Sunday, May 12, 2019

Grade 2/Kitah Bet 2018-2019


The second graders had lots of spirit on Sunday during t'filah with Cantor Ken, singing songs in honor of Israel's independence day.

In class, we continued to practice our reading. It's unbelievable how much progress the second graders have made! The students have learned how to break long words down into individual sounds in order to decode longer words. They are ready for third grade and learning more prayers!

Each student also made a small poster of a Hebrew letter with a trick to help remember it. For instance, "Samech is for stew" and "Gimel gets a goal".

We talked about the holiday of Shavuot and receiving the Torah. We also discussed the custom of eating dairy on Shavuot. Are you a cheesecake or blintz lover?


Second graders loved the drumming session on Sunday! Everybody was able to try a large assortment of percussion instruments, from the "Mother Drum" to small egg-shaped shakers. It sounded fantastic as we drummed along to different prayers and songs such as "Hinei Ma Tov".

Leading up to Yom HaAtzma'ut, Israel's independence day, we played a short Israel-themed game of True or False. I was impressed with how many answers they got right, drawing on their knowledge and on taking some educated guesses. The students were hoping to get more right - expressing their desire to learn more!

In Hebrew we are still finishing the last few vowel combinations and practicing, practicing, practicing. All of the students have come so far with their reading!


With Passover behind us we are in the final stretch before the end of school!

In Hebrew we are learning some of the vowels and vowel combinations that appear less often.

On Sunday we reviewed that a letter can only have one vowel, and that helps us know to read a "vo" sound with the missing vav. (For a more complete explanation, see page 49 in our text.)

We have learned that we count the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot and have been counting together in school. Ask your child how many weeks we count, and the connection to the name of the holiday Shavuot. We also learned that Passover and Shavuot are two of the pilgrimage holidays mentioned in the Torah.


Second grade is Passover Central!

On Sunday we learned about making matzah at the Model Matzah Factory. We learned about the wheat being harvested in dry conditions, and that it is then kept dry and clean under constant supervision until it is baked into matzah. Ask your children what the only two ingredients are in matzah, and how many minutes the process takes.

In class we have learned the story of Passover, and have discussed what it means to be free. We also discussed what is typically on the Seder table and the steps of the Seder, and we practiced singing the Four Questions. We also talked about our favorite ways to eat matzah - with chocolate was a crowd favorite.

We are all looking forward to sharing the holiday with our families, and to vacation!


WOW! What a wonderful Kabbalat Siddur ceremony! All of the kids were amazing. They led the prayers with such confidence and poise, spoke wonderfully, and helped to lead Josh's song with enthusiasm. I loved learning their Hebrew names and hearing about the beautiful wimpels.

On Sunday morning we followed up by making new name tags - in Hebrew! Everyone was so excited to be able to write their names. We also learned the letter zayin, and a new vowel combination - ach.

We finished the morning with prayers in the sanctuary led by Josh Warshawsky. The kids were all delighted to reconnect with their "new friend".

Now it's on to Passover. We've begun reviewing the story and will go on to the rituals next.


We are ready!

We practiced with Cantor Ken in the sanctuary in preparation for Kabbalat Siddur. We sang all the prayers, practiced what each student will say, and sang a special song that we will sing with Josh Warshawsky.

For the last hour of class, we met with Gary Alpert from Gateways. We read a book called Candlewick by Jennifer Rosner. It's about a deaf candlemaker who can't hear her customers at the door. Before Gary finished the story, he asked the students to brainstorm solutions to the problem. The kids worked in groups and came up with ideas such as cameras, vibrating wrist buzzers, seeing eye dogs, and glass doors. The kids were then able to make models of their ideas with Play-Doh. Ask your child what their solution was and why.

I am looking forward to celebrating with everyone this coming Shabbat, and continuing the weekend with Josh W. on Sunday morning!


The second graders had lots of fun drumming on Sunday! Everyone had the opportunity to try different types of drums: hand drums, tambourines, drums made out of gourds, and lots of shakers.

We also practiced the morning prayers with Cantor Ken. They are sounding better every time we practice, louder and more confident. We encourage you to have your kids practice at home, perhaps even in the car.

We've also been continuing to learn about Purim, reviewing and acting out the story. Our crazy hat/hair day coincided perfectly with the day of the Purim carnival, helping to add a festive air to the classroom.

It's amazing that with all this going on, we found time to practice our reading. We can read all but one of the letters - ask your children if they know which one is missing. All of the students are making great progress, able to decode longer words.


