Sunday, September 24, 2017


Tashlich at Lake Cochituate was fun, beautiful and meaningful!  We sang together and spoke a few words of Torah. We chose to go on a nature walk or meditate, or sing, or hear a story or write in the sand.  We wrote our transgressions on crackers and threw them into the lake and then we wrote our blessings on marshmallows and enjoyed their sweetness!  We ended the morning by sharing hugs and wishing each other a good and very sweet year.

Thank you to Robin Kahn, Rabbi Liben, Cantor Ken, Rav Shira, the TIRS teachers and all the TIRS families for your generous spirits!

I hope to see you at Yom Kippur and look forward to learning with our Gesher students next Sunday.

G’mar chatimah tovah—may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

HaMorah Margalit (aka Gretchen Marks Brandt)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Grade 7 - A Good and Sweet New Year from and for GESHER

Sunday, September 17th was a spectacular day at Temple Israel Religious School!  We sang, and we identified and heard the three distinctive shofar blasts (Tekiah, one long blast;  Shevarim, 3 shorter blasts;  and Truah: 9 short bursts of sound). 

Some say that the Tekiah is the sound of triumph and joy while the Shevarim and Truah are sounds of pain suffering.  We wondered about why we  hear both sounds of joy and of sorrow at Rosh Hashanah?  The Ben Ish explained this curiosity with a story:

A man had a ring specially made for him. Upon this ring, he had engraved the words, “This too shall pass.”  If he was troubled and in pain, he would look at his ring and remember that the suffering would eventually end. This thought comforted him. During times of happiness and comfort, he would gaze at the ring as well.  He would realize that his wealth and good fortune could change for the worst in an instant.  Good times are not forever.  He would recognize that there was no reason to become conceited and haughty over circumstances, which were beyond his control and could turn adverse without any warning.  This ring reminded the man that all in his life had to be put in perspective and that one should life his life neither complacent nor despondent.

We practiced a special blessing asking God to renew us for a good and sweet new year and ate apples and honey. We met Bar Argaman, our special guest from Israel, and Rabbi Liben  and Cantor Ken gave us a refresher tutorial on wrapping tefillin.

I look forward to celebrating with you at Temple Israel on Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat. 

Our Temple Israel Religious School community will come together at 10:30 Sunday morning, September 24 at Lake Chochituate for our Tashlich experience.

Best wishes for a good and very sweet new year—Shannah Tovah u-Metukah!

HaMorah Margalit (aka Gretchen Marks Brandt)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Grade 5 - Kitah Hey- Diana's Update

We are off to a great start in Hebrew School! We kicked off the year last week with our Apple and Honey Olympics where students participated in a variety of activities involving foam apples (in the spirit of Rosh Hashanah). Activities included tennis, archery, basketball, parachute building, apple stacking, and painting among other things.

 This week, we started discussing Rosh Hashanah. We reviewed what the students already know about the holiday and learned more about it. As Rosh Hashanah is all about becoming better versions of ourselves, the fifth graders participated in an art project where they were asked to create a goal they hope to achieve this year. The focus of these goals ranged from sports and music to helping friends and making an effort to get along better with siblings.

We also read a book called, Happy New Year, by Emery Bernhard. This book teaches about the ways people of various cultures celebrate the new year. Students were very interested hearing about the similarities and differences between these celebrations.

We wish you a happy holiday, a Shanah Tova, and a sweet new year! We look forward to seeing your children back in class next week.

Diana Weinstein

Monday, September 18, 2017

Grade 2 - Kitah Bet

Kitah Bet is off to a great start.  We have been playing games to get to know one another. We learned that one of has a pet snake and another really likes skunks, some of us love winter and some prefer summer. Best of all, most of us are really looking excited about learning to read Hebrew this year!

Before heading out to the Apple Olympics midweek we decorated our apples and learned that the new Jewish year begining this week is 5778.  The students had fun using these personalized apples for different sports competitions, such as basketball, hockey and archery.  Many of the students then donated their "penny prizes" to one or more of our charitable causes; hurricane relief, A Place to Turn Food Pantry or the JNF.

On Sunday it was great to see so many of you at our opening assembly.  Once we headed upstairs we had a peek at our Hebrew materials, decorated our binders and began to formulate our class rules.  As we discussed the symbols of Rosh Hashanah the enthusiasm in the room grew with anticipation of the holiday.  I can't wait to hear about all the special food,  family and traditions that were shared in your homes over Rosh Hashanah.

