Weekly Summary Page

Pre K Through 1st Grade

March 21, 2021

Dear Families, 
        Today we completed our Passover studies.  Your children now know many details of the Pesach story which we repeat every year at our seders.  We have had the opportunity to discuss slavery and freedom.  The children had a number of requests of Pharaoh today – but almost every response from the king was a resounding “NO!”  No in Hebrew is “LO”.
        Our Hebrew focus today was on the letter MEM which makes an “M” sound.  Key words to practice MEM are Mezzuzah and Matzah.  Please encourage your child to complete the pamphlet for this letter.
        I read the book “The Matzah Man” by Naomi Howland.  I told a story I  created about a girl named Rachel, whose Grandma (Savta) comes to visit for Passover.  Your child can tell you what gift Savta brought and the wonderful project Rachel made with the gift.  Please ask what the morning surprise was for Rachel and Savta!
        We’ve been practicing the Four Questions or “Ma Nishtana” and the song Dayenu, which celebrates our freedom.  Perhaps you will hear these at your seder.  
         Have a delightful Passover filled with blessings!    Love, Mindy

March 14, 2021

Dear Families, 
        We had a joyous time learning about Passover (Pesach) and celebrating the freedom of the Israelites when they escaped Egypt.  Pharoah, on the other hand, did not have a great morning.  Due to his stubbornness, he was covered with frogs and ten plagues befell his people.  We are sad to hear of any suffering, but so glad to not be slaves of Pharoah!  
        Our Hebrew letter focus today was on the letter Nun.  Nun makes an “N” sound.  Our key word is Nair which means candle.  The plural is Nairot.  Please encourage your child to complete the Nun pamphlet and to practice writing Nun.  You may wish to do a hunt in your home to see what kinds of Nairot you have.
        I told a story entitled “The Passover Parrot”.  Perhaps your child will tell you the story.  It involves a child who needed to practice the Four Questions (Ma Nishtana) to prepare for the seder.  The child’s pet parrot escapes with the matzah!  Please ask your child how the matzah was returned and how the pet was re-captured.  
        We practiced Passover song including Dayenu.  Here is a link to use to help you learn the Ma Nishtana.  It includes English, Hebrew and Transliteration.
Have a wonderful week! 
Love, Mindy

March 7, 2021

Dear Families, 
        We have begun our study of Passover – in Hebrew Pesach.  Included in the recent pick up are sheets with Passover information, vocabulary words, and a copy of The Four Questions (Ma Nishtana).  Please enjoy these resources and add to them with your own searches.  It will be very helpful to play the Ma Nishtana and the song of gratitude called “Dayenu” in your home.  
        We heard the story of Passover which I told with props.  It is the tale of the escape of the Israelites from Egypt.  We celebrate freedom each year with a retelling at a special dinner or Seder.  Many families substitute Matzah for bread to remember the haste with which the Jews fled Egypt, and fled the tyranny of King Pharaoh. 
        Our Hebrew focus today was on the letter “Koof” which makes a hard “C” or “K” sound.  Please encourage your child to complete the pamphlet for this letter.  We also noted that both Purim and Passover begin with the letter Pay.
        Alex, our assistant teacher, showed us photos of pyramids and the secret passages within them.  Your child is making a 3-D pyramid.  
        Enjoy the week and we’ll see you next Sunday!    Love, Mindy

February 28, 2021

Dear Families, 
        Today we finished learning about the holiday of Purim.  We reviewed the story, sang some Purim songs and did Purim Mad Libs.  Your children love to fill in the blanks – with nouns, verbs, color and animal words – and the resulting story is hilarious.
        Our Hebrew focus today was on the letter Resh with makes an R sound.  Some Hebrew key words for Resh are Rosh (head) Rav (Rabbi) and Ra-ash (noise).  Please encourage your child to complete the Resh booklet.
        I told the story of “Our Very Own Esther” by Sylvia Rous.  An ingenious little girl used her wooden creations to help a greedy king learn how to be considerate to his people.  Each child then made art works with wood pieces.  
        Passover is our next Jewish Holiday and we have begun learning the “Ma Nishtana” (four questions) and the song Dayenu.  If you have an opportunity to play the Ma Nishtana at home, it will greatly enhance our studies.  
        Have a wonderful week!  Love, Mindy

