Thursday, September 29, 2016

Grade 5- Diana's Update

Dear Kitah Hey families,

This week in Hebrew, we have been working more on learning the Ein Kamocha prayer. The kids have been putting in so much effort and they sound great!

On Wednesday, the fifth graders were given the opportunity to chant the prayer in the sanctuary. As the ark is opened at the end of the Ein Kamocha, students had the chance to come up to the bimah to open and close the ark themselves. Because it is considered a great honor to be able to participate in this job, many students were eager to volunteer! It was exciting to watch the students show such interest in learning more about the Torah Service.

Shana Tova,

Grade 6 - Trop Update

Great to see the kids on Tuesday & Wednesday and to meet with some parents/grandparents as well!  
A reminder that the next Tuesday class is on November 1 due to all the holidays; the Wednesday class will meet each week except for Yom Kippur.  Classes going forward are 5:30-6:00.

During October, I'll email the assignments to the whole class, and ask the Tuesday kids to do their best to keep up, with the understanding that the Wednesday kids may temporarily get a little ahead.  
Shana tova-- wishing you a sweet, healthy, happy new year!  Below is the assignment--
Cantor Ken

1) Learn/Review trope families 1-3, tracks 1-3 on the CD/website and pages 3-4 in the packet.  Please make flashcards for these three trope families; the flashcard should have ONLY the symbol on one side of the card, and the name (in Hebrew and/or English letters) on the other side.  The goal is to be able to see the symbol, know the name, and sing the melody, so as later to be able to apply these melodies to the words of Torah readings.  You should now have 10 flashcards: mercha, tipcha, munach, etnachta from the 1st family, sof pasuk from the 2nd family (the others are repeats), and the new ones-- kadma, mapach, pashta, katon, and yetiv from the 3rd family. 
Here is a picture of the trope from family 3 (note that this image calls the two dots above the word "Zakef Katon", while I call this trope "Katon.". 
     To distinguish between Kadma and Pashta, which look the same, draw a box on your flashcards, so that you can put Kadma above the middle of the box, and pashta above the left of the box.  Same thing for Mapach and Yetiv; draw a box so that you can put Mapach under the middle, and Yetiv below and to the right. This indicates the placement of each trope over or under a Hebrew word.
Inline image 1
Inline image 4
2) Please bring your binder or folder with the packet every Tuesday or Wednesday, and also bring your highlighters (blue, green, yellow, pink, orange, and purple) each time.

3) Next time we'll review trope families 1-3 (which will get you through about 2/3 of any Torah portion), and go on to families 4-5.  

If you get stuck or have questions, please call 508-650-3521, ext. 107, or email  Email is generally the quickest way to reach me.

Here is the initial letter with info on the class and some important dates to save.

Here are trope images of the first two trope families in case they are helpful: 
Inline image 2
Inline image 3

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Grade 3 - Gimel Happenings

It's been an amazing week in the Gimel Class!  Students are working very hard on reviewing their letters, vowels and decoding skills!  This past Sunday, in morning meeting, we reviewed greeting each other in Hebrew (boker Tov).  Students also went over some of the days of the week, the Hebrew date, different schedule words and the season.  Of course our counting game is always a highlight!

This Sunday we enjoyed Tefillah with the 4th and 5th graders.  This was led by 4th grade teacher, Jeremy Arcus-Goldberg, who went over some of the weekday morning blessings and prayers.

In Hebrew this week we did 3, 10 minute rotation stations:  Hebrew Reading, Hebrew Reading Games and Letter Review.  This will be done on a regular basis on Sundays.  This week students will receive orange binders in which they will store their Hebrew Reading packets and prayers (which they will start working on next month).  For now binders will be kept at school.  After we begin to study the prayers, students will be asked to review at home what we do in class.  More details to follow in a later update.

In our Holiday block we continued our study of the three main themes of Rosh Hashanah and how we can use these to make 5777 an even better year.  In groups students were given examples of Tefillah, Teshuvah and Tzedakah and as a group decided which category their examples fit into. On the weekdays students used tissue paper decoupage to make beautiful apple/honey dishes to be used at their holiday tables.  Other Rosh Hashanah activities included a High Holiday 4 in a row game and a Shofar puzzle game reviewing some of the things they learned/knew about Rosh Hashanah.

