Sunday, April 30, 2017

ALEF--Israel introduction April 30, 2017

Dear families:

Great to see the children after our April vacation!  We talked about counting the Omer from the second day of Pesach until Shavuot.  Today, April 30, is day 19 of the count; we colored in the days on our class counter.

Cheryl led the tefillah for gan and alef in our classroom, since the church was using our sanctuary due to a flood in theirs.

Today we learned about Israel, for Israel Independence Day.  We looked at a map of Israel and found it on a world map.  Israel is about the size of Massachusetts.  We saw pictures of sites in Israel to reinforce students’ knowledge.  Each student got a mini Israel flag.

STORY: We read Sammy Spider’s First Trip to Israel.  Sammy Spider is in trouble!  He’s a stowaway—trapped inside Josh Shapiro’s toy airplane on a trip to Israel.  As they explore Israel, Sammy and Josh learn that “shalom” means hello, goodbye, and peace.  From the beaches of Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea, to Jerusalem, the Negev desert, and a kibbutz, we discover the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of Israel with Sammy.

CRAFT:  Students worked on a packet of Israel puzzles and art, such as “me at the western wall,” a word search, writing a note to put into a crack in the kotel (western wall), bringing things home in your suitcase from Israel, and others.  Students solved a puzzle with the word “Yisrael” in Hebrew hidden in the window.

 HEBREW:  We learned the sound “eh,” represented by three dots under a letter, as in degel (flag) and  shemesh (sun).  Our Hebrew letter was פ pay, which is the first letter in Purim, Pesach, “parah” (cow,)  and “peel” (elephant).

BIBLE:  We read the pamphlet on David and Goliath.  David was confident that he could defeat the giant because he trusted in God.  We talked about invisible things helping us like love of parents, trust in God, lucky items, etc.  One student pointed out that David was small, but usually the smaller person is successful.  We sang and did the motions for David Melech Yisrael.

I hope to see you at the Synaplex on Saturday morning.

Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)

Grade K - Gan Class Update 4-30-17

Hello Gan Class Families!

I hope you had a lovely Passover and a restful April break! 

Spring has spring and as is always the case, our year together is quickly coming to a close.  It is crazy to think about how much the Gan Class students have grown over the year.  Today's class really highlighted that for me.

We started with Tefilah with the Aleph Class.  Because we were in the classroom today, students did not have their own individual books.  Despite this, I was amazed at all of the prayers the students know by heart. Students were able to share the order of the prayers in the service and the meaning of many of them as well.

Our summaries of our Torah stories each week are gaining more detail and it is great to see more students eager to share something they know about each story.  Today we illustrated our newest story where Abraham and Sarah have a child named Isaac even though they think they are too old to have children.  Next week we will learn more about Isaac.

There are only a few new letters to learn and this week the letters were gimel and pay.  Gimel makes the sound g- and begins the word glidah which mean ice cream.  Pay makes the sound p- and begins the word parpar which means butterfly.  We took time today to illustrate our vocabulary words.  Student were able to review all of our letters and sounds and had an opportunity to play Around the World, racing against each other to identify the sounds that each of the letters makes.

This week we will celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut.  Students compared this celebration to July 4th and were surprised to hear that Israel is a very young country.  Some of our Gan Class students were very knowledgeable about how the United States came to be and were curious if Israel was formed the same way.  During our discussion, students gained an understanding that Israel is a very special place for a lot of different people and it wasn't until 1948 that it could be decided who should get to live there. Each student took home an Israeli flag today that they can use to celebrate Israel's birthday this week.

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

See you next week!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Fun with Food!

We began our elective program last week (finally no snow!) and it was great!

Students met in their Hevruta groups to study the first sentence of the text "Ha Lachma Anya" (This is the bread of slavery...) from the Passover Haggadah.  Everyone shared some very interesting insights as to why Matzah is called the bread of slavery.  Some examples included the fact that Matzah is plain and has no taste and this connects to the kind of lives the Israelites led as slaves. Someone else also suggested that because the matzah was baked quickly this connected to slavery because perhaps the slaves didn't have enough free time to cook and enjoy a good meal.

