Sunday, September 25, 2016

Grade K - Gan Class Update 9-25-16

Today was a wonderful second day of class.  We were thrilled to have Bina, our Madricha join us for the first time.  Bina will be with our class everyday and will be leading some of our activities as well as helping students to make sure everyone has a wonderful class each Sunday morning.  We are so lucky to have Bina as part of the Gan Class.

Our day started with Tefilah.  Some weeks we will have Tefilah with the whole school and other weeks we will be with the Aleph (Grade 1) and Bet (Grade 2) classes only.  Today, in the smaller setting, we were able to sing some of our favorite songs with Cantor Ken and learn about how to use the siddur.  Cantor Ken shared with us the the siddur opens backwards from what we are used to with our English books.  This made it much easier for the students to follow along with the pages.

In the classroom, we enjoyed our first Torah story together.  We discovered how God made the world in six days and on the seventh day he rested.  Students learned about the different things that God made each day and had fun guessing which things would be made next.  We will revisit this story again when we are back together in October.

The new letter today was tet.  Tet makes the sound t- and begins the word talit.  Each student had the opportunity to try on a talit today.  Students shared that wearing a talit made them feel special, warm and close to God.

In our Celebrations learning, we continued to get exposure to the High Holidays.  Today's focus was Yom Kippur.  We practiced doing an al het and learned that this is a time to ask for forgiveness for things that "missed the mark."  To help us think about ways we could ask for forgiveness, we read The Hardest Word by Jacqueline Jules.  Students then had the opportunity to illustrate and share something that they are sorry for.

The Gan Class will next meet on Sunday, October 16th.  I wish you all a Shana Tova and can't wait to start 5777 with you!
Photo credit:  Stan Hoffman

Gesher is amazing!
Gesher is the Hebrew word for bridge because Gesher is about the bridge experience; creating personal connections between childhood and being a Jewish adult.  As you might imagine Gesher students often wander back and forth across this bridge.  Today, they spent most of the morning on the adult side of the bridge attending the JNF breakfast, listening to the speakers and accepting responsibility to collect pledge cards from the other attendees.  They were amazing!!!

In preparation to be full participants in the JNF breakfast experience, Gesher students began their day learning about JNF (Jewish National fund)’s seven primary project areas:
  • Community building
  • Forestry and Green innovations: including the planting of 25 million trees and support for fire-fighters
  • Water solutions and sharing water technology
  • Cultivate the land:  Research and development
  • Zionist education and advocacy
  • Heritage sites
  • LOTEM:  Making nature accessible
The following short film was shown in class and also during the breakfast:

Since the keynote speaker was Sorin Hershko, a hero from Operation Entebbe, we also learned about Operation Entebbe.  Students viewed the following short video:

After breakfast, we debriefed their experience and they were able to keep the swag: t-shirts, tzedakah boxes, pens…

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Grade 5- Diana's Update

Dear Kitah Hey families,

The fifth graders are off to an amazing start!
During our Tuesday and Wednesday classes this week, we reviewed the idea that each one of us holds a different point-of-view. We talked about the fact that rabbis everywhere, both long ago and at present, hold different interpretations of Jewish texts. We discussed, at length, the importance of coming up with an interpretation that is meaningful to each one of us, as the literal translation of Hebrew prayers we are provided with are often difficult to understand.

After this introduction, students broke off in pairs, working together to break down each line of the Ein Kamocha into more personal language.

After working hard to analyze these lines, students had the chance to share. Upon doing a close reading of the line, “Adonai blesses God’s people with peace”, one group explained their interpretation: “If you pray to God, God will pray to you (blessing you with peace).” This group took it even a step further, explaining that it is like looking into the mirror. If you smile, the mirror will smile back.

Another student took a look at the line, “Rebuild the walls of Jerusalem”, and tried to think about it more figuratively. Just as we want God to help the Jewish people rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, this student explained it is important that God helps us to build up walls of hope within ourselves. This bit sparked an amazing discussion where we talked about how having hope for the future can keep us going. Because the kids had just been talking about the sick during Jewish Values class, we also discussed the students’ thoughts that having hope can even help the sick live longer lives.

