Thursday, October 29, 2015

Grade 4/Kitah Dalet 10.29.15

Hi Grade 4 Parents,

The fourth graders have been busy working at stations on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.  Below are some sample stations for Ashrei.  In addition there was a script writing station and Hebrew reading station with me.  As important as decoding Hebrew is, it's also important that our students have some understanding of what they are saying - The Big Ideas!  On Wednesday of this past week, that group and I had a very "theologic" conversation.  I think that listening to kids ideas about God is one of the most fascinating aspects of my job.  You kids are theologians!

With Josh Satok, our grade 6 teacher, last Sunday the kids searched for some of the Hebrew roots in the Kiddush and identified other key words in the kiddush.  A sampling of the English words and phrases included: holy, remember, time, leaving Egypt, chosen, love.  From this list the kids were asked to try and guess what the Kiddush is a blessing over and then compared their guesses with the English.

On Sunday, I will upload a November HW Calendar and also share a Google Voice Number. My hope is that kids can leave me messages on my google voicemail with themselves chanting lines they've mastered.  This will enable me to spend more time with them in class on trouble spots in the Hebrew.


Zayin Line: They shall celebrate Your abundant goodness, and sing joyously of Your beneficence.

Create a silent dance or set of motions to convey the idea of celebrating God’s goodness.

Tet Line: Adonai is good to all, and God’s mercy is upon all God’s works.

Write a short poem that expresses how God is “good to all”.  Your poem needs to use the Hebrew word tov, which means good.  Tov is the first word in this line of Ashrei.

Kaf Line: They shall talk of the majesty of Your kingship, and speak of Your might.

Create a comic or cartoon with two characters talking and speaking about God’s kingship and might. Since this line starts with the word kivod/respect, please include it (in Hebrew) in the dialogue.

Mem Line: Your kingship is an eternal kingship; Your dominion is for all generations.

On one side of your paper create an illustration of the word “eternal” or something that is eternal.  (Eternal means forever.) On the other side of your paper list the names of your grandparents, parents, and siblings.  You can also the write the names of your great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins or other important family members.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Grade 5/Kitah Hey Update 10/28

>>> Hi all!
>>> After our class breakfast Sunday morning, we joined with the whole Hebrew school community for a very spirited prayer and song session with cantor ken!  Great fun!........and learning too!
>>> (a perfect combination!)
>>> Back in our classroom we did some Hebrew prayer reading, and continued to discuss the idea of messiah in Judaism.
>> For break time I shared a package of non-allergenic snicker doodles.  Even my allergy prone students could partake!   (Trader joe's)
>> Parents, please feel free to send in a kosher snack to share with the class.
> Your children are always looking for food!
> Snicker doodles were  a huge hit!
> We talked about the Torah portion, lech lecha.  How would you feel if you were asked by God to leave your home, and go to a place you do not know?  What would you take?We concluded
> We could see that the Torah remains relevant through all the ages.......
> We concluded the day with a discussion of what/who is a mensch?
> What does it mean?
> We will be continuing our " mensch" studies throughout the year.
> Looking forward to seeing many if you at our geniza ceremony Sunday!
> Stay warm!
> Cindy

Prophets/Oral Tradition

Due to the special programming at Temple Israel in October, this Sunday was only Kitah Vav’s second Tanakh class. We will mostly be working with stories from Prophets and Writings this year. We will study the lives of several of the prophets, starting on November 8th (after genizah on the 2nd) with Joshua, and the entrance of the Israelites into the Promised Land.

To begin this year (after a first class of introductions), we talked about the role of oral tradition in forming Prophets, and what that means about the best way to read and understand the stories within it. To demonstrate the ways in which oral tradition can shape and define a story, we performed an in-class exercise. The students partnered up and told a short story from their childhood to their partner. They then switched partners and re-told Partner 1’s story to Partner 2. Partner 2 was responsible for telling the story they had just heard (now filtered through two people) to the group, and we compared and contrasted this version with the original story.

It was interesting to see and to discuss as a class which details changed and which remained the same. The stories mostly adhered to each other in plot and theme, but exhibited differences at the molecular level: a gender or a name had been changed; a side branch of the story had been left out; a story had been shortened; a detail that seemed crucial to the original storyteller had been deemed irrelevant and disregarded by the second storyteller. We talked as a class about what this means for reading stories today that our ancestors told one another so long ago, and will use our knowledge and critical thinking as we move forward to discuss the prophets’ role in shaping the beliefs of the Jewish people.