We read two books this week, Gershon's Monsters and Yettle's Feathers.  Both books deal with the theme of "being our best selves" and about how we treat others.  We were able to make connections between the stories and Rosh Hahanah.

I'm looking forward to seeing many of you at Temple Israel over the holiday and at Lake Cochituate on Sunday morning.

Shanah Tova-Have a Happy and Sweet New Year

Grade 3 - Gimel Goings On

Shalom Gimel Families!

It was a great first week of Hebrew School and we enjoyed meeting your children!  They are going to have a great year in the Gimel class!

On the opening week days we spent time in the classroom getting to know each other where students introduced themselves in Hebrew (Shmi Elana - My name is Elana.)  We also played a game where each student stated something they like.  The tricky part was the next student having to remember what the previous students in the circle had said!

Apple and Honey Olympics was a definite highlight and students had a lot of fun playing different outdoor games, painting stars to be sent to a Jewish Day School in Houston after the hurricane and winning pennies which many people donated to either a food pantry, hurricane relief or the JNF.

Yesterday was our first Sunday together as a whole group and students had a very busy day!  After Tefillah, singing and introductions in the Sanctuary we began our day by reviewing our classroom expectations.  We talked about Derech Eretz (good manners) and, in small groups, students discussed what it means to take care of ourselves, each other and the world in the context of our classroom and Temple community.  These discussions formed the basis of our class Brit.

In Hebrew students were introduced to our Sunday morning meeting routine.  Different students had different jobs such as taking attendance, reading the schedule, the days of the week, the Hebrew calendar, and the seasons, in Hebrew.  We also played a Hebrew counting game.  After Rosh Hashanah students will be introduced to the Gimel Class prayer curriculum.

Students began their study of the High Holidays with a 4 in a row game to access their background knowledge.  We shared ideas of what everyone knows about the High Holidays and listened to a song about Rosh Hashanah by the Maccabeats.  Students had the opportunity for some reflection with a 3-2-1 activity stating 3 wonderful things that happened this year, 2 new things they learned, and 1 goal they have for the coming year.  Next week we will focus on the main themes of Rosh Hashanah - Tefillah (prayer), Teshuvah (repentance) and Tzedakah (charity).

Wishing everyone a Shanah Tovah U’Metukah!


Elana, Amy and Ketene

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Grade K - Gan Class Update 9-17-17

Hello Gan Class Families!

Today was amazing! The first day of school is always so exciting, new faces to meet and a fresh start for everyone!

The Gan Class students were able to familiarize themselves with our classroom space as well as the Temple Israel building.  We took a field trip to meet Rob in the Religious School office, check out the location of the bathrooms and water fountain, travel through the secret passage behind the bima and to introduce ourselves to Carole, who shared her lollipops with us, in the main office as well as David Tursky, Temple Israel President!

We worked toether to create a Class Brit which everone signed.  It is hanging on the board in our classroom for all to see.

Students were super excited to meet Bar.  He will be joining us most weeks to help us learn about Israel.  Today, we played a fun name game based on the popular game, Duck, Duck Goose.  After, Bar answered all the questions we could come up with about him.  Students were surprised to hear that Israel is really far away.

As the High Holidays are coming up this week, we spent time learning about the Shofar and some of the customs of the holiday.  Morah Joanne, the Aleph Class teacher, invited us to join them to hear the Shofar blasts.  She brought in her special shofar from home and everyone got to touch it to see how smooth it is. Back in our own classroom, we worked on a Special Project that should be delivered to your house soon. Students were sent home with a folder filled with information about the upcoming holidays for families.  Please send the folder back empty so that more student work and information can be sent home in it next class.

Next week we will meet at 10:30am at Cochituate State Park for a special family program.  There will not be class at Temple Israel until Sunday, October 1st.

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

Shana Tova!


Grade 1 -

First Day in Kitah Aleph (First Grade)

What a busy morning! It was wonderful to meet all of the first grade students today.  The children heard stories about the upcoming holiday of Rosh HaShanah. They learned about the shofar and then each had a chance to try blowing shofar. There are a number of future shofar players in this class! We read stories about the holiday and played some introductory games to help us get to know each other better. We reviewed many customs associated with the holiday. We talked about the fact that Rosh HaShanah is a time to think about what we have done in the past year and to try and be better people in the coming year. Kitah Aleph students helped create a list of classroom behavioral expectations for our class, including the idea that we need to treat others the way we ourselves want to be treated (these were the words of the students). The children also made new year's cards for their families. Wishing everyone a shanah tova, a happy and healthy new year! Joanne

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Grade 4 - Welcome Fourth Graders!

to our fourth-grade families.
This year we will be co-teaching your children.  Hilary on Sundays and Marsha on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Both are experienced teachers and are excited to begin the new school year.