In our food elective students had fun sampling different types of food, both kosher for Passover and hametz.  The Crispeo cereal for Passover was not popular while everyone enjoyed the chocolate and cookies, both pesadik and hametz!  After tasting cereal, chocolate, crackers and cookies, students used one adjective to describe the taste and discussed which foods they considered to be a food of freedom and which they considered to be a food of slavery.  The chocolate and cookies definitely represented freedom in the eyes of most people!

As a group we took a vote on which foods were slavery and which were freedom.  In the second part of the afternoon students tasted maror (bitter herb) - a horseradish root, red and white horseradish and romaine lettuce.  They then studied a short text from the Haggadah about maror and identified words in the text that showed that maror was a food of slavery and injustice.

Next week we look forward to making matzah ball soup, and students will also start working on a special project to bring to their family seders.


Kitah Hey- Diana's Update

Shalom Kitah Hey families!

The fifth graders have been having a wonderful few weeks of class. Last week, we celebrated Purim in our class, discussed the Purim story and had a discussion about the motivations behind certain characters in the story. During Hebrew, we played a huge game of jeopardy where students created their own teams and competed with their classmates to say the most Hebrew words correctly for the most points. The students absolutely loved the fun competition and requested we play again soon.

This past week was the kick-off of our new elective program at TI. For the next two weeks, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, students will be participating in a small group havruta study of the Ha Lachma Anya text, recited at during the Passover Seder. After this, they will go to their electives for one hour to apply what they learned in their havruta sessions to art, Legos, cooking, or technology. 

In our havruta session this past Tuesday and Wednesday, we discussed the idea of matzah as "the bread of slavery" as well as the idea of matzah as "the bread of freedom". The students took a look at several famous rabbis' interpretations and explained the thoughts in our own words. Several of the students I was working with explained that matzah connects to slavery in that matzah is low and flat just like the social class of the Israelites during the Passover story. The Israelites had no power and worked all day in the dirt. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Gesher is amazing!  Imagine seeing the stones that made up the breastplate of the Kohayn haGadol!  And then Rabbi Liben came in to wish us a ‘happy Passover’ and having learned that the prophet Elijah will herald the coming of the messiah, we had the opportunity to ask him about what the messiah is.

Our study of Passover ventured into the four children as we looked at the traditional four children; one wise, one wicked, one simple and one who does not know how to ask and then some of the personality types described by the rabbis in Pirkei Avot: the funnel, the sponge, the sieve and the sifter or the rabbis’ questions: Who is wise?  Who is mighty? Who is rich?  Who is worthy of honor? And finally, a modern collection of four children from the American Jewish World Service Haggadah: the activist child, the skeptical child, the indifferent child and the uninformed child who does not know how to ask. Our study of the rabbi’s preoccupation with four temperaments (Pirkei Avot 5: 10-14) gave us new insights into the rasha (wicked child) as each of their discussions included a personality type labeled rasha; a person who is quick to anger and slow to appease, a person who neither wants to give tzedakah nor wants others to give, a person who neither learns Torah nor engages in mitzvot, and a person who believes that what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine.

We learned about anti-Semitism from a guest facilitator from the ADL and examined our possibilities for responses when confronted with anti-Semitic behaviors with their GOAL approach: goals, range of options, allies and likely outcomes. She ended the program with a thought provoking expression attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984),
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Following the ADL program, we made and sampled three different kinds of charoset: New England charoset, California charoset and Persian charoset.

Please remember that Prozdor is hosting an open house on Sunday, April 30 from 10:00-12:00 at Hebrew College (160 Herrick Road, Newton).  Kindly inform us about your plans for attendance so that we can plan accordingly.

Best wishes for wonderful remaining days of Passover and a fantastic spring break.
Hag Sameach!

