Wednesday, February 28, 2018

6th/7th Update

We hope you all had a wonderful break, and it is so exciting to be back just in time for Purim!

This week in the 6th and 7th grade Tuesday/Wednesday class, we collectively retold the Purim story, and then thought about all the ways the different characters stood up for something. Following this discussion, we brainstormed and shared personal stories about when we have stood up for other people. We connected our personal stories to the stories of the Purim characters, applying our modern experiences to this aspect of Jewish history.

We hope to see you all tomorrow at Temple Israel for the Purim festivities!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Grade 6 Trope Update

We've been working on the Haftarah Blessings, and all of the students could use some practice and review of these at home.  Recordings can be found on track 14 and tracks 16-21 on this page on the TI website:    The goal is for each of the students to be able to confidently sing the blessings on their own (as they'll do for their bar or bat mitzvah), though we'll mostly be singing them together in class.  I've introduced the blessings in class but some daily practice is needed for the students to master them.  They should also spend a little time reviewing the Torah trope (tracks 1-10), and making sure they can name each symbol and sing its name.  The students can apply the trope to their maftir Torah portion which is in their bar or bat mitzvah folder (let me know if you have questions).  We'll spend some time on Haftarah trope when we return from break.

We also hope that many of you can join us for Purim on Wednesday evening, February 28.  Here is the link to sign up:

Feel free to email or call back with any questions about trope class, Purim, or any other issues.

Wishing everyone a good Presidents Day weekend and school vacation week.

Shabbat Shalom--

Cantor Ken

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Grade 4 Update


The fourth graders are quite excited about our upcoming vacation.  The energy they brought to school was used in a productive way.  I gave the students silly putty to use while reading out loud. This kept their hands busy and their minds on the task of reading the selection. 

Another technique, that we used was balancing. The students practiced balancing various sized items on their heads, while they read the prayers, for before and after Torah readings. Enjoy the pictures of our fourth graders working hard to read aloud. Rachel, was strong enough to read the full prayer, while doing a handstand and reading upside down. 

Movement, is helpful to assist our students with their learning and energy after a long day at secular school.  The students were happy to work and compete at reading the best while balancing. 

Have a wonderful and safe February vacation.

Grade 5 Update

Dear Kitah Hey families,

We have had a very busy week at TI! On Sunday morning, we had an incredible opportunity to work with a Columbia/JTS based acupella group called Pizmon! The group worked with each grade at TI and taught songs that each grade was able to perform for the whole school (in Hebrew). Pizmon also put on a concert for the whole school to enjoy. The students had a wonderful time watching the show! 

During values class, the students participated in a communal art project where each student was able to contribute an element.

The students then participated in a Hebrew Workshop where students traveled to 3 different centers. One of these centers allowed the students to practice their Hebrew reading skills while also giving them time to become familiar with the next blessings we will be studying (the prayers said before and after Torah readings). Another of these centers was a game of pick-up sticks (Hebrew style) where students had to read words written on the sticks correctly in order to keep them (whoever had the most sticks at the end of the game won). The last center included a partner reading activity where students had to work together to decode food items on a grocery list (written in Hebrew). The students had to translate the food items into English. It was a lot of fun!

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the students put on their own Purim Shpiel to better understand the Purim story and to celebrate the holiday (which is coming up right after February vacation)! 

We will miss the students over break but wish you all a happy and relaxing february vacation. We look forward to the return of our fifth graders. :)


Madrichim Update

Madricha have been meeting with their teachers to start planning their lesson that they will lead in the spring. The madricha is excited to take this on and show their leadership and creativity skills.

-Sarah Wintman  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

6th and 7th Grade Update: Sunday (6th) and Weekday (B'nai Telem)

What a fun week at Temple Israel! On Sunday, Pizmon, an a Capella group from Columbia University, Barnard College, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, came to perform for us and led breakout sessions with us to teach us how to beat box and perform parts of a song. Then, the sixth and seventh grade came together to perform what we learned. The sixth grade had their own special Tefilah service.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we designed and decorated mezuzot as a culminating project for our previous unit about inclusion and accessibility. One of the main things we noticed was that people who are in wheelchairs, or shorter, are not able to reach the mezuzah when they enter a room. To make this mitzvah more accessible, we will add mezuzot in a lower place from every door.

