March 31, 2013
First, I’d like to thank all of you for your help with our model seder. It was a great seder, and the kids really seemed to have fun while they were learning about this incredible holiday.
This past Sunday was the 6th day of Passover, so we continued to learn some of the common terms associated with the holiday by playing several rounds of Hangman. (I also showed the students an organizational tool which can be used to track which letters are left in the alphabet when playing this game.) We also segued into the next holiday on the Jewish calendar, which is Shavuot. We’ll continue to learn about that holiday in the remaining weeks of school, along with Israel Independence Day.
We worked on reading Hebrew and gaining familiarity with additional vowel sounds. Homework is comprised of three sheets: the first two sheets are for reading practice. The third sheet should be turned in to me on Sunday morning – it is a written exercise (circling the correct word choice.)
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to let me know.
March 10, 2013
Yesterday we began to learn some things about Passover, such as: Who is the Elijah that gets his own cup of wine at the seder? Why is this holiday called Passover? What was life like for the Israelites when they were slaves? Why did God send plagues and what were those like?
Incorporating Passover into our Hebrew studies, we worked in teams to spell words. Each time was given the Hebrew letters for a word, along with an unused letter, and had to put the correct letters in the correct order. For example, Passover in Hebrew is Pesach, comprised of three letters: pay, samech and chet. Each time was given those 3 letters and an aleph; the aleph was not used in the word; the other three letters had to be put in the correct order.
We also played hangman using items found on the seder table and practiced reading the “Ma Nishtana,” The Four Questions, in Hebrew. These 4 questions are traditionally asked by the youngest person at a seder and are supposed to set the stage for the explanation of why we celebrate this holiday.
HOMEWORK: I gave the students two sheets for homework. One sheet is a Hebrew worksheet; the other sheet has several questions about Passover, the answers to which can be found in the Passover chapter of our Jewish Holidays book.
Wishing you all a good week,
March 3, 2013
As you know, we had our Purim celebration at SSJS yesterday, which seemed to be enjoyed by all. In the class time we had prior to the Purim festivities, we started to discuss the next holiday in the Jewish calendar: Passover, aka Pesach. This year, Passover starts at sundown on Monday, March 25th. We will be having our in-class seder on March 24th; more details on that to come. Passover celebrates the Jews’ freedom from slavery in Egypt; the themes of freedom, and the responsibility that comes with it, are timeless, and Passover allows us to engage in and celebrate these concepts. (I promise, I describe things to your kids with much different terms!) Passover is also a time when many friends and/or families come together to enjoy each other’s company and partake in traditional foods and ceremonies.
In order to facilitate conversations and activities about Passover, the homework this week is to read the Passover chapter in our Jewish holidays book. Please let me know if your daughter/son cannot find his/her textbook; I will try to scan the chapter and email it to you. (Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wishing you a “shavu’a tov” – a good week (shavu’a = week; tov = good),
Feb. 3, 2013
As you probably know, SSJS will be celebrating Purim this coming Sunday. In preparation for this fun and happy holiday, we spent some time learning about Purim and decorated masks. In Hebrew, I handed out a packet which included 2 sheets listing all the vowel sounds. We practiced reading the new vowel sounds as well as those we’ve already learned. Homework is included in this packet: there is a sheet listing all the Hebrew letters, and hw is to write the English letter that makes the same sound as the Hebrew letter. (E.g.: next to the Hebrew letter Bet one would write a B.)
This coming Sunday, before the Purim festivities begin, we will be working on some Purim sheets and, of course, practice our Hebrew.
Please note that while I usually do not assign homework over vacation, I am going to assign Hebrew homework this Sunday, to be turned in after vacation. As you may have noticed, I am on a mission to ensure that your children know all the letters of the Aleph Bet and all the vowel sounds by the end of the year. Language skills require practice, thus the homework. That said, I can tell you that all the students in the class have definitely improved this year; I’m excited to see how much more we can learn in the next few months!
Jan. 27, 2013
As you probably know by now, last Sunday we learned about Tu B’Shevat, the Birthday for the Trees. Shevat is the name of the Hebrew month; the “Tu” is 15. “Tu” is comprised of the Hebrew letter Tet, which is the 9th letter of the Aleph Bet, and Vav, which is the 6th letter. (Each Hebrew letter has a value.) 9+6=15; Tet gives us the “t” sound and a Vav w/a dot in it’s “stomach” gives us an “oo” sound, and thus we have “Tu.” (Ask your son/daughter to explain why I say the Vav has a dot in it’s “stomach,” as opposed to a dot Over it’s head.)
Ordinarily, 15 would be written with a Yud and a Hay, the tenth and fifth letters in the Aleph Bet; however, these letters together, in that order, also spell a name for God, in keeping with the commandment of not taking God’s name in vain, when writing 15 with Hebrew letters, we use the Tet and Vav.
In addition to this Jewish Holiday Math, we learned that trees need birthdays because the Torah teaches us not to pick the fruit of a tree until it is 3 years old. On Tu B’Shevat, a tree is considered a year older, regardless of when it was planted. So a tree planted on the 14th of Shevat would be considered 1 year old the next day, but a tree planted on the 16th of Shevat would have to wait **353-355** days until it is considered a year old. As the students learned, a Jewish year is shorter than a solar/”American” year. The in a Jewish (lunar) year varies. (For your own edification, there are 7 leap years in a 19-year period; a Jewish leap year adds an extra month to the calendar. The month added is always Adar, which is the month after Shevat. So in Jewish leap years we have an Adar 1 and an Adar 2.)
In case your daughter/son did not mention it, and you are wondering, the green dye on the “tree” was food coloring (a spray-on variety). Hopefully the kids also remember that while food coloring is technically edible, that does NOT mean that we lick it off our hands. In fact, before we handled the candy part of the tree (and the Dots, btw, are a certified nut-free candy; the “leaves,” however, were not certified nut-free), everyone washed their hands with those disposable, anti-bacterial, soapy wipes, and dried their hands on paper towels.
Homework, again, is to read the Aleph Bet to you or another adult. Rote and tedious, I know, but one way to help the students gain and retain familiarity with the names of the letters.
This Sunday, we will delve into the wonderful, fun holiday of Purim!