From the Hebrew month of Elul to the current month of Iyar, we have learned by studying, practicing, creating, celebrating, and commemorating. Now we've come to our last Kitah Gimel Hebrew class for the school year 5773. (Next week, the w


From the Hebrew month of Elul to the current month of Iyar, we have learned by studying, practicing, creating, celebrating, and commemorating. Now we've come to our last Kitah Gimel Hebrew class for the school year 5773. (Next week, the whole Hebrew school will enjoy an end-of-the- year party!)



Students decorated signs which will be part of a bulletin board featuring examples of their Welcome Activity artwork. Watch for this display on the religious school bulletin board in the hallway of the education wing.


Class questions:

1. What is the most important thing you learned in Kitah Gimel?

Students responded - Hebrew (of course!), Holidays, prayers, and "everything!" One student added, "I'll miss this class."

2. What did you most enjoy about Kitah Gimel?

Students enjoyed our weekly Oreo snacks, receiving help "with what we were struggling with," "using and writing in" their Mishkan T'filah Journals, and "the awesome learning activities." One student described her experience as "a proper education."



We recited the Brachot for Torah Study, cookies, and gathering together.  For the Tallit Bracha, we all stood together and held the Tallit over our heads as we recited the Bracha.


Siddur Hebrew

We reviewed the role of the Hebrew Word Attack Pack folder which each student received. This folder of information is designed to be used as a reference in future Hebrew studies as students continue their Jewish learning.

In their Mishkan T'filah Journals, students expressed their thoughts about prayers we've studied. Students were given bags to carry home their Mishkan T'filah Journals, their work folders, and their Hebrew Word Attack Packs.

To review Hebrew language elements and translations we've studied throughout the year, students played a giant Memory game with 24 information pairs. Students who found the most pairs received prizes.


As we left the classroom for the final time, a student wrote on the chalkboard, "The most awesome class ever!"


Thank you families for the pleasure and privilege of teaching your  "awesome" students. May they go from strength to strength on their way to B'nai Mitzvah, Confirmation, and life long active participation in the Jewish community.


As Hebrew school students know, "Shalom" means both "hello"and "good- bye."

So - Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families!

Have a wonderful summer!

Todah-Thank You.

Morah Ronni
ole Hebrew school will enjoy an end-of-the- year party!)

Students decorated signs which will be part of a bulletin board featuring examples of their Welcome Activity artwork. Watch for this display on the religious school bulletin board in the hallway of the education wing.

Class questions:
1. What is the most important thing you learned in Kitah Gimel?
Students responded - Hebrew (of course!), Holidays, prayers, and "everything!" One student added, "I'll miss this class."
2. What did you most enjoy about Kitah Gimel?
Students enjoyed our weekly Oreo snacks, receiving help "with what we were struggling with," "using and writing in" their Mishkan T'filah Journals, and "the awesome learning activities." One student described her experience as "a proper education."

We recited the Brachot for Torah Study, cookies, and gathering together.  For the Tallit Bracha, we all stood together and held the Tallit over our heads as we recited the Bracha.

Siddur Hebrew
We reviewed the role of the Hebrew Word Attack Pack folder which each student received. This folder of information is designed to be used as a reference in future Hebrew studies as students continue their Jewish learning.
In their Mishkan T'filah Journals, students expressed their thoughts about prayers we've studied. Students were given bags to carry home their Mishkan T'filah Journals, their work folders, and their Hebrew Word Attack Packs.
To review Hebrew language elements and translations we've studied throughout the year, students played a giant Memory game with 24 information pairs. Students who found the most pairs received prizes.

As we left the classroom for the final time, a student wrote on the chalkboard, "The most awesome class ever!"

Thank you families for the pleasure and privilege of teaching your  "awesome" students. May they go from strength to strength on their way to B'nai Mitzvah, Confirmation, and life long active participation in the Jewish community.

As Hebrew school students know, "Shalom" means both "hello"and "good- bye."
So - Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families!
Have a wonderful summer!
Todah-Thank You.
Morah Ronni

From the soul-searching and optimistic preparation for the New Year during the autumn Tishrei Holidays to last week's somber observance of Yom HaShoah, the Jewish calendar has shaped many of our learning activities.  This week, we enter the Hebrew month of Iyar and joyfully celebrate Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Israel Independence Day. Packages of Bamba, an Israeli snack, and "birthday cake" Oreos signaled a special occasion.

Welcome Activity
Students were invited to decorate a Mizrach, a special sign meant to be placed on the eastern wall of a house as a reminder to direct prayer toward Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael.  Using markers, torn paper, and  colored pencils, students embellished the four Hebrew letters in the word, "Mizrach" printed on a sheet of paper.  Students' designs were spectacular - vibrantly colored and whimsically decorated.  An information sheet describing the symbolism of the Mizrach accompanied the activity.

Class Question
Last week, we observed Yom HaShoah.  Why is it very important that now, one week later, we celebrate Yom Ha'atzma'ut?   Students responded that Israel was created because of the Holocaust; that we need to observe/celebrate so that we don't forget either event;  that it's important to balance happy and sad times in the history of the Jewish people.

Students led the Brachot for Torah Study, gathering together, and putting on the Tallit.  We discussed the connection between Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) and the various Brachot. Before reciting the food Bracha, a student read aloud the ingredients in the strawberry flavored Bamba snacks.  It was apparent that "sheh hacol..." (aka "junk food Bracha") was appropriate!
We recited the Mi-Chamocha and Kedusha prayers, paying special attention to references to Israel in these prayers.

Yom Ha'atzma'ut Celebration
Together we spelled out Yom Ha'atzma'ut in Hebrew and did the math.  The State of Israel is 65 years old!
Each student received a Yom Ha'atzma'ut packet.  Among the topics in the packet was an article about Eliezer Ben-Yehuda who began the process of updating the Hebrew language for use in modern Israel.  He even invented some words for things that didn't exist in ancient times!  Students were amazed to learn that the word, "Hebrew," in Hebrew is "ivrit."
To conclude our celebration, we sang HaTikvah ("The Hope"), the Israeli national anthem.

Yom Ha'atzma'ut  Sameach - Happy Israel Independence Day,
L'hitraot - see you soon, 
Morah Ronni 

Welcome Activity Kitah Gimel's Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) observance began with the seemingly lighthearted task of making a butterfly.  Students used colored paper, markers, stickers, and ribbon to create decorative butterflies.  They were asked to name their butterflies.  The names were recorded on slips of paper.  Students then taped their butterflies to a large sheet of white posterboard.  The posterboard was blank except for shreds of black, red, and orange tissue paper attached to the bottom.

The Class Question evoked serious thought: "As part of the Shabbat Morning Service, we recite the prayer  Av HaRachamim.   In this prayer, we refer to Adonai as the 'Source of Mercy.'  If Adonai is merciful, why did Adonai allow the Shoah (Holocaust) to happen?"
"That's a really hard question," several students commented, but each student wrote a response. Responses included such thoughts as:
Adonai was "trying to teach us a lesson to be careful."
"Adonai couldn't stop it."
Adonai "allowed the Holocaust to teach what bad things could happen if people weren't controlled."
"Without the bad people, there would be no good people in comparison."
Adonai was "busy preventing another world disaster."
"...I don't think we should blame him (Adonai)."
One student emphatically stated, "Hitler caused it.  Adonai had nothing to do with it.  Period."
Each response was truly worthy of more extensive discussion than time allowed.

Brachot Students led the Brachot for Torah Study, gathering together (even for a sad observance), and putting on the Tallit.  Two students enjoyed sharing the Tallit Bracha.
We recited the Mi-Chamocha and Kedusha prayers, but didn't sing them, as singing is a joyful expression and we were in the midst of a somber observance.

Yom HaShoah Observance Each student received a Yom HaShoah packet to guide our learning activities.   On each page of the packet was the Hebrew word, Zacor - "Remember. "Students demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the tragic history of the Shoah as we discussed portions of the packet including: a photograph of women and children being taken to Auschwitz; information about Anne Frank and about the Warsaw Ghetto.  As we spoke of the Warsaw Ghetto, students were offered a "snack" of six Ritz crackers and a small box of raisins.  The total caloric content of these items equals 184, the number of calories in the total daily food allowance for inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto.  While students usually accept snacks eagerly, many declined to eat this one.
We considered a famous quote from Pastor Martin Niemoller about our responsibility to speak out when groups other than our own are persecuted.  Students candidly pointed out the horrendously difficult decisions they'd be forced to make if they were trying to ensure their survival and the survival of their families during the Shoah.  We reflected that such decisions haunted  many Holocaust survivors throughout their lives.

Then we returned to the matter of butterflies.  Students described butterflies as "beautiful, fragile, colorful, short-lived, and capable of migrating long distances."  In contrast, they spoke of the Shoah as "torturous, sad, angry, and beyond words."
A page in their Shoah packets presented the life cycle of the butterfly as a symbol of "transformation, faith, freedom, and hope" - feelings which helped the Jewish community to rise and gain strength in the aftermath of the Shoah.

Together we read Pavel Friedman's poem, "The Butterfly" - an expression of 21 year old Friedman's experience in the ghetto of Thereisenstadt.  Students were sad to learn that Pavel Friedman died at Auschwitz, one of the hundreds of thousands of children and young adults whose potential was destroyed in the Shoah.

Without further explanation, I placed the slips of paper with the names of the students' butterflies in a box. I withdrew the first slip, and removed a beautifully designed butterfly named Chrysanthemum from the top of the posterboard and placed it out of sight in the shredded tissue paper below.  A second slip was drawn and Lenny I disappeared into the tissue paper.  Students began to cry out, "Why are you putting our butterflies in the flames?"  "They're dying!"
Two students grasped hands across their table and begged, "Couldn't we both survive?"
Students volunteered to draw additional slips of paper and Georgey,  Lenny II, April, Doug, and Klari vanished into the "flames." 
The student who had made Klari explained that her butterfly was named in memory of a family member who had died in the Shoah.  She recounted that Klari's brother and sister had survived and told of how , as she was being led to her death, Klari threw her shoes to her sister so that the sister would have something by which to remember Klari.
Finally, when only one butterfly, Anna, remained as a "survivor" high up on the posterboard, I shared with the students that of the 12,000 children who passed through the ghetto of Thereisenstadt,  more that 90% perished, randomly chosen, senselessly, cruelly destroyed.  At this point, students fully realized the symbolism of the butterflies.

We closed by gathering around a Yahrzeit (Memorial) candle and reciting a Meditation in memory of those who were lost in the Shoah.  Zacor! Remember!

This lesson was inspired in part by The Butterfly Project of the Holocaust Museum Houston  www.hmh.org
Zacor - Forever!
Morah Ronni

Welcome Activity
Spurred on by candy treats and the prospect of winning a prize, students were busily memorizing the Ten Commandments for the Cantor's challenge when...Surprise!...we had the pleasure of fulfilling the mitzvah of welcoming a visitor.  Cantor Finn was "in the neighborhood" and stopped by to say "Shalom."   Perfect timing!  Three students declared that they were ready to recite the Ten Commandments from memory for the Cantor - and they did, confidently and accurately.   Cantor Finn discussed the meaning of several of the Commandments  and asked, "Is it ever ok to lie?"  "Yes," several students responded.  They reasoned that it's ok to lie to save lives in a life or death situation or to keep from hurting someone's feelings.  Thank you, Cantor Finn, for enhancing our learning.  We look forward to having additional Kitah Gimel students master the Ten Commandments  challenge before the end of the school year.

Class Question: "We have been working hard throughout the year to develop Hebrew language skills.  Why don't we just use an English language prayerbook and a copy of the Torah in English translation?"  Students agreed that Hebrew is the language of the Torah, of  the Jewish people, and a vital part of Jewish tradition.

Students led the Brachot for Torah Study, cookies, gathering together.  Two students shared the Tallit Bracha.
We also recited and sang the Mi-chamocha and the Kedusha.

Siddur Hebrew
Each student received a "Hebrew Word Attack Pack,"  a folder filled with information sheets for various Hebrew language elements. They were instructed to keep these folders for reference and review as they continue to engage in life long Jewish learning far into the future.
We discussed the application of several of the sheets and completed an oral exercise in which students matched Hebrew word roots and their meanings to words which were pronounced aloud .

During T'filah, Cantor Finn presented each of the three students who had  memorized the Ten Commandments  with a beautiful certificate recognizing his/her achievement.  They also received  gift certificates to the Congregation Albert Gift Shop.  Mazal Tov!
L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni                                                                                        

No Oreos today!  We are in the Hebrew month of Nisan and Passover is almost here.  It's time for our Pre-Pesach Practice seder.

Welcome Activity From memory, students drew on paper plates the 6 items that are traditionally found on the seder plate.  Most knew 5 of the items and made smart guesses about #6.  Matzah?  Salt water?  An orange?  We'll see!
Class Question: Students added information to a web diagram with Pesach as the theme.  Their responses included "spring," "lasts a week,"  "10 Plagues,"  "freedom,"  "unleavened bread,"  "matzah brie,"  and "orange on the seder plate is extra." (Ask your students why we may add an orange to the seder plate.)

Brachot As always, students led the Brachot for Torah Study, gathering together, and wearing the Tallit.  We added the Bracha for  Holiday (YomTov) candle lighting which begins the seder.

Pre-Pesach Practice Seder Together, we prepared the Pesach table by placing the lamb bone, horseradish root, charoset, parsley, lettuce, hard-boiled egg, and an orange on the seder plate.  Next, we put three matzas on a plate and covered them with a festive cloth.  We filled Elijah's cup with grape juice and Miriam's cup with water.  As each item was placed, we discussed its role in the telling of the Pesach story.
Our Haggadah was A Family Haggadah by Shoshana Silverman.  After briefly reviewing the seder ("order")  events, we said the Bracha for wine and drank our first cup of grape juice.  We then said the Bracha for pri ha'adama and dipped parsley in salt water.  We declared, "All who are hungry, come and eat,"  broke the middle matza, and noted that a piece of the middle matza becomes the afikoman.
Next, the much anticipated Four Questions, which we sang as a group.  Students identified the "Four Children" and examined a collage illustration that shows that we each possess to a different degree, the behavioral characteristics of the Four Children.
Moving right along- the Ten Plagues.  We dipped our  fingers into the grape juice and removed a drop for each Plague.  (Ask your students why we do this.)  Finger puppets representing the Ten Plagues added to the fun. 
Following a second cup of wine and the Brachot for the matza, we prepared and ate Hillel sandwiches (charoset and horseradish on matza).  Students enjoyed my nut-free charoset (apples, raisins, craisins, chopped dates, cinnamon,  grape juice, and a touch of honey.)
With the third cup of wine, we welcomed Elijah the Prophet.
No time for cup #4, but we did say the traditional closing words of the seder, "Lashanah haba'ah b'Yerushalayim - Next Year in Jerusalem!"
On our way to T'filah, we opened the door of the school wing and peered out into the twilight, just in case Elijah had come early to join Kitah Gimel's Pre-Pesach celebration.  Perhaps he'll come next week!
Kitah Gimel students are bringing home a Pesach Packet to share.
Chag Pesach Sameach - Happy Passover Holiday,
L'hitraot - see you soon,
Morah Ronni


"Hey, where's my seat?!"  Students were surprised to find a new seating arrangement designed to accomodate group-specific assignments during the coming weeks.