Grade 2 Update

Hello all,

We all had a fantastic Sunday! Pizmon, the Jewish acapella group, came to teach us and the third grade the song Hine Ma Tov along with some awesome dance moves that the classes came up with. After a little practice, we got to perform it for the whole school! We also got to watch some other performances from the other grades. We really enjoyed and having Pizmon to start our Sunday off in a cheerful mood!

Once we got back to class, we reviewed our letters and began talking about Purim. We did a fun reenactment of the story where some of us got to be King Ahashveros, Queen Vashti, Queen Esther, Mordechai, Hamon, and many more. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we will be reviewing more of our letters and continuing to work in our books. We also will be reviewing Purim from Sunday by reading another story and playing twenty questions. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Grade 3 - Gimel Goings On

Shalom Gimel Families,

Yesterday was a fun day in Hebrew School!  Students were treated to a fabulous concert and workshop with Pizmon, the Accapella group that visited TI this weekend.  The day started off with a workshop by Pizmon where the students learned to sing Hinei Matov to the tune of In the Jungle.  This was followed by a Pizmon concert where students got to see them perform, and each grade level performed the song they learned in the morning.

In Hebrew, students have learned up to line 9 of Mi Kamocha and are doing a great job mastering it.  Stations this week included small group reading, Hebrew Reading games and Hebrew buddy reading.
This week we will work on line 10 and 11.

During the week we started talking about Purim and Tuesday students (Wednesday students had a snow day) read the Purim story in the form of a play.  This was followed by a Purim story floor game to review the story.  This week we will talk more about the traditions of Purim and Wednesday students will have an opportunity to read the Purim play.

I hope everyone has a great week and a restful and safe February vacation.




What an amazing day!!!
Pizmon, the Jewish, coed, pluralistic acapella group from Barnard, Columbia and JTS, joined us this morning.  The Pizmon singers worked with each class to learn a song.  After our acapella workshops, Pizmon performed for us and then student groups performed for each other.  There was beautiful music, joy and great fun!

Later in the morning, in Gesher, it was all Purim, all the time! We learned about the four mitzvot of Purim: Giving Tzedakah to two poor people, giving mishloach manot, hearing the Megillah read, and enjoying a festive meal.  We were rabbis addressing a question from 17th century Europe:  If there are only 10 Jewish men available for the Megillah reading, and one of the men doesn’t want to join the others to make the minyan, can he be compelled to participate? First we wondered about situations when the needs of the community might supercede the preferences of the individual such as being a member of a team or not going to school/work when one is ill.  Then Students developed their own responses to this question.  They asked;could we count women?  What if each man simply read the megillah in his own house?  And then we looked at some Jewish texts to find answers from our tradition.  We also looked at Megillat Esther, chapter 4 verses 13 and 14.  In these verses, Mordechai is trying to convince a reluctant Esther to approach the king and to intervene on behalf of the Jewish people.  He says, perhaps it was for this purpose that you have become queen.  Do we have a purpose?  How might we know what it is?

Best wishes for all good things during the February recess.  When we return, our focus will be Pesach.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Grade K - Gan Class Update 2-11-18

Hello Gan Class Families!

It was such a great weekend for the Gan Class students!  They were truly remarkable on the bimah on Shabbat morning.  So many congregants shared with me how impressed they were with our Gan Class students and how adorable they were singing.  The best part was their gigantic smiles as the crossed the bimah to receive their very own Torahs!  I hope you enjoyed the morning as much as I did.  Thank you for sharing your students with the community this weekend.

Sunday was also a super exciting day.  We spent much of the morning with Pizmon, the Jewish co-ed a capella group from Barnard/Columbia/JTS.  They helped us to learn a song with hand motions to share with the school.  Then we joined the whole school for a concert.  We got to sing our song for everyone, enjoyed the songs that the other classes learned and were entertained by the great songs Pizmon sang.  Some of them were very silly and others were songs we know from movies.

Our new letter today was vav.  Vav makes the sounds v- and begins the word vered which means rose.  All of the Gan Class students were given two vereds to take home today to help them remember our new letter and to share with their families.

Our Celebrations learning was about Purim which will take place the week after February Break.  Students have been working towards learning a song for the Purim Talent Show.  Today we learned more about the story of Purim.  We discussed some of the things we do on Purim, read from the Megillah, give Misloach Manot and play games.  I hope to see you on Wednesday, February 28th for our Purim Celebrations and on March 4th for the annual Purim Carnival.