HaMorah Margalit (aka Gretchen Marks Brandt)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Grade K - Gan Class Update 4-9-17

Hello Gan Class Families!

It was great to see so many of you at the Family Friday Dinner and Kabbalat Shabbat service!

This week, our class was focused on Passover activities.  The day started with a whole school Tefilah.  The Bet Class(2nd grade) led the service just like they did for Kabbalat Siddur last week!  After, Cantor Ken helped us to practice some of the songs we will hear at the Seder tonight.  

In our classroom we read the story of Passover and heard about how Moses saved all the Jews from slavery.  We constructed a place mat to remind us of the order of the seder.  We enjoyed some chocolate covered matzah while reading a story about a girl who is sick of matzah until her grandfather makes matzah brei.  We decorated an akifomen holder which will hopefully keep the crumbs to a minimum and enjoyed some original poems Ann has written about the holiday.
Image result for a sweet passover
All students were sent home with a 4 Questions booklet so that they can practice and a bag of beads as well as the instructions for a project that will help students learn to count the Omer.  Each day they will add another bead to a sting to count the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot.

Our next class will be on April 30th.  I hope you enjoy a wonderful Passover and April Vacation.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Alef--Godly Play Nachshon, April 9, 2017

Dear families:

A wonderful few days for the alef class.  First Friday night for services and Chinese dinner.  Students led the congregation in the chorus of Leha Dodi.  With 7 of the 12 students in attendance, they won the prize for the greatest percent of class participation.  Robin will give us our prize after Pesach.  An added bonus for me was the chance to sit at dinner with Rabbi Shira Shazeer, an important member of the Godly Play program and the author of the Nachshon I presented today (see below). She gave me several pointers.

Today, we were involved in many activities.  First we took part in tefillah; Cantor Ken reviewed  Pesach blessings and songs.  This fit well with our CRAFT for the day—an illustrated book of the Four Questions.

Each child took home a chart to count the Omer, the 49 days between the second day of Pesach and Shavuot.  Start crossing out one day at a time on Wednesday, April 12.

Many thanks to the food elective students who provided us with chocolate covered matzah as part of our snack.

HEBREW: Our lesson this week began with the vowel “o”--as in shalom, shofar, menorah, Torah, nerot (candles).  It can be represented by a “vav” with a dot over it, or by any letter with the dot to the left of the top.
Students also studied ט“tet”--the first letter in tallit, Tu B’Shevat, and the Hebrew version of telephone.

GODLY PLAY: we did another story in the holiday series.  The children of Israel left Egypt, but they still felt like slaves.  When Pharaoh’s army pursued them into the desert, they panicked.  Moses raised his hands, but the Sea of Reeds did not part. Afraid to step into the water, the tribes bickered about who should be the first to step into the water. Finally, Nachshon of the tribe of Judah stepped in.  After Nachshon’s show of faith in G-d, the waters parted'

The students so enjoy watching the story acted out with wooden figures, felt scenery, and “wondering” questions. See the pictures below.

We closed with Ann Green’s Pesach parody to the tune of the Dreidel Song

Hag sameach. There is no school the next two Sundays.  See you on April 30.

Judy and Cheryl (Esther andTzipporah)

Kitah Hey- Diana's Update

Shalom Kitah Hey families,

Today was a busy day in the religious school!
We started class in the sanctuary with tefilah led by Cantor Ken. With Pesach around the corner, we belted out old and new Passover tunes to usher in the holiday.

During class, we had a very thought-provoking discussion in comparing the Passover Seder to the 4th of July celebration. We first took a look at a simplified version of the Declaration of Independence to refresh our memories on the Revolutionary War. Then, students engaged in critical thinking to respond to a packet of questions:

1.  In the Haggadah, it says, "We were slaves in the land of Egypt and now we are free". Please explain this. How does it relate to the Declaration of Independence? Why was the Declaration of Independence written?

2.  What are some of the symbols of freedom for Passover? What are some of the symbols of freedom for the 4th of July?

3.  Which form of celebration does a better job of transmitting, from one generation to the next, the events that led to freedom? Why?