Wishing everyone a Shanah Tovah U Metukah!

Elana and Marc

Grade 2 - Sunday in Kitah Bet

It was another busy Sunday in Kitah Bet.  The children began their morning with tefillah (prayers) in the sanctuary together with the kindergarten and first grade.  Cantor Ken reviewed a number of the morning prayers with the students. We sang some songs for Rosh Hashannah and heard the shofar.

Back in the classroom, the children enjoyed an ice breaker game together.  Hamorah Margie and I learned more about some of the interests and skills of our students as well as some things that we did not know about each other (despite the fact that we have been friends since our own days in kindergarten at Countryside Elementary school in Newton).  The children too seemed to enjoy learning new facts about each other.

During Hebrew with Hamorah Margie, the children used cards to make the words Shabbat and "bat" (daughter) as well as many nonsense words.  They also began writing the letters shin, tav and bet. 
Finally, they played "Simon Says" in Hebrew as a way to be familiar with hearing Hebrew and learning different body parts.

In our holiday session, we discussed some facts about the shofar and the concept of teshuvah that is an integral part of the high holiday season. The children learned that doing teshuvah requires a number of steps including admitting our mistakes, saying we're sorry, trying to make amends, and trying not to repeat the same mistake in the coming year. The sounds of the shofar remind us to wake up and to try and be better in the new year. Each child had a chance to try blowing my shofar.  There are a number of expert future shofar blowers in kitah bet! The children also made Rosh Hashanah cards for various family members and friends. 

We concluded our morning together with a fun game of "shin shaker" and wished each other a shana tovah.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!
Hamorah Joanne (and Hamorah Margie)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Grade 6 Update 9.26 (Rav Elana)

Dear Kitah Vav-Gr.6 Parents,

This past week we have been focused on blessings—the ones we say or sing when we perform a mitzvah.  We understand mitzvah  as something that we are commanded to do by the Torah or the rabbis who shaped Jewish life after the fall of the second Temple in 70CE. Being aware of the mitzvot, the blessings and the activities they bless, is a path toward gratitude for all that we have.  We will continue studying brachot with Birchot HaShahar and other blessings that we say to warm the spirit before the Call to Prayer in the morning Shaharit prayer service. 

Your student now has several prayer sheets, placed in plastic sleeves.  Last week each was given The Tallit Blessing and Blessing for various mitzvot.  Yesterday each was given Sukkot blessings and the blessing before dipping apples in honey on Rosh HaShanah.  My only homework assignment* is to call my Google Voice number: 617-410-8145 and read the blessings with good pronunciation and fluency.  They should not call until they are sure the blessing is fluent and comfortable to read.

*The only other written homework will happen if a student does not complete a  lesson that was done in class and completed by the majority of students. This actually happened in class yesterday.  A few students did not complete written responses to a work sheet on ideas for a classroom brit.

On Sunday we did some Torah study from The Holiness Code (Parashat Kedoshim), Leviticus 19:12-19, to see that Torah gives us instructions (counted as commandments in the 613 mitzvot of Torah) about how we treat others.  This was a lead-in to the students thinking about a classroom brit, or agreement, and then writing them down under some prompts on a brit worksheet. As a class we will generate our own mitzvot for living in a respectful classroom community.
We had our first Gesher-Kitah Vav sanctuary service.  This service happens three times a month; the fourth sanctuary service is with the entire school community. With Gesher we are exploring Birchot HaShahar (Morning Blessings), and the blessings coming before and after the morning blessings.  On three Sundays in November the whole religious school is participating in a wonderful quilt/wall-hanging art project focused on the Morning Blessings and the prayers that come before and after it.  Each class is responsible for creating a patch artistically expressing the prayers it has been assigned.  Kitah Vav will create patches for the "Blessing before Torah Study", Mah Tovu, and Modeh Ani.  Stay tuned for more details from Robin about this school-wide project.