Today was our first Tuesday class. Marsha welcomed the students to the new school year.  We discussed, treating others as we would want to be treated. Respecting fellow students and the teacher.  Personal space was also addressed in today's class.  The children sang the Aleph Bet song and recited the brachot before eating their snack.  To have some movement, we played a game of "Moshe says".  The 5778 Apple and Honey Olympics, began with the shofar being sounded.  The students had a fun time with their classmates playing games and earning pennies.  The pennies were put into a jar, of the charity of their choice.  They received honey sticks and a good time was had by all.

Tomorrow, the students in the Wednesday class will have the same day.  Please have the children wear shoes for outdoor play and appropriate clothes for use of acrylic paints.

We will keep in touch with you throughout the school year.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns that may arise.  It would also be helpful, if you would contact us, when you know that your child will be missing a class.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful fourth graders with us this year.  We are happy to be at Temple Israel and look forward to meeting you.


Marsha Horovitz

Hilary Henniger

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Welcome Second Grade!

September 10, 2017
Dear Second Grade Families,
Welcome to Kitah Bet (Second Grade).  I am very excited to be teaching Kitah Bet this year and getting to know your children!
On Sunday mornings Rachel Rogers will be helping in the classroom as an assistant, and our Israeli volunteer, Bar Argaman will be coming in on a regular basis. We also have two Madrrichim working with us during the week.  Ari Klowens, a recent religious school graduate will be in the classroom on Tuesdays and Justin Linden a Solomon Schecter graduate and current Natick High School sophomore will be with us on Wednesdays.
I am looking forward to a year full of growth, learning, and fun in Kitah Bet.  To help the students be successful in class please help your child to remember to bring his or her books to class on a daily basis as well as a nut free snack.  We have a short break for a snack on a daily basis; this provides time for “refueling” their bodies as well as an opportunity for some down time.
This coming week we will begin by getting to know each other, learning about the Jewish New Year and participating in the annual Apple Olympics. (Please have your children dress appropriately; there will be a station with non-washable paint.) We will also have a short introduction to our Hebrew program that we began using in our school last year. 
After the Jewish Fall Holidays, I will be assigning homework regularly.  This will most often be reading from the textbook or practicing with their Alef Bet cards (our new Hebrew alphabet cards).  It is important that the homework is completed in a consistent manner in order to reinforce what is being learned in class.  Everyone can help their children with this; if you are a Hebrew reader you can help your child correct any reading mistakes, if you are not a Hebrew reader your child can help teach you by reading together.  This work should not take more than 5-10 minutes and should be checked off in their notebook by you.  The goal is that this should be a quick stress-free review! Thanks in advance for your help in this important task.
During the course of the year if you have any questions or concerns you can reach me by calling the office and leaving a message or emailing me at
Shannah Tovah (Happy New Year),
Margie Matross

Welcome First Grade!

Dear First Grade Families,                         September 10, 2017  
My name is Joanne Camann and I am so very excited about being the first grade teacher at Temple Israel Sunday school this year!  First grade will be a wonderful year full of fun and learning. We will spend lots of time learning about and experiencing the joys of Jewish holidays and customs. We will explore torah stories and learn prayers together. The children will get to know the names and sounds of the Hebrew letters and will continue to grow their Hebrew word vocabulary.
I want to take this opportunity to share a little bit about myself with you. I love teaching first grade because I get to watch children grow and change as they learn to do so many new things. In addition to teaching at Temple Israel on Sundays, during the week, I teach first grade at MetroWest Jewish Day School. When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with family which includes my husband, my daughter, age 21 and my son who is 18. This year both of my children will be away at college. I will be busy teaching and taking care of my son's two pet bunnies. I also like riding my bike, swimming, singing and reading.
A few particulars for parents: Please remember to send your child with a dairy or pareve and nut free snack each Sunday. Please remember to include a water bottle as well. We will have our very own classroom this year,so I would encourage you to send a change of clothing with your child to be kept in his/her cubby as well.
Please do not hesitate to be in touch with any questions or concerns that you have about your child during the year. The best way to reach me is by email at If you would like to talk in person or over the phone, send me and email I would be glade to arrange a time to talk. Of course, you also can leave a message for me through the school office at the temple.
I am very much looking forward to getting to know the children and to spending this year learning and growing along with them.

