Friday, May 25, 2018


Shavuot was amazing!  Our day together began with the kindergarten as Gesher students guided, mentored and coached the 5 year-olds in the art and activity of making butter (and by the way, it was delicious!)  We made butter to represent the tradition of eating dairy at Shavuot.  Gesher students were amazing with their young partners—encouraging them as they shook, shook, shook the containers of cream until they became whipped cream and eventually butter.

We joined the congregation for the singing of Hallel  and the Torah reading.  We rose for the Aseret haDibrot, the Ten Commandments.  After the Torah reading we experienced the Aseret haDibrot in other ways; first seeing, hearing and wondering about the revelation experience and then wondering about the commandments themselves through Torah Godly Play.  We did a text study and considered two categories of commandments.  Commentators have suggested that commandments 1-5 are between people and God, and commandments 6-10 are between people.  We considered philosophical relationships between the commandments 1 and 6 (I am the Lord your God who took you out of Egypt & Do not murder, 2 and 7 etc…)

Our celebration together of Shavuot was a wonderful culmination to an amazing year!  I will miss Ben, Daniel, Sam, Max, Adam, Kayla, Naomi, Hannah, Hana and Leah. Best wishes for a fantastic summer and I can’t wait to hear about your next experiences on your Jewish journeys.  May you go from strength to strength!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Grade K - Gan Class Update 5-20-18

Hello Gan Class Families!

Isn't is amazing how quickly a year goes by?  It seems like not that long ago that we began this journey together and what an excellent journey it has been.  

Our final day together was filled with activities and excitement.  With our Gesher Class friends we made butter.  On Shavuot, it is traditional to eat dairy foods.  Butter is made from whipping cream which we vigorously shook until it became whipped cream and then separated into butter and buttermilk.  We tasted it on a bagel before sharing it with the congregation during Shavuot lunch.  

Tefillah was in the Sanctuary with members from the congregation all around.  We participated in Hallel and then each of us got to touch the Torah with the help of some adult friends.  

Our interactive Torah story was so much fun.  All of the students in grades K-5 crossed the Red Sea and wandered the desert with Moses(played by Bar).  We got to experience the miracle of manna as God shared it with us in the form of marshmallows.  

In our classroom we reviewed our letters one last time to feel really prepared for the Aleph class and each student received their very own Torah filled with the stories of what they did on Shabbat each week this year.  

While it is sad to have to say goodbye, I know that all of the Gan Class students will have an excellent year in the Aleph Class next year and I look forward to seeing their smiling faces in the hallway and during Tefillah.  Thank you for sharing your students with me, it was a true please to spend the year together.

Please keep an eye on your emails for a Something About Email to share some highlights of your child's Gan Class experience from the latter part of our year.  

I wish you all a fun and relaxing summer and can't wait to hear about all your adventures when we return to school in the fall.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Grade 2 Update

What an amazing last day of Second Grade!  We began Sunday morning in the classroom marveling  that we had counted the Omer for forty nine days and that we were ready to receive the Torah just as the Israelites had seven weeks after they had left Egypt.  We reviewed the Ten Commandments, agreed that they are indeed important guidelines to live by and that perhaps the word Commandment is not the proper translation as they are not all commandments. 

We then joined the rest of the school and the congregation in the sanctuary to sing the "Hallel" prayer and to participate in Temple Israel's Shavuot tradition of passing Torah scrolls amongst all the people present.  We left the sanctuary before the Torah service began and participated in a reenactment of the Exodus from Egypt and receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai.  The kids loved seeing Bar portray Moses, Robin  the Pillar of Cloud  that leads the Israelites through the desert, and Michelle Nelson  God.  The rest of the staff played various Israelites, the Pillar of Fire and even the rock which Moses struck in an effort to bring forth water.  The children walked through the walls of the Red Sea as it parted and from room to room in search of water and food, and to stand at the foot of Mount Sinai to hear the Ten Commandments chanted in Hebrew. 