February 7, 2021

Dear Families, 
            Today we began celebrating the holiday of Purim with songs, puppets, and stories.  Purim is a fun-filled holiday.  The Purim story is read from a scroll called a Megillah.  The Megillah tells us of a silly king who lived in Persia and enjoyed having parties.  His advisor, Hamen, was an unhappy man who wanted to be rid of the Jewish people.  Queen Esther and Cousin Mordechai were Jewish and learned of Hamen’s intention to harm the Jews. With clever thinking and courage, Esther foiled Hamen’s plot, and saved her people.  Every year we celebrate Esther’s victory with parties, costumes and a delicious triangular pastry called Hamentashen.
            In Hebrew studies, we learned about the letter Samech which makes an “S” sound.  Our keyword to practice Samech is SOOS (pronounced like Dr. Seuss).  SOOS is the Hebrew word for horse.  Please encourage your child to complete the pamphlet for the letter Samech. 
            Stay warm and cozy and we will look forward to seeing you on February 28, when Sunday School resumes!
                                                                                            Love, Mindy

January 31, 2021

Dear Families, 
        Your children amaze us with their humor and creativity.
        Today we continued our study of Tu B’Shevat – a celebration of trees and the many gifts they bestow.  Although it is certainly not planting time here in the Boston area, in Israel it is the beginning of spring.  Our celebration included reading the book “A Tree Is Nice” singing Tu B’Shevat songs and hearing a story about a Tu B’shevat tree that grows presents.  We learned how to do a simple indoor planting.  Simply wet a paper towel and place it in a zip-lock bag.  Then please look around your home for seeds to plant.  I had lentils and popcorn kernels.  Place the seed on the wet paper towel, zip it up and put the bag in a sunny spot.  Next week we’ll see what happened.   
        In honor of Tu B’Shevat, we learned the letter TET.  TET makes a “T” sound and is the first Hebrew letter of this holiday’s name.  Another key word is “Tallit” or Jewish prayer shawl.  Please encourage your child to complete the pamphlet on letter TET.
        Each child created a planting scene.  We so enjoy seeing the art work, hearing the singing, and conversing with your magnificent children.
        Next week we’ll be learning about Purim.  I have sent you the outline of a castle.  You may want to have a cardboard box handy for making the castle into a 3-D masterpiece.
        Have a great week and stay safe and warm.   Love, Mindy

January 24, 2021

Dear Families, 
        Today we began to learn about the holiday Tu B’Shevat which is akin to Jewish Arbor Day.  While it is cold in our area, spring is arriving in Israel and the almond trees are bursting with blossoms.  If in Israel, it is traditional to plant trees on Tu B’Shevat, celebrating the new year or birthday the trees. The children shared their ideas about the gifts that trees give us.
        I told a story entitled “Almond Tree’s Birthday” and your child decorated a tree for the holiday. We learned Tu B’Shevat songs and looked at the life cycle of a chestnut.  Here, where it is definitely not planting time, we plant seeds at home or send money to Israel for tree planting there.
        Our Hebrew letter for the day is Kaf.  It looks like a backwards letter “C” with a dot in the middle, and makes a hard “K or C” sound.  A key word to remember Kaf is Ketter meaning crown.  Please have your child complete the brochure for Kaf.  Thank you!
        Soon we’ll be studying Purim, a joyous holiday during which children dress up in costumes.  I’ll send you a Ketter for your child’s royal dress up wardrobe.
        Have a wonderful week.   Love, Mindy

January 10, 2021

Dear Families,
It was wonderful to be with your children today, as always.
In Hebrew studies we focused on the letter “PEY” which makes a “P” sound.  Our Hebrew key words for PEY are PEH (mouth), and PEEL (elephant).  We sounded out Pey with vowels.  Please encourage your child to complete the PEY brochure to practice the letter.
Today was a day when we studied the value of compassion towards animals.  How lucky – our assistant teacher Alex showed us his new kitten!  We talked about our responsibilities towards animals.  Here are some thoughts about the subject:
Jews should take great pride in their centuries-long history of showing compassion and concern for animals and the environment—. Thus have the Jews, charged with the mission of being “compassionate children of compassionate ancestors” and “a light unto the nations,” given the world, along with monotheism, the important legacy of compassion for other living creatures.

The Bible and Jewish law teach us to treat animals with kindness and respect and to protect nature and conserve its resources. Indeed, such teachings are fundamental to Judaism and its traditions.  (author unknown).

