Monday, February 29, 2016

Grade 5 Kitah hay February 29, 2016

Wow..........March tomorrow??!!??

So........... My boys have been asking for a bagel breakfast!  

Robin told them if they could find a way to connect the next Torah portion to could do it!
I checked it out, yayakhel.  The portion is about building the tabernacle, the "mikdash" so God could dwell amongst the people.  Does God need a place?    Or does man need that place?
Fortunately, there it was right in the title!..........vayakhel means they assembled, or gathered!   Perfect!
What do Jews do at a gathering?.........we...........EAT!      And.........there are always BAGELS!
That became our first (very very very loose connection!).     

Moses asked "b'nai yisrael" to bring their finest linen ,gold, silver, bronze to make the mikdash very beautiful.  
There again (in our LLLloooooooooooosssssssseeeeeee connection to........ummmmmmmm....
Bagels). Bagels belong on a linen tablecloth!   And aren't they the color of..........copper?  Or bronze??

The curtains were made with loops.........
And of COURSE bagels kind of look like loops!
B'nai yisrael brought soooooooo much to offer with full hearts, they were asked to stop.
(Never the case with bagels.....)

I can't believe it either.
But if Torah connects my students to bagels. (????!!!!!!!????)...........then I say bring on the bagels!
..........and don't forget the cream cheese!

Love my kids!


On Wednesday, February 24th, Kitah Daled wrestled with the question, “Does God know what I am thinking or what I will do?”  Three rabbis presented their ideas about this question.  One rabbi told a midrash about what Moses heard at the burning bush.  According to the midrash, the voice that Moses heard emanating from the bush was his own.  God speaks to us in our own voice.  Another rabbi told the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This rabbi suggested that when people ate from the tree of knowledge, they learned that they have free will.  They can choose to listen to God or not.  And while God knows where we are and what we are doing, God gave us the gift to think for ourselves.  A third rabbi suggested that often when one is making a decision, there are good and bad forces at play in our minds and hearts.  As my grandmother of blessed memory would say, “God is good and the good in us is God.”

For the next few weeks we will focus on the holiday of Purim and on Megillat Esther.  It is indeed ironic that God is not mentioned in the Megillah.

Sunday, February 28, 2016


MY BODY—Grade 1  February 28, 2016

Dear families:
It was wonderful having all 22 smiling faces in class today.  After breakfast, we joined the other students for tefillah, led by Robin and Cantor Ken. They explained the tefillin they were wearing.  Our students are becoming more familiar with the new prayerbook.  Their challenge was to locate the bets ב and shins  שin the prayers.

Today we read a book called MY BODY IS SPECIAL--IT'S JEWISH! about all the Jewish things we do.  We can smell the bisomim box, put tefillin on our head and arm, taste the matzah, plant a seed with our hands, etc.   Some holiday actions are--see the Torah decorated with silver ornaments, taste the apples and honey, hear the shofar, eat the latkes, wear a Purim costume, and smell the fresh round challah.

Each student decorated a hamsa, or hand.  This has long been a symbol in Judaism.  The word means “five.”  There are many interpretations—the hand of G-d, the Hand of Miriam (sister of Moses), etc.  Many Jews believe that the five fingers of the hamsa remind the wearer to use all five senses to praise G-d.  It can be used with the fingers facing up or down

Our Hebrew letter today was  ק  “koof”.  Some words beginning with ק are “keshet” (rainbow, as in the Noah story) , kiddush, and“kof” (monkey).

Our Torah lesson today was about Rebecca.  We began with a discussion about kindness.  Abraham sent his servant Eliezar to find a kind woman from his homeland, who would be a suitable wife for his son Isaac.  She drew water for Eliezar and also for his 10 camels.  In a land with no hotels, she invited him to dine and stay at her family’s home.  She agrees to accompany him to Canaan.  More next week. . . .

Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)

Grade K/Gan Class Update 2/28/16

Hello Gan Class Families!

I hope you all had a relaxing break and are ready for Spring!

Today was our first of many consecutive classes with is FANTASTIC.  We are looking forward to exploring both Purim and Passover before April Break begins.