Introduction to Prophets

Kitah Dalet will mostly be working with stories from Prophets and Writings this year. During our last regular class (on 10/4; 10/11 was our Sukkah walk, and 10/18 was Building Jerusalem) we talked about the Israelites’ journey through the desert after leaving Egypt, and about Moses’ death and the fact that he did not lead his people into the Promised Land. Our next subject will be the story of Joshua, and with it, the entrance of the Israelites into the Promised Land.

First, though, we talked about the role of oral tradition in forming Prophets, and what that means about the best way to read and understand the stories within it. To demonstrate the way oral tradition can shape a story, we performed an in-class exercise. The class divided into two groups of 7 – 8 students; from each group, an individual was chosen to invent and write down a 3 – 4 sentence story. When the story was written, the students formed a line; the writer told the story to the first student in line, the first told it to the second, and so on down the whole line. When it reached the last student, we compared the story as it had been originally written to the form it took at the end.

In both cases, the stories followed each other closely in plot, character, and theme; when we examined them, however, we found minor differences: a gender had been changed, or a name; a plot device remained the same but details had been exaggerated; peripheral characters had been added or removed. We talked as a class about what remained and what had been changed, and what this meant for reading stories today that our ancestors told one another so long ago.

In addition, through looking at a few specific Torah passages, individually and then as a group, we discussed what it meant to be a prophet, a person spoken to and chosen by God as a messenger to the Jewish people. Throughout the year, we will be studying the lives of several of the prophets, starting on November 8th (after genizah on the 2nd) with Joshua.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Gan Class Update 10-25-15

Hello Gan Class Families,

Today was our first time experiencing Aleph Bet centers!  In previous years this has been a favorite activity of students in the Gan Class!  In small groups students enjoy different ways to learn the letters of the Aleph Bet.  Today there were three stations.  Ann assisted children in their identification activities for our two new letters, nun and hay.  Nun makes the sound n- and begins the word nerot(candle) as well as ner tamid(the light that hangs above the Aron Kodesh, where the Torahs are kept).  Hay makes the sound h- an begins the word Havdalah which is when we say goodbye to Shabbat on Saturday evening. The second center gave the students an opportunity to begin to write the letters using white board markers.  At the third centers, students played Aleph Bet Adventure, a game similar to Candy Land.

We also heard our second Torah story of the year.  In this story, G-d makes Adam and Eve.  He tells them that they can live in the Garden of Eden as long as they do not eat from one specific tree.  A snake tricks them and they eat from the tree so G-d tells them they cannot live in the Garden of Eden any more.  

Next week, we will be learning about the ways we observe Shabbat, we will begin illustrating the first two Torah stories in our workbooks and we will take time to understand that G-d is special and we must be respectful to things that say G-d's name even if we are not using them anymore.

If you have not already sent in your RSVP for the Challah Program taking place on Sunday, November 8th, please make sure you do so soon.As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about the Gan Class.


Kith Hey/Grade 5 Update 10/21/15

Hi all,
As a follow-up to our fabulous day Sunday - building a lego Jerusalem, on Tuesday/Wednesday all of the classes met together to view a wonderful slide show of actual Jerusalem compared to our Lego holy city.
Some great questions were raised Robin, and also by our children!
There was much curiosity about the different landmarks for each of the main religions in israel.
We talked about Christians believing Jesus was the messiah,  Moslems seeing Mohamed as such.......and Jews still awaiting our messiah.
Back in the classroom my fifth graders had a thirst to know more.
This led to a lengthy discussion about the concept of messiah.
I reminded them of the Hebrew song I had taught them in the sukkah.......about a world with no more war.
And the English version, "neath every vine and every fig tree all live in peace and unafraid.......into plows shares turn their swords, nations shall know war no more."
We talked about what a perfect world might look like..........and compared that world to our world today.

I was surprised that several of my students in each class had knowledge of the troubles in our beloved homeland.

After break time and some Hebrew evaluations, I assigned homework.......
To write about their concept of a perfect world .......
(Somewhere between a paragraph and a 23 page dissertation.......☺️
This could be a fun family project!
Poems, illustrations, ever each would like to express him/her self are all encouraged.

Hope you all enjoy brainstorming together!

I am so enjoying your children!
KITAH ALEF—October 25, 2015

Dear kitah alef families:

Today we began our unit on Shabbat.  We looked at pictures of Friday night rituals including lighting the candles, blessing the children, saying the Kiddush, and singing the hamotzi

STORY:  We read Shabbat.  The children helped me with rhymes of how a family prepares for and celebrates Shabbat.  Then in groups, the children brainstormed on what we can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste on Shabbat.  Back in the whole group, we discovered tasting hallah, smelling the spices, touching the children to bless them, etc.