We will continue to look at caring for animals and the environment during our next class, when we learn about the upcoming holiday of Tu Be’Shevat – also known as “the birthday of the trees”.
I told a story entitled “Mark’s Mittens” in which a boy has precious mittens made by his SAVTA (grandmother).  Please ask your child to retell the story.  A good home connection would be to read “The Mitten” by Jan Brett.
Have a great week!   Love, Mindy

December 20, 2020

Dear Families, 
        It’s always a challenge to say goodbye to Hanukkah – so we extended the celebration today.  For Hebrew studies we focused on the letter Gimmel, which makes a “G” sound.  It is the final letter of the Hebrew word for snow “Shelleg”.  We all shared stories of our adventures in the Shelleg this past week.  Please review the Gimmel pamphlet with your child.  Our students also noted that Gimmel is the best letter to land on when playing the dreidel game.
        We read the book “Latkes and Applesauce” by Fran Manushkin.  It’s about a family who is snowed in during Hanukkah, and unable to make the traditional holiday treats.  Some miracles occur – and enable them to celebrate.  Please ask your child to retell the story.
        I told a story about a magic frying pan.  Upon the command “Nes Gadol Haya Sham”, the pan would fry latkes.  It would only stop upon hearing the name of the Hanukkah hero “Judah Macabee”.  In the story, someone forgets how to stop the frying pan.  Please ask your child to fill in the exciting details.
        We have a brief vacation from Sunday School and will look forward to reuniting in January.  In the meantime, we send wishes for your health and happiness as we approach the New Year.
                                                    Love, Mindy

December 13, 2020

Dear Families, 
        Your children delight us with their lovely contributions to class each Sunday morning.
        Today, we welcomed the bright light of Hanukkah with songs, stories and creativity.  Our Hebrew concentration was on the letter Het, the first letter in the Hebrew word Hanukkah.  Please have your child complete the “Het” pamphlet in “Now I Know my Alef-Bet”.  We practiced Het with the vowels we’ve learned and reviewed the dreidle letters:  Nun, Gimmel, Hay and Shin.  Some new terms are:
Sivivon (dreidel) and Sufganiot (donuts fried in oil).  We looked for oil as our ancestors did, with a guessing game.
        I told a story entitled “The Magic Dreidels” by Eric Kimmel.  Each child then made a decorative Hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) with Model Magic and recycled materials.  This will dry in about 48 hours if you wish to keep the creation.  Otherwise, Model Magic can be stored in a zip-lock bag and will remain soft.  Please note that Model Magic it is not fireproof.
        Wishing you a beautiful conclusion to Hanukkah!  
        Have a great week.  
Love, Mindy

December 6, 2020

Dear Families, 
        It was great to see some of you at our supply pickup this morning.
        Today we began our study of Hanukkah.  We learned how a small army led by the Macabees defeated a powerful Syrian army.  When the Jewish people were victorious, they returned to the Temple and refreshed it for worship.  There is a second miracle often referred to in connection with Hanukkah.  When the Temple was “rededicated” there was a search for oil to light the lamps.  One tiny flask of oil is said to have lasted for eight days!  Oil is a symbol of the holiday.  Here is the US it is customary to eat potato latkes fried in oil and in Israel the treat is jelly donuts – sufganiot – also fried in oil.
        Our Hebrew today focused on the dreidel, a toy top with Hebrew letters on it.  The dreidel’s letters are Nun, Gimel, Hay and Shin, representing in Hebrew “Nes Gadol Haya Sham” – a great miracle happened there.  Each child made a 3-D dreidel.  We practiced the first Hanukkah blessing and sang holiday songs.
        Next week we’ll be making a decorative Hanukkah menorah (called Hanukkiah in Hebrew).   It will be a super creative “loose parts” project.  We hope you’ll join us.
                        Have a wonderful week!      
Love, Mindy

November 22, 2020

Dear Families, 

I am so thankful to be with your children on Sunday mornings.  What a creative, bright and funny group we have!

Today we reviewed the Hebrew consonants we know and Hebrew vowels. We practiced “The Itsy Bitsy Spider with some Hebrew vocabulary works.  They are:  Akavish (spider), Mayim (water), Geshem (rain) and Shemesh (sun).  

Our theme today was Thanksgiving.  We added new verses to our Thank You song:  Baruch Ata Adonai, Thank you G-d, to express our gratitude.

We played Thanksgiving Mad Libs.  Children supplied the nouns, adjectives, people, foods, etc.  The  resulting story was hilarious.  Here is the link for more fun at home: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/82/6a/8f/826a8f9e91260769820eaeef64e62855.jpg

There is no Sunday school next week.  Wishing all of you a delightful two weeks.    