In today's Torah Story we read about Joseph, Jacob's favorite son.  The students all said it wasn't fair for Jacob to have a favorite and that they thought it was really mean that Jacob's brothers sold him into slavery and then told his father he had died.  In our next stories, we will hear about Jacob's time in Egypt and the important job he has.

There were two new letters to learn today.  Yud makes the sound y- and begins the word yad which is both the Hebrew word for hand and what we call the pointer we use when reading from the Torah.  Koof makes the sound k- and begins the word keshet which means rainbow.

For Celebrations we explored the different places Jews live.  Using a map, we marked all the places that we knew of someone living that was Jewish.  We discovered that there are Jewish people living in all parts of the world.  We learned that Jewish people celebrate the same holidays and read the same words of the Torah. Another thing that we learned is that all Jews can consider Israel to be their home.  Students were surprised to see on the map that Israel was so small compared to the United States! 

Just a few reminders about some upcoming events...

Next week there is a Winter Campfire event for students in Grades K and 1.  Please make sure to sign up in advance to enjoy an afternoon of songs, s'mores and fun!

The annual Purim Carnival will be taking place on Sunday, March 20th from noon until 2:00pm.  There are games, prizes and food to enjoy!

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about the Gan Class.

See you next week!


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Grade 6 - Trop Update

Next class will be Feb. 23 after the vacation week.

The students should know the blessing before the haftarah really well (page 9, tracks 14-15 here)
as well as the blessing after the Haftarah (pages 10-11, tracks 16-21) which we started working on the other day.
If they can know both pages of the blessing afterwards for Feb. 23, that would be ideal.  If they work hard and learn a page or a page and a half well, that will be OK, and they can finish it up the week after.

Thanks, and best wishes--

Cantor Ken

Grades 2, 3, and 4: Who Lives In Israel - Ramah Service Corp Update

This past Tuesday I had a great time working with the second, third, and fourth graders continuing to learn about Israel. Last time, in the spirit of Tu Bishvat, we focused on the environment of Israel. On Tuesday we learned about the different peoples of Israel. With our classes, we participated in interactive activities at different stations learning about the diversity that exists within the Israeli population. We learned about people who live on Kibbutzim, Haredim, Israeli Arabs, Russian immigrants, and Ethiopian Jews. It was so much fun getting to know the students better and getting to know Israel better together! 

Posted by Dani Nurick
Ramah Service Corp Fellow for Temple Israel

Monday, February 8, 2016

Kitah Dalet: Finishing Samson

This Sunday, Kitah Dalet finished our exploration of the Samson story. We started the day with a set of trivia questions on Samson to remind ourselves of the parts of the story the students learned last week (the announcement of Samson's death up to his capture by the Philistines). Students worked in groups to complete this assignment. 

After this, student volunteers performed a skit depicting the final scene of Samson's life: after being broken and captured by the Philistines, Samson is brought out to perform at a celebratory feast; instead, he brings the temple down, killing everyone inside. Students were asked to independently answer questions about the story, assessing whether they thought Samson's actions and his treatment were fair or justified. They were also asked to think about whether Samson was a ruler they would want for their own country. After completion of these questions, we came back together for a group discussion about Samson, and found that opinions differed substantially on Samson's character and the moral justification for his actions and others' actions towards him. It was a great discussion, and I hope to have more like it as the year progresses. 

Grade 5 February 8, 2016 Kitah hey

What a fun and educational morning yesterday for grade 5!

Thank you to the men's club and most especially to Dan Zwelling for explaining the tradition of tefillin.

Each child was able to build and design his/her own pair of tefillin.
Dan explained that the shema prayer was written on a scroll inside each box.
This is an outward symbol of the words, "love G-d with all your heart, strength, and mind.  Bind these words.......upon your arm and place them as a symbol between your eyes.....

We wrap the tefillin straps around our arm, and around our head.
In so doing, we are living those words, and displaying them on our bodies.