PROJECT:  Each student created his/her own vision of “Shabbat Shalom.”

TORAH:  Shabbat occurs each week—and is described in Beresheit, the first parasha in the Torah.  We looked at the story, in the first Teach Me Torah pamphlet.  Creation was done according to G-d’s plan; it was not haphazard.  Next week, they will bring home their pamphlets; the last page includes a “Do at Home” activity for parents.  

HEBREW:  Our letter today is שthe first letter in shalom, shofar, and Shabbat. Now we can make the word “Shabbat” in Hebrew.   Each week, the children  bring home a reinforcement paper.

The class sang some Shabbat songs like “Baruch Atah, Adonai…,” “Bim Bam,” and a favorite of mine, “I Did Very Good Work today.”   We reviewed the concept of "menuchah," rest. More on menuchah
next week.

We will have a regular class next week, when the older students go to the genizah.  If you choose, your child may go with you on this field trip.  Please let me know if you will be going, when you drop your child off.

Shavua tov!
Esther and Tzipporah (Judy and Cheryl)

Lecha Dodi!

Today in Kitah Vav we got started on learning what is my favourite tfillah, Lecha Dodi.
As we started learning about what this prayer is saying, we listened to a wide variety of different classic and modern tunes. I've attached some of the most creative ones here for all of you to take a listen to and enjoy.

The students' mission for this week is to find another version of Lecha Dodi that they really like and share it with us next time we have class.

 In the meantime, enjoy these versions- to Hallelujah, All of Me, Man in the Mirror, Pitch Perfect and more!

Have a great week,

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Gesher Grade 7 Update - 10/20

As part of our life cycle study, Rav Shira Shazeer, founder of the Jewish Birth Network, was our guest speaker on Tuesday. She worked with students to develop a working definition of a milestone event: it's important, it happens to a lot of people, it marks a change and, by the end of our session, we added that a Jewish milestone event is a moment of connection between human beings and God.

We talked at length about those elements that signify a change.  Sometimes we are called by a new name or have a new role; mother, father, sister, brother.  The event may bring about changes in relationships. Often we have new responsibilities. And we noted that intentional breathing may be part of the change: breathing exercises during birthing and the baby's first breath. 

Since birth is a universal experience, what does Judaism do with this milestone?  We have special rituals for welcoming the Jewish baby: Brit Milah for boys (to be discussed at length with Dr./Mohelet Jennifer Novick on November 10) and recently a selection of new tradition based rituals to welcome the female baby into the Jewish community. 

Some people say the Gomel blessing following child birth. Rav Shira taught us that traditionally Gomel is said after crossing a desert, crossing an ocean, recovery from a serious illness, getting out of prison and giving birth.  Danger, moments where life may be in the balance, seems to unite these events. In concert with this connection between birthing and danger, we learned that anything that a birthing mother may need may be done on Shabbat. 

We are so very grateful to Rav Shira for her beautiful, informative and engaging presentation. Our rich understanding of birth as a Jewish milestone event was her precious gift to us.

Building Jerusalem

We had a special program on Sunday, as many parents know first-hand: Steve, the Lego Architect, came to Temple Israel to help us build a model of Jerusalem, complete with city wall,
Kotel, Temple foundations, and more.

First, though, we had community breakfast, where we ate together and talked about Noah. What did it mean that he was called a righteous man? What does it mean to be righteous ourselves? We talked about the similarities and differences we might find between being a righteous adult in Noah's age and a righteous fourth grader today, and found more overlap than we expected.

Then it was down to the social hall to build Jerusalem! Kitah Dalet was integral in helping build the city wall, gates, and houses; it was astonishing to see how well the entire school worked together to create--with minimal instruction--a full and realized Jerusalem. Thank you so much to the parents who were there, too: whether you were building with Legos yourselves or helping to supervise, you were invaluable, and all of us teachers appreciate your support and willing involvement.

When Jerusalem was complete, we were taken on a miniature tour of the city we had created: the four quarters, the Kotel and Temple foundations, complete with menorah (blueprint, it was explained, from Torah), and the many (and extraordinarily colorful!) city gates. Then it was time to break down the Legos. "It took so much more time to build this than it takes to break it apart," a student commented. Life lessons from Temple Israel.

Once again, thank you to all, and I hope you enjoyed yourselves! I'm looking forward to seeing the Kitah Dalet families again next Sunday.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Shabbat is an Island in time!