I hope that I will get to meet many of you on Tuesday or Wednesday at 5:30pm in Room 11, when parents are invited to meet with me, Cantor Ken, and our Ed. Director, Robin.  You will hear more about the Grade 6/Kitah Vav curriculum.  There will be time to ask questions and clarify any confusion.

Wishing all a sweet, healthy new year of growth, fulfillment, and peace.

Rav Elana

Grade 4 Update 9.26

Hello Kitah Dalet/Grade 4 Parents, 

I have met many of you already, but for those who I have not had the pleasure to meet yet let me introduce myself. My name is Sarah Korostoff and I am one of the 4th grade teachers this year! We have a busy year ahead of us and as I have given your students much information already, I wanted to update all the parents on what is going on in class! 

A little about me! Before I joined your temple community, I was a youth director and 3rd-5th grade special education teacher at my synagogue back home in New Jersey. Yes, all of your kids have already asked: I am a Yankees and Jets fan! They have sworn to change that by the end of the year. When I am not teaching, I am a speech-language pathologist in Boston, working primarily with kids under the age of 3. 

In class the past two weeks we have worked to create a B'rit, or a contract, of expected behaviors of the 4th graders. All of the ideas came from your students! I was blown away by their ideas for a successful year. They developed the acronym SHALOM - 

We discussed what all of these words really look like, sound like and feel like in a classroom setting. This week they will receive this in writing and will be asked to sign it. Again, your amazing children gave all the ideas for this contract! Everyone will be held accountable for following this b'rit and behaving in ways that align with our 4th grade values.

Homework Binders: 
On Sunday, your students were sent home with a green homework binder. If your child was absent or didn't receive one, not to worry! They will get theirs when they come to school this week.

In the front of the binder is a calendar. This is their homework calendar, which will be given on the first day of the month. Students will have 10 minutes of homework every night. The homework will be practicing reading prayers that we are learning about in class. Each night your child does his/her homework, there is a spot for you to sign or initial that they have completed it. I have already had students ask me "is it okay if I don't do my homework because of ____?" or they have told me how busy they already are with so many extracurricular activities. I told them that I am excited for their many responsibilities, however Hebrew school is also one of them. If they find time for sports/dance/scouts/etc., then I would hope they can find time for 10 minutes of Hebrew school homework a night. I hope to see everyone become a stronger reader by the end of the year. This will only happen if there is consistent practice at home! 

Each night on the calendar you will see the letter "n" or "r" followed by a number. N stands for a new line of a prayer. It is my goal that the line will never truly be "new" because we would have reviewed it in class beforehand. R stands for reviewing lines that they have previously mastered. Mastering a line means that students can read the line fluently with little to no errors. I can't stress this enough: I do not care about speed!!! Everyone reads English at various speeds so I understand the same is to be expected of reading Hebrew. I am more concerned about their accuracy and understanding the meaning of the prayers. 

These homework binders will be used in class. It is important that your child brings the binder to Hebrew school every time we have class. There will not be extra binders in class. 

QR Code:  
Like I said, my goal is that we will review all prayers before students are given homework on it. If by some chance that can't happen, I have provided extra resources to help out! This is a bit complicated at first, but I promise it'll be great once you try it out! 
    1) Your child will need to use a device to download a free "qr reader." Any device is fine (samsung, android, apple, etc.). Any free QR reader app is fine, I have no preference. 
    2) On your child's prayer sheets you will see a black QR code to the side of a line. Open the QR reader and scan the black QR code. This will automatically bring up an audio file of Cantor Ken singing the line of the prayer. 

Your child can use this recording to hear correct pronunciation of words, check the vowels, or even help with the tune. Using these codes are encouraged! If there are questions about this, please let me know! 

Google Voice: 
In addition to practicing reading Hebrew to their parents, the students will have the opportunity to practice reading Hebrew to me! In an attempt to save time, I have set up a google voice number. This is a number that goes straight to a voicemail, and your child can call this number and leave a recording of themselves reading the assigned lines. I will then listen to these recordings, note any errors and provide feedback to them in class the next time I see them. This number is: (508) 318-8080

Snack - The kids will always be given a snack break! We will not have extra snacks in the classroom and sharing is not allowed due to allergies. Please make sure to pack a snack for your child. 

