Monday, May 22, 2017

Gimel Goings On

Shalom Gimel Families,

The Gimel class has been working very hard since we returned from April vacation.

We continue to review some of our vocabulary, reading and Hebrew counting during our Sunday morning meeting.
Students have completed the first 7 verses of Ashrei and have done an amazing job practicing and singing it.  They are definitely ready to work on the remainder of it next year in the Dalet class.
Last week students were introduced to the prayer, Mi Kamocha.  They have done a great job mastering this using different strategies - reading from their binders, singing, and technology.

Students have also had opportunities to lead the Birkot Hashachar during Sunday morning Tefillah.
Hebrew board games continue to be a highlight of our Sunday morning Activity Centers.

The focus during the week before last was on Lag B'Omer, the 33rd day of the Omer.  This is the anniversary of the passing of the great scholar Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.  It also celebrates the great Rabbi Akiva who taught his students The Golden Rule - treat others as you wish to be treated.  In honor of Lag B'Omer students had special activities in the social hall.  There were 2 stations:  tie dyeing and golf ball decorating.  Lots of fun had by all!
This last week we started talking about Shavuot - beginning with a conversation about the counting of the Omer where students enthusiastically shared examples of events they would count the days for - birthdays, end of school year, camp, and many others.  After watching short movie clips about the Ten Commandments students listened to the story No Rules for Michael and discussed why having rules is important.  The highlight of this unit was the edible Torahs that students made in class this past Sunday.  This week we will focus on Shavuot as a harvest festival and read the story of Ruth.

In the parasha 2 weeks ago we learned:
Do not insult the deaf
Do not put a stumbling block in front of the blind
In Hebrew School we played a game called "Step Forward if..."  Students were asked a question and if it applied to them they had to step forward.  The goal was for everyone to move from one side of the room to the other.  The game was followed by an interesting conversation about how everyone had reached the other side of the room in different ways, and how important it is to respect each other's differences and to be inclusive.
The activity, which was school wide, was to put rubber bands on the T-shirts which were tie dyed on Lag B'Omer.   Each student will receive a tie dye shirt to bring home.  Tie Dye is something I have been doing every summer for the last dozen years.  Gimel students looked at photographs of T-shirts that I have made over the years and they noticed that no shirt was the same as another -  illustrating that everyone is  unique!


Elana and Marc

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Dear families:  
I can’t believe that there is only one session left after today—June 4.

Today was Ariel’s last session with us.  We all signed a card, and we took a photo of all of usso she can remember us.  She has been a big help to us in many ways.  Good luck next year in college.

We started with tefillah with Cantor Ken.  He asked us to recall places outside that we like.  Students 
mentioned the Dead Sea, a playground, and the snow.  We counted the Omer here and again in class with a page the students color in each week.  Today was day 40—5 weeks and 5 days.

Our Hebrew lesson today included the sound “oo” represented by three diagonal dots under a letter, as in “boobah,” doll or a vav with a dot in the middle.  We also studied ג. Someג words are “gadol” (big), “gamal” (camel), and “gan” (garden).  Next time, we will finish the Hebrew book, and the children can bring it home.

Our story today was from Godly Play—the Ten Best Ways.  After the children of Israel were freed from slavery in Egypt, they wandered in the desert, which is a dangerous place because of the scarcity of food and water, and the heat.  But the desert is also a wonderful place.  With no distractions, great things can happen.  To help the Israelites, God provided food and water; there was a pillar of fire and one of cloud to lead them on.  At Mt. Sinai, God told Moses the ten best ways to live, so that he could tell the people, and pass them on to us.  We listed the Ten Best Ways (the Ten Commandments) God wants us to live—such as keeping the Sabbath, not telling lies, and be happy with what you have. 

Then we engaged in the “wondering” aspects—which part of the tory you liked best, which is the most important, where are you in the story?  Students eagerly shared their ideas.

Thank you, again, Robin and Temple Israel for sponsoring my attendance at the Godly Play workshops.  Thank you also, Gretchen Brandt for mentoring me—sharing ideas for props, sharing this new story with me, and making suggestions.

As each holiday approaches, I have been gathering and making the props to tell each story.

Cheryl read No Rules for Michael. Michael tells the class that there should be no rules.  However, he changes his mind when he trips over a backpack, someone takes his snack, and other things go wrong. Then he sees the need for rules. 

Last week, the children tie-dyed t shirts.  Today, each child who participated received a t shirt.  We talked about inclusion—how we are all different sizes and shapes, but we are all part of the Temple Israel community.

There is no class next Sunday.  Our final class for this year is on June 4.  Have a happy Shavuot.

Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)

Grade K - Gan Class Update 5-21-17

Hello Gan Class Families!

It is so hard to believe that we have almost completed our year long journey together.  Your Gan Class students have grown so much and have learned lots!