Our Mystery Reader today was Robin Kahn.  She brought one of her favorite Purim story, Cakes and Miracles by Barbara Diamond Goldin.   If you aren't familiar with this story, I highly recommend it. Thanks Robin for sharing such a great story with us!Image result for purim book cakes and miracles

Our next class will take place on March 4th.  I hope that your family enjoys a wonderful February Break.

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

Kitah Aleph Sings with Pizmon

What an exciting morning! Kitah aleph students began their day with a visit from members of Pizmon, the Jewish acappella singing group from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Columbia University and Barnard College. We did some fun warm-up exercises with Pizmon and then they taught the children a song called "Hear O Israel." The children worked with Pizmon to create hand signals to go with the song and soon we were ready to perform.

Kitah aleph students joined the rest of the school in the sanctuary to hear Pizmon sing. Some of our favorites included a song about Noah's ark, complete with animal sounds, and Hebrew versions of songs from some favorite Disney movies including Moana and Frozen. Kitah aleph students did a wonderful job performing the song that they learned from Pizmon. Then we were able to listen to all the other classes perform what they had learned as well.

Back in the classroom, we had snack and then learned a new Hebrew letter, the letter tzadee which makes a sound similar to the sound made by the two English letters, ts. Tzadee is the first letter in the word, tzedakah, which the children knew means charity or giving money to people who are in need. After Hebrew, we reviewed the story of Purim. Some children did some more work on our classroom Purim mural which recaps the story of Purim. All the children worked some on a Purim fun packet. The children did not get to finish the packet but maybe they will chose to do so at home. Ask your child to show it to you.

Best wishes for a healthy and relaxing February vacation. See you in March! Best, Joanne

Monday, February 5, 2018

Grade 2 Update

The Second Graders were excited on Sunday as we declared "We have finished the First Book!" (and of course celebrated with a special snack of popcorn and fruit pops.)  There was a  collective sense of great accomplishment in the room and anticipation for begining the Second Hebrew Book and learning the rest of the letters and especially new vowels.

Cantor Ken came to class and we finished creating hand motions to accompany the  V'Ahavta prayer.  We discussed that this prayer is found in both the Tefilin, which are worn during morning prayers, and in the Mezzuzah.  We then looked at the prayer on the parchment in the Mezzuzah on our classroom doorway.

We began learning about Purim by looking at the Hebrew months and we remembered that the months are lunar months, based on the cycle of the moon.  We discussed that the 3 Jewish holidays we celebrate at this time of the year  Tu B'shvat, Purim and Passover all  fall on a full moon.

The students all have been enthusiastically singing the song "Raise a Glass" in preparation for Purim, I can't wait to hear many of them sing it on Purim. 

Gimel Goings On

Shalom Gimel Families!

Students have had a fun week in Hebrew School!

In Hebrew students are up to line 6 of Mi Kamocha and are doing a great job reading and chanting it.  We have also talked about what it all means.  After listening to Debbie Friedman's song, Miriam's Song students wrote journal entries about why the women may have brought their tambourines when they had to leave Egypt in a hurry.   Some students said that it is because they were free! They also analyzed how the women felt dancing with the timbrels after being freed from slavery.  Here is the link to the song:

Our stations this week were Hebrew Buddy Reading, Hebrew Reading Games and small group reading.

Students continue to enjoy their conversational Hebrew in morning meeting and our end of day closing circle.  This week, Tefillah was a definite favorite!

During the week students enjoyed a small Tu Bishvat snack (clementines and pretzels) and completed their Tu Bishvat research projects.  There were also Tu Bishvat activity choices - word search, crossword puzzle, acrostic poem and art.

We enjoyed our visit from Bar where we used the iPad app Kahoot to play a Tu Bishvat quiz game!  Great fun had by all!

Upcoming this week

  1.  Students will start learning and participating in Purim activities.
  2. Students will learn new lines from Mi Kamocha
  3. Pizmon Synaplex this Shabbat - hope to see you there!
  4. Students will receive their February calendars this week.
Hope everyone has a good week.



Grade 6 Update

The past two weeks at Temple Israel of Natick, the 6th grade class has had the opportunity to participate in special Sunday programming, particularly focusing on connecting to Jewish ritual. 

On Sunday, January 28th, the 6th grade class worked on creating a Tallit for their B'nai Mitzvah, working with families and peers to design and build their Tallit. Students worked really hard on creating their Tallit--thank you to everyone who participated and made this day a success. 