In Hebrew we added the letter "Tet" and reviewed the "OOH" vowels in Chapter 13 in our text.  We also jumped ahead and added the vowel which is introduced in Chapter 14.  We already know that the vowel with two dots, one on top of the other is in the middle of the word it acts as a mini stop sign, now we learned that when it is at the beginning of a word it makes a short "i" sound as in "it".  I felt it was important to add this now to help the students who want to try the V"Ahavta prayer as it appears several times. 

We learned that there are four traditions for the holiday of Purim which in Hebrew all begin with the letter "mem".  They are reading the Megilat Esther, giving gifts of food to friends,  having a festive meal and giving charity to the poor.  We will be doing at Temple Israel to celebrate the holiday.  Everyone knew about hearing the story of Esther read out loud and giving Mishloah Manot, we connected the family dinner to the festive meal and learned that someone always collects money during the reading of the Megaliat Esther which is usually used to help people buy food for Passover for whom that may be a hardship.

We are also preparing for our Kabbalat Siddur celebration by writing what we are thankful for and practicing singing with Cantor Ken.  The students will also be helping to lead a song with our guest musician and in preparation have been learning about the commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself.  We read three books which can be connected to the theme; Chick Chack Shabbat, Thank You Omu, and Do Unto Otters and discussed how neighbors can treat each other and come together to help each other.  We also brainstormed about why the Torah tells us to love your neighbor rather than your friend, what do you think?

Looking forward to celebrating with every one on Purim and at Kabbalat Siddur!


In Bet Class, we added two new letters, the Fey and Final Fey.  We learned that the Final Fey is only used at the end of a word and never has a vowel.  We also introduced the "O" vowels before they appear in our text.  These vowel sounds were added to help us decode the words of the V'Ahavta prayer.  The students received the words of the prayer in Hebrew and in pairs read the prayer aloud.  At this point, the students can identify most of the letters and vowels.  Some of the students found it easier to sing the prayer while others concentrated on reading the words in front of them.  This was a difficult challenge and the kids did great!

We have been reviewing the story of Purim, adding a little more detail than in years past.  The students love filling in the gaps in the story and are trying to decide what kind of person was King Achashverous; evil, good,  indifferent or too self involved.  What do you think?  We will be learning the different customs involved with the holdiday and their symbolism.  Though the class certainly remembers to boo at the sound of Haman's name.

Our schedule has changed slightly mid-week, with Nitzan coming in earlier than she has been.  We are meeting with her together with the Third Grade, allowing her more time to run her activities, and having more students in the room makes some of the games she plays even more fun.

We have also begun to prepare for our  Siddur Ceromony, stay tuned for more details.  Looking forward to celebrating with you on March 30th.


We started book 2 in our Hebrew program and learned three new vowels (eh/ay) and two new letters, sin and samech. In our Torah studies we learned about Avram and Lot separating because the land could not support all their livestock. Avram stayed in the land of Israel. We had lots of fun acting it out!

We read The Perfect Prayer, about the three sounds in "Sh'ma". "Sh" to remind us to listen, "mm" for thinking, and "ah" for being in awe.

We're looking forward to sleeping late over vacation! I hope everyone has time to relax and enjoy being together. We're also looking forward to celebrating Purim in March.

Ask your child what their perfect prayer is!


Yeah! We finished our first book in Hebrew! We've learned more than half the letters and some basic Hebrew vocabulary. The students are all very proud of how much they have learned. They are reading beautifully!

In our Torah studies we learned about Avram hearing God's voice telling him to leave his father's house and go to a new land. We had lots of fun acting this story out, taking turns being Avram, his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and their servants. Some of us thought they might be afraid or sad at the thought of leaving everything behind. Some of us thought they were excited and one student talked about trusting God. How do you think they felt?


We did it! The second graders had a fun pajama/popcorn/stuffed animal morning to celebrate all the great learning that has been happening over the last few weeks.

In Hebrew, we added the letters "Vav" and "Vet" and a new silent vowel. We learned that the new vowel acts like a stop sign in the middle of the word or a break between syllables. It's a little tricky, but we are working hard to incorporate it into our reading.

In honor of MLK Day we read a book called "As Good As Anybody" about the friendship Dr. King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. The book describes instances of prejudices that each man encountered, Dr. King in segregated south and Rabbi Heschel in Germany and Poland before World War II. We read that Rabbi Heschel joined Dr. King in the fight against injustice in this country. After we discussed the book and the idea of respect, we added speech bubbles to our self portraits on the bulletin board. They read: "I show respect for others when..." and "I show my love for God when..."

Please ask your child how he/she filled in the speech bubble. We are looking forward to celebrating Tu B'Shvat with the school at a seder organized by Nitzan on Sunday, January 27th!