This week the Gimmel class started a unit on Shabbat.  To introduce the concept of Shabbat as a special day separated from the other days of the week, students discussed the quote by Abraham Joshua Heschel, "Shabbat is an island in time."  In groups students created posters of their Shabbat island.  Next week groups will "show and tell" their posters, and then we will talk about the special things we do to make Shabbat a special day.  Students will review the Erev Shabbat blessings and rituals and talk about Havdalah, the ceremony that marks the close of Shabbat.  

In Hebrew students have completed the second lesson in Alef Bet Quest.  Please have your Gimmel student practice the reading we do in class for about five to ten minutes a day. The best way to become stronger readers is to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!  Students are also making good progress with their script writing.

The highlight of the week was building Jerusalem out of legos.  Students had a great time constructing buildings and placing them in the Old City.  Thank you to Ellen Koltenuk, Amy Finstein and their committee of volunteers who made this wonderful program happen!  During the week students had an opportunity to see the pictures of their buildings as well as photographs of Jerusalem, and to learn about the Old City of Jerusalem.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Connecting to Jerusalem Through Legos and Song

After so many days of disturbing news coming out of Israel, Sunday's program, building Jerusalem from legos, brought me comfort.  I loved seeing our students of all ages and parents work together to build Jerusalem.

Our program connected our kids with Israel in a new way and I hope that someday, when each of them travels to Jerusalem, they bring with them memories of creating Jerusalem with 70,000 legos!

While the highlight of this morning was the legos, I always try to make sure that content is presented in multiple ways.  During our tefila time, Cantor Ken and I introduced several songs about Jerusalem into the service: sections of birkat hamazon (the blessings after eating), the 14th blessing from the Amidah, Lach Yerushalim, Chiri Biri Bim Bom, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, Hatikvah, Sisu Et Yerushalim, L’Shana Ha’Ba-ah.

One of my favorite songs about Jerusalem, comes from Psalm 116.  It is a song that I have listened to over and over the past few weeks.  In English:

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper that love thee.

7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.

8 For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say: 'Peace be within thee.’

And, I cannot resist sharing this photo with you.  When I was little, I loved legos!  Sometime in my childhood, my parents took a trip to Israel and brought me back this poster.  For years it hung in my bedroom before making it’s way to the attic.  Several years ago, I found it in my parent’s attic and it’s now found it’s way to my office at TI.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bet Class Update

Second Grade is a very busy classroom!

After a very busy and fun holiday season we  focusing a lot of our energy on learning the Hebrew Alef Bet; both reading and learning how to write in script.  We have learned four letters; Shin, Bet, Tav and  Lamed, and are able to combine them to read some simple words. It is exciting for me to hear the students beginning to read, I hope that you all have had the opportunity to listen to your child read.
In our Torah studies we are learning about the story of Creation.  We discussed the difference between stories that come directly from the Torah and Midrash,  stories often told to explain "gaps" in the Torah.  We heard the words of Bereshit (Genesis) and read some modern children's books about Adam and Eve.  The kids had great questions and some great ideas about why God created humans (to be God's partners-or puppets to take care of earth) and how a bit of God may be in each of our hearts or brains.

It was great to see many of you Sunday morning as we joined the rest of the school in building Jerusalem out of Lego.  What a creative way for our students to become familiar with  the Old City!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Gan Class Update 10-18-15

Hello Gan Class Families!

It was great to spend the morning with you all!  I was so impressed with how creative all your buildings were and how hard you worked to make our Lego Jerusalem.

Today's cereal was Cap'n Crunch.  Students were interested to think about Noah, the protagonist of this week's Torah portion, as a captain of the ark.  Students shared which animals they thought were on the ark before joining the rest of the school in the Sanctuary for Tefillah.

The most anticipated part of the day was the Legos.  The finished product was amazing and we couldn't have done it without your help.  It was so interesting to see that we were able to work together to make such a giant creation in less than 2 hours! If you have pictures, please send them to us.

Each student went home today with a flyer for the Gan Class Challah Program which is taking place on November 8th.  Please RSVP to Robin to let her know if your family will be able to attend.

Looking forward to seeing you next week!


Building Jerusalem

Today, we had a very special opportunity at school to learn about Jerusalem in an especially fun, hands-on way. Kitah Vav, along with the rest of the school, teamed up to build Jerusalem using what else but LEGO. Everyone took on different jobs, building walls, gates, and buildings which we then combined on a giant map of the Old City of Jerusalem to give us a sense of what Jerusalem looks like, but including gates as they were centuries ago and the Temple as it was before it was destroyed. Some of us built Montefiore's windmill, others built the Jaffa and Zion gate, but we all had a fun and educational morning!
Kitah alef October 18, 2015—Lego Jerusalem
שלום Kitah Alef students and families:
What a wonderful experience we had today!  During breakfast, I showed some photos of Jerusalem, including the windmill, the Jaffa gate, the kotel, and the walls around Jerusalem.  Eating “Captain Noah” cereal, we talked about parshat Noah, how Noah was a tzedek, a righteous man.  G-d told Noah to build an ark, take in pairs of animals, and then the rain started.  After the flood subsided, G-d put a rainbow in the sky as a brit, a sign that He would never again flood the earth.

