Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Grade 4 update

This week, Hilary was out of town, and the students were lucky to have Leslie Grossman with them. They continued their way through the book, "I Have Questions About God." While reading each question, students were able to learn about perspectives of different Rabbis, and were able to offer their own perspectives as well! As usual, Bar led a fantastic lesson about Israel.

In Hebrew, we are up to line 35 of Ashrei. The students are doing a great job practicing and improving their reading. At home, please encourage students to practice and review their new lines, and sign their calendars for their sticker charts!-Hilary Henninger

4th grade- The fourth grade talked about the importance of shabbat and their interpretations regarding the story of the creation of the world. The students created wonderful drawings depicting each day of the story. The students also talked about why shabbat is important to them and their families. The students discussed their jewish identity and how they are forming their own beliefs and connections to the traditions of Judaism. The students also discussed briefly the importance of an Arc and created their own Arcs full of their most prized possessions. It was a really fun and creative day.-Sarah Wintman

Monday, October 30, 2017

Grade 3 - Gimel Goings On

Shalom Gimel Families,

I am very proud of the Gimel students!  They have done a great job mastering the Barachu and Yotzer Or prayers.

During the week the students were introduced to some Hebrew technology - an app called Batya’s Bubbles.  It includes listening to the blessings being read, being able to record a person reading and a game where students need to recognize words from the prayer. Both Tuesday and Wednesday groups had an opportunity to try out the app in class for a few minutes at the end of our Hebrew lesson.

In Hebrew we have also spent time talking about what the blessings mean, and students learned that the yotzer or (יוצר אור) blessing focuses on the creation of light, dark and all things, and is only recited in the morning.

Our Sunday stations included Hebrew reading where students worked on their decoding skills, a Hebrew reading four in a row game and independent work to reinforce reading skills.  

In Torah we continued our conversations about courage, and used the story of the midwives in Egypt to realize that sometimes it takes courage to stand up for what is right, against all odds.  Most students agreed that working as a team, as the midwives did, makes it easier to gain the courage to do the right thing.

We always enjoy spending time with Bar, our Israeli shinshin, on the weekday afternoons.  Last week Bar shared a very popular Israeli story that was read to him during his childhood and students played a game where they had to guess at the ending!

Students are doing a great job with their homework and calling Google Voice.  They received their November homework calendars yesterday.

Wishing everyone a great week!



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Grade 2- Kitah Bet

"Alef is silent-just say the vowel" and "Mem has two mountains"!  Our two new letters, and the "EE" vowel, which is of course colored green, have expanded our ability to read and make new words.  We used our letter reading with partners and learned how to write the Mem and Alef.  We also learned the that when the letter Mem appears at the end of a word it is called a final Mem, looks different and and never has a vowel.

In our Torah studies we discussed the difference between stories from the Torah and Midrash, which are stories which help explain the Torah stories or fill in gaps in the stories.  We read "Adam and Eve's First Sunset" by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and imagined what it might have been to see the sun disappear without knowing that it would return.  In the book Adam and Eve create fire to warm themselves-the kid's loved that detail.

We also read Eric Kimmel's "Why the Snake Crawls on Its Belly" about the snake, Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.  We discussed who was ultimately responsible for the events leading up to the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.  The students were able to attribute responsibility to all of the players; the snake for tempting Eve, Eve for tempting Adam and Adam for giving in.  Two students thought that God was ultimately responsible for putting all of the pieces in place which led us to wander about making decisions and personal responsibility.

We then tackled another question which I have heard Rabbi Kushner ask: Were Adam and Eve better off living in the Garden of Eden where everything was provided for them, or in the wider world where they had to fend for themselves?  Once again opinions varied, with some of the students thinking it would be wonderful in the Garden to live a carefree life while others thought the challenge of being self sufficient was a  much better way to live. We ended the discussion comparing Adam and Eve living in the Garden of Eden to small children having all of their needs met, and living outside of the Garden as children growing and learning for themselves.  One student was concerned that Adam and Eve still needed God to teach them how to do things and I suggested that perhaps that is the role of the Torah.