Students are encouraged to study and memorize their Ten Commandments sheets in order to meet the Cantor's Challenge (and win prizes!).
Students responded to the Class Question: We learned that  the root kuf-dalet-shin means "Holy."  Who or what is Holy (Kadosh) in your life?
Their responses, "God,"  "President Obama," "dolphins,"  "family,"  "soccer,"   "acting,"  "books," and "ME,"  beautifully express the expansive meaning of "Holiness"  which the Kedusha prayer inspires us to consider.

Students led the four Brachot for Torah Study, cookies, gathering together, and putting on the Tallit.  Each student will have an opportunity to lead the Brachot several times over the next few months.

In our weekly learning exercises, Kitah Gimel students have demonstrated diverse levels of Hebrew language skills. To enable students to advance at their own pace, to complete enrichment assignments, and to receive additional individualized review and remediation when necessary, the class has been divided into three groups.  While each group completes the tasks described on a group assignment sheet, I meet with each group to instruct and facilitate their efforts.

Green Group - emerging readers
Students received an enlarged copy of the the Kedusha prayer and a sheet of Hebrew vowel symbols.  We examined Hebrew language elements in the Hebrew word, "Kedusha" ("Holiness") and identified the vowel sounds.  We reviewed the vowel symbols and students wrote the English transliteration next to each vowel symbol   on their sheets.  Students wrote (in Hebrew) words from lines 1-4 of Kedusha which contained each of five vowel sounds.

Purple Group - readers progressing toward fluency
Students received an enlarged copy of the Kedusha prayer, a sheet of Hebrew vowel symbols, and a root word exercise.  We reviewed the vowel symbols and practiced reading aloud lines 1-4 of Kedusha.  Students identified Hebrew letters that needed more intensive review.  They completed an exercise which required recognizing, writing, and pronouncing words from lines 1-4 of Kedusha which are built from the root, kuf-dalet-shin.  Students began work on the Kedusha enrichment packet.

Yellow Group - fluent readers
Students commented on the Mi-Chamocha prayer and the Kedusha prayer in their Mishkan T'filah Journals.  They completed a Kedusha enrichment packet. One student sang the entire Kedusha accurately and fluently and will move on to study the Ein Kamocha prayer.

All Kitah Gimel students deserve praise for their flexibility and serious learning efforts in the new groups.

L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni


When you come to class and find the teacher dressed as a dinosaur, you know it's Purim time in the merry Hebrew month of Adar!

We said the four Brachot with special attention to the Bracha for food and the Shehecheyanu.  As we were eating a variety of snacks, we said the "she ha col" Bracha.  The Shehecheyanu Bracha was especially appropriate as we prepared to celebrate the Purim Holiday together.  We added the Bracha for wine for the grape juice which we found in our Mishloach Manot basket.
A student put on the Tallit as we said the Tallit Bracha.
After many weeks of practice, students are knowledgeable and fluent in reciting the Brachot.

Students made raashanim (noisemakers/groggers) from paper -covered empty vitamin tablet bottles. They decorated the bottles with markers, stickers, and ribbons.  As the final step in making the raashanim, six pennies were sealed inside the bottles.  The pennies made a surprisingly loud clatter, when students shook their raashanim.  This was practice for the Megillah reading which will take place at Sunday's Religious School Purim celebration.

We discussed the Purim story.  Students were quite familiar with the plot and characters.
Each student received a Purim packet with Purim Hebrew vocabulary exercises and  an excerpt from Megillat Esther.  Students chose three Hebrew words from their packets to read aloud and write on their raashanim.
As soon as the raashanim were completed, students shook them vigorously to drown out Haman's name as the Megillah excerpt from their packets was read.  One student demonstrated advanced Hebrew skills by reading several lines from the Megillah.  We noted that the Purim story is not found in the Torah.  As a matter of fact, God is not mentioned in Megillat Esther.  Rather, God's presence is inferred because the Jews are saved and the evil Haman is punished.

Before leaving class for T'filah, we checked to see if we had fulfilled the four  Mitzvot associated with Purim:
1 Reading from Megillat Esther and noisily drowning out Haman's name - check!

2 Mishloach Manot - treats sent to family and friends - check!
Our snack of cookies, candy, and grape juice came in a decorative Mishloach Manot basket.

3 Celebrating - check!  
We'd certainly begun a joyful Purim observance which would continue on Sunday.

4. Matanot L'Eviyonim - giving gifts to the poor - check!
On our way to T'filah, we dropped off canned foods in the Roadrunner Food Bank collection bin.

Chag Purim Sameach!  Happy Purim!
BTW, this is our 18th Kitah Gimel class for this school year.  Kitah Gimel Chai!
L'hitraot - see you soon,
Morah Ronni


Welcome Activity
In addition to our ongoing endeavor to memorize the Ten Commandments for the Cantor's Challenge, students responded to a class question: "In  the  Torah Portion Terumah God commands the Children of Israel to bring gifts for building and furnishing the Mishkan - a sacred space .  What gifts can you bring to the world to enable God's presence to be felt, to make the world a better place?"  Students were, at first, hesitant  to recognize any of their actions as "gifts," but as we discussed fulfilling MItzvot and Tikun Olam ("Repairing the World'), they recognized their personal contributions.  Caring for animals, sharing knowledge, gardening, studying prayers were among the gifts which students acknowledged.
This week's Class Question poster will be included in a Terumah display in the synagogue lobby this Shabbat.  Congregants and guests will be invited to add their responses to those of Kitah Gimel.

Students viewed the project display board which I'd made from their Terumah illustrations which they'd drawn for last week's Welcome Activity.  The board will also be on display on Shabbat when I read from Parshat Terumah for my Bat Mitzvah.

Students led the four Brachot.

Siddur Hebrew
From now on, along with the four Brachot, we'll sing the Mi-Chamocha prayer which we've  studied.  Many students are eager to be prayer leaders.
We continued our study of the Kedusha prayer, focusing on lines 5-8.
Students completed a written exercise in which they identified words built from the root kuf, dalet, shin which means "Holy."  Recognizing word roots enhances understanding of the prayer's meaning.

Student received invitations for their families to join my family on Shabbat 2/16, as I become a Bat Mitzvah.
L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

In the past few months, Kitah Gimel has celebrated the Birthday of the World (Rosh HaShana) and  the Birthday of the Trees (Tu B'Shevat).  This Wednesday, we  added another birthday celebration, Morah Ronni's birthday!  Our party included cake, ice cream, a party game, a bag of party favors, and an opportunity to study the Torah Portion, Terumah. (On Shabbat 2/16, I'll be reading from Parshat Terumah - "Gifts" - in honor of my birthday.)
As an extended Welcome Activity, students read a summary of Terumah and suggested visual images that expressed the theme of the Portion, God's instructions to Moses and the Israelites on how to build a Mishkan, a portable Tabernacle for worship and ritual observance.  Students used art materials and illustrations from several Torah Commentaries to create drawings and graphics that reflected their interpretation of design elements of the Mishkan.  Their original artwork will be featured on a project display board to be placed in the synagogue lobby on Shabbat 2/16.  This display will help congregants and guests to better understand and remember the many colorful and intriguing details of Parshat Terumah.
Students were amazed that dolphin skins were among the "Terumah"   ("Gifts") which God commanded the Israelites to give.  Dolphin skins, in the desert?!  It's possible!  Please check our  display board to learn more.

As students completed their drawings, they joined in a class game of Extreme Concentration.  The challenge - to match-up 24 pairs of cards with review information in Hebrew and in English, from previous lessons. Only one student succeeded in finding a match and winning a prize!

Our four Brachot were an especially meaningful addition to our celebration - the Brachot for Torah Study, for eating a variety of foods, and, of course, for gathering together to recognize a life-cycle event all set a spiritual tone for our party activities. 
And the Bracha for putting on the Tallit...a truly special moment.
In preparation for reading from Parshat Terumah, I had received a beautiful Tallit from a wonderful friend in Jerusalem. Kitah Gimel joined with me in reciting the Tallit Bracha as I "wrapped" myself in its "fringes" for the very first time.  (Teaching Hebrew School is the BEST!")  I hope all Kitah Gimel students will experience the Blessing and Mitzvah of putting on their first Tallit as they prepare for their B'nai Mitzvah in the coming year.
As my Tallit is embellished with embroidered pomegranates, we discussed the traditional symbolism of the pomegranate - 613 seeds for 613 Mitzvot described in the Torah.
My friend had told me that the Israeli artist,  Yair Emanuel   www.emanuel-judaica.com  who created the Tallit was very excited that his artwork was going all the way to New Mexico, so we took a group photo with the Tallit to send to him.

Thank you, Kitah Gimel, for celebrating with me.  Kitah Gimel students and families are especially welcome to participate in Shabbat morning services on February 16, when I read from Parshat Terumah.
L'hitraot - see you soon,
Morah Ronni


Students are being encouraged to study  their Ten Commandments sheets and work on memorizing the Ten Commandments (in English)  in order to meet the "Cantor's Challenge"  - and win prizes!
On a large piece of paper, students wrote answers to a "Class Question" - "Which of the Ten Commandments do you think is the most important?  Why?"
Several students chose, "You shall not steal."  One student pointed out that if we hadn't followed the Commandment forbidding idol worship, we would still be slaves.  Another student responded, "I think that all of them are equally important, as they all have their benefits."  Good thinking everyone!

As a group, we recited the Brachot for Torah Study, cookies, gathering together, and putting on the Tallit.

We completed our study of the Mi-Chamocha prayer.  Each student received a copy of the Mi-Chamocha pages in the Journal Edition of our  prayerbook, Mishkan T'filah.  Using A web diagram on the chalkboard to record and summarize information, we examined Mi-Chamocha's place in the order of the service and reviewed the meaning and themes of the prayer - praise and redemption.
We read Mi-Chamocha aloud several times, recreating the communal prayer experience of a Shabbat morning.  From now on, we'll recite Mi-Chamocha  in every class along with our Brachot.

On the journal page, students used the guided imagery provided to express their personal thoughts about Mi-Chamocha in words and sketches. Responses were exuberant and creative, as students imagined themselves on the shores of the Red Sea, rejoicing in their new-found freedom, after God had redeemed them from Egyptian slavery. Gang nam, time-travel, a Hawaiian-style sunset, singing and dancing were among the images shaping students'  personal visions of Mi-Chamocha.  We noted that this would be the first of many journal entries students would make in their lifelong Jewish learning.

We began our study of the Kedusha prayer by examining the Hebrew language elements in the first four lines. Students used hi-liters to identify vowels and consonants whose pronunciation was unclear. We then reviewed those vowels and consonants.
We'll continue to work toward mastery of the Kedusha prayer.  Happily, we discovered that several students who attend Shabbat morning services regularly, are already very familiar with Kedusha.   Certainly, the very best way for students to gain accuracy and fluency in reading the prayers is by participating in T'filah as often as possible.

REMINDER - Students who have Mishkan T'filah:The Journal Edition at home, please bring your book to class.
L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni


Students arrived to find their work folders still in the cupboard, their tables pushed together, posters of Israeli trees all around the room, assorted fruit treats on the snack table, and birthday napkins!  We're celebrating Tu B'Sh'vat!

Students were asked to write answers to two questions on large sheets of paper.
#1 What is the exact English translation for the Hebrew "words" Tu B'Sh'vat?
#2 The Torah mentions seven kinds of food plants which symbolize the Land of Israel.  Which food plants, do you think the Torah mentions?

Before beginning our Tu B'Sh'vat Seder, we said the Brachot for Torah study, cookies, and gathering together - all appropriate for our celebration.

The Seder began with the discovery that "Tu B'Sh'vat" actually means "the fifteenth of  (the Hebrew month of) Sh'vat," even though it's often referred to as the New Year of the Trees or the Birthday of the Trees.
In order to have a Seder, you need a Haggadah.  We used the Tu'B'Sh'vat Haggadah called "Branching Out" designed by Jewish National Fund.  This Haggadah is based on concepts of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) that are centered around nature and spirituality.  The Tu B'Sh'vat Seder is divided into four sections.  Each section includes Brachot for symbolic foods which represent a spiritual "level" in  our lives, plus poetic quotes from Jewish Texts.  During the Seder, we drank four cups of red and white grape juice which symbolized the four seasons.  Students enjoyed oranges, pomegranate juice, olives, dates, fig cookies, raisins, and Israeli orange flavored cookies - all representing our connection to God through nature.
The Tu B'Sh'vat Seder is a great example of Judaic learning through a joyful, sensory experience.

At the conclusion of our Tu B'Sh'vat Seder, we looked at students' responses to the question about the seven food plants that symbolize Israel.  Students checked off correct answers.  The Torah teaches that wheat, barley,  dates, grapes, figs, olives, and pomegranates represent the Land of Israel.  Watermelon, cherries, apples, carrots, and cocoa are nutritious and tasty, but not among the Symbolic Seven!

Tu B'Sh'vat Sameach!    Happy Tu B'Sh'vat!
L'hitraot - see you soon,
Morah Ronni


Welcome Activity
Students completed their Hanukiah (menorah) drawings.  Their designs are wonderfully creative.

Table groups led  the four Brachot - for Torah Study, for cookies, for gathering together on Hanukkah, and for wearing the Tallit.  (During T'filah, the whole school gathered in the lobby to bless the Hanukkah candles and to sing Hanukkah songs.)
Along with cookies, students also snacked on donuts as a reminder of the oil which plays an important role in the Hanukkah story.

Siddur Hebrew
Students completed a written review exercise to demonstrate their understanding of Hebrew language elements in lines 6-12 of the Mi Chamocha Prayer.

Hanukkah Celebration
In addition to the Miracle of the Oil, are there other explanations for the 8 days of Hanukkah?  How do we respond to modern problems related to assimilation and anti-semitism, problems similar in spirit to those which the Macabees faced?  Students read informational material from their Hanukkah packet and "reflected" on these and other questions.  Each table group wrote answers to the questions on a group "Reflections" sheet and shared their responses with the class.  Their answers were were thoughtfully expressed and sparked heated discussions.

...and for a grand finale to our Hanukkah celebration - Students had a chance to play with the wooden savivonim (dreidels) they'd received from the Hebrew School and to spin an array of savivonim from Morah Ronni's  collection.  They were excited to discover savivonim that sparkled, flipped, and bore the letters Nun, Gimel, Hay, Pay to signify that they were made for use in Israel - the only place in the world where one can say, "Nes Gadol Haya Po"  "A Great Miracle Happened Here!"

