded that Rebecca’s offer to draw water for all of Eliezer’s camels showed that she was a kind person who was good at sharing. KItah aleph students enjoyed our weekly game of Simon Says in Hebrew. We have now learned the Hebrew words for eyes, ears, nose, mouth, head, shoulders, stomach, knees and feet. Ask your child which ones he/she can tell you. We also played a game with the Hebrew names of the colors. The children practiced the blessings on the Chanukkah candles during tefillah with Cantor Ken and then again at the end of our class. It is hard to believe but the next time we meet will be on Sunday December 2nd. Chanukkah will begin that evening. We finished our morning with the book: Potato Pancakes All Around by Marilyn Hirsh.  Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. 

Joanne

11-11-18


Hi All,

Happy Veteran’s Day weekend. We began our morning we the story of Abraham “arguing” with God about God’s plan to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The children listened to the story and we discussed how brave Abraham was to question God’s plan. Abraham challenged God not to destroy two whole cities given the possibility that there were some good/innocent people living in those cities as well as the “wicked” people. We talked about Abraham as an upstander like other upstanders the children know about (Dr. Martin Luther King and Ruby Bridges were two upstanders mentioned today). We will talk about more upstanders, both within and outside of the torah, as we continue our studies this year.

Kitah Aleph students had the opportunity to meet and hear from three members of Temple Israel who are veterans. One of these veterans is the grandfather of one of our own Kitah Aleph students. We ended our Veteran’s Day assembly with the singing of Oseh Shalom and our wish for peace.

In Hebrew, the children reviewed the letters we have done so far and learned a new letter, the letter Hey. At this point, even knowing only 6 letters and a couple vowels, the children were able to read a few very short Hebrew words.

Nitzan spent time with us as usual today. Nitzan’s lesson focused on different places in Israel. The children played a matching game with pictures of some different places. Ask your child how to say mountain in Hebrew and to tell you the name of the mountain near where Nitzan lives in Israel. Hint: it sounds a bit like something you put on a hot fudge sundae and starts with the letter c.

Believe it or not, we have only one more Sunday of Kitah Aleph before we start Chanukkah. We did a very quick review of the story of Chanukkah by watching a video:

We talked about the fact that the Chanukkah miracle was not only partly related to the fact that the small jar of oil that was meant to be enough for only one day actually lasted for eight days. The other miraculous part of the Chanukkah story was that the small army of Jews was able to defeat the mighty Assyrian forces. As part of our preparation for Chanukkah, we practiced the candle blessings and heard The Magic Dreidels by Eric Kimmel. Next week, we will continue to practice the candle blessings and learn more about Chanukkah.

Have a wonderful week.
Best, Joanne

11-7-18


Hi All,

This morning in Kitah Aleph, the children learned a new Hebrew letter, the letter kaf which makes a sound like the English letter K. As we do every week, we reviewed the other letters we have learned so far this year and the children practiced sounding out individual letters and the two vowels we know. We also have been working on singing the Debbie Friedman Aleph Bet song to help facilitate the children’s recognition of all of the Hebrew letters. Ask your child to sing the song for you.

For a little reminder here is a link to Debbie Friedman singing the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22KiI5xvxfA
Please note that I do not do the English parts of the song with the children but rather we sing only the part that pertains directly to the Aleph Bet itself.

We reviewed the story of Abraham and Sarah welcoming the strangers to their tent and the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim today as well. We watched a fun video about this mitzvah and the children read a booklet and did some fun pages as well. Here is a link to the video on the site called Bimbam which has many videos about torah stories and mitzvot: https://www.bimbam.com/?s=vayeira

In other news from Kitah Aleph, we played Shimon Omer, Simons Says in Hebrew, as we continue to learn the parts of the body in Hebrew. The children also played a game with Nitzan similar to Duck, Duck Goose but using the word Arnevet (bunny) and the Hebrew colors. The children played a second game to work on learning the colors in Hebrew as well. We will be continuing to play both Shimon Omer and the color game in the coming weeks to reinforce and expand the children’s knowledge of these Hebrew words.

It is hard to believe but later this week, we will begin the new Hebrew month of Kislev which is the month in which Chanukkah falls. In tefillot this morning, Cantor Ken started reviewing the blessings for the Chanukkah candles. We will be going over these blessings as we go forward and get closer to the holiday.

Best wishes for a peaceful week ahead,

Joanne

10-30-18


Hi All,

Today in Kitah Aleph we reviewed the Hebrew letters bet, tav, mem and shin and learned a new letter, lamed. The children all took turns reading and did a wonderful job pairing the letters with the two vowels we have learned (the kamatz and the patach which both make the sound “ah”). Each letter has a mnemonic device to help the children remember the letter and the sound it makes. The mnemonic for lamed is that lamed has a lap. We had a fun visit from Nitzan who taught the children three slang expressions in Hebrew: yalla (which means “let’s go”); sabbaba (which roughly translates as “cool” or “it’s good”) and achla (which means “good”). In tefillah, we practiced the sign language for the shema. Ask your child to show you how to sign the words of the shema. We also sang a fun song about Noah and his ark. Back in our classroom, the children acted out Lech Lecha, the parsha in which  God tells Abraham and Sarah to leave their home and go to the land of Israel. The children talked about moves that they have made and what it felt like to have to move to a new house or town. The children also acted out the story of the visit by the three angels to Abraham and Sarah. We talked about the mitzvah of Hachnassat Orchim, or welcoming guests, that the rabbis say we learned from how Abraham and Sarah welcomed these three strangers to their tent. The children shared what they do to make guests feel welcome at home. We learned the Hebrew term for welcome: bruchim ha’baim and made signs with those words. We also reviewed what we learned about Shabbat last week and finished reading the book: Mrs. Moskowitz and the Shabbat Candles, one of my personal favorite books about Shabbat. Next week we will go on to learn the letter kaf and continue the story of Abraham and Sarah.


Have a wonderful week! 

Best, 
Joanne

10-24-18


This week in Kitah Aleph we learned a new Hebrew letter, מ  (Mem), and our first vowels. Ask your student where the vowels go! We also discovered that using our new vowels we can now read the word שבת (Shabbat) in Hebrew. We decided that was great timing since we started learning about Shabbat this week. We talked about when Shabbat starts and ends and what special things we do for Shabbat, like lighting candles and eating challah. We talked about how some people won’t ride in cars or spend money on Shabbat. For our Torah study, we reviewed creation then went on to learn about Noah and how he saved two of every animal and even saved seeds to plant when the Earth dried out after the flood. We even read a silly story about Noah’s Bark! Cantor Ken wasn’t there to lead us in Tefillah, but we sang our prayers without him and did a great job. We missed getting to visit with our Shinshin, Nitzan, as she was travelling back from Israel, but are looking forward to getting to spend time with her next week.

10-14-18


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

Chorus:
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
(Chorus)

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

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

Once upon a time
It was day number 6
The people and the animals were here to mix
(Chorus)
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)




10-3-18

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,
Joanne