Weekly Summary Page

4th and 5th Grade

November 8, 2020

Shalom Parents, This week we learned about the parsha (weekly section read from the Torah) Vayera, which includes some of the most interesting stories and lessons in all of Genesis (in my opinion). We learned about the origins of the Jewish mitzvah of hospitality vis-a-vis Abraham keeping his tent open on all sides in order to welcome any and all guests. We also learn about Abraham arguing with HaShem (aka,God) about destroying the cities of Sodom and Gemorra. Jewish tradition teaches us that their greatest sins were in how they treated strangers, i.e., lack of hospitality (taken to a cruel level of behavior, which I did not discuss with your children). Learning about Abraham trying to save others tied in with our lessons about kehillah, community. It also tied in with a look at the mitzvah Do Not Stand Idly By. Jewish law teaches “When the community is in trouble, a person should not say “I will go to my house and I will eat and drink and be at peace with myself.” Rather, the Jewish obligation (mitzvah) is to help the community, in keeping with the mitzvah we learned earlier this year: Do Not Separate Yourself From The Community.” In light of the election last week, I think the idea of being obligated to our communities is particularly apt. This coming week, building on the mitzvot (plural of mitzvah) we’ve studied and the election, we will begin to look at the Jewish mitzvot (plural of mitvah) about being careful with our speech. Warmest wishes for a healthy week and a Shabbat shalom, Vicky

October 25, 2020

Shalom Parents!

We had another great week learning together! Your kids are so inspirational; thank you for sharing them with us! This week we learned about the parsha read by Jewish communities around the world – – Noah (parsha = chapter or section of the Torah; one parsha is read aloud and studied each week throughout the Jewish year). In Parshat Noah (parshat = chapter or section OF – the “t” added to the end of the word adds the English word of), we learn that HaShem (God) destroys the world with a flood, except for Noah and his family. Key highlights we focused on included:

1) Noah is righteous in his generation – most Jewish commentators agree that Noah may not have been considered a good person if he’d lived among a better group of people

2) Using COVID as an example, we learned that Noah’s response to the flood was to protect himself and his family, much as we wear masks in public to protect ourselves and our families, and others, from COVID. But, Noah did not go out and warn other people about the flood. There are two ways to be a good person: we can do the right thing, like Noah did. OR, we can do the right thing and take it a step further by being activists, when possible, safe and appropriate.

3) Some people who take the Torah, or Bible, literally claim that God will never destroy the world again, per Parshat Noah, and therefore, society does not need to worry about global warming. BUT, the story of Noah only says God will not destroy the world by flood, not some other method. And, it does not say that man cannot destroy the world. So if, as Jews, we want to use the Torah as an argument about the need to help the planet re global warming, we DO need to take seriously the science of global warming and do our part to help!

4) I also noted that many cultures have a flood story, including the Mayans, some Native American tribes, and the ancient Egyptians. So did the flood really happen? As a favorite teacher would say, “I don’t know. I wasn’t there. BUT, we can learn lessons from the story.” (I find it fascinating that this myth is found across so many ancient cultures.)

We also tied the story of Noah into continued study of the idea of kehillah, community. Speaking of which, this coming Sunday (Nov. 1), we are going to have a “treasure hunt.” The students will be tasked with finding 5 objects to represent 5 common roles in a kehillah: The Planner, the Do-er, the Leader, the Supporter and the Encourager. We will watch a video about a kehillah in action to show what some of these roles look like in person, and then we will use string or yarn (in the building bag) to tie our “roles” together. If you don’t have the building bag I dropped off, stacking the objects or putting them close together will also work.

In Hebrew, I am thrilled to tell you that all the students are doing really well! They are brave enough to read aloud, and are definitely getting the hang of putting together the vowel sounds with the letter sounds. If anyone wants some extra help, I am available most of the week. Also, if your child reviews the aleph-bet sheet in their folder, also available at this link, it will be really helpful for their reading skills. Reviewing even once a week will help.

Please note: I will be emailing you some materials this week for class. If you can print these sheets out for your kids, it will be helpful.

If you would like to reach me, my email is vicky.scolnick@gmail.com and my phone (texting is best) is 617*872*7048.


October 18, 2020

Shalom Parents, This week’s lesson focused on the Jewish value of kehillah – community. We talked about the differences between a group that comes together with intention and a random group; played a community-building game using the Hebrew word anachnu – we are …; and incorporated community themes in our Torah lesson. Speaking of Torah, last Saturday, the annual cycle of reading the Torah began. After a reminder that Judaism believes there is far more to the Torah than just the words in the Five Books of Moses, and learning the word allegory, we watched a video about Creation. The lesson drawn from the story of Adam and Eve feeling shame when they realize they are naked is an allegory designed to teach us that how something looks is not what we want to focus on; rather, focusing on active listening is a value that helps contribute to shalom – peace. B’shalom, Vicky

September 13, 2020

Thank you to all the parents for helping get your kids set up for our first e-class!  We will be learning about Jewish values, aka middot, this year.  The middah (singular of middot) we focused on this past week is “A Listening Ear,” which is the Attentive Listening value.  Paying attention can be very difficult, especially in our current era of online learning.  But as Jews, we have a wonderful opportunity to focus on using our listening skills when we hear the shofar blown this weekend during Rosh HaShana services.  To emphasize both “A Listening Ear” and Rosh HaShana, students made a collage with Rosh HaShana symbols: shofar, pomegranate, honey, round challah, apples and a fish.  Your child should be able to tell you what each symbol has to do with the Jewish New Year (they have a “cheat sheet”).  Additionally, the collage should have included the inspirational message “May the blasts of the shofar remind us to live our lives with purpose.”

Ms. Scolnick

Ms. Scolnick

Vicky Scolnick has been teaching Sunday school for over 20 years in cities throughout the United States.  Some of the cities she has lived in include Phoenix, Washington DC, NYC, Chicago and Boston.  She attended the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) for grad school, supplementing an upbringing replete with Jewish education, both at school and at home.  Outside of Sunday School, Vicky enjoys learning about all facets of Judaism, cooking, and arts and crafts.  She especially enjoys using her Cricut machine to make Jewish cutouts, baby gifts, decorations and household items.  With many relatives in Israel and Mexico, Vicky looks forward to being able to travel again sometime in the relatively near future.