Welcome Gan Families!

Hello Gan Class Families!

I hope that the end of your summer was outstanding and that the transition to your new school year routines has been easy.  In less than a week we will begin our Gan Class journey at Temple Israel.  Over the summer you received a brief email from me about the Kindergarten at Temple Israel.  Below you will find some additional information to help you prepare.

This year is going to be AMAZING.  Your students will enjoy experiences and gain knowledge and understanding in several areas including the Aleph Bet, Torah Stories, Tefilah (prayers), Israel and Celebrations (holidays and mitzvot). It is my hope that each student will make new friends and be a part of an outstanding community.

In addition to myself, your students will have the opportunity to work with many talented educators on our staff.  Bar Argaman, an Israeli Shinshin will share information with us about Israel most weeks.  Ann Green and Bina Landis have been part of the Gan Class team for many years.  They offer support and guidance to our students and are both truly wonderful.  Gisele will also be in our classroom this year to offer student support.  It's a great team!

Just a few logistics for you:
  • Our class is located in Room 3 which is in the downstairs level of the School Wing. Please plan to drop off and pick up your student at the classroom each week. Drop off is at 9:00am and dismissal will begin around 11:55 so that you can pick up older students in the lobby at noon.
  • The Nursery School Wing door closest to the lobby is unlocked on Sunday mornings so that no code is necessary to enter.  Please use this door to access our classroom.
  • Each student will have their own cubby!  Please select a picture with your student that they would like displayed on their cubby this year and bring it to class this Sunday. If you would like to bring in a sweatshirt or change of clothes to leave in your student's cubby please feel free to do so.
  • Each student will need to bring their own snack to class each day. This snack should be Kosher and dairy.  As per our building policy, please do not send items with nuts.  Students in the Gan Class will not be permitted to share snacks to ensure the safety of all students.
  • Water bottles are allowed in our classroom.  You are welcome to bring one in.
  • Our mornings will be full of activities. If your student will be absent, or will need to be dismissed early, please let me know as soon as possible so that I can plan accordingly. 
  • Each week I will create a blog post to share all the exciting things that happened in our classroom.  I will email you a link to the blog post as soon as it is available.  You can always check out the blog to see what all of our classes are up to by visiting
This year I am excited to announce that we will be inviting Mystery Reader's into our classroom most Sunday mornings. Anyone can be a mystery reader!  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and family members are welcome to be the mystery reader. Mystery readers are encouraged to bring a favorite Jewish story to share with the class at 11:40 on Sunday morning.  If the reader would like suggestions of stories that go along with what we are learning in class on a particular day, I am happy to make suggestions.  In addition, there is a bookshelf in the Religious School Wing filled with PJ Library books that would be excellent to share with the class.  Below is the link to a Doodle Poll so that you can have the opportunity to sign up for a date.  To make sure every family has a turn, please only sign up for one date per family at this time.  I will send it out again  if more readers are necessary. Sign up at  

I am so looking forward to meeting you all next Sunday for our first class together!

If you have any questions or concerns about the Gan Class, please feel free to reach out at any time by emailing me directly at

Ann, Bina, Gisele, Bar and I are looking forward to a great year!

Dear 5th Graders

Dear Fifth Graders, 

Welcome to Kitah Hey! My name is Tali and I will be your Judaic Studies teacher. I was once a student at Temple Israel and am now proud to be teaching at this wonderful school for the second year.  I have two amazing twin girls at home who recently turned two years old and you can expect to hear silly stories about them from time to time. Before becoming a mother, I taught elementary school full-time for eleven years and loved every moment of it. I love working with kids and making a classroom a community in which every member belongs! 

I am excited to have fun and learn a lot together in the coming months! While we learn about Jewish values, we will also be living them in the classroom. The most important part about being a part of our community is the way in which you treat yourself and others.  You will have the opportunity to explore ways in which you can build yourself up while while lifting those around you throughout the year.  We will use Hevrutah study often in the classroom. This means you will be working in partners and groups for much of our time together. You have so many great ideas to share with one another! 