Love, Mindy

November 15, 2020

Dear Families, 

In preparation for the upcoming holiday of Thanksgiving, our theme today was gratitude.  We learned the song “Baruch Ata Adonai, Thank You, God”. We sang the verses in the song, and then added our own thanks in newly composed verses.  

The two new Hebrew consonants from today’s lesson are Lamed (L sound) and Yud (Y sound).  Lamed is the largest Hebrew letter and Yud is the smallest.  Our key words are Lulav (Sukkot tradition) for Lamed and Yad (hand) for Yud.  Each of us traced our Yad.  Yad is also the name of the hand shaped pointed used to read the Torah.  Please go over the Lamed and Yud pamphlets in the “Now I Know my Alef Bet” kit.  Each pamphlet contains games and writing practice exercises.

I read the book The Tale of Meshka the Kvetch.  Kvetch is the yiddish word for complainer.  In the book, Meshka’s woes increase as she complains.  When Meshka learns to express gratitude, she becomes happy.  It’s a great book to borrow from the library.  

I told the story “The Rabbi and the Lion” and your child made a related art project.  Please ask for a retelling of this fabulous story.

Have a wonderful week.  

Love, Mindy


November 8, 2020

Dear Families,

Your amazing children brought extra sunshine to our morning! We are developing a nice repertoire of Hebrew songs which enhance vocabulary.

Our topic of focus continues to be Shabbat. We are exploring the rituals and symbols of this weekly holiday: namely Shabbat candles, Kiddish cup and Challah. We read a book entitled “The Shabbat Box” which highlights the happy anticipation that accompanies Shabbat.

For Hebrew, we zeroed in on the Hebrew vowels which enable learners to read Hebrew. Once one is adept at reading Hebrew – there is no longer a need for vowels. In Israeli newspapers and in the Torah, the consonants are omitted. I personally still need to read words with vowels, but am continuing my Hebrew study. Please practice the vowel sheet we worked on in class with your child. It will boost our progress!

I told a story about value of making mistakes. Please ask your child to retell the story about the crack in the diamond. It is a beautiful example of how disappointments can lead to great outcomes!

Next week, we’ll be doing a project that requires a large piece of paper. The other supplies have been sent to you.

Have a great week! Shavuah Tov!

Love, Mindy

November 1, 2020

Dear Parents,

Today we began learning about the holiday of Shabbat, which begins each Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening with the Havdallah ceremony. Our Hebrew lesson included two new letters: Shin (makes “sh” sound) and Tav (makes “T” sound). Your child can now spell the word Shabbat in Hebrew with the letters Shin, Bet and Tav. We practiced writing the letters and you will see the Hebrew word “Shabbat” on the Challah cover your child created. The letters we’ve learned include: Aleph, Ayin, Bet, Dalet, Shin and Tav! Please look over the pamphlets for Shin and Tav with your child. Some Hebrew vocabulary words from this morning are: Sheleg (snow), Mishpacha (family), Challah (Shabbat bread), Kiddish (blessing for the wine).

I told the story “Mrs. Moskowitz and the Shabbat Candlesticks”. It is a heartwarming story about a woman who has downsized from the family home to an apartment. Initially, she is sad about the move stating “This apartment will never be a home”. When Mrs. Moskowitz’ son arrives after finding her Shabbat candlesticks in the old house – the magic begins. Please have your child tell the story of how the candlesticks transformed an apartment into a home.

Attached below is a fabulous list of Shabbat vocabulary words. Please enjoy! If you wish, you can even make flash cards for games and further study.

Have a wonderful week! Love, Mindy

October 25, 2020

Dear Families,

Your children are wonderful!

Today we spoke about the autumn harvest and discussed pumpkins. Alex, our assistant teacher, showed us photos of pumpkins grown in Israel, as well as Shabbat candlesticks made from two small pumpkins. There was also a photo of a Shabbat o Lantern!

Our Hebrew studies are progressing! Each child now has a flannel board kit with which she can write any Hebrew letters. Today’s Hebrew letter is Dalet (d sound) , chosen in honor of the Hebrew word for pumpkin D’Allat. We reviewed Bet, Aleph and Ayin, and the vowels which make the “Ah” sound. We also reviewed our Hebrew vocabulary including Ken (yes), Lo (no), Yeladim (children), Todah (thank you), Boker Tov, (good morning) and Laila Tov (good night), Shavuah Tov (good week).

I told a story of two farmers. One farmer’s crops were successful, but his neighbor was not knowledgeable about farming. Please ask your child to retell the story.