We learned 2½ new letters this week - Chet, Lamed, and the Tav with a dot in the middle, which we pronounce the same as without the dot in the middle. We can now read "Hallah" in Hebrew! We met with Cantor Ken and began learning the words and melody for the "VaAhavtah" prayer. We are also making hand motions to go with the words. Be sure to ask your child where in our class did we find the words for this prayer. We read the book "Abraham's Search for God" and began discussing how Abraham's belief in God was different than those around him I know that we will have many interesting discussions about Abraham. During T'Filah with the kindergarten and 1st graders, we sang songs for the holiday Tu B'Shvat. It is one of my favorite holidays and am looking forward to it.


In Hebrew, we have been learning the letters "Pey" and "Resh". The chapter in our text also includes the "Final Mem" which we had already learned. When we learned how to write the "Resh" we saw that it's actually the base fr writing many other letters such as "Bet", "Pey", "Tav", and "Final Mem".

After "T'filah" (prayer) on Sunday, the Bet class stayed in the sanctuary with the first grade class. We discussed what a Torah is made from (animal skins) and how it is written (by hand). We then took a Torah scroll out of the ark and carefully looked at it.

Ask your child about what we noticed about the writing and the letters. We also looked at a book called a Tikun which Torah readers use to practice before they read in front of a congregation.


Second Grade this week was full of Hanukkah spirit.  Midweek we began with a school-wide candle lighting ceremony.  In Hebrew the students played a reading game "Spin and Read", using a dreidel they needed to read a word beginning with the letter the dreidel landed on.  The students then created beautiful "Stained Glass Art" to go with the theme of  Hanukkah as the Festival of Lights.  On Sunday we were treated to a party hosted by the Men's Club with yummy snacks, singing with Cantor Ken and lots of Dreidel spinning.  The children also had the opportunity to share some of their favorite Hanukkah activities (the word presents was banned from the discussion!).  We heard about lots of family parties, dreidel competitions, and mountains of latkes which were consumed.  I read two of my favorite holiday books, both by Eric Kimmel, Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins and The Golem's Latkes.
I hope that everyone had a fun and joyous holiday!


Shalom Second Grade Families,

It was great to get back into the classroom after Thanksgiving. 

In Hebrew, we began Chapter 6 of our text learning  Koof, and a new vowel "oo" and a vowel combination "ooey".  The class continues to impress me with wonderful their reading.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Rabbi Libben came to say hello and answer any questions that the students wanted to ask him, we had two very different discussions.  On Tuesday the kids were interested in talking about their Hebrew names which led to a discussion about where many of our families came from and immigration.   On Wednesday the discussion was centered more on God and "How do you know.... if you can't see God?" We talked about things existing that you can't see, such as wind and love, and about having faith in something that you believe in even if you can't prove it's existence. 

We've also been learning about Hanukkah.  We reviewed the basic story and discussed the miracles associated with the holiday.  The class agreed that a small group of Jewish farmers turned soldiers going up against a huge army and winning was indeed a miracle. 
Cantor Ken talked about Hanukkah in relation to the Jewish calendar and that it spans two Jewish months and in class as a follow up, we read a story called "Hanukkah Moon" by Deborah da Costa.  We also made decorations for the room using metallic markers on black paper.

On a sadder note, we discussed some of the rituals concerning Jewish mourning.  We focused on the process of sitting Shivah and learned that it has its roots in the Joseph story in the Torah.  We talked about trying to make a friend feel better, by playing, listening or just by being there.  We then made condolence cards for Emily and Jason.  I was very proud of how respectful the children were during this discussion, how they listened to each other's experiences of going to Shiva Houses and seriously they took the task of making the cards.

Homework this week is both simple and fun-to light Hanukkah candles!  Ask your child the difference between a menorah and a hanukkiah.

Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah,



The second grade learned נ Nun and י Yud and two new vowels (and ן Final Nun). Which allows us to be able to read Nitzan's name! We read "Finding the Fruits of Peace," - Cain and Abel. A very child friendly retelling of the story, which was new to many of them. The students met with Temple Israel veterans in honor of Veteran's day and got to ask them questions. We are looking forward to continuing with our Torah stories we have begun Noah. Also, learning about your children's homes this coming Sunday. We discussed different strategies which Cain could have used. Ask your child: What do you think he could have done instead of throwing the rock at Abel?


