Shorashim spent this past year embracing Israel, the theme of the school year. We listened to the Israeli classic – Eretz Yisrael Sheli and learned what the words meant through hand motions, acting, coloring, food, and watching how other children around the world interpreted the song. We spent time learning the names and sounds of the letters in the Alef-Bet and the letters in each other’s names. Much of our learning followed the Jewish calendar and holidays: Rosh Chodesh, Parashat HaShavua (the weekly Torah portion). At Tu B’Shevat, we had a lot of fun making four seasons of trees and tasting Shivat Haminim foods (the seven species from Israel). Pesach was exciting as we learned Ma Nishtana and Dayenu as well as creating projects to use at home. For Mother’s Day, the students created wonderful cards and beautiful Ahava (love) hamsas to bring home to their own mothers. This year’s culminating activity- our Zimriyah highlighted the hard work and effort of the Shorashim students when they gleefully and proudly sang Eretz Yisrael Sheli for all of our parents and guests.
I look forward to seeing this year’s Shorashim grown and learn next year in Kitah Bet (and beyond). I am excited to meet the incoming class of Shorashim after the summer and introduce them to Shaarei Tikvah’s religious school and all the wonderful things they will have the opportunity to learn and experience.
Kitah Bet was an exciting year for our second graders. Every class, they came eager to learn a new letter! After mastering the letter and how to write it, they enjoyed being challenged by reading longer and longer letter/vowel combinations. Our students successfully finished the first two books in our reading series and are all set to start Book 3 in the fall. Impressive accomplishment. They loved playing Hebrew games including Hangman where they learned new vocabulary and Simon Says where they learned the words for body parts and the words for up and down. We also played various matching lotto Hebrew letter games as well as Aleph-Bet puzzles.
The students followed each weekly portion and the best part was discussing the family relationships in the book of Bereshit. Many comparisons to present day were discussed. They enjoyed the big books I brought in to follow the weekly portion because of the outstanding visuals to go along with the stories.
Holiday rituals and historic background were always a favorite topic. They loved learning to light the candles and using our class’s hanukiah for practice. They also loved learning Ma Nishtana and asked repeatedly to recite it individually for the class.
Shabbat with third and fourth graders in the second half of the year was one of our highlights. They loved joining in and learning the prayers. Sometimes they were asked to wash their hands and recite HaMotzi for the group!
Next year I hope to use more games and incorporate more Hebrew from day one on basic instructions.
We had an amazing year in Kitah Gimmel. We started the year by exploring our connection to Israel. We enjoyed studying about the history and geography of the land and compared the lives of Israelis to our own. This year we also focused on learning the Torah stories in depth. We learned about the Garden of Eden, we explored the possible reasons for people disobeying God and learned about making right choices in our lives. We continued to gain fluency in Hebrew reading. In addition, we started to read simple stories in Hebrew and learned how to maintain a basic conversation in Hebrew. It was a pleasure to teach and to learn from my students this year!
Throughout April and May, we learned about several important events that helped in forming our students’ Jewish identity. Learning about Pesach, Holocaust Memorial Day, Memorial Day for the Israeli Soldiers, and Israel Independence Day helped the students understand the importance of communal memory and connecting to our past. Commemorating and celebrating these important events as a community helped the children experience the power of the Shaarei Tikvah community.
Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) was incredible this year! The focus of our learning was the diversity of cultures within Israel. We learned about the Israeli Defense Forces, we studied our map of Israel and the countries surrounding Israel and read about the important things that were invented and developed in Israel. We also learned about the Israeli flag and the currency: the shekel. We played Israeli games and sang Israeli songs. We had so much fun!
In Kitah Hay we had a great year with many challenging and fun activities. We started the year by exploring our personal connection to Judaism, our own identity, and how it reflects in our daily life. We learned about the struggles of the Jewish people at the time of Hellenism and its effect on their choices that led to their revolt against the Greeks. This year we also focused on learning about Israel in a personal way. Each student chose a subject they wanted to learn about. They researched it and prepared a short activity, teaching it to the class. We finished the months of learning about Israel with a cook-out of some Israeli breakfast food. At the same time, we worked hard to learn the Haftarah tropes with Cantor Cohen as well as leading some parts of the Shabbat service. We finished this amazing year with our Jerusalem Project! The many years of Jerusalem’s history was divided between 7 teams. Each team learned about one period of history and then decorated a cake to reflect that period. After presenting it to other students, we of course enjoyed eating them! Thank you all for an amazing year.
Over the course of this year, the sixth graders have focused on who they are and their connection to the Jewish people through our many lessons. They studied the history of Jews as being a people of the book: our Torah. They also studied Jewish life cycle events such as the Brit Milah, B’nai Mitzvah and the Jewish wedding. The students made personal connections to these events through various activities. They enjoyed learning the material from research conducted at school as well as entertaining videos. The students especially enjoyed examining their Jewish ancestry as they studied the Jewish journey to America through Ellis Island. Students learned about personal experiences and struggles with immigrating to America from videos, photographs and audio clips. We also enjoyed learning about the Jewish holidays. During Hanukkah they studied the Maccabees during Greco/Roman times, Tu B’Shvat was an exploration of “the seven species,” and Passover focused on the topic of slavery and freedom. Students have enjoyed learning modern conversational Hebrew while performing skits in Hebrew. We read the Torah Trope for their Torah portions as well as the blessings before and after the Haftorah and Torah reading. We also reviewed relevant Hebrew for each Jewish holiday. The vav class had a wonderful time practicing Tefillah songs with interactive games they created like, “Lecha Dodi” hot potato. The sixth graders have completed this year with an understanding of Mi Ani? (who they are) and their connection to Judaism.
The Zayin class has finished up the Israeli Inside U program. This curriculum involved watching and discussing film clips that explore the Israeli people and how they have transformed their country from a desert into a dynamic, innovative and humanitarian society. For the rest of the year we will be learning about the Jewish exodus from Europe to Israel after WWII, and the Israeli Defense Forces!