4. Imagine the Israelites wrote a "Declaration of Independence" to the Pharaoh. What would it say?

5. What do you think creates a more ideal society? Rights like those mentioned in the Declaration of Independence? Or responsibilities like those listed in the Ten Commandments?

6.  Think about the foods represented on the Passover Seder plate. If you could add one more food to the Seder plate to symbolize our history (Jewish or American), what would it be and why would you put it there?

In response to question 3, one student explained that she felt the Passover Seder did a better job of transmitting the events that led to freedom because we retell the complete story of our history in bondage. This student also felt it was very powerful to use foods (in the Seder) to symbolize our history.

In response to question 6, one student explained that she would put a lobster on her Passover Seder plate because it shows that Jews of all observances can come together and celebrate what it important to them. This student felt the lobster could represent acceptance within the Jewish community.

I wish you all a Chag Sameach and a wonderful April Vacation!


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Fun With Food!

Shalom Food Elective Families,

What a great 3 weeks we had with your students tasting and cooking different foods, and connecting it to freedom, slavery and justice.

After spending the first week in the classroom tasting different Passover and Hametz foods, we moved into the kitchen in the second week to make a delicious vegetarian broth and matzah balls.  Students had fun spicing up the broth with vegetables, mixing the matzah ball mix and rolling matzah balls.  Of course the eating was a great highlight too!  In addition to the cooking there was also an art project - a tissue paper decoupage matzah tray to use at your Seder.  First the students pasted different words, relating to the foods tasted/cooked and concepts discussed,  on to their trays.  The next week students completed their trays with the tissue paper decoupage.

Sampling the soup and matzah balls went hand in hand with some dinner table conversation.

This last week, our final week of the Elective,  students arrived at Hebrew School ready for dessert!  This week we made a matzah covered caramel buttercrunch dessert.  Everyone took a turn to pour sugar into melted butter and stir the mixture.  After an adult poured the mixture over the matzah, students took turns to "schmear"  the topping over the matzah.  After the baking was complete, students put chocolate chips on top, which melted,  and everyone took a turn to schmear this too!  The highlight of this week?  Tasting the dessert of course!  And it was yummy!
Once again, there was conversation around the table relating to the concepts of freedom, slavery and justice.

Here is the link to the dessert recipe.  We hope you enjoy!

We all had so much fun learning, crafting and cooking with your son/daughter!  We hope you enjoy making these foods at home with your children.  Wishing you all a Chag Pesach Sameach!

Elana, Helaine and Daphne

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dear Kitah Vav Families,
 We had an eventful day of visitors last Sunday, and will have another eventful day this Sunday, April 9.
       Last Sunday a delightful fellow named Nadav came to class to lead the students in an exploration of Jewish identity and Jewish values.  Nadav did this through games and role play.  He represents a new overnight camp that will open next Summer for Grade Seven students.
       After that we did some work on the important Hebrew roots in the two Haftarah Blessings that your students are working on with Cantor Ken and with me.   Our next visitors, Dor and Niso, were young Israeli men who volunteered to teach in the U.S., taking a gap year before entering the IDF (Israeli Army).  They led the students through some thought-provoking games, and then spoke about life in Haifa, showing us two videos and leading a discussion about December holidays as celebrated communally in Haifa. These young men, called Shinshinim, also talked about their aspirations for their future: first in the defense forces, then university, and then career.
       We are working our way through the Book of Nevi'im, Prophets.  Each Torah portion is connected to a portion from Prophets.  We have read stories from Joshua and Judges, and will move on to Samuel this week.
       We continue to work on prayers, and the meanings/values found within our key prayers, as reflected in the verb roots.  This week, along with the Aleinu prayer, we will be reviewing the Haftarah Blessings before and after the chanting of Haftarah.
      This coming Shabbat, on Friday evening, April 7, Kitah Vav students have been asked to lead V'Shamru during services.  I hope that your kids can be there to come forward and lead.
       This Sunday, April 9,  we will start out in the Social Hall at 9am with a program for students and parents on "Confronting Antisemitism."  Our guest teachers are from the Anti-Defamation League, and will lead  this workshop.
      Also, be sure to mark your calendars:  Sunday, April 30 is the Grade Six Yad Workshop.  Students have an opportunity to create their own yad to use when they chant Torah.  That is our first Sunday after the school vacation break.  Weekday Hebrew school resumes on April 25/26.
I wish all a "zissen Pesach!”    !חג פסח שמח!    A sweet and joyous Passover, and a safe, fun April school vacation.
Rav Elana