We returned to our classroom to play a game in which we remembered many of the things we did during the year and talked about some of our favorite things.  Then it was back to the sanctuary to hear Rabbi Liben tell a story.   It was great to see many of you afterward enjoying lunch and each others company.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Kitah Aleph Celebrates Shavuot

Kitah Aleph students and teachers finished off our year with a very busy morning. We began with some class time. The children shared some highlights of the year including playing games with Bar, learning to recognize and read the Hebrew Aleph-Bet and getting to know the Jewish holidays. It was wonderful to have all the children present for this last day of our year together. We played aleph-bet bingo, Simon Says in Hebrew and reviewed the ten commandments. We also read a story about how a group of children in Israel celebrated the harvest aspects of Shavuot by first planting and growing wheat in the fall and then harvesting it in the spring to make cheesecake for Shavuot. We learned about the various Hebrew names for the holiday including Chag HaKatzir (the harvest holiday for wheat), Chag HaBikkurim (the harvest of the first fruits) and Z'man MaTan Torahteinu (the time of the giving of the Torah).

Kitah Aleph students joined the congregation in the sanctuary for hallel and the beginning of the torah service. We watched as the torah was passed from one person to the next. Each child also had a chance to give the torah a hug as it moved around the room.

Along with the other children in the school, Kitah Aleph students then participated in reenacting the Exodus from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, wandering in the dessert and finally receiving the ten commandments at Mount Sinai. It was great fun for the teachers and students alike. We followed Moses (who looked very much like our own Bar) and the pillar of cloud (which resembled Robin) and even received some manna in the dessert that tasted very much like marshmallows.

I want to extend my thanks to all the children and parents of Kitah Aleph. I truly enjoyed getting to know all the children this year. It was a pleasure to spend Sunday mornings with them. Best wishes for a wonderful, relaxing and fulfilling summer. Joanne

Friday, May 11, 2018


It has been an honor to learn with this amazing group of young people; Hana, Kayla, Hannah, Naomi, Leah, Max, Sam, Adam, Ben and Daniel. They are a group of ten extraordinary individuals, each on his or her own unique Jewish journey.  As a group they are very social, enthusiastic, funny, sensitive, compassionate, bright and creative thinkers.  

Our learning focused on Jewish holidays, Jewish life cycle, Tefillah and Pirkei Avot.  Two thousand years ago, the rabbis shared their ethical teachings in Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Sages, one of 63 tractates of the Mishna.  And, while their teachings are influenced by the times in which they lived, much of what they shared continues to have meaning for us today. 

During our study of Pirkei Avot, we unpacked the traditional meanings and then worked to construct meaning for ourselves by creating short videos.  One mishna from Pirkei Avot states, “Make for yourself a teacher, acquire for yourself a friend.”  Gesher students worked together on their videos as friends and through the process of creating videos together or sharing their videos, they became teachers.

During their siyum, our students taught selections from Pirkei Avot. First, the creator or creators introduced his, her or their video by explaining the mishna and then they shared their videos.  These videos are varied: some are touching, others are silly or funny, and some are profoundly meaningful.  Each demonstrates our students’ creativity, thought, insights and the fun that they had learning this year.

It has been an extraordinary year and I hope to remain part of their Jewish journeys as each finds her place in the Jewish community and the Jewish world. Mazal tov!  May you go from strength to strength!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Grade 4 Update

The 4th grade is finishing up the school year, by learning the meaning of some of our T’filah prayers. We discussed G’vurot. Finding strength in prayer. The G’vurot focuses on qualities we associate with God, like strength, love, mercy and support. The eternal is mighty, and powerful. The ruler is sustaining life (chai) and shows great compassion or mercy.
The students discussed how they can be more like God.

