Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Tower of Babel January 31, 2016

Dear families:

It was wonderful being with so many of you yesterday at the Synaplex.

Today as we enjoyed a breakfast of Chex (a square cereal), we talked about the squares and corners in Jewish life—matzah, tallit corners, prayerbooks, challah covers, etc.  Then we reviewed the Ten Commandments, the parasha of the week. 

After tefillot with Cantor Ken and Robin, we began our Hebrew lesson, learning two letters.  The first was the silent letter alef א.  Some words beginning with א are aron kodesh, afikomen, etrog, and echad (one).  Cheryl and I showed our groups how the vowel marks change the sound of alef.  We also learned   וvav.  Some ו words are Vashti, vav (hook), and vered (rose).  As we learn each new letter, we review the older ones, looking at similarities like resh and vav.

Later, we read the pamphlet about the Tower of Babel.  Everyone spoke the same language, and they began building a tower to be famous and as great as G-d.  In their pride and arrogance they forgot to care for each other.  All other concerns became unimportant.  G-d confused their speech so that they could no longer work together.  We experienced this with cards in different languages.  The students had to locate others who spoke their language.  As the people scattered all over the land, the tower fell to ruin. “Babble” means unintelligible speech.

We brainstormed Jewish values that the people of Babel forgot—kindness, sharing, caring for the sick, honoring parents, helping other people, etc.  One child mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King caring for others; I talked about how Jewish people helped blacks register to vote, and marched with him for justice.  Then the students created their own towers, drawn with blocks and Jewish values.

We ended the morning with songs—Trees Are Blowing in the Wind and Tree of Life.

Shavua tov! Have a great week.


Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Camp Ramah "Sleep-Under"

A snapshot/recap of the sleep under at Temple Israel last weekend:

This Sunday I got to spend the evening with some 4th and 5th graders, some of the magic of Ramah into our everyday lives. We began by creating an art project, personal camp-fires, out of recycled materials. This was especially relevant because it was the holiday of Tu Bishvat, and we discussed the importance of taking care of the earth. 

After having fun decorating our projects, we played numerous ice breakers, and got to know each other. We also played a few rounds of different camp sports, suc has a modified beach volleyball. After this we participated in a game called "constellations" where everyone walks around, finds a place in the room, and one person from each team has to identify what constellation everyone could create, and tell the group a story about it. In our same teams we played camp-fire games, like a song game, while eating S'mores.

It was a fun and exciting way to spend the evening, and brought a little bit of summer camp fun into a regular Sunday

Dani Nurick
Ramah Service Corp Fellow

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Synaplex Shabbat - So Much Happening!


It’s Synaplex Shabbat!
Get ready for an amazing Shabbat at Temple Israel.
(A full schedule is below.)

NEW THIS MONTH

Youth Programming for Grades K-2 and Grades 3-6.  Michelle Nelson and I look forward to learning with your kids all about the Ten Commandments and The Sweetness of Shabbat.  We promise fun activities, movement and more for your kids while you enjoy some time with just adults learning, davening, meditating, doing Pilates or enjoying a cup of coffee.

Activities for Preschoolers related to the parsha during babysitting!

During the Family Service:

1.     We’ll be using brand new siddurim – thank you to the Temple Israel Board for purchasing new siddurim for our youth and family services.  Come check them out – you will love the layout, font, pictures, and inspirational readings!

2.     When you arrive in the sanctuary, you will find tambourine decorated by a student in our education program.  Last week we read the crossing of the Red Sea and there are several moments in the first part of our service when we sing about the crossing of the Sea.  Since the Torah tells us that after the crossing of the Sea, they Israelites celebrated with timbels (aka Tambourines) we are introducing them into our family service.  We’ll need your help playing tambourines and singing the first part of the service.

3.     Our Kitah Bet/Second Graders will be invited to help lead the Shema.  They’ve been working hand on this with Cantor Ken and Margie in class.  

4.     Our Kitah Dalet/Fourth Graders will be invited to help lead the Amidah.  They’ve been working hand on this with me in class.

5.     Our Gan/Kindergarten class will celebrate a new to Temple Israel lifecycle moment: Kabbalat Torah.  Each member of that class will receive their very own mini-Torah and a certificate.  They have also been working hard on some songs about the Torah.

6.     Our Kitah Vav/Sixth Graders will be reading Torah during the family service.  This week we read the Ten Commandments - COME HEAR THEM!

7.     Everyone will have the opportunity for an aliyah!


Monday, January 25, 2016

Grade K - Gan Class Update 1-24-16

Hello Gan Class Families!

I am so glad that you were able to safely get to Religious School yesterday due to the one hour delay.

We had so much to do in only two hours yesterday!  