Happy Winter Break.
Chag Hanukkah Sameach - Happy Hanukkah Holiday!
L'hitraot ad 2013 - See you in 2013.
Morah Ronni 

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families. 12/5/12
Welcome Activity
In anticipation of Hanukkah which begins with the first candle lighting on 12/8, students engaged in a hanukiyah (menorah) design project. We discussed the characteristics which a hanukiyah must have and students were enouraged to base their designs on a concept or theme. In a short time, some amazing hanukiyah designs emerged. Some students sketched clever dolphin, elephant, and octopus hanukiyot. Others created whimsical hanukiyot inspired by love, popcorn, powerade, comic super heroes, the Big Bang , a student's Hebrew name, and...a roller coaster! WOW!
Students will be putting the finishing touches on their hanukiyot in the next class.
Table groups led the Brachot for Torah Study, cookies, being together, and putting on the Tallit. We also practiced two additional Brachot for lighting the Hanukkah candles. Students identified those Brachot which are mitzvah Brachot.
Students received two packets of Hanukkah information and activities. The first packet provided the framework for our initial discussion of the origin and meaning of Hanukkah and introduced Hebrew Hanukkah vocabulary. Next week, we'll continue to complete activities in this packet for an in-depth look at elements of the Hanukkah story.
Students brought home the second packet which contains Brachot, directions for lighting the Hanukkah candles, and instructions for playing the dreidel game.
Please remind your students to share this packet with you. The Brachot include transliterations so that all may join in Hanukkah candle lighting.
Siddur Hebrew
We reviewed and recited lines 1-7 of the Mi chamocha prayer and went on to study lines 8-12. Several students indicated that they could recite the entire prayer. They were quickly joined by classmates who felt confident that they knew portions of Mi chamocha. Nearly the whole class embraced the opportunity to be prayer leaders as we recited the entire Mi chamocha prayer together.
Chag Hanukkah Sameach! Happy Hanukkah Holiday!
L’hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students And Families!    11/28/12
Welcome Activity
Students were encouraged to complete their folder cover designs as new Welcome Activities will be introduced in the coming weeks.  I'll make color copies of Kitah Gimel's  completed designs for display in the education wing, so that everyone can admire our students' creativity.

New Month
Student checked their Jewish calendars and found that while they were on Thanksgiving break, the new month of Kislev began. Students applied their knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet to propose several possible ways to spell "Kislev",  and together we arrived at the correct spelling.  We repeated the process and spelled out a very important Kislev holiday... Hanukkah!

Siddur Hebrew
In the previous class, students completed a review exercise on lines 1-5 of the Mi Chamocha. prayer.  In this class, they received their corrected exercises and we discussed the more challenging items which involved the sh'va vowel.   We took time to celebrate the sh'va!  The sh'va vowel is sometimes sounded and sometimes silent-a tricky concept.  To help students  learn the sh'va rules, "sh'vanimals" appeared in class - an open-mouthed lizard puppet (sounded sh'va) and a toucan with a ribbon around its beak (silent sh'va).  Table groups took turns using   the sh'vanimals to identify sh'vas in the Mi Chamocha text. The sh'vanimals received an enthusiastic welcome and will certainly come to future classes!
We practiced lines six and seven of Mi Chamocha and then recited all of the lines we've studied so far.

Torah Study
We reviewed the names and main ideas in the first six Torah Portions just in time to go to T'filah.
The beauty of Torah Study is that it's always a process "to be continued."

L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni


Some amazing folder cover designs are emerging as students put the finishing touches on their creations.  When complete, their designs will be exhibited in some way, so that families and the Congregation Albert community can enjoy students' visual interpretations of the Torah Portions B'reishit and Noach.

Table groups led the Brachot for Torah Study, cookies, and gathering together.  To review,  6 students held up cards with the words of the "Blessing Formula" out of order.  The remaining students told their classmates where to stand so that the words would be in the correct order.  We then went over the additional words which signify a Mitzvah Bracha.  As an example of a Mitzvah Bracha, a student put on a Tallit while we all said the Tallit Bracha.

Review Exercise
Students worked individually to complete statements about the meaning and language structure of words in lines 1-5 of the Mi-Chamochah Prayer.  This activity might be called a "pop quiz," because when students handed in their completed papers, they received lollypops!

Sh'va Rules
We began an intensive study of the rules for pronouncing the sh'va vowel. Understanding the role of the sh'va will help students to develop increased fluency and accuracy in reading Siddur Hebrew.  Each student received a sheet with the 4 Sh'va Rules which we'll examine and apply in the coming weeks.

Students checked their Jewish calendars to learn that the Torah Portion for this Shabbat is Tolddot.  Students added Toldot to their list of  weekly Torah Portions.  We reviewed the names and themes of  previous Torah Portions.

REMINDER:  There will be no Wednesday Hebrew class next week - 11/21/12

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!
 L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni 


Many students are coloring in the designs they've sketched on their folders.  The Ark and Rainbow from the Torah Portion, Noach, are popular images.  Several students have also added decorative Hebrew lettering.

Brachot: Table groups led the Brachot for Torah Study, cookies, and for gathering together.  Students identified those Hebrew words which signify a Bracha for a Mitzvah.  We also spelled out the word, "Shehechayanu" - one of the longest Hebrew words we've encountered so far.

High Holiday Review Follow-up:
Mazal Tov to the students who answered every item correctly on the High Holiday Review Exercise which students completed at our last class.  Students who needed to make corrections worked together to fill in items they had missed.

Weekly Torah Portion
Each student received a sheet which listed the five Torah Portions that have been read since Simchat Torah.  We discussed the main ideas in each Portion.  In the coming weeks, students will add to the list.  Several students recognized their Bar/Bat Mitzvah Portions among the five listed!

Mi-Camocha  Prayer
We began our study of the Mi-Camocha Prayer as it is recited on Shabbat Morning.  Students were quite familiar with the Prayer text. We learned three Hebrew "roots" which help us to understand the meaning of the words.  Students also pointed out words which illustrated such Hebrew language elements as syllables, silent letters, final letters, and the sh'va vowel.
As we examined the meaning and intent of Mi-Camocha, a student commented that we don't always feel like thanking or praising God, especially when something sad has happened.  The Mourners' Kaddish Prayer was cited as an example of praising God, even when confronted with a loss.  As we begin to write in our Mishkan T'filah (Prayerbook) Journals, students will have an opportunity to record their comments and questions about each Prayer we study.

Before leaving for T'filah, students were introduced to a Kitah Gimel tradition - birthday celebrations.
Periodically, students whose birthdays have occurred will receive small gifts and cards.  Students who have birthdays in the summer, will have a "surprise" birthday at some point during the school year.  Class ended on a cheerful note as we sang Yom Huledet Sameach (Happy Birthday).

L'hitraot - see you soon.
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 10/24/12

As you can see from this and previous posts, each Kitah Gimel Hebrew class session is packed with activities to advance students' understanding of Hebrew language, prayer, and Jewish observance.  There isn't a moment to spare!  Please help your students to arrive promptly at 5:30pm so that they can benefit fully from the learning experiences provided.


Students continue to develop their folder cover designs.  In addition to material and information about the Torah Portions B'reishit and Noach, students received a list of  Hebrew words that they might include in their designs. Some  students have already sketched amazing illustrations.  This activity will continue so that all students will have the time they need to complete their cover creations.


Table groups led the four opening Brachot - for Torah Study, for cookies, for gathering together, and for wearing the Tallit (in preparation for the time when students will become Bar/Bat Mitzvah).  We read and discussed information about Brachot Mitzvah, those Blessings which have to do with the performance of a specific Mitzvah.  Students learned that Mitzvot may be defined as "...things that God told us to do and things that God told us not to do."  (S'fatai Tiftach by Joel Lurie Grishaver and Jane Golub) They gave excellent examples of Mitzvot "to do" and "not to do."


Students completed a written review exercise to demonstrate their ability to comprehend and use Holiday Hebrew vocabulary.  Their responses to this exercise will be an indication of those elements of Hebrew language in need of special attention in our program.

L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 10/17/12

Turn, turn, turn.  The Holiday-laden month of Tishrei has ended, leaving us, hopefully, with pleasant memories and deeper understanding.  We're now in the quiet month of Cheshvan where the only Jewish Holiday we'll celebrate is Shabbat.  Students checked their Jewish calendars and found that this week's Hebrew class actually fell on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan (the first day of the month of Cheshvan).


At last the project students have been waiting for - a chance to decorate the covers of their assignment folders!  Using markers and stickers provided, students combined art and Torah Study.  Over the next few class sessions, they'll create a design on the front cover which illustrates elements of the first two Torah Portions, B'reishit  and Noach.  A display of informative material, objects, and pictures has been set up to help students generate ideas for their front cover designs.

For the back cover of their folders, students may draw an original design of their choice.  As an added challenge and a learning opportunity, only Hebrew words may be used in the cover designs.


Table groups led the three opening Brachot, acknowledging our connection with God when we study Torah, eat our cookie snack, and gather together.

We began our study of the Bracha for putting on a Tallit.  Students identified words familiar from previously learned Brachot and those additional words specific to the Tallit Bracha.  Ask your students how we know that this is a Tallit Bracha, when the word "Tallit" never appears.
We identified letters and language elements in words from the Tallit Bracha and practiced saying the entire Bracha.
We discussed the ritual and meaning of the Tallit.  One student bravely (and successfully!) accepted the task of finding and reading aloud in English
Numbers 15:38-39 in a Torah Commentary.  These verses tell of God's Commandment to wear the Tallit.


Students were given cards with Holiday vocabulary. They referred to the cards to answer questions and to identify Holiday objects.  This exercise was in preparation for a written review activity which students will complete next week.

We're off to a happy, busy month of Cheshvan!
L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 10/10/12

Hands-On Welcome Activities
With Simchat Torah, the Tishrei Holidays come to a joyful finale.  Students made mobius strips by twisting a strip of paper and stapling the ends together.  Like the Torah, a mobius strip has no beginning and no end (as students proved by drawing a line through the center of the twisted shape).
While Balloon Fiesta is not exactly a Tishrei Holiday,  it is Albuquerque's signature fall event.  In celebration of Balloon Fiesta, students drew designs on a paper hot-air balloon shape.  The designs express the ideas in the Bracha for Torah Study and in the Shehecheyanu.  The balloons will be displayed in our classroom as a reminder that when we pray with meaning and intention, our prayers "rise up."

Siddur Hebrew and Holidays
Students received Simchat Torah packets which included a summary of the last Torah Portion and the first.  On hearing the last lines of the final Portion, students practiced and recited together the phrase which signifies the end of a Book of Torah: "Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek."  "Be strong, be strong, and you will continue to be strengthened."  We discussed ways that Torah makes us stronger.
To begin again the never-ending cycle of Torah Study, students read from a sheet the first seven words of the first Torah Portion, B'reishit. In our discussion of both the first and last Portions, students raised such thought-provoking questions as whether the Messiah would be a stronger leader than Moses! 
We reviewed the term, "Yod"  ("hand") for Torah Pointer, as illustrated by a super-sized model made from a cardboard tube and a hand shape.

Our discussion and questioning continued with a look at some Torah Study "rules," including the idea that Torah is best learned with friends and is a means of connecting with God.

Our Simchat Torah celebration closed with  students enthusiastically acting out traditional Torah metaphors and similes such as, "The Torah is like a good friend," and "The Torah has seventy faces."

In the coming weeks, Torah Study will be a part of our program as we focus on the prayers of the Shabbat morning Torah Service.

L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!  10/3/12

Hands-On Welcome Activity
Isn't the Hebrew month of  Tishrei wonderful?!  We're still celebrating!  It's now Sukkot. In preparation for our visit to the Sukkah on the front lawn, students made a decoration to hang on the Sukkah wall.  Each student chose the Hebrew name of one of the Ushpizin, the traditional group of famous Jews from history who are "invited" to be guests in the Sukkah.  Moshe, David, Yaakov, Miriam, Esther, and Rivkah were among the names chosen.  Students wrote (in Hebrew)  the names they chose on colored paper Hamsas.  Hamsas are hand-shaped Israeli folkart designs which symbolize good luck, divine protection, welcome, and healing.  Students decorated their Hamsas beautifully and attached them to a single large posterboard Hamsa to be hung in the Sukkah.

Siddur Hebrew and Holidays
We said the Brachot (Blessings) for Torah Study and cookies, but reserved the Shehecheyanu Bracha for our time in the Sukkah.  Each student received a packet of  Sukkot information.  In answer to the question, "Who invented Sukkot?" students read in English a few verses from the Torah which described a festival where"...all citizens in Israel shall live in booths [Sukkot]"  (Leviticus 23:42)  As often occurs during Torah study, one comment led to another  until students were engaged in a spirited exchange of ideas questioning how Moses could be God's messenger to the Jews when we're told that Moses had a speech impediment.  Excellent - questioning and interpreting Torah Text just like the Rabbis of old!

Soon, it was our turn to visit the Sukkah where we recited the Shehecheyanu Bracha and the Brachot for sitting in the Sukkah and shaking the Lulav and Etrog. Students pointed out that we shake the Lulav and Etrog in all directions to signify that God's presence is everywhere.  The Lulav and Etrog also remind us of Israel where the Etrog and the palm, myrtle, and willow of the Lulav grow (as shown on a map in our Sukkot packet).  Students referred to their packets to check out the Sukkah structure according to a list of Sukkah-building rules: Large enough to fit a person's head, body, and a table - check!  Walls strong enough to stand up to wind - check!  Roof formed from branches without the use of nails and screws - check! Stars visible through the roof - check!  Good job Sukkah Builders (including some of our students)!  We hung up our Hamsa amidst the other Sukkah decorations, ate a snack of Israeli cookies, and greeted the next class arriving at the Sukkah.

Back in the classroom, in the final moments before T'filah, students again studied their Sukkot packets to learn that the four "species" of plants that make up the Lulav and Etrog are said to represent parts of the body: spine (palm), eyes (myrtle), mouth (willow) and Etrog (heart).  In other words, we worship God with our whole self!

Students brought home their Sukkot packets to share. Chag Sukkot Sameach!  Happy Sukkot ! 

The Tishrei Holidays continue.  Please come to rejoice in the Torah at Simchat Torah services.  Check the synagogue website for dates and times.
L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 9/12/12

Hands-On Welcome Activity
"Hands" as a graphic symbol of personal action were the basis for our Welcome Activity.  On hand-shaped cards, students described ways that they can take part in Tikun Olam ("Repairing the World") in the New Year 5773.  Students' thoughtful responses  ranged from  providing food for people and animals to "Think of others before yourself."   Their hand cards will be added to our High Holiday display board - a visual overview of images and themes which shape our  Holiday observances in the Hebrew month of Tishrei.