 Tikun olam is a commandment to repair the world. We discussed stopping horrendous acts that human beings do, such as destroying our own environment. 
Pollution, killing majestic elephants simply for their tusks. The killing of rhinos for their horns. The entire
animal is destroyed for a tiny piece to use for adornment. This is not showing mercy. We will strive to correct such injustices, as the next generation. Tikun olam. God wants us to repair the world. Everyone must try to listen to their yetzer Tov and not their yesterday Hara. Good vs. evil inclinations. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Grade 5 Update

Dear Kitah Hey Parents,

The weather is beautiful and the fifth graders and still learning a lot and having fun in Hebrew school! Lately, we have had many wonderful community programs to attend that have allowed our students to see what they are working toward and further understand what it means to be a part of the Jewish community.

During our class time, we have enjoyed more time with Bar and have focused on our last value of the year - Tikkun Olam: Repairing Our World.  Fifth graders discussed the responsibility of every generation to improve the world and how that differs from perfecting it.

Our most recent project partnered students into groups and allowed them to come up with a topic they are passionate about that would make the world a better place.  They then had to illustrate how a positive change could be made and how it could then have a domino effect that would lead to further positive change down the road. Some topics on the posters included: safe sports access for all, saving kids from war zones and other unsafe places, making sure kids get enough sleep, helping the needy, and creating programs to help the needy help themselves.   After completing the posters, we held a “museum” in class in which students independently walked around the classroom with sticky notes and commented on each posted with how he/she think this change will make a difference 50 years from now. It was amazing to see and hear the thought put into this project by the fifth graders!

In Hebrew, the fifth graders have been doing a great job with Aleinu! They have been reading and singing Aleinu in pairs, independently, and as a group, They have also have been playing fun games to keep Hebrew reading fun. Some recent games include: Memory, Bingo, Around the World, and Pick up Sticks. Students have also been counting the Omer.  

The fifth graders are very excited for an end-of-year party on the last day of Hebrew school - May 20th!  It would be wonderful if we could all contribute to the event. Below is a list of treats the kids came up with (it wasn’t us!) of what they would like for the celebration.  Please double check that anything brought to the temple in kosher and nut free. Please type your name next to the item you would like to bring to the party. Of course, we do not expect this entire list to be filled. The list is on the next page of this google doc.

Thank you!

Tali and Diana


Lauren Fishman
Mini cupcakes

Cape Cod potato chips with Helavagood dip
Lisa Goldsmith
Lauren Fishman
Assorted candies with no nuts

Pretzel rods
Rachel Plofsky
Capri Suns

Water bottles

Chocolate chip cookies
Rachel Plofsky
Fruit roll ups or fruit by the foot
Karen steinberg
Vegetable tray with dressing

Assorted berries

Pita chips with hummus

Crackling chocolate with a cow on it (?????)

Potato sticks from Trader Joes

Plantain chips

Cotton candy

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

6th/7th Grade Update

This week, we had the pleasure of welcoming Wade Blackman to TI to listen to us present about issues that we have learned this year in our B'nai Telem curriculum, such as inclusion, caring for the environment, connecting generations, and homelessness. Our students did a great job presenting, and when they were done, Mr. Blackman asked questions of them to get their input and ideas for possible solutions. At the end of our time together, we were also able to ask burning questions to him. There were many excellent questions regarding minimum wage, gun safety laws, and how much influence he has on creating and changing laws!

Second Grade Update

Another busy morning in Kitah Bet.  Listening to the students read always puts a smile on  the face of every adult in the room! At this point the class can properly identify and match each letter to the correct sound.  We know the basic vowels and are no longer intimidated by longer words, we know to sound them out letter by letter.  We continue to work on some of the less common vowel combinations which will be reinforced in the Third Grade.

The highlight of the morning was attending the Gesher Siyum (Seventh Grade Closing Presentation) as a class.  There were many siblings, and a cousin, who were marking the conclusion of this stage of their Jewish education as they complete their studies in our Religious School!  It was great to be present as the Seventh Graders led us in a short Prayer Service and shared some of their reflections with us.  The Second Graders were awesome audience members and helped end the morning by spontaneously joining in, well really helping to lead, the Shehecheyanu Prayer!