Today we began the day in Tefillah with Cantor Ken as we do almost every week.  As I looked around, I observed that many of the students have begun to memorize some of the prayers.  We have improved our ability to follow along with the pages and remember to remain standing when we need to.  Our Gan Class students are comfortable in the Sanctuary space!

Today's Torah story was about Jacob.  After tricking his brother he had to move away from his home.  He found himself looking for a wife and he fell in love with a woman named Rachel.  Rachel's father tricked Jacob into marrying this older daughter Leah before he was allowed to marry Rachel.  Jacob had 13 children, 12 boys and one girl.

Now that we know all of our letters we have been busy practicing them!  Students met individually with me to review all 22 of our letters.  At our Aleph Bet Centers, students illustrated our vocabulary words and played the Aleph Bet Adventure game to practice letter recognition.

Our Celebrations unit focused on the upcoming holiday of Shavuot.  On Shavuot we celebrate receiving the Torah from God at Mt. Sinai.  We read A Mountain of Blintzes which is a story about a family preparing for Shavuot and how they work together to make sure the have all the things they need to make blintzes, a common food served on Shavuot.

Students that were in class last week took home one of the tie-dye shirts that were made.  Each shirt included a letter explaining the project more in depth.  We hope that the experience highlighted that we are all different in many ways but still part of the same community.

Image result for a mountain of blintzes

There is no class next week as it is Memorial Day Weekend.  Our final class together will be on June 4th.

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dear families,

We have been busy in fifth grade at TI! Recently in class, we discussed Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel's Independence Day) and Yom HaZikaron (Israel's Memorial Day). Last Tuesday and Wednesday, we met in the social hall where Robin had the kids break off into pairs. One student was named "tour guide", and the other posed as the State of Israel. The "tour guides" then had the chance to label the State of Israel with stickers indicating well known cities and landmarks. The students had so much fun with this activity and learned a lot about Israel's geography.

In line with these holidays, students created their own visual interpretations or written descriptions in class of what these holidays mean to them. These pieces came out beautifully and are currently hanging on our classroom wall.

After students recently expressed an interest in learning more about G-d, we took a look at the first section of the book, "I Have Some Questions About G-d", a compilation of twelve questions commonly asked among children. We focused on the question, "How Do We Know G-d Is Real?"

We read four explanations, written in a story-like manner, by four different rabbi's. While each of the stories were different, they shared similar themes. The world's beauty as well as the love and care that humans can feel for one another were cited as evidence that G-d's presence is real.

We later talked about the idea that G-d is hidden. This question sparked a great discussion. One student mentioned that G-d hides and watches over us but doesn't want to be visible because G-d doesn't want people to feel pressured as they go about their lives. Another student explained that G-d is hidden because people may not be prepared for how G-d might appear. All very interesting thoughts!

We continue to practice our Hebrew reading skills in class through flash cards, jeopardy, and other fun games!

This week, students had the opportunity to work in partners, recording their reading of a Hebrew text via video on our ipads. Students then listened to their reading and noted any mistakes they made. The students enjoyed this activity and did a fantastic job picking up on their reading errors.

No scheduled homework the next few weeks- just review previous prayers to keep up Hebrew fluency :)


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Grade K - Gan Class Update 5-14-17

Happy Mother's Day Gan Class Families!

I hope that everyone enjoyed a wonderful Mother's Day!

Today we finished learning all of the letters of the Aleph Bet!  Zayin and tsadee were our last two letter!  Zayin makes the sound z- and begins the word zebra and tsadee makes a tz- sound and begins the work tzedakah.

When reading our new Torah story we met Isaac and Rebekkah's twin sons Jacob and Esau.  Jacob and Esau are twins but Esau is a little bit older so he is supposed to get a special blessing and all of his father's stuff.  Jacob tricks Esau into giving him both with the help of their mother Rebekkah.  Next week we will meet some of Jacob's family.

Today was Lag B'Omer.  In Roman times, Jews were not allowed to study Torah.  They would sneak off to the caves and study in secret.  If the Romans came by, the Jews would pretend they had been practicing their archery in the woods.  Because of this, Lag B'Omer is often celebrated through outdoor activities.  Unfortunately the rain prevented us from being outside be we were still able to tie-dye inside.  Tie-dye relates to our inclusion Shabbat from last weekend.  Each shirt will be different in its own way, they will come in different shapes, sizes and colors much like we do.  

Another activity was decorating golf balls.  On Father's Day, Temple Israel will have a Mini-Golf Tournament.  Students decorated golf balls that they can use during the tournament.  Golf balls have been labeled with your child's name.  The Tournament is from 1:00-4:00pm so please mark your calendar now!

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

Have a wonderful week!