Siddur (Prayerbook) Hebrew and Holidays

OPENING BRACHOT:  Table groups led the three opening Brachot (Blessings)  which we've been practicing.  The Brachot sheet is now attached to individual student folders.  These folders both organize students' ongoing work and serve as a portfolio of their completed assignments.  Folders also include reference charts for writing Hebrew letters and for identifying consonant and vowel sounds.

ROSH HASHANAH PACKET:  Students reviewed each Bracha on the Blessings page of their Rosh HaShanah packets with special attention to the Brachot for wine and challah because - it was snack time!  Students enjoyed grape juice and round raisin challah drizzled with honey - delicious Rosh HaShanah traditions.

To review Rosh HaShanah Hebrew vocabulary, students completed a word matching exercise in their packets.  We also briefly discussed the four names used to describe Rosh HaShanah - "Rosh HaShanah-The Beginning of the Year;"  "Yom HaDin - Day of Judgment;" Yom HaZicaron - Day of Remembrance;"  and "Yom T'ruah - Day of the Sounding of the Shofar."

YOM KIPPUR INFORMATION SHEETS:  On to Yom Kippur!  Ask your students how Yom Kippur is related to arrows and a target and how they might do Teshuvah ("turn things around") in the New Year.
Students brought home their Rosh HaShanah packets and Yom Kippur information sheets to share with their families.  Please use these materials to enhance your Holiday celebration and to help your students practice Hebrew Holiday vocabulary.

REMINDER:As we celebrate the High Holidays in the coming weeks, there will be no Hebrew School on Wednesday, 9/19 and Wednesday, 9/26.  Hebrew School will meet again on Wednesday 10/3.

L'Shanah Tova - Happy New Year!
Morah Ronni

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Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 9/5/12

Hands-On Welcome Activity
Students  expressed their thoughts on a poster-sized birthday card - a birthday card for the World! (Rosh HaShanah is considered to be the World's birthday.) Students answered the question, "If the World could make a birthday wish, what would that wish be?"  Their responses included wishes for peace, an end to pollution, cooperation among people, good food for all, saving the polar bears, and the re-election of President Obama.

Siddur  (Prayerbook) Hebrew and Holidays
Students reviewed and recited three Brachot (Blessings) which we say at the beginning of every class.
Building on the previous class' discussion of the Blessing Formula, we examined six Brachot which we recite on Rosh HaShanah, plus the Hebrew words for Rosh  HaShanah food and ritual items.  We looked at the parts of the Bracha (Blessing) for "tapuach v'd'vash" ("apple and honey").  Students first identified the part that is the Blessing Formula.  Then, with the help of a pomegranate branch, fruit pictures, and a Hebrew Root Analysis sheet, students translated the last three words of the Bracha, "Boreh pri haetz"  ("Who creates the fruit of the tree.")  This is the first of many learning activities which will empower students to understand the prayers they learn to recite.

After saying together each of the six Brachot related to Rosh HaShanah, students enjoyed a snack of apples and honey and cranberry-pomegranate juice.  Learning Hebrew can be very sweet!  As we study and experience High Holiday traditions, Kitah Gimel enters into the spirit of the preparatory month of Elul.

Modern Hebrew - Hebrew Through Movement
Students recalled the words they'd acted out in the previous class and added the words laatzor ("stop") and shura ("line").

Reminder:  Students, if you received a copy of the Journal Edition of our prayerbook, Mishkan T'filah,  last year, please bring your book to class for use throughout  this school year.

L'Hitraot - see you soon,
Morah Ronni


Following our assessment day last week, Kitah Gimel is ready to rock!  As students arrived, they were invited to learn about the current Hebrew month of Elul by answering questions on flower-shaped cards.  Students found the answers to the questions in a display about Elul and taped the flower cards with their answers to the display.

Students reviewed the words Bracha (Blessing) and Brachot (Blessings) and practiced three of the Blessings which we'll be saying every week.

As the High Holidays are quickly approaching, students received a packet of Rosh HaShana information and activities.  We noted additional Blessings associated with Rosh HaShana.
Students, then, had the opportunity to write their own Blessings for a variety of familiar situations such as making a new friend, beginning B'nai Mitzvah studies, receiving a good grade on a test. Students who wished to, shared their Blessings.  The Blessings were  unique and beautifully expressed.

Continuing the Blessings theme, we read the story of Benjamin the Shepherd whose impromptu Blessing over a meat sandwich proved problematic for the Rabbis.  Students began to comment on the shepherd's Blessing.  The conversation quickly became a lively Talmudic-style exchange of opinions which ranged from the meaning of "creator" to the exact contents of the sandwich (Kosher?  Non-kosher?)
We discovered that the Rabbis decided that a Blessing must begin with the six-word "Blessing Formula" which students readily recited.
In counting our Blessings, we learned that Blessings count!

Before leaving for T'filah, students experienced an innovative method of learning modern Hebrew - "Hebrew Through Movement".  By directly associating an action with the Hebrew word, without an intermediary translation, students can rapidly build vocabulary.  Students stood, sat, and walked according to the Hebrew commands.

It's a pleasure to welcome the Kitah Gimel class of 5773.  We look forward to a wonderfully productive year.

L'Hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Welcome to a New Year of Hebrew School at Congregation Albert!
Find Pictures of the Hebrew School Teachers Below:
Dovya  -Bet Hebrew

Rona - Alef Hebrew

Ronni Sims - Gimel Hebrew

5773 School Year Above
5772 School Year Below

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 5/2/12
It seems that just a short time ago we were getting acquainted and starting out the Hebrew school year in the Hebrew month of Elul.  Now, after many weeks of studying, praying, and celebrating together, we've come to the month of Iyar and our last class session!
We gathered briefly in our classroom for the three Blessings with an especially fervent Shehecheyanu as we marked Kitah Gimel students' last day of Hebrew school.  Then, on-time Oreos in hand, we joined in the school-wide LAST DAY party - fun, friendships, farewells, and lots of food!

During T'filah,  Kitah Gimel students received  beautiful certificates (suitable for framing!) in recognition of their "graduation" from Religious School/Hebrew  School, and their "promotion" to Machon.

Thank you Kitah Gimel Families for your support as well as your partnership.  It  has been a pleasure teaching and learning from Kitah Gimel.  May our students go from strength to strength on their lifelong Jewish Journey.

Kayitz Sameach - Happy summer!
L'Hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!       4/25/12

What a difference a week makes in Jewish Time.  From last week's somber observance of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), the Holiday cycle has rolled on to the joyful exuberance of Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day). 
In honor of Yom HaAtzmaut and the State of Israel's 64th birthday, Kitah Gimel was transformed into Beit Cafe Gimel (Gimel Cafe) and decorated with Israeli maps and road signs.

But, first, as we've done every week,  we recited the Blessing for Torah Study and the Shehecheyanu.  Since we were about to eat a selection of Israeli-style treats, we said the Blessing appropriate for an assortment of foods.

Still not quite Cafe time, though...Students completed bookplates for their Mishkan T'filah Journals.  They'd begun this project several weeks ago and were ready to add the final touches and glue the bookplates into their Journals.  Kitah Gimel students are quite artistic.  Each bookplate is unique and carefully detailed.  Once the bookplates were glued in place, we used the Mishkan T'filah Journals to read the Torah Service prayers which we'd studied.  These prayers and the Mishkan T'filah Journals, will, hopefully, be a part of our students' Jewish practice far into the future.
Students placed their work folders and their Journals in bags to bring home. We then covered the tables with blue plastic tablecloths, put some Israeli popular music on a CD player, and helped ourselves to heaping plates of pita bread, hummus, Israeli cookies and chocolate frosting, Israeli candy, and bags of "Bissli" (a crisp, savory Israeli snack).  An American treat, pumpkin pie, was included among the refreshments as it was the favorite dessert of a student celebrating his birthday.

While enjoying the food and music in Beit Cafe Gimel, students were given a packet of information about Yom HaAtzmaut and a newsletter called "Growing Up" published by Jewish National Fund.  The newsletter was full of facts about the modern State of Israel.  Students were surprised and proud to learn that Israel is a leader in science and technology and  that among their technological achievements,  Israelis developed the cell phone and created instant messages.  We played a game in which students answered questions about the information in the newsletter.  All students had a chance to answer correctly and all received prizes including puzzles, a wiggly snake, and an inflatable flamingo!

Students brought home the  Yom HaAtzmaut packet and the Jewish National Fund newsletter.  Please take a moment to look through both.  In addition to the articles mentioned, the newsletter has a quick and easy recipe for hummus and wonderful suggestions for Israeli Mitzvah projects.  The Yom HaAtzmaut packet explains the Holiday and has the words in Hebrew, English, and transliteration to the Israeli national anthem, Ha-Tikvah.

Thank you, Kitah Gimel students and families for a wonderfully productive school year.  We look forward to the school-wide end-of-the-year party next week.
Yom HaAtzmaut Sameach - Happy Israel Independence Day!
L'Hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni 


Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 4/18/12 Although Pesach has ended, there were still no "on-time" Oreos for Kitah Gimel. Instead, the snack that each student would receive was part of our observance of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). As always, we said the Blessings for Torah Study and the Shehecheyanu. (Even though we were gathered to commemorate a horribly sad event, we were still thankful to be learning together.) We began with a brief review of the Holidays we've celebrated during the school year: dipping apples in honey at Rosh HaShanah; waving the lulav for Sukkot; forming a "living" Hanukkiah at Hanukkah; pouring purple and white grape juice at our gala Tu B'Shvat Seder; making Purim groggers; and enjoying food, frogs and festivities at our Pesach Seder. Now, we'd come to Yom HaShoah - a time for study and reflection about a time in Jewish History when no hero came forth to save us from the heinous acts of an evil enemy. Students received a packet of information about elements of the Shoah. After reading the material silently, they shared facts and ideas that particularly caught their attention - that Anne Frank died when she was only 15; that children smuggled food into the ghetto; that Jews of all ages were killed in Auschwitz. While they were reading, I gave out the snack, a small box of raisins and four Ritz crackers. I wrote on the chalkboard that the total calorie count for this snack was 184. Students discovered in their reading that the Germans restricted the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto to a daily food allowance of 184 calories. For this meager food supply, the Jews paid 20 times more than Germans paid. And what would parents do with their food allowance when children and elders in the family were sick and starving? Students agreed the parents would probably give their share away. As we said the Blessings over our snack, student were asked if they believed the residents of the Warsaw ghetto blessed the small amount of wretched food they were allowed to have. Students believed they would. Students were surprised when we next turned to the subject of butterflies! They referred to the butterfly information page in their Yom HaShoah packets and shared their impressions of butterflies as "beautiful," "patterned," "symmetrical." "Butterflies,"they said, "transformed themselves through a four- stage life cycle." We moved from thinking about the natural science aspects of butterflies to examining butterflies as a symbol in the poem by Pavel Friedman, "The Butterfly." Twenty-one year old Pavel Friedman wrote this poem in the ghetto of Thereisenstadt. When asked why Friedman wrote, "That butterfly was the last one," students responded that the ghetto was too terrible a place for butterflies. In their packets, students read about the Butterfly Project of the Holocaust Museum in Houston. The museum was collecting 1.5 million hand-made, paper butterflies for an exhibit in memory of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Shoah. Students were given craft materials to make butterflies for the Butterfly Project. When they had completed their butterflies, students were asked to name them and to write the names on slips of paper. Their butterflies were taped to a poster board, each one unique, a colorful, vibrant display. At the bottom of the poster board, were "flames" fashioned from red and black tissue paper. I placed the slips of paper with the butterflies' names in a box. I pulled out the first name. That butterfly came off the poster and vanished into a black file folder hidden in the "flames." Then, another name was chosen and that butterfly was gone. "Wait!" the students protested. "Why are you putting our butterflies into the fire? Are you going to take them out?" Students whose butterflies had been taken down volunteered to pick out names and more butterflies disappeared. Stu, Jessica, Kobe,Jacob, Lucy, Suzie, Deathfly, Leah, and Rachel. Meticulously embellished and whimsically named only minutes before, nine of the ten butterflies disappeared into the flames. I sealed the file folder with duct tape and said, "Ninety percent of the children died in the Shoah. Most were chosen randomly, just like your butterflies, to be sent to their deaths in the concentration camps." The student, whose butterfly named Bluey, remained alone on the poster asked plaintively, "Why was I the only survivor?" Thursday, April 19, is Yom HaShoah. Please encourage your students to share their Yom HaShoah packets with you. You might wish to light a memorial (yahrzeit) candle in memory of those lives so cruelly lost in the Shoah. On page 7 of the packet , there is a memorial "meditation" you might say as a family. Our Yom HaShoah learning activities were adapted from and inspired by two professional development resources recommended by our Director of Lifelong Learning at the beginning of the school year: a series of creative and informative webinars focusing on Israel and on Holidays offered by Jewish National Fund www.jnf.org and webinars on the innovative theory and practice of experiential Jewish education presented by Torah Aura Productions www.torahaura.com Zachor! Remember! L'hitraot - See you soon, Morah Ronni Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families! 4/11/12
Why are snacks for this week's class different from all previous snacks? Because we're observing the interim days of Pesach (Hol HaMoed), "on-time" oreos were replaced by matza and butter and Kosher-for-Pesach snacks. In addition to the Blessing for Torah Study and the Shehecheyanu Blessing, we said the Blessing for bread (for matza) and the Blessing for performing the Mitzah of eating matza.

There are only a few Hebrew School sessions left in the school year and students are concluding their study of the prayers in the Shabbat Morning Torah Service. These are also the students' final sessions of Hebrew School. By this time next year, most current Kitah Gimel students will have become Bar or Bat Mitzvah. To commemorate this important time in their lifelong Jewish learning, each student received a very special gift from Congregation Albert Religious School - the Journal edition of our siddur, Mishkan T'filah. As soon as students received their new siddurim, we put them right to use to practice the Torah Service prayers.

To personalize their Mishkan T'filah Journals, students created preliminary sketches of bookplates which they'll complete and place in their books next week.

While the class worked on bookplates, individual students were called, in turn, to read aloud lines selected from all the prayers they've studied this year. This Oral Review activity provided an opportunity for an individual assessment of students' siddur Hebrew reading skills.

Our class ended with more gifts - birthday gifts for 2 students! Yom Huledet Sameach!