We are looking to forward to ending the year with two fantastic Sunday morning events.  This coming Sunday is our Israel Celebration and formal goodbye to Bar.  I will be at a wedding in New York but look forward to hearing about it from the kids next Tuesday and Wednesday.  The following Sunday is the first day of the Holiday of Shavuot and our last day of classes. It should be a very exciting way to end the year, participating in the tradition of passing the Torah Scrolls in the sanctuary, a special program in the school wing and saying goodbye in the classroom.  Hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Madrichim Update

Bina, the madricha in kindergarten, led a Hebrew bingo lesson with her students. They practiced their letters while having a great time.

-Sarah Wintman

Gimel Goings On

Shalom Gimel Families,

It has been a busy week in the Gimel Class, and who doesn't love this beautiful Spring weather!

Students have now completed up to line 19 of Ashrei and are doing a great job mastering it.  Next year, in the Dalet Class, they will learn the rest of it.  Over the next couple of weeks we will spend time reviewing what we have learned through whole group reading, buddy reading and Hebrew Reading games.

This past Sunday we had our final morning meeting for this year.  Hard to believe the year has gone by this quickly.  Students had a great time at morning meeting learning some Hebrew - schedule words, weather words, days of the week, seasons, Hebrew calendar and Hebrew counting.  The number game is always fun and this week students chose to count to eser (10) in Hebrew! 

On Sunday we had the privilege of attending the Gesher (7th grade) graduation.  Mazel Tov to all our Gesher students and their families!

During the week Bar visited our class and played a quiz game on the iPad about Israel.

This week we will talk about the holiday of Shavuot.

Upcoming in the Gimel Class:

  1. May 13: Israel celebration and walkathon.
  2. May 20:  Shavuot and last day of Hebrew School.  We will spend some time together as a class, attend services with the congregation and hold a school wide Shavuot activity.
  3. Weekdays:  We will continue to review Ashrei and talk about Shavuot.

Have a great week!



Shinshin Update

Hey all! 

This month we are continuing to talk about major events in every decade in Israel's history. This week we are talking about the third decade and major events such as Israel's winning the European basketball championship, foundation of Israel's television agency, Golda Meir and more.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Grade K - Gan Class Update 5-6-18

Hello Gan Class Families,

It is so hard to believe that there are only two more classes together and that both of those days will be filled with special activities.  The year has passed by us so quickly and it is amazing to see how much all of the Gan Class students have grown.

Tefillah took place in the Aleph classroom today.  We were encouraged to sing with strong voices and think about the meaning of the prayers.  I am so impressed with our Gan Class students.  As I looked around the room, everyone was singing the words or doing the motions to our prayers.  They have done such a great job learning Modeh Ani and the Shema as well as using the time during the Amidah to reflect on something they are grateful for.

Today was our last lesson with Bar.  He asked that all the students make him a picture so that he could compile a note from all of the students in our school.  Students asked me to help them spell words so that they could tell Bar that they will miss him and Good Luck in Israel.  After, students were encouraged to ask Bar any questions they hadn't had the opportunity to ask this year.  We learned that when he gets back to Israel he will join the Army.  He hopes to be able to visit with us again in 3 years when he completes his service.

The rest of the day was dedicated to work on our Aleph Bet letters.  We had three letters left to learn, zayin, tsadee and resh.  Zayin makes the sound z- and begins the word zebra, tsadee makes the sounds tz- and starts the word tzedakah and resh makes the sound r- and begins the word rimonim.  

Next week we will participate in the Walk-a-thon.  Please make sure that you refer to the event flyer and Robin's emails for all the details about this excellent opportunity.  

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


First Grade Happenings

First grade students had their last formal lesson with Bar today. Bar did a brief review of some of the information that he taught and the children made pictures for him. Bar shared that he will be doing some traveling in the USA this summer before returning to Israel to work and enter the army.

