Sunday, January 6, 2019

Grade 1/Kitah Alef 2018-2019


Hi All,

We had a very busy morning today in Kitah Aleph. We began our morning with our usual morning meeting. We reviewed today’s schedule in English and Hebrew, greeted each other with Boker Tov and shared highlights of our vacations. We played a quick game of Simon Says in Hebrew. Then we went off to join the pre-K/K class and second grade in the sanctuary for tefilah with Cantor Ken. In addition to our usual tefilot, we sang a few songs in preparation for the upcoming holiday of Tu B’shvat which this year will fall on the same day as Martin Luther King Day. Back in our classroom, we talked about why trees and important and why we have a holiday for trees. The children helped make a list of reasons we need trees. This included: trees give us fruit, nuts, maple syrup, paper, wood for houses and furniture, oxygen to breathe, homes for animals and they help prevent soil erosion. We talked about the importance of trees to the early chalutzim or pioneers who first built the state of Israel. Then we watched a video about Honi Ha’Ma’agal, Honi the circle marker, who learned about the importance of paying it forward, planting trees for future generations. Here is a link to the video online in case you want to watch it with your child:

In Hebrew, we sang the aleph bet song and reviewed the letters we have learned so far. We also learned the letter aleph, the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet which is silent. The children worked on some pages in their Hebrew books and read to a partner. I met with them each individually as well to go over the letters and their sounds.  When Nitzan came in today, she played a matching game with the children. The game was made up of Hebrew words that Nitzan has been teaching them. Ask your child to share one or two Hebrew words that he/she has learned from Nitzan. These include: har/mountain, yam/sea, sheket/quiet, mishpacha/family, yabasha/dry land, rikud/dance, yad/hand and others.

We reviewed some of the mitzvot or good deeds that we have been learning about this year. We have learned about welcoming guests/hachnassat orchim, visiting the sick/bikkur cholim and our most recent mitzvah, shmirat halev/guarding the tongue. The children read and answered a booklet about guarding one’s tongue; please ask them to show it to you.

Lastly today, Kitah Aleph students enjoyed acting out some torah stories. Everyone had a chance to act in at least one story. We covered the story of Jacob fleeing from his home and dreaming of a ladder with angels going up and down, the story of Jacob meeting Rachel at the well and lastly Jacob being tricked by Lavan into marrying Leah first before getting to marry Rachel.

Have a wonderful week.


Hi all,

This morning we had tefilah with Cantor Ken as usual. After tefilah, we stayed in the sanctuary with the second grade and talked about how a torah is made. The children learned the word parchment and got to touch and see a torah up close. The children had many thoughtful questions about the torah including who writes it, why some of the letters had crowns and many more. Ask your child why we use the silver yad or pointer when reading the torah rather than touching it with our fingers.

In Hebrew, the children learned the new letter dalet. Dalet has a dent (which distinguishes it from the letter resh) and makes a sound similar to the English letter D. As always, we reviewed the letters that we have already learned. We also played the color game and Shimon Omer. We began working on the Hebrew for jump, sit and run in addition to the parts of the body we have been working on for a while.

Unfortunately, Nitzan was not feeling well today so we missed our time with her. We reviewed earlier parts of the story of Jacob and Eisav and the birthright and continued the story including Rebecca and Jacob tricking Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing meant for Eisav. We watched a short video from Godcast re-telling this story. You can find the video at (it is the second one on the site; the one by Nechama Tamler).

We began some discussion of the Jewish value of sh’mirat ha’lashon or guarding one’s tongue. Each child wrote something kind on a slip of paper, folded it up and put the paper in a container. The children then took turns picking out one kind thing that someone had said and reading it out loud. We read the book: The Shema in the Mezzuzah; Listening to Each Other.

Many thanks to you all for the generous amazon gift card! Have a wonderful vacation and I look forward to being back with the children in the new year.



Happy Chanukkah to you all on this the last night of the holiday. Today in first grade we learned the Hebrew letter vet. Vet looks exactly like the letter bet except it is missing a dot and consequently has the sound of the English letter v rather than the sound of the English letter b. The children are doing a fabulous job overall remembering the letters that we have learned so far this year.

We had tefilah this morning with kindergarten and second grade as usual. However we were missing Cantor Ken, as he was busy at minyan. We discovered together that many of the children have been lighting their very own Chanukkiot this holiday and a number of them use Chanukkiot that they themselves made. We also discovered that most of the children have the shema hidden in their houses somewhere. Ask your child if he/she remembers where the shema is tucked away in your house.