Then to davening and to the social hall.  Starting with a map of the old city of Jerusalem and 70,000 Legos, we—students and parents--built the Old City!  This is the finished product.  The kotel (western wall) is in yellow.  The Holy of Holies is in the back in white and blue.  I will send you more photos by email.

Our class, working in groups, built many of the houses and placed them inside the walls.  Here Steven explains the geography of the Old City.  

Thank you to the students and parents for their enthusiasm in helping complete this project today. 

We all learned so much about the buildings and history of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Next week, we will start our unit on Shabbat and continue our Hebrew lessons.

Thank you all for your support and enthusiasm.

Brief reminders:  please give your child some water and a small kosher snack, which we will eat mid-morning, and a backpack or tote bag to take home papers.

Shavua tov!  Have a good week!

Esther and Tzipporah (Judy and Cheryl)

TIRS Rebuilds the Old City of Jerusalsm

Imagine 200 students, parents, teachers, and grandparents, 70,000 Lego blocks and a 22 foot square footprint of Jerusalem in the Temple Israel of Natick Social Hall.  Energy, creativity and cooperative spirit filled the space.

In just an hour and a half our highly skilled architects, engineers and builders worked together to create an extraordinary facsimile of the Old City of Jerusalem including the Kotel (in yellow), the eight gates of the Old City, the wall surrounding the city, David's Tower, Montefiore's windmill (just outside the city walls) and many buildings in each of the four quarters; Jewish, Moslem, Armenian and Christian.  If we used our imagination and concentrated, we almost felt as if we were there!

We are so grateful to VP of Education, Ellen Koltenuk, and Education Chair, Amy Finstein, for making this extraordinary experience possible.  Thank you to Director of Education and Youth Engagement, Robin Kahn for managing the logistics and to Cantor Ken for providing inspired tefillah and Jerusalem themed songs and to Rabbi Liben for joining us on this very special morning.

Thank you to all those who remained and worked to deconstruct our Lego creations so that others will be able to build their own City of Jerusalem.

Our completed model.  Note the yellow Kotel and the blue and white model of the Second Temple.

After the program we gathered for a group photo.

We began with a footprint of the Old City of Jerusalem

Friday, October 16, 2015

Gimmel Update

This week students worked in their Hebrew book, Alef Bet Quest and practiced their reading and script writing.
During our holiday block we reviewed the fall holidays and each group used the iPad as part of this.  On Tuesday students used Google Images to look at pictures of the Torah to investigate how the Torah is dressed.  Wednesday's group used the app, Tellagami, as part of their review.
Next week we will start talking about Shabbat.  More updates on this to follow.

Shabbat Shalom!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Listen To Ashrei!

Hi Kitah Dalat Friends:

Here are links to the lines from Ashrei we've been working on.





Todah Rabah Cantor Ken!!!!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October 13th with the Gesher Class

Yesterday we began our monthly Israel learning sessions with Prozdor/Hebrew College.  Ask your son/daughter about the images of Israel and their responses.  They also tackled the Biblical idea of Israel as “ha-makom,” the place. 

When we convened in the chapel we looked at the first parasha (weekly Torah portion), Bereshit.  We discussed God’s identity as Creator and focused on Genesis 1:27, in which God creates man and woman in God’s image, b’tzelmo.  This year, much of our Hebrew study will be linked with our Torah study as students learn vocabulary and practice decoding verses from the weekly parshiot.

This Sunday, October 18th, we will be inspired architects as we build Jerusalem with Legos.  I know that Gesher students will be both amazing builders and encouraging role models for the younger students.

Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan in Kitah Daled

Today, students reviewed the Jewish calendar placing themselves on the calendar according to their Hebrew birthdays.  Today is Rosh Chodesh Heshvan. We discussed the lunar cycle as we learned about Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the Jewish month. Students drew in the appearance of the moon on each of the Jewish holidays in September and October.  They noted that Rosh Chodesh and Rosh Hashanah are celebrated on the new moon and that Sukkot is celebrated beginning at the full moon. And they discovered that we should expect a full moon this year on October 28th.