During these discussions we stress that there are no right or wrong answers and encourage everyone to share their opinions.  I am impressed at how respectful the students are to their classmates as they share their ideas.

We sent a package of "Stars of Hope" created earlier in the year to a Temple Beth Shalom in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The students were curious about the synagogue so we googled it.  On their website we read that they are only using the building for Shabbat services so we wrote that we hope they enjoy the stars on Shabbat mornings.  (I did not share any of the other details about the situation the synagogue and what the needs of it and it's congregants are).  Everybody was hopeful that the stars would bring some comfort to the people who would see them.

Grade K - Gan Class Update 10-29-17

Hello Gan Class Families!

Today was our last meeting of October!  Its so crazy how quickly the year is going.

Our day began in the Sanctuary for Tefillah.  We did not use our siddurim today, instead we practiced the songs and prayers along with Cantor Ken.  Our Gan class students are getting more comfortable in the Sanctuary, learning to sit in the chairs and becoming familiar with the surroundings. 

Back in our classroom we enjoyed our second Torah story.  It takes place in the Garden of Eden.  God makes a man and a women, they are named Adam and Eve.  God tells them that they are free to eat anything from the Garden except for the fruit of one special tree.  A snake tricks Eve into eating from the tree and she convinces Adam to eat the fruit as well.  As a punishment, God makes Adam and Eve leave the Garden of Eden forever.  

Bar continued sharing with us about what childhood is like in Israel.  Today we heard about some popular children's books.  Bar shared what the books were about and we had to guess the endings.  Some of the students knew some of the books, especially The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  Before he left, Bar asked us to draw a picture of our families and our dreams, what we want to be when we grow up.  Those pictures are waiting to be shared with Bar next week.

Our letters today were nun and hay.  Nun makes the sound n- and begins the words ner tamid and nerot.  The ner tamid is the light above the Aron Kodesh where the Torah's are kept.  This special light never goes out.  Nerot are candles like the ones we light on Shabbat.  Hay begins the word Havdalah.  Havdalah is how we say goodbye to Shabbat on Saturday evening.

Our Celebrations topic this week was Shabbat.  Students shared some of the things they do to celebrate Shabbat.  We learned Shabbat begins when the sun goes down on Friday evening and ends when there are three stars in the sky on Satruday evening.  On Shabbat we light candles, eat challah and make kiddush.  During our next class we will have the opportunity to construct some of the things that we need to celebrate Shabbat.

Today's mystery reader was Nadav's mom.  She read Shabbat Hiccups by Tracy Newman.  This was a silly story about a boy named Jonah who has hiccups for all of Shabbat!  The students are so excited to know who the mystery reader is each week.

Next week is Daylight Savings time.  Remember to turn your clocks back an hour.  In celebration of this (hopefully) extra hour of sleep we are going to have a Pajama Day!  Please wear your favorite pajamas to class.

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


About 2,000 years ago, Yehuda haNasi codified the Mishna, part of the Oral Torah, which was intended to transform the Torah into a set of guidelines for Jewish living.  Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Sages, is the only tractate of the Mishna that does not include Jewish laws.  It has been compared to Bartletts Familiar Quotations and contains famous rabbinic expressions.  In the Gesher class, our goal is to learn some of these rabbinic expressions and then to develop personal meanings and connections through the creation of i-movie trailer on our i-pads. 

Last week, we learned about the rabbis’ set of 14 stages of a Jewish life.  This week, we looked at the first verse of Pirkei Avot in which they trace the transmission of Torah from Moses to Joshua to the Prophets, etc. with the suggestion that ultimately that Torah has been transmitted to each of us.  The rabbis then teach us that the transmission of Torah requires three things: “Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many students and put a fence around the Torah.”  Then we looked at the second mishna in Pirkei Avot, “On three things the world stands; on the Torah, on worship and on acts of loving kindness.”  This mishna was then compared to the 18th mishna in the first chapter, “On three things the world stands; on judgment, on truth, and on peace.”  We wondered if these statements are somehow equivalent.  And students suggested that the second statement feels more like universal values to them where the first statement feels like it applies specifically to the Jewish people.  Next week, we’ll create our first videos with one of these mishnayot as a foundation.