Today the children finished their aleph-bet books. They were very excited to be able to complete the workbooks and take them home. If your child was not in school this morning, please do stop by the classroom to pick up their books and other papers from their cubbies. The last two letters that we covered today were gimel and zayin. The children also learned the vowel shuruk that makes an "oo" sound. Toward the end of the morning we played an aleph-bet bingo game.

We began to learn a bit about the upcoming holiday of Shavuot. We talked about the roots of the holiday in an agricultural festival celebrating the harvesting of the first fruits. We spoke about the tradition of eating dairy foods. Everyone was excited about eating ice cream and cheese cake! The holiday also marks the time when the Jewish people received the ten commandments. When we meet again in two weeks on the holiday itself we will talk more in depth about the commandments and the whole school will re-enact the exodus from Egypt and the receiving of the ten commandments at Mt. Sinai.

Margie Matross stopped by for a few minutes to meet her future second graders this morning. It is hard to believe that there are only a couple more weeks of Sunday school.

Shavua Tov, Joanne

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Grade 5 Update

Dear Kitah Hey families,

In Religious School this week, the students have been discussing the idea of “Tikun Olam”, repairing the world. They participated in conversations on this topic, sharing causes they are passionate about and worked in small groups to create a single poster displaying the “domino effect” that one small act of kindness can create. 

In Hebrew, the kids have been continuing their practice of the Aleinu prayer and working at a number of other Hebrew language centered games to practice fluency. These include: bingo, go fish, and a game called “four square”. 

We’re very proud of all their work!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Grade 3 Update

Shalom Gimel Families,

Gimel students are making great progress with Ashrei and have learned up to Line 17.  They continue to enjoy their buddy reading and Hebrew Reading games.

In Torah studies students began to explore the concept of justice in the Exodus stories, and after playing a game last week where the rules were not fair, students talked about how this made them feel.  This led to a lively discussion about other areas of life where things are not fair, including how life was not fair for the slaves in Egypt!

This week students enjoyed learning from Bar about Kibbutz life in Israel and even got to plan their own kibbutz as a group!

Next week we will complete Ashrei up to Line 19, celebrate Israel Day with special activities, attend Gesher Siyum and continue to explore the theme of justice in the Exodus.

Enjoy the lovely warm weather!




Gesher students were reflective and contemplative as they prepared their introductions to their Pirkei Avot video commentaries for their Siyyum (Commencement) next Sunday.  They explained why they selected the mishna, what it means to them, what viewers will see and how these images explain their interpretation of the mishna.  Their insights and wisdom are remarkable!  I can't wait for you to hear them!

Since Lag B’Omer (the 33rd day of the Omer) will be celebrated on Thursday of this week, we saw heard and wondered about a Torah Godly Play story, The Fox and the Fish.  In this story, Rav Pappas asks Rabbi Akiva why he insists on learning and teaching Torah even though the Romans have forbidden it.  Rabbi Akiva responds with a parable, The Fox and the Fish. 
     Once upon a time there was a clever fox and the fox thought that he would catch some fish. So the fox went to the edge of the water and saw the fish swimming quickly in the water.  The fox said to the fish, “Why do you always swim around so quickly?”
      The fish answered, “We are afraid of the fishermen who put their nets in the water to catch us.”
     The fox thought he could trick the fish and catch them.  He said, “Why don’t you just come out of the water onto the land and live with me.  I will be your friend and we will live together in peace.”
     The fish said to the fox, “Foolish fox!  If we are afraid and in danger in the water, which is our home and helps us to live, if we come out of the water, we will certainly be in even more danger!”
Rabbi Akiva then said to Pappos, “You are foolish like the fox.  For me and the Jewish people, Torah is life water for fish.  It is our home.  We cannot live without it.  If we are afraid of the Romans when we study Torah, we will be even more afraid if we don’t study Torah.  We will be like fish out of water!”