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Alef--Pesach 4-2-17

Dear families:

Such a busy and varied day today! And special guests at the end.  We started with tefillah in our classroom, led by Cheryl. 
HEBREW:  Our Hebrew letter today is י“yud.”  Some words beginning with  יare “yad” (pointer), Yerushalayim, yeled, yaldah, and Yisrael.  To review in pairs,, we found letters and formed Hebrew words like shema and some of the students’ names.

STORY: To review elements of Pesach, we read P is for Passover. A is for afikomen, B is for burning bush, or betzah (egg), C is for charoset, etc.  We added others that we thought of.

CRAFT:  Using felt pieces and fabric markers, we decorated a Seder pillow (we recline as free people). We stuffed it with hypoallergenic poly fill.  I sewed around most of it, leaving a long thread to be completed at home, if you wish.  I stapled the pillows shut.

We put the hands on last week’s Seder clock, to keep track of what we are doing.  Thank you, Lois, our wonderful secretary, for laminating them for many years’ use.

During learning games, the children looked at the Uh! Oh! Pesach books and my Find the Afikomen games.  My collection of Pesach books is always available.

MUSIC:  We practiced the Four Questions and other songs:  Eliyahu Ha Navi, Frogs, and my personal favorite, Don’t Sit on the Afikomen.

SPECIAL EVENT:  Near the end of the morning, two Israeli young men visited us—they sang a song about our names. Then they taught us about Israel’s geography—the Negev, the Dead Sea, Galilee, and the Mediterranean Sea.  We did a project on it.  Todah rabah for the wonderful lesson!
I look forward to seeing you on Friday April 7, for the service and Chinese dinner!

Shavua tov—have a wonderful week.

Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)

Grade K - Gan Class Update 4-2-17

Hello Gan Class Families!

Congratulations to our families with 2nd graders!  I hope that you had a wonderful time at Kabbalat Siddur and that this milestone was a special occasion for your family.

It is so crazy that it is already April and that Passover begins in just over a week. If your family would like some practice, songs for the Passover seder are available on the Temple Israel of Natick webpage. We will spend much of next week's class preparing for Passover together.

Students in the Gan Class showed their support for Ann Green, who is with us in the classroom each week.  Ann missed today's class as she is with her family in New Jersey today following the passing of her brother-in-law.  Students wrote her notes of encouragement and drew pictures of cats for her which will be sent to her home this week.  I know that Ann will enjoy this kind gesture!

In our new Torah story, Abraham and Sarah are old and wrinkled.  They are sad because they don't have any children of their own.  Three strangers come by and Abraham invites them to share a meal.  Abraham and Sarah are so kind to the strangers and they share that Sarah will have a son.  Sarah laughs at them because she knows that she is too old to have a child.  Sarah does have a child and she names him Isaac.  

Our new letter today was samech.  Samech makes the sounds s- and begins the words sukkah and seder. 

We were thrilled to invite Dor and Niso into our classroom.  They are Israeli students who are doing a year of service before entering the IDF this fall.  They helped us learn about the geography of Israel.  They shared with us the different types of land in Israel and we made a map to help us remember about the different types of land and sea.  Students asked them lots of great questions about what its like to live in Israel.

We finished our project for Friday's Family Shabbat Dinner.  You will see these lovely centerpieces on the tables on Friday night!

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about the Gan Class.