Moadim B'Simcha - Celebrate the joys of Pesach!
L'Hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 4/4/12

Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families! After saying the Blessing for Torah Study and the Shehecheyanu Blessing, Kitah Gimel got a head start on Pesach with a class Seder. Since our class session isn't quite long enough for an entire Seder, we followed selected parts of the Haggadah, starting with the placing of items on the Seder plate. Students reviewed the Hebrew names and symbolic meanings of the roasted lamb bone (z'roa), the roasted egg (beitzah), lettuce (chazeret), parsley (karpas), horseradish (maror), and apple/grape juice mixture (charoset). They discovered that the Seder is an evolving and expansive ritual. Ask your students why an orange and Miriam's Cup are now on the Seder table.
Students took turns reading sections of the Pesach story as told in the Haggadah, said Blessings over the ritual foods, and dipped the parsley in salt water. We sang the Ma Nishtanah (The Four Questions) together. Finger puppets and plastic frogs added to our recitation of the Ten Plagues and embellished the commandment that we are to tell the Pesach story in a memorable way.
We drank the second cup of wine, blessed the Matzah, and realized that there was just enough time left to enjoy a "Hillel Sandwich" of matzah, maror, and charoset. Students asked for second and third helpings of my nut-free charoset - a combination of apples, dried cranberries, raisins, chopped dates, grape juice, cinnamon, and honey. We skipped to the fourth cup of wine and ended our Seder with the traditional wish, "Lashanah haba'ah b'Yerushalayim!" (Next year in Jerusalem!") Even though there wasn't time to open the door for Elijah, I'm sure the Pesach Prophet was with us in spirit.
In T'filah, Kitah Gimel was invited to lead the Ma Nishtanah.
Students brought home a packet of Pesach information including a picture of a painting of "The Four Children," questions you might wish to discuss at your Seder, and an entertaining article about asking "Why is this night different from all other nights?" in a variety of exotic languages including Klingon! Please encourage your students to share this packet with you.
Chag Pesach Sameach - Happy Passover!
L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families! 3/28/12

Groups of students led the Three Blessings. The groups were chosen based on the onot (seasons) when students were born.

Reviewing the Hebrew names of the seasons served as an introduction to our attendance conversation. Even though it had been awhile since our last attendance conversation, students recalled most of the modern Hebrew questions and answers. Using their Jewish calendars, students discovered that we're now in the Hebrew month of Nisan, the first month of Aviv (spring). To practice Hebrew sentences, students identified the Jewish Holidays which occur in five of the Hebrew months. In the current month of Nisan, we look forward to celebrating Pesach. Since the school year began, we have celebrated seven Jewish Holidays together and there are more to come!

We reviewed and practiced the prayers of the Torah Service. For the first time as a class, we recited the Barchu and the Blessing before the reading of the Torah. After we'd practiced reading this Blessing, several students led us very nicely in chanting the Blessing. Students who regularly attend Shabbat Services truly enhance their ability to read and chant the prayers that we study. As we discussed the Blessings, students were amazed to learn that the Barchu and Blessing for reading of the Torah are chanted for each Aliyah, every Shabbat morning.
Before leaving for T'filah, they frequently mentioned this fact when describing "one thing" they'd learned in class.
Next week, we'll celebrate Pesach. Aviv Sameach - Happy Spring!
L'Hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 3/21/12
Kitah Gimel had a unique opportunity to have the Sanctuary as their classroom, while the synagogue hosted IHN guests in the education wing.
Students who had begun their B'nai Mitzvah studies were invited to lead the Blessing for Torah Study and the others led the Shehecheyanu Blessing - especially appropriate as it was our first time studying in the Sanctuary.

To practice the prayers for the Torah Service, we stood on the Bima and imagined the congregation sitting before us. As we recited the prayers, we were mindful of K'vod L'Kahal (respect for the congregation) - the responsibility of prayer leaders to read the prayers as accurately, fluently, and thoughtfully as possible.
Carrying a Siddur and a Torah Commentary in place of Torah Scrolls, students practiced the Torah Processional which, in the coming year, will be a highlight of their B'nai Mitzvah services.

As we gathered in our Sacred Space, we studied about the very first Sacred Space, the Tabernacle in the desert, which God commanded the ancient Israelites to build. After reading an information packet about the Tabernacle and examining a diagram of that structure, students compared the Congregation Albert Sanctuary to the Tabernacle. They noted that the Tabernacle was designed to be portable, as the Israelites were wandering in the desert. One student pointed out that we're still in the desert, but we now have a permanent Sacred Space at Congregation Albert!
While the Tabernacle held the stone tablets with God's law, our Holy Ark holds Torah Scrolls whose covers and ornaments echo the garments of the Tabernacle Priests. Now, as in the days of the Tabernacle, there is an Everlasting Light over the Bima as God commanded in the Torah. Even the colors of our Sanctuary's furnishings, purple and blue, recall the colors which God specified for the Tabernacle.
Students addressed the question, "If God is everywhere, why are we commanded to build a Sacred Space like the Tabernacle or the Sanctuary?" They wisely answered that both the ancient Tabernacle and our modern synagogue are places for the Jewish community to come together to worship God and to store the Holy Tablets or, in our case, the Torah Scrolls. In our modern Sanctuary, students observed, we also gather for life-cycle events such as B'nai Mitzvah, weddings, and funerals.

For our final activity in the Sacred Space of the Sanctuary, students recorded their personal comments and thoughts on the Torah Service prayers they'd led. They wrote those comments on a page copied from the Journal Edition of our Siddur, Mishkan T'Filah. Before the end of the school year, each student will receive a copy of the Journal Edition to express their thoughts now and throughout their lifelong Jewish Journey.

As students left the Sanctuary for T'filah in the Chapel (another Sacred Space), "Tabernacle" was central in their "What I learned today" responses.
This was truly a memorable afternoon!
L'Hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 3/7/12

When you're greeted at your classroom door by a triceratops, you know it's Purim!
Our celebration began with singing the Three Blessings to the tune of "Happy Birthday" and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" - a musical whimsy only permitted on Purim.

Students received a Purim Packet containing a word search game, a brief summary of the Purim story, and excerpts in Hebrew and English from the actual text of Megillat Esther (the scroll which is read on Purim). As we read the summary, we referred to the Megillah excerpts to clarify and expand the information in the summary. A first wife scorned; a befuddled, party-loving king; a wise cousin; a murderous, conniving villain; and a brave, beautiful heroine - the Purim story is more like reality tv than a sacred text!

Having explored portions of Megillat Esther, we moved on to fulfill additional Purim mitzvot. I prepared a mishloach manot (a basket of treats) for the class. Students enjoyed cookies, juice, and candies which symbolized the Purim story: Lifesavers, because Esther saved the lives of the Jews and Dum Dum pops, because Haman and King Ahasuerus were certainly dumb-dumbs!

Recognizing the Purim mitzvah of matanot l'evyonim (giving to the needy), we contributed to our class' tzedakah fund.

The fourth Purim mitzvah is to joyfully celebrate, which we did by making festive raashanim (groggers) from vitamin bottles. Students decorated colored paper covered vitamin bottles with Hebrew Purim words, drawings, stickers, and ribbons. Pennies inside each bottle made a clattering noise and reminded us of the mitzvah of tzedakah at Purim and all year 'round.

Students energetically shook their gala raashanim to drown out Haman's name as I read the Hebrew excerpts from the Megillah.

Students showed off their raashanim and practiced saying "raashan" as they left class to join the congregational Megillah reading and to enjoy the Purimspiel (Purim skit).

REMINDER - Next week is Spring Break, so there will be no Hebrew School on Wednesday, March 14.

Chag Purim Sameach! Happy Purim!
L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 2/29/12

Students led the three Blessings and the Ein Camocha and Av Ha Rachamim prayers.
We welcomed the new Hebrew month of Adar and discussed Purim, the joyful Adar holiday. Students recalled the whole Megillah (the Purim story) and the cast of characters, both heroes and villains.

Time for something fishy! To review syllables and the pronunciation of prayer words, two teams of students took turns "fishing." They fished for "Syllable Sharks" - paper sharks with a prayer word pasted on them. As each shark was "caught," students read the words and counted the syllables in each word. The more syllables, the more points! Team Bet won!

While students completed a Writing Practice sheet and worked on their prayer packets, I met with small groups who practiced reading aloud the prayers in packet #2 - the prayers for removing the Torah scrolls from the Ark and beginning the processional (carrying the Torah scrolls through the congregation).
We also worked together on a translation exercise for the Ki M'Tsion prayer.

Mazal Tov to two more students who have completed the first prayer packet and become
"Prayer Stars."

As they left for T'filah, students shared one thing they'd learned in class. Their responses showed that they had Purim on their minds and were looking forward to celebrating in the happy month of Adar.

Students are invited to wear costumes or funny hats to class next week (3/7/12) as we'll enjoy fulfilling the Purim Mitzvot.

L'Hitraot - See You Soon,
Morah Ronni

Something's fishy in Kitah Gimel! To review prayer vocabulary, students are going to fish for "Syllable Sharks." This game format can be used to review vocabulary in Hebrew or English associated with various topics of study. In the case of "Syllable Sharks," the points scored are determined by the number of syllables in the words on each shark "caught." For words that are to be defined or identified, points might be assigned according to difficulty.

PREPARATION: Cut sharks (or fish shapes) from index cards. My sharks were about 5" long and 2" wide - big enough to hold a large paper clip. On the lined side of each shark, glue a one, two, three, four, or five syllable Hebrew word from prayers the students have studied. Prepare enough sharks so that each student has a chance to fish, with a few fish left over as "tie-breakers." I'll be working with two teams of 5 students, so I made a total of 18 sharks - 4 one-syllable sharks, 4 two-syllable sharks, etc. I only made 2 five-syllable sharks - a "special catch!"

To make the fishing pole, tie a magnet on the end of a string and tie the string around a paper towel tube. (Magnets may be found in craft stores or home improvement stores.)The magnet will be attracted to the large metal paper clips clipped to each shark. Place all the sharks word side down in a box or pail.

DIRECTIONS: Each team takes a turn fishing from the box or pail. Only one shark at a time may be caught. Any extra sharks must be returned (word unseen) to the box. Each team member examines his/her "catch," reads the word aloud, and decides on the number of syllables. Team members may help with the reading and counting of syllables. The number of syllables is recorded on a team score sheet. When all team members have caught a shark, the team which has caught the highest number of syllables (points) wins.

NOTE: To simplify preparations, index cards or simple geometric shapes may used in place of shark or fish shapes. Words may be written directly on the sharks or shapes. I chose to glue on words cut from the prayers to reinforce Siddur reading skills.

EXTENSION: The "Syllable Sharks" game may be made more elaborate by adding "Super Sharks" which have directions instead of words. The directions might say "Take another turn" or "Give one of your sharks to the other team."

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 2/22/12

We began with table groups leading the Three Blessings. From now on, in addition to the Blessings, the class will recite the Ein Camocha and Av HaRachamim prayers as a means of achieving and maintaining fluency. We read each line of the prayers, pausing to repeat lines with more difficult words. We reviewed the context of the prayers; that they are part of the ritual of removing the Torah from the Ark. Students pointed out that the prayers praise God who gave us the Torah.

Expanding upon the theme of Torah, students examined 2 information sheets. One sheet presented quotes from Judaic texts including some which compared the Torah to objects in nature. A tree-shaped graphic on the second sheet was made up of phrases telling "Why We Need Trees." Using the sheets as inspiration for their own ideas, students creatively completed the statement, "The Torah is like a tree because..." Students copied their statements onto green paper "leaves." The leaves will be attached to a tree trunk poster for display in our classroom. Students' thoughtful statements showed an understanding of the role Torah plays in our lives. For example, one student wrote, "Torah is like a tree because trees can be a source for medicines and the Torah heals us when we are down in the dumps or hurt. Like medicine, the Torah fights harmful thoughts and feelings by guiding us. Also, the Torah builds happy thoughts and so does medicine."

Students completed a writing practice acitivity to review a group of letters of which they were unsure when reading prayers aloud.
Students took turns reading aloud a list of prayer words containing the letters from the writing activity.
They then filled in the blanks in an exercise which required a knowledge of syllables, letter forms, prefixes, suffixes, and other Hebrew language elements.

Mazal Tov to a student who completed the first prayer packet to become a Cochav T'filah - a "Prayer Star."

L'Hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Reaching Kitah Gimel: The Torah is like a tree...
I'd intended to include this creative writing activity in our Tu B'Shvat Seder, but there wasn't time. However, since we're studying the prayers for the Torah Service, this activity increases understanding in that context as well.

Students are given 2 information sheets. One sheet,prepared by Jewish National Fund (JNF) www.jnf.org/treesource contains quotes from Judaic texts including several which compare the Torah to objects in nature. The second sheet presents a tree-shaped graphic made up of phrases telling the benefits we receive from trees. This graphic is from the book, Experiencing the Jewish Holidays by Joel Lurie Grishaver www.torahaura.com Using these 2 sheets as inspiration for their own imaginations, students are to complete the comparative statement, "The Torah is like a tree because..." Students write* their original comparative statements on a leaf shape cut from green paper. As students share their comparisons, they paste their leaves on the top of a brown paper tree trunk mounted on posterboard. The trunk has 4 roots, each representing a Hebrew letter in the word "Torah." The leafy tree will become part of a classroom display that includes our JNF tree planting certificate and other JNF materials.

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families - 2/15/12
Students led the three Blessings and we wished a Mazal Tov to two students who were celebrating their birthdays.
"Kein?" or "Lo?" were the questions which began our first learning activity.

Tu B'Shvat Review
To review information on Tu B'Shvat which students had learned at last week's Tu B'Shvat Seder, we played a game called "Kein-Lo."
Each table group received 2 index cards. "Kein" ("yes" in Hebrew) was written on one index card. "Lo" ("no" in Hebrew) was written on the other index card. I read aloud 10 statements about Tu B'Shvat. After each statement, table groups had 15 seconds to decide if the statement was correct or incorrect. If a group decided that the statement was correct, they held up the "kein" card. If they decided the statement was incorrect, they held up the "lo" card. Each table group that responded with the right answer received a point. In the case of incorrect statements, students had a chance to earn bonus points by writing down the correct form of the statement. Winning groups received prizes.

Siddur Hebrew
Students completed a writing practice sheet on the letters vav and aleph. They also completed an exercise which reviewed the Hebrew word endings which mean "your" and "our."
Students continued working on their prayer packets. Several more students demonstrated their ability to read aloud the Ein Camocha and Av Ha Rachamim prayers and are close to finishing the written portion of their prayer packets.
Another student was awarded a star on our display, Cochav T'Filah (Prayer Star), for completing the first prayer packet.

I showed the class the JNF certificate which signifies that a tree has been planted in their honor in the memorial forest for the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.