Second Grade continues to be a busy class.  In Hebrew, we have been practicing our reading and writing and have learned a new game, Oy Va Voy.
It’s great to see how nicely all of the students work together in class.  I continue to be impressed at the student’s level of excitement about doing the homework reading.   Keep up the good work!
 In our Torah studies, we read “Why the Snake Crawls on Its Belly” by Eric Kimmel.   The book retells part of the Adam and Eve story and explains what the snake’s consequences were for tempting Eve.  We discussed that this story is not directly from the Torah but rather is based on a Midrash about the Torah passage. We then discussed a question I once heard Rabbi Kushner pose, “Was it good that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden?”  We delved a bit into the question to understand it as was it better for Adam and Eve to have everything provided for them or was it better to be challenged to learn to provide and create for themselves?  I wonder if you and your child would agree on an answer?


On Sunday we began Chapter 4 in our Hebrew text, adding the letters ה Hey and  צ Tzadi.  We also looked at the ץ final Tzadi, and discussed that this is the letter to use if there is a Tzadi at the end of word.  We learned that the Hey makes an H sound in the beginning or middle of a word and is silent when it comes at the end of a word.  The class is excited as we learn more vocabulary words.  We played two Hebrew reading games this week in class; “Buzz Off’ using Popsicle sticks and try not to get “stung” and a Candy land type game trying to get to the finish line before the other player.

In our Torah studies we went onto the story of Adam and Eve.  We discussed who the children would hold responsible for Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit.  The answers varied from just the serpent, just Eve, Eve and the serpent to both Adam and Eve.  We then had a short conversation about people making their own choices as to what they do.   Ask you children who they think is responsible. 


Did you know that we begin Sunday mornings with T’filah (prayer) with the Kindergarteners and First Graders?  We begin with prayers/songs thanking God for creating a new day, continue with the Sh’ma and personal thanks and a prayer for peace.  We often end with songs appropriate to the holidays or perhaps popular Israeli children’s songs.  This week the Second Graders were amazing role models for the younger children, singing beautifully, sharing what they are thankful for and answering questions about the different prayers.

In Hebrew we continued on to Chapter Three in our text, learning/reviewing the letters Alef א and Mem מ. While the final Mem מ is not introduced until later in the text we did cover it in class in order to understand that when the sound m comes at the end of a Hebrew word with no vowel we only use the final Mem מ.  We also learned a new vowel, which makes the “EE” sound.  We have two new important key words-Ima אמא and Abba אבא, ask your children if they remember what they mean.

In our Torah studies we continued discussing creation and that people are were created in God’s image.  We agreed that we don’t actually know what God looks like, though many of the students had their own ideas. The answers included God looks like a human (more often a man than a woman), an angle, different elements of nature such as the sun and the stars and God is invisible.  We discussed the need to treat each other with respect since we are all created in God’s image.  The students then created self-portraits to add to our bulletin board about creation.


Shalom Bet Families

We have finally had a regular week of religious school and we took advantage of every minute!

In Hebrew we began the second chapter of our text book.  We added the letters 
Gimmel ג and Dalet ד.  We have also added the new key word "dagדג to the ones from Chapter 1, "bat"  בת and Shabbatשבת .  Please ask your child if s/he remembers what they mean.  We have been practicing reading and the kids are constantly amazing me!

We began our Torah studies with "Beresheit", the beginning of the book of Genesis.  We read about what God created on each  day of creation, and began to create art work to decorate the bulletin board in our classroom.  

Homework began this past week.  I hope that you have all had the opportunity to see the homework sheet and to hear your child read.  In class we discussed that the expectation is to read 5-7 minutes for each assignment. Some children might read the entire page and that some children may not be able to do that in 5 minutes.  I stressed that accuracy is more important than speed, and that everyone reads at their own pace in every language.  It is important the reading be done out loud.  Please sign the homework sheet after your child reads, prizes will be given out after ten assignments are completed.  The work is meant to reinforce what is learned in class, not to learn new material.  If you have any questions please be in touch.

Looking forward to seeing you this coming Saturday at Synaplex, 



Hi Kitah Bet Families, 

We had a very busy first class today.   

We began with Tefillah (prayer) with Cantor Ken and the younger students in the sanctuary.  We talked about things we are thankful for, sang "Modeh Ani ", the Shema and Oseh Shalom.  We also saw that the Torah scrolls are still "dressed" in their special white clothes for the New Year celebrations.  

In the classroom, we played a "Getting To Know You Game", had snack,  created class rules, learned about Sukkot and had a VERY short taste of Hebrew.  Rachel's mom, Anna, came in and helped us make decorations and hang them in the Sukkah.  

The students created the list of class rules, or "will try to" as we phrased it, on their own with very little teacher input.  Please ask them if they remember any of those promises and if any of them may be challenging for them to try to do this year in class. (A little hint, we talked about expected classroom behavior and respecting each other.)

I'm looking forward to getting to know all of your children as they grow and learn in Kitah Bet this year.

Wishing all of you a Happy Sukkot, 

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