Dear families,

Thank you for making our class at Temple Israel part of your Mother’s Day today.  In class, we sang in Hebrew about it being cloudy and rainy “bahutz hayom” outside today.  We participated in tefillah with Cantor Ken and Robin.  Cheryl and I were thrilled to be honored, as mothers, to hold the flag of Israel during the singing of Hatikvah.  Today is the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer—Lag B’Omer.

We talked about Lag B”Omer customs: the bow and arrows to represent pretending to hunt and practice archery.  The bonfires remind us of the light of the scholars who carried on Jewish learning, rabbis like Akiba.

HEBREW:  The class learned the vowel sound “ay,” represented by . . under a letter, as in sefer and Yisrael.  Our Hebrew letter today is “sin” ש, with the dot on the left side—"sin is never right; sin salutes left”—the first letter in Simhat Torah.  We have almost finished the book.

BOOK:  For this “scholar’s holiday,” we read A Jewish Holiday ABC.  Students added to the letters like B is for brachot, betzah (egg), bisomim box, and so forth.  The children added so many suggestions.  They know so much.

SPECIAL ACTIVITY: Students in K-5 met in the social hall.  First our class decorated golf balls to be used at the mii-golf tournament in June.  Then on to the tie-dyeing of T shirts.  The shirts signify that all of us at the Temple come in various colors and sizes—everyone is different, but we are all part of the Temple community. See the photos of the fun.  Next week, students will get shirts (probably not the same ones they decorated.)

Shavua tov.  I hope that your Mother’s Day was as wonderful as mine was!  Have a great week.

Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Gesher-Grade 7 Welcomes the Most Amazing Guests!

Where were you on May 14, 1948 the day on which Israel declared independence?  Most of us had not been born yet and for the Gesher students, neither had their parents but Israel Michaeli was a boy living in Jerusalem.  Israel, a Temple Israel member, shared his memories of that day with our Gesher students and he encouraged them to ask questions.  He remembers that it was very late at night due to the time difference between Jerusalem and New York.  They were listening closely the radio as each member of the UN cast his vote for or against Israel.  They weren’t sure which way the vote would go and so the listeners counted each vote, for and against, and when they realized that Israel had secured the majority required, and Ben Gurion made the announcement, the collective response was emotional, jubilant, exciting!  Even in the wee hours of the morning, there was clapping, singing, playing musical instruments and dancing in the streets.

The next day, seven Arab countries attacked Israel.  He remembers the rag-tag Israeli army composed of new immigrants, who were taken off ships, handed a rifle and sent to fight.  Was their victory against seven nations a miracle or a testament to their persistence, fortitude and faith?

Israel told us that he was born at the old Hadassah hospital on Mount Scopus.  His parents had come to Israel in the 1930’s and had built a life there, first on Kibbutz and then in the city.  He lived in Israel until 1964 when he moved to America and continues to love Israel and to Israel every year.

Shoshana Edelson, TELEM coordinator at the JCRC, met with Gesher students to present the TELEM program of service learning.  High school students who participate in TELEM engage in community service projects in one of five tracks; Hunger and Homelessness, Connecting Generations, Youth Engagement, Environmental Sustainability, or Special Needs.  TELEM emphasizes experiential learning in and out of the classroom as student not only engage in community service, they also study Jewish texts related to their track.  We are grateful to Shoshana for her inspiring presentation and to Robin Kahn for inviting her to speak.  For more information about TELEM,

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dear Kitah Vav Parents,

May is a very full month for Kitah Vav!
Weekdays will find us exploring Nevi'im, the Book of Prophets, and taking up our students' prophet or portion. We are also noting the different ways that prophets are called to serve as G-d's messengers: Moses from a bush, Isaiah in a vision of the Temple with G-d on a throne and the angels praising with Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh.  Some students have prophets or stories that are found in the books of Judges, Kings and Samuel as their haftarah.  We are touching on each place that a student haftarah is found.

     Our prayer curriculum has covered the Aleinu, our ultimate commitment to praise G-d, found near the end of every prayer service.  Also covered recently was Mourner's Kaddish, praise of G-d in Aramaic.  We have been noticing repetition of key Hebrew roots that we find in our prayers, and the Wednesday class conceived of a bingo game with the verb roots.  It was Zach's idea initially, so we called the game Zakko.  I selected the key roots found in the blessings before and after the Haftarah for the game.

Sundays are special this month. This Sunday, May 14, we will have a field trip to a program called "This is Hunger" at the JCC.  It is housed in a large "semi" truck, and created by MAZON, the Jewish response to hunger.  We will meet at Temple Israel in the lobby at 9am, and leave in two carpools.  If any families who haven't signed up decide to join, please email me, Elaine, so that I can save you tickets.  We have a few to spare.

