Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Fun with Food!

We began our elective program last week (finally no snow!) and it was great!

Students met in their Hevruta groups to study the first sentence of the text "Ha Lachma Anya" (This is the bread of slavery...) from the Passover Haggadah.  Everyone shared some very interesting insights as to why Matzah is called the bread of slavery.  Some examples included the fact that Matzah is plain and has no taste and this connects to the kind of lives the Israelites led as slaves. Someone else also suggested that because the matzah was baked quickly this connected to slavery because perhaps the slaves didn't have enough free time to cook and enjoy a good meal.

In our food elective students had fun sampling different types of food, both kosher for Passover and hametz.  The Crispeo cereal for Passover was not popular while everyone enjoyed the chocolate and cookies, both pesadik and hametz!  After tasting cereal, chocolate, crackers and cookies, students used one adjective to describe the taste and discussed which foods they considered to be a food of freedom and which they considered to be a food of slavery.  The chocolate and cookies definitely represented freedom in the eyes of most people!

As a group we took a vote on which foods were slavery and which were freedom.  In the second part of the afternoon students tasted maror (bitter herb) - a horseradish root, red and white horseradish and romaine lettuce.  They then studied a short text from the Haggadah about maror and identified words in the text that showed that maror was a food of slavery and injustice.

Next week we look forward to making matzah ball soup, and students will also start working on a special project to bring to their family seders.


Kitah Hey- Diana's Update

Shalom Kitah Hey families!

The fifth graders have been having a wonderful few weeks of class. Last week, we celebrated Purim in our class, discussed the Purim story and had a discussion about the motivations behind certain characters in the story. During Hebrew, we played a huge game of jeopardy where students created their own teams and competed with their classmates to say the most Hebrew words correctly for the most points. The students absolutely loved the fun competition and requested we play again soon.

This past week was the kick-off of our new elective program at TI. For the next two weeks, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, students will be participating in a small group havruta study of the Ha Lachma Anya text, recited at during the Passover Seder. After this, they will go to their electives for one hour to apply what they learned in their havruta sessions to art, Legos, cooking, or technology. 

In our havruta session this past Tuesday and Wednesday, we discussed the idea of matzah as "the bread of slavery" as well as the idea of matzah as "the bread of freedom". The students took a look at several famous rabbis' interpretations and explained the thoughts in our own words. Several of the students I was working with explained that matzah connects to slavery in that matzah is low and flat just like the social class of the Israelites during the Passover story. The Israelites had no power and worked all day in the dirt. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Gesher is amazing!  Imagine seeing the stones that made up the breastplate of the Kohayn haGadol!  And then Rabbi Liben came in to wish us a ‘happy Passover’ and having learned that the prophet Elijah will herald the coming of the messiah, we had the opportunity to ask him about what the messiah is.

Our study of Passover ventured into the four children as we looked at the traditional four children; one wise, one wicked, one simple and one who does not know how to ask and then some of the personality types described by the rabbis in Pirkei Avot: the funnel, the sponge, the sieve and the sifter or the rabbis’ questions: Who is wise?  Who is mighty? Who is rich?  Who is worthy of honor? And finally, a modern collection of four children from the American Jewish World Service Haggadah: the activist child, the skeptical child, the indifferent child and the uninformed child who does not know how to ask. Our study of the rabbi’s preoccupation with four temperaments (Pirkei Avot 5: 10-14) gave us new insights into the rasha (wicked child) as each of their discussions included a personality type labeled rasha; a person who is quick to anger and slow to appease, a person who neither wants to give tzedakah nor wants others to give, a person who neither learns Torah nor engages in mitzvot, and a person who believes that what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine.

We learned about anti-Semitism from a guest facilitator from the ADL and examined our possibilities for responses when confronted with anti-Semitic behaviors with their GOAL approach: goals, range of options, allies and likely outcomes. She ended the program with a thought provoking expression attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984),
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Following the ADL program, we made and sampled three different kinds of charoset: New England charoset, California charoset and Persian charoset.

Please remember that Prozdor is hosting an open house on Sunday, April 30 from 10:00-12:00 at Hebrew College (160 Herrick Road, Newton).  Kindly inform us about your plans for attendance so that we can plan accordingly.

Best wishes for wonderful remaining days of Passover and a fantastic spring break.
Hag Sameach!

HaMorah Margalit (aka Gretchen Marks Brandt)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Grade K - Gan Class Update 4-9-17

Hello Gan Class Families!

It was great to see so many of you at the Family Friday Dinner and Kabbalat Shabbat service!

This week, our class was focused on Passover activities.  The day started with a whole school Tefilah.  The Bet Class(2nd grade) led the service just like they did for Kabbalat Siddur last week!  After, Cantor Ken helped us to practice some of the songs we will hear at the Seder tonight.  

In our classroom we read the story of Passover and heard about how Moses saved all the Jews from slavery.  We constructed a place mat to remind us of the order of the seder.  We enjoyed some chocolate covered matzah while reading a story about a girl who is sick of matzah until her grandfather makes matzah brei.  We decorated an akifomen holder which will hopefully keep the crumbs to a minimum and enjoyed some original poems Ann has written about the holiday.
Image result for a sweet passover
All students were sent home with a 4 Questions booklet so that they can practice and a bag of beads as well as the instructions for a project that will help students learn to count the Omer.  Each day they will add another bead to a sting to count the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot.