Incredible things are happening in grade 5!



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Grade 5- Diana's Update

Dear Kitah Hey Parents,

I'm very excited to be working with your students!

This year in fifth grade, we will be focusing on the prayers recited during the Torah Service.
On Sunday morning, we talked about the importance of the opening prayer, the Ein Kamocha, which we recite before the ark is opened. We discussed that this is a special time, where we are about to take out the most holy object in Judaism to read God's very own words. The question was posed, "What might people want to say in a prayer at this time?" After sharing our ideas, we looked at the English translation of Ein Kamocha.
We started learning the first lines of the prayer, reading and then chanting (students participated in both choral reading and partner reading).

In class, we discussed our homework policy. Every student will be expected to practice Hebrew for 10 minutes every day, with the exception of the weekend. The fifth graders received a calendar with assigned lines for them to review as well as one new line to practice each day. On Thursday evenings, students will be asked to call my google voice number - 508-656-0657 and record themselves either reading or chanting the assigned lines for that week. This practice will help the fifth graders master the prayers of the Torah Service and will assist students in becoming more fluent in their Hebrew reading skills. Each day a student completes their homework, I ask that you (or another adult) sign off for that day. For each day of homework completed, students will get to fill out a box on their incentive chart (located in the classroom). When all the boxes are filled, the students will be able to participate in a small celebration.

On Sunday, students were given a copy of a QR code which, when scanned using the "QR Reader/Scanner" app, directs students to an audio recording of Cantor Ken chanting the Ein Kamocha. Pretty neat, right? What isn't there an app for? If students are unable to download this app, the link to the website used is also provided on the same paper (which can be found in your child's black binder along with all other handouts).


Grade 5 - Tali's Update 9/20/16

Fifth graders started the year with a bang! They participated in community-building activities/games within the classroom and were introduced to class routines and expectations. Students also took part in the Apples and Honey Olympics!  We dedicated much of Sunday to creating impressive, creative refuah sh'lemah cards for Cindy. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Grade 6 - Homework Update from Rav Elana

Dear Kitah Vav Parents,

        Cantor Ken and I work together to build the skills we know that your students will need to be confident on the bimah, or leading prayer or davenning in other settings at Temple Israel, like Minyan or Junior Congregation, or even at camp.  My emphasis is on accurate, smooth reading of prayer, followed by singing the prayer, where called for.  Cantor Ken will also include singing prayer mastery, but in addition he will dedicate much time teaching the students to learn to chant Torah according to the cantillation marks (trope) under and over words of Torah.  In our goals for the students Ken and I will work in tandem to reinforce the learning. Before your student can chant with confidence, he/she must be able to read the Biblical Hebrew comfortably and accurately.
 That said, when your student does Cantor Ken’s homework practice, he/she will get credit in my class. Each student has an individual homework chart.  To make this work, I would particularly like to see and hear Kitah Vav students reading in small groups in class, or demonstrating mastery by recording the assigned prayer on my dedicated Google Voice number: 617-410-8145.  If each student will do that then I can give them credit, and move them along to the next prayer sheet.  Students do not need to use the QR Code unless they want to. Cantor Ken gave you another way to hear the prayers by going on the TI website and selecting the prayer your student needs to listen to. 

I hope that addresses a concern you might have had about homework in Kitah Vav.  If my students will use class time to practice that would be ideal.  If I find that a student is not mastering the prayer we have worked on, then I’ll discuss it with the student and with you to figure out together how best to help.  Besides the prayers, I’ll be reviewing Hebrew reading rules for the next month, and will send home sheets for your student to review.  There is a pesky vowel called a “sh’va” (:) that is silent in some positions in a word, or makes the “ih” sound with its consonant in other positions, so I’ll review that and other Hebrew reading challenges.

       Please write to me with any questions/concerns you might have.  I feel that parents are my partners in making religious school a good experience for their child.

        Kol tuv, all the best,
        Rav Elana