An umbrella theme in our class is kindness. We watched a short YouTube video entitled “Shoulda Done Better”, which models forgiveness and kindness. Your children are working on their own show by decorating three cardboard figures.

For homework, please go over the Dalet pamphlet with your child. It will be great if she can practice writing Hebrew letters on the flannel board and white board.

For the next class, everyone is invited to bring a stuffed animal to introduce to the class.

Have a good week! Love, Mindy

October 18, 2020

Dear Families,

Your children continue to brighten our Sunday mornings.

Today we began learning about the Torah in honor of the holiday of Simchat Torah. On Simchat Torah, the Torah readings for the entire year are completed, we roll the scroll up to the beginning. Then we start reading all over again. Each child told us about a favorite book or series that they love so much, they immediately want to read it again! Your child made a Torah with stickers and markers.

We learned two new Hebrew letters today, Ayin and Aleph. They are silent letters whose pronunciation depends upon their vowels. One way to think about it is: “Ayin and Aleph are Absent”. We studied the vowels which produce the “Ah” sound, and practiced them with the three Hebrew consonants we know, Bet, Ayin and Aleph.

We are learning to write Hebrew print with “stick figure” letters as in the chart you received in the mail. Please keep this chart, and all the Sunday school supplies, in one bag, so they are accessible to your child.
I told a story about a Rabbi on a ship to Israel whose possession was a Torah, while the other passengers had great riches. Please ask your child to retell the story.

Hebrew words to practice this week are: Boker Tov (good morning), Laila Tov (good night), Ken (yes) Lo (no) and Shemesh (Sun). For homework, please go over the Ayin and Aleph pamphlets and invite your child to engage in the activities.

Have a wonderful week! Love, Mindy

October 4, 2020

Dear Families,

It was a delight to be with your children this morning. We reviewed the High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and recalled the symbols of these special days. We then switched our focus to the current Jewish Holiday, Sukkot. On Sukkot some temples and some families build a temporary hut to enjoy the autumn. Sukkot commemorates the time in which the Jewish people wandered in the desert after fleeing Egypt, and also the times in history when our people were farmers and set up shelters out in the fields. Sukkot is a joyous holiday of gratitude for the fall harvest. Each child made a miniature “Sukkah”, and will collect branches to make the sukkah roof.

We are learning the Aleph Bet song composed by Debbie Friedman. We looked at the first Hebrew letter in our packet – the letter Bet. Please review the Bet pamphlet with your child. There is a space for writing practice and an opportunity to make the Bet into a house or “Bayit” in Hebrew.

Key words for this week are “Shemesh” sun, “Shafan” rabbit, “Sukkah” a temporary shelter, and “Sukkot” the name of the current holiday.

We finished our morning with the beautiful Havdallah ceremony, wishing one another a good week.

Sending love and thanks, Mindy

September 13, 2020:

It was a joy to reunite with familiar friends and meet new students today.  Our class centered around the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana.  We learned about some holiday traditions, including dipping apples in honey for a sweet New Year.  Your child made an apple and honey plate for your holiday table.

Some of today’s Hebrew words and phrases included:

Tapuach – apple

Rosh – head

Shana – year

D’vash – honey

Shofar sounds – Tekeya, Teruah, Shevarim and Tekeya Gadola

Shana Tova – Good New Year!

I told a story about a man named Naftoli, who was fortunate to find employment picking apples (tapuchim).  Please ask your child to retell the story.  I will attach a photo that embodies the spirit of the story.  

Homework for third graders is to complete chapter one of our new textbook, which involves reading and writing in Hebrew.

I am thrilled to be sharing this year with you.  May you be blessed with good health and happiness!    Love, Mindy

Mindy Elins

Mindy Elins

Mindy has been a teacher at SSJS for many years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education (expressive therapies) from Lesley University, and a Master’s certification in Early Childhood Education from Hebrew College. Mindy completed a graduate fellowship in Leadership Education at Brandeis University. Ms. Elins loves to interact with students and their families. She weaves storytelling, art, movement and music into fun-filled sessions.
Mindy Elins

Mindy Elins

Mindy has been a teacher at SSJS for many years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education (expressive therapies) from Lesley University, and a Master’s certification in Early Childhood Education from Hebrew College. Mindy completed a graduate fellowship in Leadership Education at Brandeis University. Ms. Elins loves to interact with students and their families. She weaves storytelling, art, movement and music into fun-filled sessions.