The children finished up work on their Chanukkah fun packets and decorated dreidels with Chanukkah stickers. Please ask your child to show you the lovely tissue paper, “stained glass” dreidels that we made last week. We watched a somewhat silly but also informative video on the history of Chanukkah. You can catch it here if you want to watch it with your child: Please note that the video we watched is entitled: God Cast Spins Chanukah and can be found partway down this link.

We had great fun at the Chanukah party with the rest of the school this morning. We sang the Chanukkah blessings and many Chanukkah songs with Cantor Ken and the rest of the school. The children played with the dreidels at our table and pretty much everyone had their fill of yummy latkes, apple sauce and apple cider. Many, many thanks to the brotherhood for preparing and serving this delicious feast.

Back in the classroom, we finished our morning with two wonderful Chanukakh books: Nathan Blows out the Hanukkah Candles and The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes.

Next week we will resume our torah stories with more about Jacob and Esau and will learn the Hebrew letter Dalet.  Have a great week! 



Hi All and Happy Chanukkah!

First grade students reviewed the Chanukkah blessings and sang Chanukkah songs today with the cantor. From Nitzan, we  learned a bit about how Chanukkah is celebrated in Israel.  The children especially enjoyed playing a charades game with Nitzan acting out some of the symbols of Chanukkah. They learned that in Israel, Chanukkah is a time when we think about heroes. Each child shared a personal hero like a parent, sibling or grandparent and what makes that person heroic. We made “stained glass” dreidel pictures which are currently drying in the classroom and worked on Chanukkah fun packets. The children listened to one of my favorite Chanukkah stories, the Chanukkah Guest. Ask your children if they can tell you the Chanukkah trivia question they learned today during tefillah. We all are looking forward to continuing to celebrate Chanukkah next Sunday with latkes and other treats.

In Hebrew today, the children learned a new Hebrew letter, chaf. Chaf is tricky because it looks exactly like kaf but is missing a dot. The mnemonic for chaf is that it has a cough (in contrast to kaf which has a cough drop). Another challenging thing about chaf is that it makes a sound that we do not have in English. Overall, the children are remembering the letters we have learned beautifully. Since we meet only once a week, I do not really expect them to learn to read this year but I do hope that they will become familiar with most if not all of the letters and be able to name at least many of them.

In our torah lesson this week, we acted out the story of Eliezer meeting Rebecca at the well. The children also learned of the birth of Jacob and Eisav and how Eisav traded his birthright to Jacob for a pot of stew. To be continued…

Best wishes for a delightful Chanukkah!



Hi All,

Our new Hebrew today was the letter resh which has a round back and makes the sound “r.” The letter resh begins the Hebrew expression “Refuah she’laymah” which one says when wishing someone a speedy recovery from illness. In class today we began to learn a bit about the mitzvah of bikkur cholim, visiting the sick. The rabbis tell the story that God demonstrated this mitzvah by visiting Abraham when he was not well. Today the children made get well cards to be kept at TI. These will be sent out to students and faculty at the school who are sick during the year. In our study of Torah today, we reviewed the story of Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, who goes to find a wife for Isaac. He determines that Rebecca is the right person to marry Isaac after she not only offers to give him water but offers to give water to all 10 of his camels. The children concluded that Rebecca’s offer to draw water for all of Eliezer’s camels showed that she was a kind person who was good at sharing. KItah aleph students enjoyed our weekly game of Simon Says in Hebrew. We have now learned the Hebrew words for eyes, ears, nose, mouth, head, shoulders, stomach, knees and feet. Ask your child which ones he/she can tell you. We also played a game with the Hebrew names of the colors. The children practiced the blessings on the Chanukkah candles during tefillah with Cantor Ken and then again at the end of our class. It is hard to believe but the next time we meet will be on Sunday December 2nd. Chanukkah will begin that evening. We finished our morning with the book: Potato Pancakes All Around by Marilyn Hirsh.  Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. 



Hi All,

Happy Veteran’s Day weekend. We began our morning we the story of Abraham “arguing” with God about God’s plan to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The children listened to the story and we discussed how brave Abraham was to question God’s plan. Abraham challenged God not to destroy two whole cities given the possibility that there were some good/innocent people living in those cities as well as the “wicked” people. We talked about Abraham as an upstander like other upstanders the children know about (Dr. Martin Luther King and Ruby Bridges were two upstanders mentioned today). We will talk about more upstanders, both within and outside of the torah, as we continue our studies this year.