L'Hitraot - See you soon.
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families! Olives and raisins and dates, oh my! Students arrived in class to find their tables covered in shades of green and an array of fruits and cookies in place of our usual “on-time” Oreos. Birthday napkins at each place gave a further clue that this was no ordinary day. It was Tu B’Shvat (the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shvat) and Kitah Gimel was about to participate in a Tu B’Shvat Seder.
We began as always with students leading the Blessings. Why the Blessing for Torah study at a Tu B’Shvat Seder? One student pointed out that the Torah is called the “Tree of Life”. The Shehechayanu Blessing was certainly appropriate as we gathered to celebrate a special holiday.
A Seder requires a Haggadah. Each student received a Haggadah booklet adapted from the JNF (Jewish National Fund) Haggadah, “Branching Out”. Students also received a booklet of additional information about Tu B’Shvat. We discovered that trees were given a “birthday” in order to determine their ages for the fulfillment of certain religious rituals described in the Torah. The concept of a Tu B’Shvat Seder was created by the Kabbalists who believed that we learned important lessons about ourselves from trees.
You can’t have a Seder without The Four Questions. For Tu B’Shvat the four questions centered on inquiring about eating fruits that grow in Israel, conserving and sharing natural resources, and planting. The format of the Seder reflects the Kabbalistic idea that “we live on four levels at the same time”. The first level, Assiyah, is the level of actions that we take. The second level, Yetzirah, is about “energy and feelings”. The third level, Briyah, focuses on “ideas and creativity”. The fourth level, Atzilut, is the level of “spirituality and closeness to God”.
As we moved through the levels in the Seder ceremony, we ate fruits associated with the first three levels and drank a mixture of red and white grape juice, whose color varied from white (symbolizing winter) to deep red (symbolizing autumn).
For each of the first three levels, students joined in a swift, lively “fruit scavenger hunt”. Their challenge was to find as many fruit pictures as possible for each level. The fruit pictures, cut from supermarket fliers, were hidden all around the classroom. Two students tied for first place. Their prizes were live mint plants!
Our Tu B’Shvat Seder closed with a Jewish folktale about an old woman who planted carob trees, not for herself, but for the enjoyment and nourishment of future generations. Kitah Gimel enjoyed munching on carob chips, which have a chocolaty flavor.
Each student brought home a Haggadah, an information booklet, and a newsletter, “Growing Up”, published by Jewish National Fund. The newsletter suggests ways to act in the spirit of Tu B’Shvat throughout the year, including a list of exciting B’nai Mitzvah projects which help to strengthen the land of Israel.
In addition, our students can now claim that they have “roots” in Israel as I planted a tree, through JNF, in their honor.
Tu B’Shvat Sameach! Happy Tu B’Shvat!
L’Hitraot – see you soon.

Morah Ronni

The Kein - Lo Game
Divide the class into two or more teams. Give each team 2 index cards, one white and one colored. On the white card is written the word “kein” in Hebrew, which means “yes.” On the colored card is written the word “lo” in Hebrew, which means “no.” Also write the words on the chalkboard: “kein”= “yes” and “lo” = “no.” The teacher reads a statement regarding a topic which students have studied. For example: “The words ‘Tu B’Shvat’ mean ‘tree festival.’” The teams have 15 seconds to decide if the statement is true or false. If they think the statement is true, they hold up the “kein” card. If they think the statement is false, they hold up the “lo” card. Teams who respond correctly receive one point. If the statement is false, the teams have 30 seconds more to write the statement correctly on a piece of paper. Teams who correct the statement appropriately receive an extra point.
- Tell students that to correct a statement, teams must change the factual content of the statement. They can’t just make the original statement negative. (ie - The statement “The words ‘Tu B’Shvat’ mean ‘tree festival.’” can’t be changed to “The words ‘Tu B’Shvat” don’t mean ‘tree festival.’” The statement must be changed to “The words ‘Tu B’Shvat’ mean ‘the fifteenth of the month of Shvat’”
After all the statements have been read, the team with the most points wins.

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!
Table groups led the three Blessings and then Kitah Gimel set off on the Santa Fe Trail (figuratively speaking, of course). Our class was invited to be the first to try out a lesson from the curriculum which Tammy Kaiser, our Director of Lifelong Learning, wrote to accompany the exhibit, "Adventure, Adversity, & Opportunity: Our Jewish Pioneer History in New Mexico" (currently on display at the JCC). This curriculum will eventually be used in both Jewish educational settings and in secular classrooms.

Each student received a packet of information and activities from the curriculum. Students began by examining an "Overview" of Jewish immigration to New Mexico as part of the great migration into the "newly acquired western territories." Coming first by covered wagons and later by railroad, many mainly German Jewish immigrants, arrived in New Mexico between 1840 and 1880. To track the milestones in Jewish immigration to New Mexico, the class created a timeline to illustrate events highlighted in the "Overview."

Next, students studied an information sheet about "Life on the Santa Fe Trail." Based on the descriptions on the sheet, students stretched their imaginations and detailed the sights, sounds, and smells they might experience on the Santa Fe Trail. They further considered the "fears," "desires," and "wonders" that would shape the pioneers' thinking as they traveled westward to Santa Fe.

Students shared their imaginative responses and vividly evoked the noisy, dusty, bumpy, odorous world of the covered wagons as they rattled their way west. Students put themselves in the role of pioneers and described their fears of getting lost, of sickness; their desires for good food, permanent shelter, and an end to the arduous journey; their wondering how their new homes in New Mexico would be, and whether they would be accepted.

At the end of the lesson, each student completed a form where he/she shared ideas on the most interesting part of the lesson; described information learned; and added comments, questions, and suggestions related to the learning experience.

As a perfect follow-up to our activities in class, we hope that families will visit the exhibit "Adventure, Adversity, & Opportunity" which will be at the JCC until the end of February.
Our lesson this week is also an excellent starting point for entering the student creative writing contest on the history and culture of Jewish New Mexico sponsored by the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society. I'll be happy to provide further information about the contest.

L'Hitraot - See you soon.
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families! Today marks our 18th Kitah Gimel Hebrew class. Kitah Gimel chai!

Table groups had just finished leading the three Blessings , when a student arrived with an unusual Hebrew school snack - a hotdog on a bun. It was the perfect opportunity to review the Blessings for food. We agreed that the cookie Blessing which we'd said wasn't appropriate for a hotdog. An examination of the Blessings chart on the classroom wall revealed a Blessing for food with a variety of ingredients. We all recited this Blessing which ends with the words "shehacol neyeh bidvaro" ("by whose word all things come into being.")

As students recited the three Blessings, I reminded them to pay close attention to the words because they just might need that information for our game of the week - "Jewpardy."

Jewpardy, a Judaic Studies variation of Jeopardy, is designed to help students recall and retain information they've learned over the previous weeks. The class was divided into 2 teams, Aleph and Bet. Hebrew language concepts, Holiday observance, and Torah Study were among the subject areas which generated the Jewpardy "answers." Students competed enthusiastically to supply the correct "questions."
Tov M'od ("Very good") to the Bet Team who won.

Following Jewpardy, students completed assignments from their Ma Osim HaYom? ("What are we doing today?") sheets, including a Writing Practice exercise for the letters dalet and vet and an activity sheet on the Hebrew roots reish-chet-mem ("mercy) and ayin-sin-hay ("make/do")
The decorative Hebrew lettering of the assignment sheet title was designed by a student. All students are encouraged to submit creative lettering for future sheets.

I met with individual students who were prepared to demonstrate their ability to read the Ein Camocha and Av HaRachamim prayers. Mazal tov to a fourth student who has become a Cochav T'fila ("Prayer Star") by completing the oral and written sections of the first prayer unit. Several more students showed that they're nearing completion of the unit.

We, again, formed our aleph-bet wheel "band" and serenaded a student celebrating his birthday with Yom Huledet Sameach ("Happy Birthday"). Ask your student to describe this unusual approach to Jewish "music."

Reminder - Students are urged to submit essays to the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society contest. Flyers about the contest were distributed last week.

In the few minutes remaining before T'fila, students asked questions and gave answers from memory for the attendance conversation.

In the spirit of Jewpardy-
Answer: "A welcoming space where all students learn and grow Judaically."
Question: "What is Kitah Gimel?"

L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!

After table groups led the three Blessings, we reviewed the role of the Ein Camocha and Av HaRachamim prayers in the Shabbat morning service. These prayers are among those which Kitah Gimel students will lead at their Bar/Bat Mitzvah as part of the Torah service. We re-affirmed that our goal is to read well and to understand these and other prayers that we'll be studying.

I shared information about the Rosalia Myers Feinstein Creative Writing Contest sponsored by the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society in honor of the New Mexico Centennial. The contest centers on the history and culture of Jewish New Mexico, which is also the focus of an exciting exhibit on display at the JCC . The exhibit is entitled "Adventure, Adversity, and Opportunity: Our Jewish Pioneer History in New Mexico." Kitah Gimel students and families are strongly encouraged to view the exhibit both for insights into the significant role played by the Jewish community in New Mexico and as a source of inspiration for the Creative Writing Contest.
Students received a flyer with details about the contest, and, hopefully, many will enter. I'm happy to consult with students preparing an entry.

To review Hebrew word roots which we learned last week, students played a game called, "Trios." In the game, students demonstrated their knowledge of root letters, words built from these letters, and the English translations of the roots. Everyone was a winner and received a treat.

To reinforce students' ability to identify letters and vowel sounds, we used aleph-bet wheels which display a set of vowel symbols for each letter. After practicing individual letter-vowel combinations, students sang their letter-vowel combinations to the tune of "Happy Birthday" - surprisingly harmonious!

Students completed a Writing Practice sheet for the letters reish and chaf and continued to work on activities in their prayer packet.
I met with individual students to check their progress in completing the oral and written assignments for the Ein Camocha and Av HaRachamim prayers.

Mazal Tov to three students who have become our first Cochavei T'Filah (Prayer Stars). Each of the three earned a star on the classroom bulletin board by reading the two prayers accurately and fluently and by completing the related written activities. These students have advanced to the next prayer unit. Mitzuyan! (Excellent!)

L'Hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!
While table groups were leading the three Blessings which begin each class, a student mentioned that he'd memorized the Blessing for Torah Study. This sparked a discussion of why memorization of Blessings and other prayers is not our main goal. Students suggested that we should always read the prayers in order to avoid making errors in wording and to focus our attention on the meaning of the prayers. We learned that the Hebrew word for focusing our attention and praying with intent is Kavannah.

Words from the Ein Camocha and Av HaRachamim prayers were the basis for a fast-paced game called "Syllables Count!" Students chose cards with prayer words, read the words aloud, and counted the syllables in each word. At the signal, "GO!" students rushed around the classroom trying to group together with others whose words had the same number of syllables. In about 30 seconds, groups had formed. When each group read their words, we found that all groups had formed correctly!

Building on this syllable practice, students followed the directions on their assignment sheets (Ma Osim HaYom? What Are We Doing Today?) and completed an activity where they indicated the number of syllables in each word in a list of prayer words, different from those used in the "Syllables Count!" game.

They also finished a writing practice sheet for the letters lamed, kaf, and hay.

While students worked on their assignments, I met with small groups to assist students in mastering the concepts of roots and syllables. These concepts underlie the ability to read and understand prayers. Some students also used the aleph-bet wheels to review letters and vowels.

It has been awhile since we had our attendance conversation, so students used the prompt sheets to practice the questions and answers. Students checked their Jewish calendars. They found that in the weeks since our last conversation the onah (season) has changed from s'tav (autumn) to choref (winter). Kislev, the Hebrew month when Hanukkah fell, is past. We're now in the Hebrew month of Tevet.

As students left for T'filah, they were asked to recall the letters and meaning of one word root they'd studied. With a little help, each student was able to respond.
Avodah Tova! Good Work!

L'Hitraot - See you soon!
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families! Welcome to the second semester of Hebrew School. As part of our ongoing assessment of students' progress, some changes have been made to maximize each student's ability to develop proficiency in Hebrew language.

Looking ahead, Kitah Gimel students will be completing the unit on the Ein Camocha and Av HaRachamim prayers. They'll move on to explore additional prayers in the Shabbat Morning Torah Service; sample modern Hebrew; perform in Torah plays; celebrate Holidays; and participate in creative hands-on projects. (Kitah Gimel has lots of very artistic students!) There's not a moment to spare!

Since several weeks have passed since our last class, we began with review. Table groups led the three Blessings. We re-examined the differences among the Blessings and discussed the purpose of each.
We sang Yom Huledet Sameach to a student celebrating her birthday. Acknowledging birthdays is a new, fun feature of Kitah Gimel. Every student's birthday will be celebrated, including those whose birthdays came during first semester and those whose birthdays will fall during summer break. The more simchot (happy occasions) the better!

Students received an assignment sheet titled "Ma Osim HaYom?" ("What Are We Doing Today?")
The sheet guides students through the day's learning activities and enables each student to work at his/her own pace. While students complete the assigned tasks, I work with individuals and small groups to facilitate understanding of key concepts and to monitor progress.

Students reviewed information from the previous class in an exercise called "Remezim" ("clues); completed a writing practice sheet for the letter, mem; practiced reading aloud the Ein Camocha and Av HaRachamim prayers to a partner; and worked on the written exercises in the prayer unit.

Over the next few classes, when students feel they're ready to read the two prayers accurately and fluently, they may ask to read the prayers aloud to me. Demonstrating reading proficiency and completing the written section of the prayer unit will earn the student a cochav (star) on our Cochavei T'filah (Prayer Stars) wall. Several students are close to becoming "Cochavim" ("stars").

Students brought home a packet of completed first semester learning actvities. Please encourage your students to share the packet with you.

L'Hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!
Hanukkah came early to Kitah Gimel, as this week's  Hebrew class is the only Wednesday class scheduled for the month of December.
Class began with students leading the three Blessings.  We noted that the Shehecheyanu Blessing is also said on the first night of Hanukkah.
We also practiced the Ein Camocha and Av Harachamim prayers.

We reviewed the new month, Kislev, and the chag (Holiday) of Hanukkah which falls in Kislev.

In response to a student's question (in a previous class) about the connection between Hebrew and the Land of Israel, students received an information sheet about the evolution of Hebrew from an ancient language to a modern one.  "Aramaic,"  "Diaspora,"  "Zion," and the role of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda were among the concepts introduced.

Each student was given a Hanukkah packet with information and activities.  The packet is designed to be used as a guide to understanding and celebrating Hanukkah.  Among the items in the packet are the Hanukkah Blessings, candle lighting instructions, the Hanukkah story (several versions), Hanukkah Hebrew vocabulary, games, and more. We completed selected activities together and students were asked to bring their packets home to share.

To gain personal insight into Hanukkah, students discussed the conflict faced by Jews today and by Jews of ancient times, between following the ways of the secular community and following God's Commandments.

In the fun spirit of Hanukkah, students formed a "living" Hanukkiyah (menorah) and "lit" the first candle.  We ate a snack of donuts. (Ask your students to explain why we eat donuts on Hanukkah.)

At the end of class, students enthusiastically played with my dreidel (s'vivon) collection.  We compared the Hebrew letters on the dreidels and found that Israeli dreidels are inscribed "nun, gimel, hay, pay"  for "Nes Gadol
Haya Po" - A Great Miracle Happened Here,"  while Diaspora dreidels are inscribed "nun, gimel, hay, shin" for "Nes Gadol Haya Sham - A Great Miracle Happened There."
Students enjoyed making the dreidels spin, sparkle, and flip.  It's never too early to celebrate!

Chag Hanukkah Sameach - Happy Hanukkah!
L'hitraot - See you soon.  We hope that during Winter Break, students will attend Shabbat morning services.  The best way to learn the prayers that we're studying is...to pray!
Remember - our next Wednesday Hebrew class is on January 4, 2012.
Morah Ronni

Message from Morah Ronni  November 30th
Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families.