Our next class will be on April 30th.  I hope you enjoy a wonderful Passover and April Vacation.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Alef--Godly Play Nachshon, April 9, 2017

Dear families:

A wonderful few days for the alef class.  First Friday night for services and Chinese dinner.  Students led the congregation in the chorus of Leha Dodi.  With 7 of the 12 students in attendance, they won the prize for the greatest percent of class participation.  Robin will give us our prize after Pesach.  An added bonus for me was the chance to sit at dinner with Rabbi Shira Shazeer, an important member of the Godly Play program and the author of the Nachshon I presented today (see below). She gave me several pointers.

Today, we were involved in many activities.  First we took part in tefillah; Cantor Ken reviewed  Pesach blessings and songs.  This fit well with our CRAFT for the day—an illustrated book of the Four Questions.

Each child took home a chart to count the Omer, the 49 days between the second day of Pesach and Shavuot.  Start crossing out one day at a time on Wednesday, April 12.

Many thanks to the food elective students who provided us with chocolate covered matzah as part of our snack.

HEBREW: Our lesson this week began with the vowel “o”--as in shalom, shofar, menorah, Torah, nerot (candles).  It can be represented by a “vav” with a dot over it, or by any letter with the dot to the left of the top.
Students also studied ט“tet”--the first letter in tallit, Tu B’Shevat, and the Hebrew version of telephone.

GODLY PLAY: we did another story in the holiday series.  The children of Israel left Egypt, but they still felt like slaves.  When Pharaoh’s army pursued them into the desert, they panicked.  Moses raised his hands, but the Sea of Reeds did not part. Afraid to step into the water, the tribes bickered about who should be the first to step into the water. Finally, Nachshon of the tribe of Judah stepped in.  After Nachshon’s show of faith in G-d, the waters parted'

The students so enjoy watching the story acted out with wooden figures, felt scenery, and “wondering” questions. See the pictures below.

We closed with Ann Green’s Pesach parody to the tune of the Dreidel Song

Hag sameach. There is no school the next two Sundays.  See you on April 30.

Judy and Cheryl (Esther andTzipporah)

Kitah Hey- Diana's Update

Shalom Kitah Hey families,

Today was a busy day in the religious school!
We started class in the sanctuary with tefilah led by Cantor Ken. With Pesach around the corner, we belted out old and new Passover tunes to usher in the holiday.

During class, we had a very thought-provoking discussion in comparing the Passover Seder to the 4th of July celebration. We first took a look at a simplified version of the Declaration of Independence to refresh our memories on the Revolutionary War. Then, students engaged in critical thinking to respond to a packet of questions:

1.  In the Haggadah, it says, "We were slaves in the land of Egypt and now we are free". Please explain this. How does it relate to the Declaration of Independence? Why was the Declaration of Independence written?

2.  What are some of the symbols of freedom for Passover? What are some of the symbols of freedom for the 4th of July?

3.  Which form of celebration does a better job of transmitting, from one generation to the next, the events that led to freedom? Why?

4. Imagine the Israelites wrote a "Declaration of Independence" to the Pharaoh. What would it say?

5. What do you think creates a more ideal society? Rights like those mentioned in the Declaration of Independence? Or responsibilities like those listed in the Ten Commandments?

6.  Think about the foods represented on the Passover Seder plate. If you could add one more food to the Seder plate to symbolize our history (Jewish or American), what would it be and why would you put it there?

In response to question 3, one student explained that she felt the Passover Seder did a better job of transmitting the events that led to freedom because we retell the complete story of our history in bondage. This student also felt it was very powerful to use foods (in the Seder) to symbolize our history.

In response to question 6, one student explained that she would put a lobster on her Passover Seder plate because it shows that Jews of all observances can come together and celebrate what it important to them. This student felt the lobster could represent acceptance within the Jewish community.

I wish you all a Chag Sameach and a wonderful April Vacation!


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Fun With Food!

Shalom Food Elective Families,

What a great 3 weeks we had with your students tasting and cooking different foods, and connecting it to freedom, slavery and justice.

After spending the first week in the classroom tasting different Passover and Hametz foods, we moved into the kitchen in the second week to make a delicious vegetarian broth and matzah balls.  Students had fun spicing up the broth with vegetables, mixing the matzah ball mix and rolling matzah balls.  Of course the eating was a great highlight too!  In addition to the cooking there was also an art project - a tissue paper decoupage matzah tray to use at your Seder.  First the students pasted different words, relating to the foods tasted/cooked and concepts discussed,  on to their trays.  The next week students completed their trays with the tissue paper decoupage.

Sampling the soup and matzah balls went hand in hand with some dinner table conversation.

This last week, our final week of the Elective,  students arrived at Hebrew School ready for dessert!  This week we made a matzah covered caramel buttercrunch dessert.  Everyone took a turn to pour sugar into melted butter and stir the mixture.  After an adult poured the mixture over the matzah, students took turns to "schmear"  the topping over the matzah.  After the baking was complete, students put chocolate chips on top, which melted,  and everyone took a turn to schmear this too!  The highlight of this week?  Tasting the dessert of course!  And it was yummy!
Once again, there was conversation around the table relating to the concepts of freedom, slavery and justice.

Here is the link to the dessert recipe.  We hope you enjoy!

We all had so much fun learning, crafting and cooking with your son/daughter!  We hope you enjoy making these foods at home with your children.  Wishing you all a Chag Pesach Sameach!

Elana, Helaine and Daphne