I took many photos, and emailed one set to the families while there.  I had hoped to send more, but I had no internet until this morning.  We had lost power with the first storm ......and the power surge was too much for our poor defenseless Internet, tv, and phone.  
           (yayyyyy ,it's all back!)

Earlier in the morning, I introduced the Torah portion.  Mishpatim, which means judgements.
Sam, an avid football fan, asked if he could make a connection to the portion, and talk to the class about the judgements concerning tom Brady and Peyton manning!
 I was excited to see that in this way, Torah remains relevant......even in the case of the Super Bowl in 2016!
Of course I said yes!

: ))

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Goings On in Gimel

It has been a busy month in the Gimel Class!  Students are working hard on their reading and doing a great job!  They use a variety of materials to practice their reading - from reading games, to their text books and supplementary reading packets.

We spent January discussing and exploring the holiday of Tu B'Shevat by focusing on the environment and the importance of trees.  We read a book in class called Gods World which shows how the environment has changed over the years because of people not taking care of it.  Students illustrated and wrote a description of their idea of G-d's World.  We used an app on the iPad called notability to put everyone's work.  Last week students completed activity stations that explored the importance of trees.  Such stations included an iPad station where students watched a movie clip af Honi and the Carob Tree and discussed questions relating to the story.  Other stations included looking at pictures of trees and writing down thoughts, a song station, a poetry station and an art station.

Students used work packets to explore the celebration of Tu B'Shevat and they used index cards to make wall hangings containing the information that they found.  These are hanging up in front of our classroom - feel free to stop by and take a look.  

In Torah Study we have explored the concept of redemption, and studied the Ten Commandments.  This week's parashah, Mishpatim contains 53 laws that the Israelites were given at Mount Sinai.  In class, through a variety of activities, we discussed the laws of lashon harsh (gossiping), treating newcomers with kindness, respecting other people's property and making the effort to return lost property to its rightful owner.

Next week is Rosh Hodesh Adar 1 and I can't wait to begin exploring the holiday of Purim with your children!

Abraham grade 1 alef

                                                                                                     February 7, 2016
Dear families:

It is invigorating being with so many children eager to share and to learn. During breakfast, we discussed being a stranger in a strange land, as Abraham was in Canaan, and as we all were as slaves in Egypt.  We talked about the need for kindness to strangers.   We always enjoy singing and praying together, led by Robin and Cantor Ken.  Morah Margie (grade 2) held the flag for Hatikvah because she is going to Israel tonight.  She received tzedakah from Robin and from one of our alef students to donate during her trip.

Back in class, the students chose the weather word, and we sang “shemesh, shemesh bahutz hayom,” (sunny, sunny outside today).  Looking at the Hebrew words yad (hand), regel (leg), and rosh (head), we sang a favorite“Here’s my yad,”  We enjoy making music together, and we usually close with singing.

Our Hebrew letter this week is ד, “dalet,” the first letter in “dag.”(fish), “degel”(flag), and “d’vash (honey).  Before dividing into our groups, we compared resh, vav, and dalet, noting similarities and differences.  Everyone had a chance to read lines and write dalet.  Then it was time for our review letter packs.  Ariel challenged the class to find previous letters.  Then snack, complete with brachot.

We read and discussed the Torah packet on Abraham.  With additional pictures, we learned about G-d’s command to Abram and Sarai to leave their homeland and move to Canaan.  In the covenant, G-d promised to make his descendants as many as the stars in the sky.  G-d also changed their names to Abraham (father of a nation), and Sarah (princess).  Abraham stood up for the good people in Sodom and Gomorrah, urging G-d not to destroy the cities if there were 50—40—or even just 10 good people there.  However, the only good people were Lot, his daughters, and his wife.  As G-d destroyed the cities, he urged them to flee, not looking back.  Lot’s wife disobeyed, and she became a pillar of salt.  I showed photos of the formation near the Dead Sea which is known as Lot’s Wife.

We also talked about sharing and hospitality in the desert.  Abraham took care of the three strangers, who predicted that Sarah would have a child, though she was about 90 years old.  She laughed.  Later, she had a son Isaac, Yitzhak, which comes from the Hebrew for “she laughed.”  More about Isaac in future weeks.