Kitah Aleph students had the opportunity to meet and hear from three members of Temple Israel who are veterans. One of these veterans is the grandfather of one of our own Kitah Aleph students. We ended our Veteran’s Day assembly with the singing of Oseh Shalom and our wish for peace.

In Hebrew, the children reviewed the letters we have done so far and learned a new letter, the letter Hey. At this point, even knowing only 6 letters and a couple vowels, the children were able to read a few very short Hebrew words.

Nitzan spent time with us as usual today. Nitzan’s lesson focused on different places in Israel. The children played a matching game with pictures of some different places. Ask your child how to say mountain in Hebrew and to tell you the name of the mountain near where Nitzan lives in Israel. Hint: it sounds a bit like something you put on a hot fudge sundae and starts with the letter c.

Believe it or not, we have only one more Sunday of Kitah Aleph before we start Chanukkah. We did a very quick review of the story of Chanukkah by watching a video:

We talked about the fact that the Chanukkah miracle was not only partly related to the fact that the small jar of oil that was meant to be enough for only one day actually lasted for eight days. The other miraculous part of the Chanukkah story was that the small army of Jews was able to defeat the mighty Assyrian forces. As part of our preparation for Chanukkah, we practiced the candle blessings and heard The Magic Dreidels by Eric Kimmel. Next week, we will continue to practice the candle blessings and learn more about Chanukkah.

Have a wonderful week.
Best, Joanne


Hi All,

This morning in Kitah Aleph, the children learned a new Hebrew letter, the letter kaf which makes a sound like the English letter K. As we do every week, we reviewed the other letters we have learned so far this year and the children practiced sounding out individual letters and the two vowels we know. We also have been working on singing the Debbie Friedman Aleph Bet song to help facilitate the children’s recognition of all of the Hebrew letters. Ask your child to sing the song for you.

For a little reminder here is a link to Debbie Friedman singing the song:
Please note that I do not do the English parts of the song with the children but rather we sing only the part that pertains directly to the Aleph Bet itself.

We reviewed the story of Abraham and Sarah welcoming the strangers to their tent and the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim today as well. We watched a fun video about this mitzvah and the children read a booklet and did some fun pages as well. Here is a link to the video on the site called Bimbam which has many videos about torah stories and mitzvot:

In other news from Kitah Aleph, we played Shimon Omer, Simons Says in Hebrew, as we continue to learn the parts of the body in Hebrew. The children also played a game with Nitzan similar to Duck, Duck Goose but using the word Arnevet (bunny) and the Hebrew colors. The children played a second game to work on learning the colors in Hebrew as well. We will be continuing to play both Shimon Omer and the color game in the coming weeks to reinforce and expand the children’s knowledge of these Hebrew words.

It is hard to believe but later this week, we will begin the new Hebrew month of Kislev which is the month in which Chanukkah falls. In tefillot this morning, Cantor Ken started reviewing the blessings for the Chanukkah candles. We will be going over these blessings as we go forward and get closer to the holiday.

Best wishes for a peaceful week ahead,



Hi All,

Today in Kitah Aleph we reviewed the Hebrew letters bet, tav, mem and shin and learned a new letter, lamed. The children all took turns reading and did a wonderful job pairing the letters with the two vowels we have learned (the kamatz and the patach which both make the sound “ah”). Each letter has a mnemonic device to help the children remember the letter and the sound it makes. The mnemonic for lamed is that lamed has a lap. We had a fun visit from Nitzan who taught the children three slang expressions in Hebrew: yalla (which means “let’s go”); sabbaba (which roughly translates as “cool” or “it’s good”) and achla (which means “good”). In tefillah, we practiced the sign language for the shema. Ask your child to show you how to sign the words of the shema. We also sang a fun song about Noah and his ark. Back in our classroom, the children acted out Lech Lecha, the parsha in which  God tells Abraham and Sarah to leave their home and go to the land of Israel. The children talked about moves that they have made and what it felt like to have to move to a new house or town. The children also acted out the story of the visit by the three angels to Abraham and Sarah. We talked about the mitzvah of Hachnassat Orchim, or welcoming guests, that the rabbis say we learned from how Abraham and Sarah welcomed these three strangers to their tent. The children shared what they do to make guests feel welcome at home. We learned the Hebrew term for welcome: bruchim ha’baim and made signs with those words. We also reviewed what we learned about Shabbat last week and finished reading the book: Mrs. Moskowitz and the Shabbat Candles, one of my personal favorite books about Shabbat. Next week we will go on to learn the letter kaf and continue the story of Abraham and Sarah.