Our tefillah experience focused on Ashrei since Gesher students often lead this prayer at Monday or Thursday morning minyanim and at each other’s b’nei mitzvah.

As part of our study of the Jewish Life Cycle, next week, we will have our first special guest, an expert, to talk with us about birth in the lives of Jewish people.

Grade 1 - Kitah Aleph Update

Kitah Aleph students reviewed the Hebrew letters learned in previous lessons (bet, shin and tav) and also learned a new letter today, the letter mem. It is very exciting to watch them recognizing the letters and beginning to sound them out when put together with the two "ah" vowels. We played Shimon Omer in Hebrew to practice vocabulary words such as yadayim (hands), rosh (head), raglayim (feet) and others. As always, the children very much enjoyed their visit from Bar who shared with them summaries and pictures of some of his favorite Hebrew childrens' books. Kitah Aleph students also began a review of the torah stories that the children learned last year in kindergarten. We went over the creation story and each child chose a particular day of creation and item that God created to illustrate. Please feel free to stop by the room to see the wonderful days of creation mural that the children made. Have a wonderful week. Kol Tuv, Joanne

Friday, October 27, 2017

Grade 6 Trop Class

In class this week we reviewed the first trope family (Etnachta) and learned the second one (Sof Pasuk)

Reminders that the students should bring each Tuesday or Wednesday

1) A folder or binder with their trope packet (and other papers later)
2) A set of 6 highlighters (preferably pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple)

This week's assignment (practicing 10-15 minutes a day): 
3) They should listen to tracks 1 & 2 on this pagehttps://tiofnatick.org/Torah  to master the "Etnachta" and "Sof Pasuk" families, and should also make flashcards for the first 5 trope (Mercha, Tipcha, Munach, Etnachta & Sof Pasuk), which we went over in class.  Flash cards should have the trope symbol on one side of the card and the name on the other, and they can put those in their folder to show me next week.  They can feel free to listen ahead to track 3, which we'll get to next week. 

If you want to review the introductory letter click here.  Feel free to call or email with questions.  I'm emailing parents and 6th graders if I have your addresses (if you have additional addresses I should send updates to, please let me know.  Thanks!   --- Cantor Ken

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Grade 1 - Kitah Aleph Update

This past Sunday our first-grade class learned some new Hebrew letters and talked about Shabbat. (We even had the chance to read the word Shabbat in Hebrew!) Bar visited the class and we played some games from his childhood. The kids loved it! We ended class with a story about Shabbat and will continue to talk about our Shabbat traditions and practices next week.

Madrichim Update

My name is Justin Linden and I assist Ms. Margie Matross with the 2nd graders on Wednesdays.  There are five children in the class, 2 boys and 3 girls.  They get along very well as they always laugh at each others jokes.  The kids are all very energetic and sometimes need a reminder to stay focused on the lesson.  However they show great enthusiasm in class and are very fun to teach.  They seem to really enjoy the active lessons where they can get out all of their energy.  I really enjoy teaching at the Hebrew school and feel that I have learned great new lessons on patience and how to teach to younger children.  


Hey everyone!

This week the older kids (4-7 grade) discussed a really important subject, the Israeli solider Gilad Shalit. They learned about his life and about the effort of Israel in terms of taking care of their soldiers, the value of life, and the Israeli solidarity among the people of Israel.

The younger kids (K-3) theme this month is Israeli childhood. Throughout the entire course of the month the kids are going to understand what is it like to grow up in Israel. They will learn about Israeli songs, games and childhood stories that every Israeli kid know of.