Our project was a depiction of this covenant scene.  Abraham was made from the shape of a “naal,” a shoe, because he traveled so much.  In the background students made their own idea of the land, with the stars in the sky.

We closed with one of my favorite songs, “Lechi lach” when G-d told Abraham to leave his homeland, “And you shall be a blessing . . .”

There is no Sunday class until February 28.  Happy vacation!

Judy and Cheryl—Esther and Zipporah

Second Grade

Second Graders have been so busy. 

We have been learning the V'Ahvta prayer with Cantor Ken, complete with hand motions.  We have also created a mural to go with it which is hanging by the door in our classroom, I hope that you will stop by and see it.  We have also created a word wall with some of our favorite Hebrew words.

In Hebrew we have completed more than half of the alphabet and most of the vowels.  We have been devoting a lot of class time reviewing the sounds that the vowels make and looking at letters which may be confused with each other.  Reading at home helps to reinforce what is learned in class.  In fact so many of the kids have been reading at home that today we celebrated reaching 90 stickers with cupcakes and the Israeli snack food Bisili.

I am off to the airport soon on my way to Israel.  I am very excited to share some of my adventures with the students when I return after February vacation.  Anne Green will be with the Second Graders on Tuesday February 9th and 23rd and Michelle Nelson will be in on Wednesday the 10th.

Grade 7-Gesher Update Feb. 7, 2016

Parashat Mishpatim includes 53 laws including 20 positive and 33 negative. Isaac Balshevis Singer’s short story, Shrewd Todie and Lyzer the Miser provided a humorous opportunity to look at laws relating to borrowing and stealing. 

Gesher students developed a job description for a Jewish 13 year-old:

Attend minyan and Shabbat services
Practice/Study for Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Learn to put on a tallit and tefillin
Wear a tallit and tefillin during the daily minyan
Be a role model for younger children
Attend religious school
Get an education
Take responsibility for yourself
Find your place in Jewish life and the Jewish world
Give Tzedakah
Help your community
Be a mensch

Then we looked at Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s job description for a Prophet.  After discussing the various responsibilities, students selected three to which they would aspire.  The following is a composite of their selections:

  • Prophets are sensitive to evil:  They notice people being hurt when others can walk by and not notice.
  • Prophets know that small things are important:  They notice details and worry about “unimportant people—not just the great and powerful.”
  • Prophets seek the highest good: They will settle for nothing less.
  • Prophets are “one octave too high”: They often say things that are beyond our full understanding and comfort.
  • Prophets smash idols:  They literally smash idols—and they shatter many things that give us comfort—but that are less than God wants from us.
  • The Prophets often say, “Few are guilty but all are responsible.” For them, “Not my fault” doesn’t work.
  • Prophets are often lonely and unhappy: They are often not liked. They are often unpleasant people because they to not give in to compromise.

Grade K - Gan Class Update 2-7-16

During today's class we took some time to revisit our Torah Stories.  The Gan Class has been so busy with family programming and preparation for Kabbalat Torah that we haven't enjoyed a new Torah story since December. 

We refreshed our memories and retold the stories of Creation, Adam & Eve and Noah's Ark.  We remembered lots of great details about these stories.  We reminded ourselves about the story of Abraham and how he was nice to strangers and they told him that his wife was going to have a baby who was named Isaac and then how Isaac's wife was chosen because she was nice to people and animals.  

Today we read two new stories.  The first was about Isaac's two sons, Jacob and Esau.  Esau was the oldest and was supposed to get the birthright and the second blessing.  Jacob tricked his brother Esau and Jacob got them both instead.  In our second story, Jacob was the one that got tricked.  He loved Rachel but Rachel's father tricked Jacob into marrying Leah first.  Jacob married both Rachel and Leah and he had 13 children.  

At Teffilot today, it was so exciting to see the Gan Class students follow along in the new Siddurim.  With modeling, they were able to find the right page and enjoy the illustrations that accompany the prayers.