Have a wonderful week! 



This week in Kitah Aleph we learned a new Hebrew letter, מ  (Mem), and our first vowels. Ask your student where the vowels go! We also discovered that using our new vowels we can now read the word שבת (Shabbat) in Hebrew. We decided that was great timing since we started learning about Shabbat this week. We talked about when Shabbat starts and ends and what special things we do for Shabbat, like lighting candles and eating challah. We talked about how some people won’t ride in cars or spend money on Shabbat. For our Torah study, we reviewed creation then went on to learn about Noah and how he saved two of every animal and even saved seeds to plant when the Earth dried out after the flood. We even read a silly story about Noah’s Bark! Cantor Ken wasn’t there to lead us in Tefillah, but we sang our prayers without him and did a great job. We missed getting to visit with our Shinshin, Nitzan, as she was travelling back from Israel, but are looking forward to getting to spend time with her next week.


Hi All,

It was wonderful to be back with the children today at Temple Israel. We reviewed the Hebrew letter bet and learned two new letters: tav and shin. Ask your children to tell the sounds that the two letters make. Today we also reviewed the story of creation from the book of Bereshit. We read a beautifully illustrated book titled Genesis which uses word directly from the Torah and illustrations by Ed Young. We sang  a Hebrew song about creation and also did a creation chant/rap (see the words below). The children then each chose a day of creation to illustrate. When you have a moment, please come into our classroom to check out our days of creation wall. As usual, the children had tefillah in the sanctuary with Cantor Ken. We took a few extra minutes with the Cantor to look at the beautiful torahs in their covers and to learn about more about a number of items in and around the ark including the eternal light, the torah pointers and crowns. The children had some great questions for Cantor Ken. Finally we played Simon Says in Hebrew and read Once Upon A Shabbos as an introduction to next week’s lesson about Shabbat. Our shinshin, Nitzan was away this week but will be back with us next Sunday.  Have a wonderful week! Joanne

Here is the creation chant/rap we learned:

Once upon a time it was right in the start
God said I’m gonna make light and dark

God said, (do two quick claps here) it’s the ____________ (fill in with first, second, third etc) day
And I did very good work today

Once upon a time
It was day number 2
The waters they parted, the heavens came through

Once upon a time
It was day number 3
The land appeared all covered with trees

Once upon a time
It was day number 4
The sun and the moon and the stars galore
Once upon a time
It was day number 5
The fish in the seas and the birds in the skies

Once upon a time
It was day number 6
The people and the animals were here to mix
Once upon a time
It was day number 7
God said:  I finished the earth and the heavens
God said: sh…sh…it’s the 7th day and I’m gonna rest all day today (2Xs)


Hi All,

We had a very busy morning today in Kitah Aleph. We joined the rest of the religious school and other members of the TI community in the sukkah this morning for hallel. Then after learning a bit about the holiday of hoshana rabba, each child was given a willow branch and allowed to beat it on the ground. We listened to the sound of the beating of the willows, which sounds a bit like the rain we begin to pray for starting tomorrow on Shemini Atzeret.  Back in class, we met our shinshin, Nitzan, who played a number of “getting to know you” games with the children. The children learned three new Hebrew words (mishpacha-family; rikud-dance and machzor-cycle/the siddur we use on the high holidays).  The children had snack and heard the book, The Sukkah on the Roof. We began our study of the Hebrew alphabet today with the letter Bet and the children did the first pages in their Hebrew workbooks. Finally, we had a chance to sing with Cantor Ken in preparation for Simchat Torah. The cantor taught the children how to sing the beginning of the first hoshana for erev Simchat Torah (Monday evening services).

A couple of reminders: There is no school next Sunday October 7th as it is Columbus Day weekend. I look forward to seeing your children on the 14th when we will learn another letter of the aleph-bet and begin to review Torah stories from the beginning of the book of Genesis. We do have a couple of children with food allergies in our class so please be extra careful that whatever your child brings for snack is free of nuts and nut residue!

Chag Sameah,

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