Today's class marks our 13th week learning together in Kitah Gimel - a special reason for reciting the Shehecheyanu Blessing as one of the three Blessings which students led at the beginning of class.

Our attendance conversation focused on the new Hebrew month of Kislev which began on Sunday and the much anticipated Holiday of Hanukkah.  Students re-arranged words from the attendance conversation to make original Hebrew sentences about Kislev and Hanukkah.

Before beginning the Siddur (Prayer) Hebrew section, I explained a new format for our class - a combination of individual and small group activities.  Students will receive an assignment sheet and an activity packet tailored to the students' various levels of Hebrew language skills.  While students individually complete their assignments, I'll meet with small groups to introduce, review, and reinforce specific language elements necessary to understanding and reciting the prayers in our curriculum.  In this way, students can move ahead as quickly as they are able and I can more closely monitor and support each individual's progress.  Students who demonstrate mastery of the prayers will have an opportunity to study additional modern Hebrew material.
At the end of each class, students will hand in an Avodah ("work") form where they've indicated the activities they've completed, activities they're working on, and questions or comments they may have.

Students made a commendable effort in both individual and group work.  The topics studied in small group meetings included  letter recognition, vowel sounds, root words, letter families, and the dageish (dots which change the sounds of letters).
Some students have begun the Av HaRachamim prayer.

At the end of class, as students filled out their Avodah forms, we discussed the new format.  They commented positively and noted that the greatest challenge is working quietly while the small groups are meeting.

A new month - A new way of learning - New challenges- New Achievements - Y'hiyeh Tov! ("It will be good!")

L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!

Table groups led the three Blessings.  We reviewed the difference between a Blessing for a mitzvah and a Blessing which expresses our understanding that God is the source of our food and present in all that we do.

In our attendance conversation, students continue to ask the questions and respond without using the prompt sheet.  They remembered nearly all the key words except for ohna (season).  We're working on that one!

Looking ahead to the Mitzvah Mall on Sunday, November 20, we examined two three-letter "roots."  (In Hebrew, groups of words can be understood because they share a common root with a specific meaning.)  The root  tsadee, vav, hay means "command."  The word mitzvah is built from this root.  The word  tsedakah has the root tsadee, dalet, kuf which means "justice"  or "righteousness."  Knowing the Hebrew root of a word provides insights into the meaning of that word that might not be apparent from widely-used translations such as "good deed" for mitzvah and "charity" for tsedakah.

To practice identifying word roots, students completed two activity sheets.  They were able to recognize word roots even when a word had a prefix or suffix or when the final letter of the root wasn't present.  Students brought these sheets home, so please take a look.

We're moving ahead in our study of the Ein C'mocha prayer.  The class practiced saying the first four lines aloud with attention to clear, accurate pronounciation.  "Look.  Listen. Point."  We try to focus three senses on the text.  We noted roots and other grammar elements in the text.

We checked a list of Torah Portions for each Shabbat so far this (Hebrew) year, then returned to the second Portion, Noach, which  we'd begun to study in a previous class.
With the help of  some "special effects,"  ( a swirling blue bedsheet and a bunch of stuffed animals), half the class was engulfed in the Flood, while the other half (on the Ark) sailed away without reaching out to help their neighbors - just as it was in Noah's time.  No wonder God was angry!  Student narrators read aloud from the script in Experiencing the Torah and described how the waters  finally receded, the dove found dry land, and God commanded Noah, his family, and the animals to come out of the Ark.
Our Limud Torah  (Torah Study) ended just in time for T'filah.

Have fun at the Mitzvah Mall and fulfill mitzvot by supporting organizations which help those in need.

Remember - There is no Hebrew School next Wednesday, November 23.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families! Students led the three Blessings.  Later on in the class, we observed that as the days grow shorter, it is appropriate to add a fourth Blessing - a Blessing for seeing the wonders of nature.   As it gets dark, we can see a magnificent sunset from our classroom window, an example of the beauty of God's Creation.

Mazal Tov!  Students conducted the entire attendance conversation without using the prompt sheets.  They remembered all the questions and answers with just a few little hints.  Tov M'od!   (Very Good)
When we talked about Holidays in the current Hebrew month of Cheshvan, I shared with the class that in Israel,  the twelfth of Cheshvan (November 9)  is Yom HaZikaron  (Day of Remembrance) for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.  Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated at a peace rally in 1995.  Prime Minister Rabin is remembered for his efforts to achieve peace with the Palestinians - a goal which has yet to be accomplished.  I set up a small memorial display honoring Yitzhak Rabin. The display included an Israeli commemorative medallion set in a music box which plays Shir Shalom (Song of Peace), the song which Rabin had joined the crowd in singing right before his tragic death.

Sunday, November 13 will be a Global Day of Jewish Learning.  During Religious School, students, families, and guests from other synagogues will participate in special activities related to the theme of the day, the Sh'ma, the central prayer in Judaism.
To prepare for this exciting event, students received a packet with information about the Sh'ma.
Students first told what they already knew about the Sh'ma, including the fact that Sh'ma , means  "hear"  or "listen."  Their responses were recorded on the chalkboard.  We then sang the Sh'ma together and examined the Sh'ma text as it appears in our siddur (prayerbook), Mishkan T'filah,  in the Plaut Torah Commentary, and in a Torah Scroll.

Students learned that the Sh'ma can be found in the Torah in the Portion  Va-Etchannan from the Book Devarim (Deuteronomy).  As with many Torah texts, the Sh'ma has been the subject of midrashim, traditional stories which explain and/or expand upon Torah teachings.

Students acted out two midrashim which explained why we say the second line of the Sh'ma softly.  They enjoyed playing the roles of narrators, Jacob and his sons, Moses, and angels.

As students were dismissed for T'filah, they each shared one new thing they'd learned.  Their responses showed that they had really "listened" and "heard."

Enjoy the wonderful activities planned for Sunday's Global Day of Jewish Learning.
- See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families.  November 2, 2011
HaYom (Today) students led the three Blessings. We reviewed the difference between a Blessing for a mitzvah and a Blessing of thanks.
We also reviewed the occasions when we recite the Shehecheyanu Blessing.

Without using the prompt sheets, students asked and answered the first three questions  in the attendance conversation.   We asked the date and season questions, but deferred the month and Holiday questions until after students had written answers to several questions on the chalkboard.  In order to answer the questions, students had to consult the Hebrew calendars in their folders.
Students found that we have left the Holiday-filled Hebrew month of Tishrei and are now in the Hebrew month of Cheshvan.
Students listed Shabbat as the Jewish Holiday celebrated  in Cheshvan and also Thanksgiving!  The very American Holiday of Thanksgiving was actually inspired by Sukkot.
Students also used their calendars to identify the first three Torah Portions: B'reishit, Noach, and Lech L'cha.

As students shared their responses, they were asked to spell, in Hebrew, some of the key words, while I wrote those words on the chalkboard.  Students then copied the words into a spiral notebook.  (This was our first lesson where students used a notebook. From now on, most lessons will include activities where they record information in their notebooks.)

Students completed a review sheet on the letters Shin, Bet, and Tav.  Each week, we'll review additional consonants and vowels to help students read more accurately.

The past few weeks, we've concentrated on the Hebrew Blessings and vocabulary associated with the Tishrei Holidays.  Today, we returned to the Ein C'mocha prayer which begins the Torah reading portion of the Shabbat morning service.  Individually and as a group, students practiced reading the first two lines.  We also sang those lines.  We'll continue to study and practice the entire Ein C'mocha prayer in the coming weeks.

As students were dismissed for T'filah, they told something they'd learned today.  The Thanksgiving/Sukkot connection and the Torah Portion appearing in the Hebrew calendar were especially noted.

In the spirit of sharing - One student mentioned that  his advanced mathematics class in secular school began studying the Mobius strip.  The student applied knowledge gained from our Simchat Torah Mobius strip activity and received an "A."
Hurray for Hebrew School!

L'hitraot - See you soon.
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families!
Class began with the three Blessings followed by our attendance conversation.  We noted that this is our last Wednesday Hebrew class for the month of Tishrei.

As part of our ongoing review of Hebrew consonants and vowels, students received a reference sheet to keep in their folders.  This sheet presents the aleph-bet in print letters and details the sound of each letter along with the name of the letter.  The vowel symbols and sounds are also given.  Using the sheets, students identified words in the Ein C'mocha prayer which contained
various vowel sounds.

As the Holiday-filled month of Tishrei is drawing to a close, students completed a  Holiday Review exercise.  Part I of this exercise provided an opportunity for students to apply their Hebrew reading skills, knowledge of Holiday Hebrew vocabulary, and recall of Holiday observances.  In Part II, they expressed their understanding of the first Torah Portion, B'reishit, which they dramatized last week.

We only had a short time to act out the story of Noah, this week's Torah Portion.  Three students very expressively presented the play, "Introducing Noah," which told that God was "uncomfortable" with the evil, violent way that God's human creations were behaving.  Therefore,  God decided  to bring forth a huge flood to destroy all land creatures except for Noah, his family, and the animals saved on the ark. God saved Noah and his family because, according to the Torah,  "Noah was a righteous person, wholesome for his generation."  Students pointed out the interesting fact that Noah, the main character in this Portion, has no dialogue in the play (or in the Torah text.)

In T'fila, the Cantor led us in the evening prayers.  We learned that the Sh'ma is accompanied by prayers for Creation and Revelation.  The words of the Sh'ma and the V'Ahavta are special because these prayers come directly from the Torah.

L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families.
In honor of Simchat Torah which we celebrate Wednesday night and Thursday,  Hebrew class centered on various approaches to Torah Study.  We began with the Blessings for Torah Study, cookies, and for gathering together.  Table groups led the Blessings.

Individual students asked the questions and provided responses in our attendance conversation.  We added the final question and answer - Ayzeh onah?  ("What is the season?")  Haonah stav. ("The season is fall.")  From now on, students will ask and answer all the attendance questions with the goal of  engaging in the attendance conversation without using the prompt sheets.

Students completed an activity sheet which introduced Simchat Torah vocabulary including the words Keter ("crown"),  Aron Kodesh ("Holy Ark"), and Yad ("Torah Pointer").

Each student received a Torah Study/Simchat Torah packet.  The first activity in the packet invited students to examine a Mobius Strip (a twisted strip of paper pasted into a circle.)  They traced a continuous line down the center of the strip and found that  the line formed an endless loop on both sides of the paper.   The  question posed was "How is the Torah like a Mobius Strip?" The answer - the cycle of Torah reading and the study of Torah are never ending.
To further illustrate this point, we studied copies of pages from the Plaut Torah Commentary which we use on Shabbat morning.  The pages contained the last lines of the last Torah Portion in the last Book of Torah, V'zot Hab'rachah, and the first lines of the first Portion in the first Book, B'reishit.  These sections of Torah are read on Simchat Torah to celebrate the endless cycle of Torah reading and study.
Our Mobius Strips are displayed on a bulletin board in our classroom along with a poster listing the Hebrew names of the five Books Of Torah.  You're welcome to stop by and see.

To learn more about the Adam and Eve story from the Torah Portion B'reishit, students performed two short plays which present the Torah text (in English) as drama.  Each student chose a role as Narrator, Adam, Eve, the snake, or God.  After a brief rehearsal, students acted out the plays.  They were wonderful - expressive and creative!  We plan to do more Torah plays to enhance our understanding of the weekly Portions.
The Torah plays are taken from an innovative new book, Experiencing the Torah by Joel Lurie Grishaver (Torah Aura Productions).  I discovered this exciting book while participating in a webinar recommended by our Director of Lifelong Learning.
At the end of class, I discovered that one of the students had spelled out in magnetic letters on the chalkboard, "God was here!"  Although the student was referring to the character of God which he'd portrayed in the Torah play, the idea was quite appropriate!
Chag Simchat Torah Sameach! - Happy Simchat Torah Holiday!
L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Message from Ronni Sims - Gimel Hebrew - October 12
Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families.
Chag Sukkot Sameach!   Happy Sukkot Holiday!

We began with the Brachot for  Torah Study and cookies, led by individual students.  In honor of Sukkot, we reserved the Shehecheyanu Blessing for our time in the Congregation Albert sukkah.

MODERN HEBREW - Attendance conversation
Students are becoming increasingly fluent in asking and answering the attendance questions.  Today, we added the question,
"Ayzeh chag b'chodesh Tishrei?"  ("What Holiday is in the month of Tishrei?").  Students used words from the question to frame their answers including, "Sukkot chag b'chodesh Tishrei."  ("Sukkot is a Holiday in the month of Tishrei.")

Each student received a packet of information about Sukkot.  We studied the Torah text where God commands us to live in "booths" (Sukkot) as a reminder that the children of Israel lived in booths when God brought them out of Egypt.  The lulav and etrog are traditional interpretations of the commandment that we rejoice with "the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook..." (Leviticus  23:40)
We practiced the Blessing for waving the lulav and etrog, using a stuffed felt replica.
As our contribution to beautifying the sukkah, students decorated strips of colored paper on which they'd written the names of some of the Ushpizin.  "Ushpizin", as we learned, are the historic Jewish heroes and leaders whom we invite to join us in spirit in our sukkah.
The paper strips were joined together in a paper chain.

We spent the last 15 minutes of class in the sukkah reciting the Shehecheyanu and the Brachot for "sitting" in the sukkah and shaking the lulav.  Each student had a turn to shake a real lulav and etrog.
We hung our Ushpizin chain, had a snack, and examined the sukkah according to the "Sukkah Rules" in our Sukkot packet.  When asked the reasons for Rule #6 - "A Sukkah built underneath the branches of a tree is not acceptable,"  students responded:
"We're supposed to build the whole sukkah ourselves like the children of Israel did when they were wandering in the desert."
"A tree might blow over in a storm and destroy the sukkah."
"A sukkah is supposed to be temporary and portable like the desert booths of the children of Israel and a tree is permanent."
Good thinking, Kitah Gimel!

Students brought their Sukkot packets home to share.  Please treat the packets with respect as they contain Torah Text and Brachot.

Rejoice!  Enjoy Sukkot!  Visit the sukkah!
L'hitraot - see you soon,
Morah Ronni

Message from Ronni Sims - Gimel Hebrew - October 5

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!

We began our first Hebrew class of the New Year with the three Blessings - for Torah Study, for cookies, and for being together.  Students identified the Shehecheyanu Blessing as one which we also said on Rosh HaShanah.

Students were encouraged to turn over their pink conversation sheets and  say as many attendance questions and answers as they could remember.  We added the question, "Ayzeh chodesh?"  (What month is it?")  and the appropriate response, Tishrei.  We discussed the fact that the Hebrew calendar is lunar, while the secular calendar is solar.  This creates a situation where the Hebrew Holiday dates don't change, but  their secular dates do, making the Holidays appear to come "early" or "late."