We began by illustrating our This Week On Shabbat pages and finishing our special projects for Kabbalat Torah this upcoming Shabbat. We also met with Cantor Ken to practice some songs and joined the whole school for Tefillot at the end of the day.

In our classroom we discussed Tu B'Shevat.  Students identified some important things that we get from trees including food, shade and oxygen.  We talked about how important it is to plant trees so that everyone can use them even if its a long time from now.  Many students reflected on things that they have planted before.

We are so excited about Kabbalat Torah this Shabbat.  I look forward to seeing you all there!

Michelle


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Grade 5 Kitah hey Sunday, January 24,2016

A Hi to our 5th grade families!

״and the women dancing with their tumbrels followed Miriam as she sang ........."
Such a fun song!
And perfectly timed for Shabbat Shira!   My girls just love to sing........
(ummmmm, maybe not so much the boys...)

Midweek we designed our tambourines! 
That was pure fun for all!
Once  they were completed , we had a repeat performance of this very lively song - this time using our tambourines as our instruments!
Beautiful!   And even more fun!

This actIvity was such fun, I promised them we would try to repeat this in time for Passover!
Each could have his/her own timbrel for their family Seder!

We had spent much time discussing the themes of redemption and revelation - from the Jewish viewpoint of course.  Students came up with some great examples of each.  This can be quite a philosophical group for 11 year olds.  Deep thinkers!
(Or as they would say, "we deeply discussed",     Everything they write had "deeply " in their sentences.
Just soooo cute!
Several students created some really meaningful sentences, displaying them around the room.....
Who knows, maybe some day they will become famous quotes!

We have been reading and chanting blessings and prayers for the Torah service.  I think they are better readers than THEY think they are.
My main homework request is that each one read aloud to you.......or to his pillow pet at least two  times weekly.  Please remind your child.

Today, we arrived an hour late because of the snow. Thank you Robin!! 
We enjoyed our "life" cereal (thanks to margarit and the gesher class). Had a short discussion of the parshah,  "beshallach".

My students have been asking to see "the lorax".
We saw more than half, and will complete it midweek. I love the book.......but I honored their request for the movie,  it really IS a fun movie- with important messages relating to "Tu b'shvat".
Kids were asked to take notes on important points, and look for Jewish values. 
We will be writing our ideas and discussing when we complete the movie.

We concluded our day with some festive singing for the birthday of the trees with cantor Ken and Robin.

Now, go out and HUG a tree!



GRADE 1—tambourines, Tu B’Shevat, thank you --January 24, 2016


Dear parents and students,

What a wonderful session we had today!  Thank you all for so much—for being flexible about our shortened session and working well together.

First we discussed the redemption of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, to go along with the parasha of the week.  We discussed slavery, the plagues, crossing the Red Sea (or Sea of Reeds), and G-d providing manna in the desert for the Hebrews to eat.  Miriam and the women sang the Song of the Sea accompanied by timbrels. Every student decorated his/her own tambourine with an illustration of how G-d saved us.  I collected them, to be used at the Synaplex Shabbat service on Saturday, January 30.  The children can then bring them home.

Monday is Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for the trees.  We talked about why trees are important, what they give us, and how we can take care of the trees.  I showed pictures of recycling, including a dress created by my granddaughter of napkins, spoons, and cups.  Then we had our class Tu B’Shevat Seder.  I took a few pictures, which I will send to you directly.

Thank you to Samantha Goldenblatt for organizing the parents, and thank you to everyone who supplied plates, white and purple grape juice, and many fruits for us to enjoy—plums and nectarines with one big seed (to represent the great leaders like Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and Herzl); strawberries and bananas with many small seeds (to show how we can all do little things to improve the world); white grape juice to represent the winter, and purple grape juice which we added for spring, summer, and fall.  We also had dates and figs, native to Israel.  Then we symbolically planted seeds—raisins and chocolate chips in crushed graham cracker “dirt.”  This was “watered” with chocolate syrup. The children enjoyed eating this mixture. This Seder was based on a Babaganewz Tu B’Shevat Seder which Robin found for us.  It was a busy, fun-filled morning.

A big thank you to Cheryl and Ariel who cut up and distributed the foods while we conducted the Seder. 

We closed with songs led by Cantor Ken and Robin.

Shavua tov—have a great week.  See you on Saturday morning, for the Synaplex and our tambourine activity.

Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Grade 7 - Gesher

Temple Israel of Natick’s Gesher students are extraordinary!  They have been studying the parashat haShavua (weekly Torah portion) and developing discussion questions for all religious school students.  They have been selecting the weekly breakfast cereal working to connect their cereal choice to the parasha.  They have been exploring the Jewish life cycle and Bar/Bat Mitzvah is their current topic.  Today we discussed the rationale for celebrating Bar/Bat Mitzvah at age 13.  According to tradition, a 13 year old has attained the maturity to confront his/her yetzer ha-ra (evil inclination.)  We discussed essential middot (Jewish  values) and identified those that our students believed to be priorities.  Middot included: 
  • Repentance
  • Forgiveness
  • Loving your neighbor
  • Controlling anger
  • Doing the right thing
  • Avoiding groundless hate
  • Being a friend
  • Pursuing peace
  • Preventing shame,
  • Taking care of one’s body
  • Guarding one’s tongue
We began to think about personal commitments to Jewish belief and practice, such as:
  • Belief in One God
  • Support for Israel
  • Living an ethical life
  • Studying Torah
  • Celebrating Shabbat and Jewish holidays
  • Having a Jewish home
  • Making the world better
  • Saying the Shema at bedtime
  • Remembering that we are created in God’s image
  • Feeling connected to all Jews


Our study of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Sages) included 1: 14 “Hillel said; “if I am not for myself, who will be for me?  If I am for myself only, what am I?  And if not now, when?”” and 4:2 “Mitzvah goreret mitzvah.  Aveirah goreret aveirah.  [One mitzvah generates another and one transgression generates another.]”  Students then had the opportunity to create i-movie trailers on the mishna of their choice.

Tu Bishvat Celebration - Todah Camp Ramah!

It was so great getting to come to Temple Israel this past Tuesday and spend time with the 2nd through 5th graders. We began our day with a snack in the spirit of Tu B'shvat, trying many types of apples and ranking our favorites. During Tefilot, we announced the winner and discussed the connection to this holiday. Tu B'shvat is all about celebrating nature, and so we learned a new blessing which we can say whenever we see something beautiful, "Oseh Maaseh Bereshit." Students thought about instances of beauty in nature in all four seasons, and practiced this blessing. We also sang a fun camp song about nature, and it was wonderful seeing how much ruach (spirit) the students had.

During our next activity, we made birthday cards for trees, which we later hung on the trees surrounding the synagogue. We also looked at pictures of natural sites in Israel, and learned how diverse the Israeli environment is. We built a human map of Israel using the pictures of these natural sites. We then thought about certain environmental challenges Israel experiences. We know that here challenges might be climate change, or pollution, and we learned that in Israel water presents a large problem. To simulate the need for conservation of water, we competed in sponge and bucket relay races. Students had a great time competing against each other and attempting to conserve as much water as possible. 

It was wonderful getting to know the students of 2nd through 5th grade, and I look forward to coming back and learning together again in the future. 

Dani Nurick
Tempe Israel's Ramah Service Crop Fellow

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tu B'Shevat

Grade 1--kitah alef—looking ahead to Tu B’Shevat on January 24, 2016

Dear parents:

Thank you very much for “answering the call” of our room parent, Samanthat Goldenblatt, to bring in fruits, juice, etc. for our class Tu B’Shevat Seder on Sunday, January 24.  We will be using a format about Israel.

Thank you, also, to Cheryl Strunsky who taught the class on January 10, in my absence.

I look forward to seeing the children on Sunday.


Judy Azer (Esther)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Education Update: Tefila Takes Many Forms (Jan. 14)


This month we have had some opportunities to daven/pray in different ways.  Drum roll please.....

Vera Broekhuysen, TI’s former Cantorial Intern, led a mincha service with a drum and invited the kids to drum with her.  Later some of the students spoke with her about their experience with the drums. My favorite comment with that the drumming helped me focus!

Vera leads a group of kids in drumming Ashrei.

This past week during tefila on Wednesday afternoon we talked about  what it means to pray with your feet.  Here’s how we got there. 

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday is observed on Monday and during our tefila time the student learned about Abraham Joshua Heshel and his friendship with Martin Luther King.   Heschel marched with King in Selma in 1965.  Our jumping off point was one of my favorite books, As Good As Anybody by Richard Michaelson. 
This is the cover of the book that we read last
Wednesday.
Michaelson’s book, “explores the friendship between, MLK, the African American Baptist minister and a Polish-born rabbi. Both MLK and Heschel were raised by wise, loving parents and followed in their fathers' footsteps. Both of them also experienced hatred and prejudice close to home. Whether the signs said "Whites Only" or "No Jews Allowed," they were equally hurtful and inspired them to strive for peace and equal rights for all. The first half of the book offers a simple, concise, and beautifully written early biography of King; the latter describes Heschel's youth. His father instructed him to "Walk like a prince, not a peasant….You are as good as anybody," echoing the words of King's mother. He answered Dr. King's call and joined the 1965 March to Montgomery with 25,000 others.

A photo of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
marching with MLK in Selma in 1965.