During Aleph Bet today, I was able to work with each student individually and am thrilled to report that everyone has improved their letter recognition since December.  Aiyn and aleph are still very tricky as they are the letters that have no sounds on their own.  We will continue to practice in class as well as learn new letters.

Due to February Vacation we will not meet again until February 28th.  Have a great break!

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about the Gan Class.



Friday, February 5, 2016

Grade 4/Kitah Dalet - February Homework and Kedusha

Grade 4/Kitah Dalet Parents:

Below you will find the
-homework calendar for February
-the Kedusha for Shabbat Shacharit
-the Kedusha for Shabbat Shacharit (transliterated)

Grade 4/Kitah Dalet Update - Feeling Proud

Dear Kitah Dalet/Grade 4 Parents:

I am very proud of your kids!  As a whole, they have been great in class with me.  Working hard, focusing, collaborating with each other.  And as a class we have completed 2/3 of Ashrei.  This week the students got a few prayer, Kedusha, as well as a new HW calendar.  They cleaned out their binders and are ready for our next challenge.  Kedusha is long.  We will take it slow.  

Our m&m jar is now full so this week (either Tuesday or Wednesday) we'll have ice cream and m&ms.

I cannot stress the importance of your children reading for a few minutes nightly - some review and 3-5 new words.  It reinforces everything they are learning and will make your kids feel most confident in class.  With the QR codes set up, Google Voice and homework calendar, I am spending most of class time working with the class as a whole - introducing new words.  Please have you child use the google voice, it will allow me to hear their successes and work with them on their trouble spots.



Grades 5, 6, 7 - Update on Israel Programs from Prozdor

This year Prozdor educators have been teaching the 5th, 6th, and 7th graders at TI Natick about the history of Israel and the Jewish people’s connection to the land. We started in the fall by examining biblical connections to the land and tracked the early history of the Israelites from Abraham to King David. This past Tuesday, we took a look at Judaism before and after the destruction of the Second Temple. We talked about the story of the Zealots at Masada and began to imagine a Judaism that could live after the Temple was destroyed. The students worked on a case study answering the question, “How do we make sure that Judaism can survive in the face of the coming exile and diaspora?” In the coming months, we look forward to taking a look at how the people survived without a land and the work it took to finally return home. 


Noah Steinhart
Prozdor Educator

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Grade 4--Kitah Daled Update (Feb. 3)

Does God Care Which Team Wins the World Series or the Super Bowl?  What a timely question!  Students worked together to develop reasons why God does and does not care about which team wins the Super Bowl.  They thought about ideas from three rabbis and ultimately, they decided that God cares about playing fairly and being good people.  God cares about values, God wants us to learn to care about important things, to be the best that we can be and to be a gracious winner and a good looser.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Grade 5. Kitah hey. February 1, 2016

Hi all!

Wow, what an amazing day we had yesterday!
I came home all smiles.........I hope my students did too.......?!?

We began our day with a breakfast of square cereal (Chex), and a short discussion of the Torah portion, yitro. Yitro was Moses father-in-law.  In this portion, the Torah was revealed to the children of israel at mount Sinai.  Perhaps you  heard about our discussions of  redemption and revelation leading up to this.

This was followed by tefillot and songs with Robin and cantor Ken.
I love our tefillot time.  
We are bonding as a school community.   
Your children are exposed to this very important piece of our Judaism. 
Even when they are old, they will remember simply because they have been exposed.  
I am speaking from experience.  
What we don't necessarily appreciate when we are very young, we come to value, love and cherish later on in years.

Back in the classroom, we asked what is Jewish about squares..... We sang the song, ופרצת״".
In our Torah, we are told the children of israel will be spread out to all the corners of the world.......
         ימה וקדמה צפונה ונגבע  (north south east west...)
Students are always surprised that there are Jewish people everywhere!
During the shema prayer, the fringes of the tallit are held......all four corners.  

We worked on reading and chanting parts of the Torah 

My grandson owned the book series, "I survived".
I borrowed the book from him and brought in "I Survived the Nazi invasion".
I was amazed at how much our children knew about the holocaust.  It was not even in the curriculum yet.....
The class was totally silent as I began to read.
They didn't want me to stop.  You could hear a pin drop!