To review the Hebrew Holiday vocabulary which we studied in preparation for Rosh HaShanah, students completed an activity called "Switch!"  They examined nine Hebrew/English sentences related to Rosh HaShanah.  Each sentence contained an incorrect Hebrew word.  Students "switched" the Hebrew words around to form nine correct sentences.
An exercise such as "Switch!" requires students to apply reading, writing, and vocabulary skills.

We next turned our attention to Yom Kippur vocabulary written on the chalkboard.  In answer to the question,  "What are we supposed to think about during the "Yamim Noraim"  (the ten "Days of Awe" between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur), one student very perceptively suggested, "Guilt" - guilt over our mistakes of the past year.
We focused on the words, "Teshuvah" and "Chet."  " Teshuvah"   (repentance) implies a "return to correct behavior." "Chet" usually translated as "sin", also expresses the idea of "missing the mark,"  in terms of behavior, as an arrow misses a target.

Students studied an information sheet which included Rabbi Arama's "Four Steps to Repentance."  Students were asked to list other possible "Steps."  Their thoughtful  responses included befriending the person they had wronged; bringing a gift such as a pie to "sweeten" the apology; and trying new, better behavior.
Our discussion continued right up to the moment that we left for T"fila.

In T'fila, the Cantor reminded us that our prayers take on special meaning during the Days of Awe and pointed out that the "Barchu" prayer takes the place of the shofar throughout the year and calls us to worship.  We recited several   chatimot  (final lines of a prayer which "seal" the prayer) from our Siddur.  The Cantor then taught us the Yom Kippur greeting,  "G'mar Chatima Tova"  (May you be sealed for a good year.)

G'mar Chatima Tova - to all!
L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Message from Ronni Sims - Gimel Hebrew - Sept 21
Shalom Kitah Gimel students and families.
This week as we look toward Rosh Hashanah, Kitah Gimel Hebrew class was all about Blessings and sweet Holiday treats.
We began with the table groups leading the three opening Blessings for Torah Study, for cookies, and for the joy of coming together to learn.

We are halfway through the questions and responses in our attendance conversation.  Students are gaining fluency and confidence.  This week, we added the question, "Ayzeh yom hayom?"  "What day is it today?"  In expressing the answer, "Hayom yom r'vi-i."  "Today is Wednesday,"  students learned that Hebrew weekdays don't have special names, but are simply called, "First Day, Second Day, etc."  Wednesday is the "Fourth Day."  Only the Seventh Day, Shabbat, has a specific name.

Each student received a packet of Rosh Hashanah information and activities.  We learned Rosh Hashanah Hebrew vocabulary by studying the six Blessings associated with Rosh Hashanah - the candle lighting Blessing; the Blessings over wine, challah, and apples and honey; the Blessing for gathering together (Shehechayanu), and the Blessing for hearing the sound of the shofar.

Students enjoyed a snack of apples and honey and drank cranberry/pomegranate juice.  Why cranberry/pomegranate juice?  That's exactly the question students explored!  A representative from each table group examined a classroom Rosh Hashanah bulletin board display. They, then, reported to their classmates that a pomegranate is traditionally thought to contain 613 seeds which equal the 613 Mitzvot described in the Torah.  At Rosh Hashanah, we begin a New Year of opportunities to do Mitzvot.  (The cranberries?  They just make the juice tastier!)

To review Rosh Hashanah concepts, we analyzed and translated a list of key Holiday words  written on the chalkboard.

As always, before leaving for T'fila, students told one thing they'd learned.  The most popular new bit of wisdom - 613 pomegranate seeds = 613 Mitzvot!

T'fila was filled with Rosh Hashanah spirit.  The Cantor led us in singing the Bar'chu and Mi Chamocha prayers using the High Holiday melodies.  In the Avot V'Imahot prayer, we looked at the lines of text that are said only between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  We read the English translation and discussed the meaning of the  phrase, "...inscribe us in The Book of Life..."

As students called out the notes, the Rabbi blew the shofar with  a wonderfully long "Tekiah Gadola."  A loud, clear wake-up call to prepare for the New Year.
Students suggested ways to improve behavior and to appologize for wrongdoings.  The Cantor explained that the Hebrew word, chet, which we'll hear in High Holiday services, is sometimes translated as "sin,"  but really means "missing the mark."  In the New Year, we have another chance to "hit the target" in terms of our behavior.

We all wished each other "L'Shanah Tova" - "A Good Year."

Remember, next Wednesday (9/28) there will be no Hebrew School as it is Erev Rosh Hashanah.

L'hitraot - See you soon.
L'Shanah Tova,
Morah Ronni

Message From Rona Gold
Wednesday September 14th
Hebrew Alef 2
Shalom students and parents, 
We welcome our new and enthusiastic madrichah- Rose Meizlesh to our class! 
In the beginning of each lesson we play with flash cards to remind us of the Hebrew letters and short words we've learned so far.
This week we learned four new letters and another vowel:
final chaf-ך
We practiced the "Moda/e Ani" t'fillah from our Shalom Ivrit (Hello Hebrew) prayer book. The class mentioned the special things in our lives we thank for when praying "Mode/a Ani." We identified the letters and even some words in the prayer. 
The kids are encouraged to use their Hebrew vocabulary at home.
Here are our new Hebrew words: 

Hello,goodbye, peaceShalomשלום

If your child missed a class, you can always arrange with me to come 10 minutes earlier next time, and I'll be glad to help them catch up. 
Morah Rona

Message from Ronni Sims
Wednesday September 14th 

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!

Today, table groups led the three Blessings which begin every class.  We reviewed the six-word Blessing Formula without peeking at the text and identified the word which indicates that a Blessing is for performing a mitzvah.

Modern Hebrew - We added a fifth line to our attendance conversation.  "Cama talmidim b'kitah?" (How many students are in class?"  In translating, we noted  that there is no "am,"  "are," or "is" in Hebrew.
In order to answer the new attendance question, it's necessary to count.  Students had had some experience with counting and received a list of Hebrew numbers to keep in their folders as a reference.

Siddur Hebrew - We completed several exercises based on 14 words written on the chalkboard.  These words were taken from  the Ein Camocha Torah Blessing.  We examined a number of grammar elements, including the sh'va vowel.  Using information  studied in last week's class, students pronounced all the words.
Then, on to a sh'va review.  Three large animal puppets, two roosters and an ostrich, represented sounded sh'va, silent sh'va, and no sh'va.  Students took turns holding the puppets and using them to signal which, if any, sh'vas a word had.  They also held up the red and green sh'va symbol cards from last week's lesson. 
All of these visual devices help students to understand and apply the sh'va concept to pronounce the long, complex words in the Ein Camocha prayer.

After working with individual words, the class recited Ein Camocha several times.

Students prepared a "Take-Away" card with an example of a silent sh'va and a sounded sh'va.  They were reminded to study the card throughout the week in order to use the information for learning activities in future classes.

On their way to T'fila, as we do every week, students told me one thing they'd learned  from today's class. ("Cama means 'How many?' was the favorite.")

In T'fila, students called out the Shofar notes which the Cantor blew on the shofar.
The Cantor then led us in several of the evening prayers with special attention to  Barchu, Shema, and Mi Chamocha. While reciting the Shema, we held our Siddurim  (prayerbooks)  in front of our faces in order to focus on the act of "listening."  As we left T'fila, we sang "Oseh Shalom" - "bring us peace."

L'hitraot - see you soon,
Morah Ronni

Message from Ronni Sims
Wednesday September 7th
Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!

Today, each of our three opening Blessings was led by a different table group.  Students applied grammar and vocabulary concepts from last week's lesson to the text of the Blessings.

With the first two lines of the attendance conversation nearly mastered, we moved on to lines 3 and 4 and practiced asking and answering the question, "Mi lo po hayom?"  ("Who is not here today?")

Students pronounced a list of words taken from the Blessings which we'd recited and noted some common features among the words.  This led into the theme of our siddur Hebrew lesson, "Celebrate the Sh'va!"  What's a sh'va?  A sh'va is a furry creature that can recite the aleph-bet.  No!  Just kidding!  A sh'va is a vowel symbol which appears under certain Hebrew letters.  It looks like a colon:  Depending on its placement in the word, the sh'va can either be sounded or silent.  To help students differentiate the sh'vas, they worked with index cards that had red sh'va symbols  and green sh'va symbols.  The question "Red or green?"  didn't mean chile, but sh'vas!

Students then identified sh'vas in the Torah Blessings which we're studying.  Understanding the role of the sh'va  in a Hebrew word, makes it much easier to divide long words into syllables for accurate pronounciation.

Our final sh'va exercise was "sweet."  Students were each given a card with a word from the Torah Blessing text.  The word had no vowel symbols at all.  By referring to the text, students filled in the missing vowels.  Sh'va vowels were marked by chocolate chips.  After pronouncing their words correctly, students gobbled up the chocolate chips.

This last exercise brought us to the end of our class session.  As students left for T'fila, each one shared one thing they'd learned.  Most mentioned facts about the sh'va which they'd "celebrated."

In T'fila, the Cantor led us in the first few lines of the Ashrei prayer.  Students reflected on the uplifting message of Ashrei - how happy we are to be in God's House (the  Sanctuary)  and how happy we are that Adonai is our God.

In the spirit of the preparatory month of Elul, students called out the Shofar notes which the Cantor sounded on the Shofar -
 a wake-up call to us to examine our behavior as we approach the High Holidays.
Families are always invited to join their students for T'fila.

L'hitraot - See you soon,
Morah Ronni

Message from Rona Gold:

Shalom Alef2 students and families,    September 7, 2011 

Our Hebrew class is small but mighty strong!
During September and October we are going to study the Hebrew Alef Bet and vowels. We will start our T'fillah reader as soon as the kids know most of their letters.
Your student received an Alef Bet chart they use in class and an additional one to take home. The class came up with a great idea--  put the chart on the refrigerator at home for the whole family to enjoy:)
It's  helpful to practice or even just look at  the Hebrew characters on a daily basis. Later on in the semester, the students will bring home some worksheets  that should take 5-10 minutes to complete. 
We use several Hebrew words during class and hope to enlarge our vocabulary.
So far we've learned:

English word
teacher f/mmorah/moreמורה

See you on Wednesday,
Morah Rona

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!
August 31, 2011

Happy first day of the Hebrew month of Elul.  Be sure to stop by the bulletin board in the hallway near our classroom.  In anticipation of the High Holidays, there is an attractive display of Rosh HaShana cards and beautifully drawn Holiday fruits and flowers.

Class began with three Blessings - for Torah Study, for cookies, and for coming together.

Students completed a writing practice sheet to review several Hebrew letters.
Modern Hebrew   We began working on the questions and responses of the "attendance conversation" and will add new modern Hebrew words and phrases each week.

Siddur (Prayerbook) Hebrew   Students received a packet which presents the prayers for the Shabbat morning Torah service, plus related learning activities.  The packet is taken from the textbook, Prayer Companion to Shalom Ivrit.  Each table group received an envelope containing a word from the Ein Camocha prayer.  The word was cut up into syllables.  Students were asked to re-assemble the word, answer questions about it, pronounce it, and share information about their word on the chalkboard.  They pointed out a word root, prefixes and suffixes.  Looking at the parts of multi-syllable words promotes reading fluency and comprehension,

Students prepared a "Take-Away" card.  This week's Take-Away card  tells that the word Ani means "I,"  the suffix cha means "you" or "your,"  and  the root mem-lamed-chaf, means "ruler."  In the coming week, students are to carry their cards in their pockets and review them from time to time.  In this way, by the next class, students will know well, several vocabulary and grammar elements.

As they left the classroom for T'fila, students told one thing they'd learned today during our busy and productive session.

Thank you to our Madricha for her help throughout the session.

In T'fila, the Cantor showed students, teachers, and families a large, impressive Shofar. We discussed the significance of the shofar which awakens us to the month of Elul, a time of preparation, a time to think over our behavior for the past year, to say, "I'm sorry, " to engage in  G'milut Chasidim (acts of lovingkindness).
Students left for home with the sounds of the shofar echoing in their  minds and hearts, looking ahead to the New Year.

L'Hitraot - See you soon.
Morah Ronni

Shalom Kitah Gimel Students and Families!
August 24, 2011

The Talmud teaches that "All beginnings are arduous."  This was not at all true in our first Kitah Gimel Hebrew class.  Students arrived eager to learn and happy to see their classmates.

In order to craft the most effective Hebrew program  for each student, students were asked to complete a written and oral  assessment exercise.
Student responses to this exercise indicate those Hebrew language elements which most require explanation, review and practice, and which class section will best ensure student progress.

Following the assessment exercise, we examined three Brachot (Blessings) which we'll say at the start of each future class.  Students identified the six word Blessing "formula" and discussed the purpose of each Blessing - the Blessing for Torah Study, the Blessing for foods made from wheat, and the Shehecheyanu Blessing.

We welcomed our Madricha (class assistant) Shoshana, whom I had the pleasure of teaching when she, herself, was in Kitah Gimel.  Shoshana will be helping in class activities and providing additional one-on-one teaching to enhance student learning. Thank you, Shoshana, for bringing the delicious cookies which we all enjoyed.

At 5:45pm, students gathered in the Sanctuary for T'fila with the Cantor and Rabbi.  Families are encouraged to join their students for T'fila.

On the Thursday or Friday following each Wednesday Hebrew class, I'll be posting details of our lesson on this site.  I also post a weekly Torah commentary and share ideas about Jewish education on my own blog   jewisheducatorsvillage.blogspot.com  You're invited to visit! I'm happy to receive and respond to your comments regarding posts on both sites.  Please e-mail them to me  arichardsims@msn.com .  Please write "Morah Ronni"  in the subject line.

Baruchim Habaim Kitah Gimel Students and Families  - Welcome...Blessed are you in coming... Thank you for a great beginning!
L'Hitraot - see you soon,
Morah Ronni

Shalom!  Baruchim Habaim!
Hello!   Welcome!

In the new school year Kitah Gimel Hebrew Class will be filled with exciting activities as we study the Torah Service (looking ahead to B'nai Mitzvah!), chat in modern Hebrew, explore the weekly Torah Portion, and celebrate Holidays (in Hebrew, of course!)
I look forward to meeting you at our first class on Wednesday, August 24.
L'hitraot - See you soon-
Morah Ronni

A Note from Zach Schwatrz, Alef Hebrew Teacher: 

I will be starting my Sophomore year at the University of New Mexico this upcoming school year.  I am still undeclared, but I'm almost positive my major will be communications.  This year at Congregation Albert I will be teaching Third grade on Sundays, Fourth grade Hebrew on Wednesdays, as well as Modern Hebrew on Wednesday. I'm very excited to start teaching for the second year consecutive year at CA.  I look forward to getting to know all of your kids and helping them learn and progress throughout the year. 

-Zach Schwartz