On February 4th, the 6th grade class participated in the World Wide Wrap, learning to wrap and wear T'fillin with other synagogue and community members. It was an extremely meaningful program, participating in a community-wide initiative while learning about this element of Jewish ritual. 

We also concluded projects that Bar will take with him on his upcoming trip to Israel, to bring to our partner school in Haifa. Students sent pictures and letters to introduce themselves to students in Haifa, in order to kick-off our partnership. We're excited to see the program develop, and to forge connections with students in Israel! 

This upcoming Shabbat, we will be joined by an A Capella group, Pizmon, as a part of Synaplex and A Capella Shabbat. I hope to see everyone there! Looking forward to another wonderful week of learning and exploring with the Temple Israel community. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Grade 1 Update

Purim is coming! It seems hard to believe but Purim is only about a month away. Kitah Aleph students heard the story of Purim today. They then retold the story in their own words. Each child then chose one part of the story to depict in a class mural. The students began some wonderful drawings of Queen Esther, King Ahasureus and the evil Haman. We will continue working on this mural next week. Feel free to stop by and take a peek next Sunday.

In Hebrew today, the children were introduced to the letter Koof. As we do each week, we reviewed the names of the letters and their sounds. The students began learning the aleph-bet song by Debbie Friedman today. Do check out the song on youtube at:

The children played a fun Tu B'shvat game with Bar today. Bar brought his friend, another shinshin, Shira, to visit out class. They reviewed some traditions about Tu B'shvat with the children. Bar explained that on Tu B'shvat it is traditional to eat fruit, particularly dried fruit. Then Bar blindfolded each child and gave him/her a piece of dried fruit to taste. The child had to try and guess what kind of fruit it was that he/she was tasting. This task was harder than one might suppose especially with some tricky fruits such as dried cherries and mangoes. Almost all the children were willing to give this game a try, even the children who are not especially fond of dried fruit.

We are very excited about the upcoming visit by Pizmon! Stay tuned for information on our time with the members of this dynamic acapella group.

Shavua Tov,


Gesher had an amazing and very busy Sunday!  First we explored similarities and differences between Purim and Passover such as strong heroic women, redeemers with royal connections, and “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!”  In another Purim-Passover activity, we looked at 15 similar texts.  Some of the texts were from the Book of Exodus, others were from Megillat Esther and some are attributed to Hitler.  Students were tasked with sorting the texts according to source. Our recognition of a recurring trend in our history was terrifying!

Pirkei Avot 2:16, You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it had robust connections for us to other Jewish texts. The Hebrew word, ‘work’ in this mishna is the same used in Genesis (1:31-2:3) which describes God’s work in creating the world and His abstention from work on Shabbat.  From this we understand that this text involves partnering with God in the work of Creation.  How do we do that?  We recognize that creation is still in progress and noted that many things need to be fixed in God’s world.  Students suggested some things that need fixing:
  • Pollution
  • The Middle East conflict
  • War
  • Terrorism
  • Hunger and starvation
  • Global warming
  • Under-age marriages
  • Exploitation of children
  • Rising sea levels
Then we looked at the word for ‘free’ and found that we know it from the morning blessings in which we thank God for making us free and from the Haggadah where we note that in the past we were slaves and now we are free.  The implication is that God has made us free to be God’s partners in tikkun olam, world repair.

Next week we will continue to explore Megillat Esther and Purim to find new understandings and personal connections.

Grade K- Gan Class Update

Hello Gan Class Families!

Our final preparations for Kabbalat Torah took place today.  Bina and Sydney helped us to finish our Special Projects and we can't wait to share them with you. Cantor Ken helped us to practice our singing in the Sanctuary.  We sounded great!  Kabbalat Torah will take place this Saturday during Synaplex.

We were so lucky today to meet Shira, a Shinshin just like Bar.  She was very nice and helped us during our Tu B'Shevat activity that Bar led. Students were blindfolded and had to guess what type of dried fruit they were eating.  It was silly and delicious!

Today we reviewed our letters through Aleph Bet Centers.  We played Hebrew Letter Go Fish, used cookie cutters and Play Doh to shape the letters and made illustrations of our vocabulary words in our work books.  Next week we will learn the letter vav while studying Purim.

Finally, our Mystery Reader today was Alex's dad.  He read several stories from a collection of Jewish bedtime stories.  One of them was about Abraham and Sarah who we will meet in the Torah story we read next week.

I can't wait to see you all on Saturday morning for Kabbalat Torah!  Have a great week.

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