Breaks - As a class we will be taking brain-breaks so that the kids are not overworked.  

Toys - In class this week we will be making stress balls! I know many of the students enjoy having a fidget toy to help them learn. Once these are made they will live in the classroom. I ask that your son/daughter not bring extra toys to class. We have such a short amount of time together and having extra distractions makes it more difficult for the kids to focus. 

Absences - If your child is going to be absent, please let me know or let Robin know so we are not waiting for them. They are still responsible for homework even on days that they have missed. 

I know this was a long e-mail, but thank you for sticking with it! I look forward to getting to know you and your child even more as the year goes on! Should an issue arise, do not hesitate to contact me. 


Sarah Korostoff

Grade 6 Trope Update from Ken

Hi Grade 6 Families

Great start to trope class yesterday and the day before!

1) You can view below the letter that I sent home with the class today.  Please read it, and mark down important dates for the coming year on your calendars!  

2) I gave the kids CDs of the blessings and trope, and you can also find the CD online here.   Please use the CD or that link to listen to the trope and blessings as per the assignment below (and future assignments). The Bar/Bat Mitzvah packet went home and should be brought to class, but can also be found online here.

3) The first assignment will be to master trope families 1-2, and get acquainted with family 3, on tracks 1-3 on the CD/website and pages 3-4 in the packet.  Please make flashcards for the first family.  (The flashcard should have ONLY the symbol on one side of the card, and the name (in Hebrew or English letters) on the back side).  The goal is to be able to see the symbol, know the name, and sing the melody.  We went over the first family together in class and will review and go on to the 2nd and 3rd family next week.  For next week you should have flashcards for the trope on page 3mercha, tipcha, munach, etnachta, and sof pasuk. You can always listen ahead to the next track once you've mastered the ones we've been working on.

4) I'm emailing this both to parents and to 6th graders (the addresses I have). If there are any additional addresses in your family that you would like me to include in future emails, please let me know.

5) Please bring your binder or folder with the packet every Tuesday, and also bring your highlighters (blue, green, yellow, pink, orange, and purple) every Tuesday.

If you get stuck or have any questions, please call 508-650-3521, ext. 107, or email

Thanks, and looking forward to a great year! 

Cantor Ken

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Grade 1 - Yom Kippur and Jonah

     September 25, 2016

Today we began with tefillah with the kindergarten and grade 2.  Then I showed pictures of the various animals whose horns can be used to make a shofar, and those that can’t, like a bull (because of the golden calf.)

Then we talked about Yom Kippur, which comes at the end of the Ten Days of Awe:  making amends for past misdeeds, the synagogue in white, fasting.  We discussed starting over after missing the mark.  As part of this effort, we signed a poster on the classroom guidelines we discussed at the last session.

STORY:  We read about Jonah and the big fish (the Bible does not call it a "whale"). We don’t actually know what kind of creature it was. This story, which is read the afternoon of Yom Kippur, concerns Jonah's efforts to escape G-d's will, and his eventual understanding that G-d cares for everyone, not just Jews. Jonah cannot run away from G-d.  G-d gave Jonah and Nineveh a second chance.

G-d told Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh of their impending doom if they did not repent.  Afraid, Jonah took a boat in the opposite direction.  After G-d made a storm, the sailors threw Jonah overboard, and he was swallowed by a big fish.  After three days in the belly of the fish, Jonah decided to follow G-d's instructions.  Because the people repented, G-d did not destroy the city. We sang the songs “Jonah.” And “where is Jonah?”
CRAFT:  We made Jonah and the big fish.  Look inside the origami fish to find Jonah.  Then we had time for puzzle pages—word pages and the hidden picture.  During break, the children read or played learning games.

HEBREW: Our letter today is ת “tav.”  Some ת words are Torah, tefillin, tapuach (apple)  Each week, we also review the previous letters.  Thank you for reviewing each week with the reinforcement page I send home.  At the end of class, each child shakes hand with me with the mnemonic of the week, like “Tav has a toe,” and gets a sticker.


Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)

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 that 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 G-d.

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!

Michelle Nelson

Grade 7 Update

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…