During our midweek classes, we completed the movie, "the lorax".
We shared our thoughts and messages within the movie.

"Since the industrial revolution, 50% of our forests are gone.  We cannot continue this way. 
This is not sustainable."


Kitah Vav 1/31: Samson

This week, the 6th graders had a sub, Jonathan Shecter, with whom they focused on the story of Samson. They read portions of the original text aloud (Judges 13 – 16), and discussed language and plot along the way to ensure understanding. They then used the story to delve deeper into two topics: 1) Nazirites, and their role and responsibilities in ancient Jewish life, and 2) the character of Delilah, who plays a confusing role in the Hebrew Bible, and one that is difficult to interpret. The students were asked to write a monologue from Delilah’s point of view, seeking to understand (without changing the fact of the story) why she might have done what she did. It was up to the students whether they wished to make her character sympathetic or not. I heard great things from Jonathan about the students’ participation and comprehension, and look forward to discussing their experience with Samson when I next see them.

Kitah Dalet 1/31: Samson

This week, the 4th graders had a sub, Jonathan Shecter, with whom they focused on the story of Samson. The class was distributed a play that comprised many of the main events of the Samson story, from the angel’s announcement of Samson’s birth through his capture by the Philistines, and his relationship with and betrayal by Delilah. The 4th grade read the play aloud in three sections. After each section, they were asked to fill out a worksheet that checked their comprehension and asked them to make inferences about some of the concepts that had been introduced in the story. The first worksheet focused on Nazirites, and their roles and responsibilities in ancient Israel; the second focused on the character of Samson, and asked them to think about how he was both a different and a similar kind of prophet from the ones we have discussed so far in class; and the third asked them to consider the secret that Samson told Delilah, why he might have told her, and how this story could connect to their own lives and the secrets they choose to keep and tell. Jonathan has told me that the 4th grade made it through the material admirably, and I am excited to discuss what they learned when I next meet with them on 2/7.

Grade K - Gan Class Update 1-31-16

Hello Gan Class Families!

It was so lovely to spend this past Shabbat with you all.  The kids did a great job with their songs and participating in the service.  I hope you all enjoyed the day and the celebration of a special milestone.

In class on Sunday we spent the day reviewing our Aleph Bet letters.  With so much of our focus on preparing for Kabbalat Torah and enjoying family programming during January, it was a great opportunity to practice writing, learn new vocabulary and play fun games with friends.  We specifically focused on our newest letters, mem, ayin and aleph.  Students are working hard to remember that aleph and ayin have no sounds on their own.

The Gan class students were so excited to use the new Siddurim during Teffilot.  They followed along with the pages and looked at all the pictures when they weren't too busy dancing to the prayers and songs. We look forward to using the Siddurim every week!

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about the Gan Class.


Grade 7--Gesher Update

You may be wondering, what’s going on in Gesher?

Our Jewish Life Cycle study has been enriched by special sessions with Robin Kahn, who taught about Jewish education, Cantor Ken Richmond, who engaged the students in a learning session about Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and Aaron Brandt who discussed Jewish life on campus.  These events were very much connected since Jewish education leads to Bar/Bat Mitzvah, which marks Jewish adulthood within the synagogue community. Students recognized that as Jewish adults, they have responsibilities including being counted in the minyan, ritual honors and making Jewish decisions.  Students began to realize that in the future, it will be their responsibility to make choices about how they will express their Jewish identities.

We continue to study the weekly Torah portion and to develop the community Torah study questions for the other classes and to select a cereal with a connection to the parasha.  We are meeting the Prophets with an overview of the history and the qualifications for a prophet and we have learned about some texts in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Sages).  Recently, we have used those texts as a vehicle for experimenting with the i-movie app on the i-pads.  Students are excited to create i-movie trailers depicting their interpretations of their selected teaching from Pirkei Avot.

Gesher students enjoy Sunday mornings beginning in the religious school classrooms assisting students with breakfast and community Torah study and ending with the coveted i-pads.