The book ends with Heschel saying about the march for Civil Rights in Selma. 

The kids had some awesome insights about what it means to pray with your feet.  Ask your kids what it means to pray with your feet?  What do you think it means to pray with your feet?



Monday, January 11, 2016

Grade 5 - Kitah Hey - Jan. 11

Grade 5           Kitah hey.    January 11, 2016

We have begun to talk about Tu Bshvat. 
I asked what that means..........blank stares.......
I explained that every Hebrew letter has a number value............
We did some "Hebrew mathematics.
         Solving:              ז +ה +ד -א
                    7 + 5 + 4 - 1 =?

Hmmmmmm, that seems to add up to 15 !
What a coincidence!  That is what ט״ו adds up to also!
I explained we do not use the Hebrew letters yud and hey for counting, as that is one way we refer to G-d.
We did a little more fun "math" before moving on.

Yesterday, Sunday, we had a fun and social breakfast.  Our cereal box had a frog on it.  The gesher class chose it to represent the Torah portion "Bo".  The first seven plagues are introduced in this portion.
Thank you to Yael from gesher for your help during breakfast!

Before we knew it, it was time for tefillah.
Thanks to Robin and cantor Ken for making our sessions so educational and such fun!

Back in the classroom we continued our Torah talk.  Much appreciation to the seventh grade class for creating some very interesting questions for discussion!
      How did YOU feel when you were a slave in Egypt?
      Which plague was the hardest?
       Which plague frightened you the most?
       Do you remember seeing each other way back then?
        I was right there with you also.......       Well, of course.

Do you think any of these plagues could have been scientifically possible?
What IS a miracle anyway??
Animated responses followed.........
We promised to continue over the next few weeks leading up to Passover.

I introduced the concept of redemption.  Our "research team" checked the dictionary.  I asked them to explain the term in 10 year old terms.  Naomi seemed concerned.  She was no longer 10.  She had a birthday.  (Where was my piece of cake!!??). We decided she could participate as an 11 year old as well.

We concluded the day with a video of the Torah portion.
Another great day!
Love these kids!


Cindy







!



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Madrichim - Teen Leaders

Temple Israel's teen madrichim have been making a big impact in the classrooms they work in! Today the teens joined the community in returning to school after a restful winter break. The teens jumped right back in, supporting the students and acting as role models.

In the upper grades (3 - 4) the teens were busy supporting student learning in a variety of ways. At times the madrichim worked with small groups of students. They were playing Hebrew games, supporting students in Hebrew reading skills, and providing movement breaks. At other times, the madrichim supported students within the whole class setting, discussing questions with certain students so they were prepared and confident to share out their ideas with the whole class.

In the younger grades the madrichim were helping the students get back into the swing of things, helping with classroom routines and checking in with students as they worked on Hebrew letter skills. The madrichah in kindergarten got to help students make and decorate beautiful mezuzot!

No matter what they are doing, the Madrichim continue to impress us all with their hard work and commitment to supporting our inclusive, caring community. They support students to ensure that our school is a place where all students can succeed. 




Grade 7-Gesher Class Update

Temple Israel of Natick’s Gesher students are extraordinary!  They have been studying the parashat haShavua (weekly Torah portion) and developing discussion questions for all religious school students.  They have been selecting the weekly breakfast cereal working to connect their cereal choice to the parasha.  They have been exploring the Jewish life cycle and Bar/Bat Mitzvah is their current topic.  Today we discussed the rationale for celebrating Bar/Bat Mitzvah at age 13.  According to tradition, a 13 year old has attained the maturity to confront his/her yetzer ha-ra (evil inclination.)  We discussed essential middot (Jewish  values) and identified those that our students believed to be priorities.  Middot included: 
  • Repentance
  • Forgiveness
  • Loving your neighbor
  • Controlling anger
  • Doing the right thing
  • Avoiding groundless hate
  • Being a friend
  • Pursuing peace
  • Preventing shame,
  • Taking care of one’s body
  • Guarding one’s tongue
We began to think about personal commitments to Jewish belief and practice, such as:
  • Belief in One God
  • Support for Israel
  • Living an ethical life
  • Studying Torah
  • Celebrating Shabbat and Jewish holidays
  • Having a Jewish home
  • Making the world better
  • Saying the Shema at bedtime
  • Remembering that we are created in God’s image
  • Feeling connected to all Jews


Our study of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Sages) included 1:14 “Hillel said; “if I am not for myself, who will be for me?  If I am for myself only, what am I?  And if not now, when?”” and 4:2 “Mitzvah goreret mitzvah.  Aveirah goreret aveirah.  [One mitzvah generates another and one transgression generates another.]”  Students then had the opportunity to create i-movie trailers on the mishna of their choice.