We will use The Living Jewish Values series,, as our base texts to spark rich discussions and create opportunities for personal reflection. There will be plenty of opportunities for creative and artistic reflection, guided written reflection, and many thoughtful, rich discussions throughout the year.  I hope you will learn as much from one another as you do from your teachers and our books. 

Diana and I make a great teaching team who love to make Hebrew school interesting and fun. We are so excited to meet you this week and begin our journey together! You are welcome to contact us with any questions. 



Grade 6

Dear 6th grade TIN parents,

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year at Temple Israel of Natick!

My name is Katie Hamelburg, and I am going to be one of your student's teachers this upcoming year. I am really looking forward to joining the Temple Israel of Natick community, and working with your family this upcoming year!

I am a new Boston resident, having recently moved from the Washington, DC area. I am thrilled to be joining the Metrowest Boston Jewish Community, as the Pre-teen Engagement Coordinator. As such, I will be teaching throughout the Metrowest area, and working with pre-teens both in and out of religious school.

I recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Jewish and Middle East studies, with a special focus in Hebrew Education. I have worked with middle-school aged students for the past several years, serving as a youth group advisor throughout the DC area, and serving on the senior education and t'fillah team for Seaboard Region Kadima (middle school) and USY (high school). I am really passionate about making Jewish education unique, accessible, creative, and engaging, and am truly excited for this upcoming year.  

A lot of information is included below about our class for the upcoming 2017-2018 year. Please be sure to read to the end, and note our off-site walk to the Natick Community Garden this upcoming Tuesday and Wednesday.

At Temple Israel of Natick, I will be teaching the Sunday 6th grade class, during which we will be focusing on studying Prophets, Israel, prayer, and more. We will participate in an Israel curriculum led by a visiting Shinshin to Temple Israel, Bar Argaman, through which we will develop a partnership relationship with a school in Haifa, Israel.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I will be teaching the joint 6th and 7th grade class, during which we will be utilizing the Telem curriculum, a social justice centered curriculum created by the JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council). Throughout the year, we will be studying various local and global social issues, discussing each through a Jewish lens, exploring our role as Jewish teenagers in social justice, and actively participating in service projects related to our studies.

At 5:30 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 6th graders will have a special trope class with Cantor Ken (during this time, the 7th graders will leave the classroom for their 7th grade program).  Please watch for an email from Cantor Ken about trope.

At the end of each unit, pre-teens from throughout the Metrowest area will join together for hands-on service learning on Sunday mornings, during religious school time. This will be an incredible opportunity for our pre-teens to get to know other pre-teens in the area, and work to apply our studies to society around us.   

We will be joined by two incredible aids for these classes: Reuben Kittrell (Sundays) and Amy Pelz (Tuesdays/Wednesdays). They will be great additions to our classroom, and are really excited to work with your students this upcoming year.

Important notes for the school week: Homework will follow a similar model to last year, and students and families will be provided a homework calendar. More details will follow in the next couple of weeks.
Please have your student bring a dairy or parve snack each day. Remember: our synagogue is a nut-free facility, so please ensure that snack is nut-free as well.

I am thrilled to be working with these pre-teens, and am excited to see this year begin to take shape!

Some dates to be aware of:

Sunday, September 10th is our first day of Hebrew School! We will join together as a community, as well as begin to get to know our growing 6th grade class.

Tuesday, September 12th and Wednesday, September 13th are the first Tuesday and Wednesday classes! For both 6th/7th grade classes, we will be walking to the Natick Community Garden on the property of the Presbyterian Church at 99 Hartford St, which is two blocks from Temple Israel.  We will be learning about the garden and the impact it has on our community.  This is a wonderful hands-on introduction to our exciting curriculum. We will be leaving for the garden close to the start of Hebrew school, so please make sure your student is on time to Temple Israel so they don’t miss introductions.  Students should also wear clothes they can do a little gardening in. We will be back to the synagogue before 6pm.

Sunday, October 15th is tentatively our first service date. More information will follow about the service program, but please make sure your student is in Hebrew school this Sunday.

Sunday, November 19: the Director of the Telem and B’nai Telem Program at the JCRC, Barry Glass, will be giving a presentation to parents about B’nai Telem program (the basis of our Tuesday/Wednesday curriculum).

If you have any questions throughout the year, please feel free to contact me at

I am really looking forward to working with your student this upcoming year!

Shana tova, and looking forward to speaking with you soon.

All the best,
Katie Hamelburg

Katie Hamelburg l Metrowest Boston Jewish Community Pre-Teen Engagement Coordinator