    The following Sunday, May 21, we will have school as usual, but then at 11am we will be tying "tzitzit" on the tallitot that you and your students created.  The five that Sherrie Barlas finished with backing are beautiful!  If you do not have a completely finished tallit bring it, as the fringes can still be tied at the corners, or you can preview how it is done.  Knot tying is easiest with two people, so each student who is tying tzitzit should have someone to work with them. 

    No school on Sunday, May 28, as it is the Memorial Day weekend.
    Our last day of school is Sunday, June 4!

    Shavuot will be celebrated at Temple Israel on Wednesday morning, May 31.  Kitah Vav will be active participants in the service, some leyning Torah and all chanting some Haftarah as well as the blessings before and after the Haftarah.  We will all stand together at Sinai to receive Torah!

    Kol tuv, all the best,
    Rav Elana

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Grade K - Gan Class Update 5-7-17

Hello Gan Class Families!

Today we learned two letters and spent some time with two different Rabbis!

During Tefillah, Cantor Ken taught us some Sign Language for our prayers as an extension of yesterday's Synaplex which focused on inclusion of others.  He also helped us continue to Count the Omer and practice many of our favorite prayers.

Our Torah Story today was about 10 camels.  Isaac, Sarah and Abraham's son, needs a wife.  A servant is sent to Ur to find a good wife for Isaac.  Rebekkah is chosen because she recognized that something needed to be done and she did it.  She offered water to the servant and the camels.  In our next story we will meet Isaac's sons Jacob and Esau.  

There were two new letters this week.  Nun makes the sounds n- and begins the word ner tamid which is the light above the aron kodesh which is never extinguished.  The second letter was resh which makes the sound r- and begins the word rimonim.  Rimonim are the adornments that we place on the Torah. To see what these new vocabulary words look like in out Temple we visited the Chapel and the Sanctuary. It was lucky that in the Sanctuary we ran into Rabbi Liben who was excited to answer our many questions about the Torah's in Temple Israel's Aron Kodesh.  He even blew the shofar for us when students noticed it near the Torahs.  We discovered that there are ten Torahs at Temple Israel and that the ones in the Sanctuary are much fancier looking than the ones in the chapel.  Students thought this might be similar to how when they come to the Temple on Shabbat they dress up but on a regular day they don't have to. 

On our way back to the classroom Rabbi Harold Kushner was in the lobby.  He had a minute to say hello to our class.  Students were very curious about Rabbi Kushner and together we wrote him a letter.  We asked him several questions about himself and about what Temple Israel was like when he was the Rabbi.  The letter will be sent to him in the mail this week!

There is class next week.  We will be celebrating Lag B'Omer together.  The day could get messy so please bring a smock or wear clothing that you don't care if it gets messy.  If you aren't able to join us on Sunday, please let me know as it will be helpful for our planning.

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


ALEF israel, May 7, 2017

Dear families:

A day filled with learning and fun.  In tefillah, Cantor Ken taught us the signs for the beginning of brachot:  Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu, melech ha o’olam, and then the sign for amen.  Ask  your child to show you. 

Back in class, we turned to HEBREW: First we learned ס “samech,” the first letter in “sefer” (book), Sukkot, siddur, and “sivivon” (the Hebrew word for dreidel). Each week, we also review previous letters., noting look-alike letters like ח ת and ה.  Our second letter is is פ, which sounds like “f.”  .I  don’t know any words which start with fay, but it is found in the word shofar    שופר and sefer (book) ספר.

Then it was time for brachot and snack.  Students finishing snack and craft early have the opportunity to work on holiday and Hebrew games.

BOOK: I showed my of photos from the trip to Israel my husband and I took with a synagogue.  We looked at images of Jerusalem, including the kotel, the giant menorah, and the Israel Museum. We also viewed an archaeological dig, Masada, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Eilat. We concluded with pictures of Israeli innovations in computers, medicine, and cell phones.

Ariel, our class madricha, showed some of her Israel photos—dorito bags in Hebrew, shops, and tourist sites.  The children especially enjoyed a Jaffa orange tree suspended by wires.

CRAFT: Students wrote about something they like about Israel and illustrated it.  Some chose floating in the Dead Sea. riding a camel, or leaving a note in the Kotel.

GODLY PLAY:  Our story today was about Lag B’Omer.  On the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, we remember scholars, and we have fun and games.  Rabbi Akiba continued to study and teach the Torah, though the Roman’s forbade it, threatening punishment for disobedience.  Akiba told the story of the fox and the fish.  The fox hoped to eat the fish by coaxing them to leave the stream.  The clever fish responded: “The water is our source of life.  We cannot live without it.”  In the same way, Akiba explained that the Torah is life for the Jews, though it was dangerous to study it.Without it, we would “truly be like fish out of water”

Shavua tov—have a good week!

Judy and Cheryl (Esther and Tzipporah)