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Week of March 21

Morah Mary-Margaret

 "And the women, dancing with their timbrels"  --Miriam's Song ( listen with your child and play along with them on the timbrels we made today to celebrate our escape from Egypt and our crossing of the Red Sea.

We discovered that Pesach is a good time for asking questions--and we practiced asking the Four Questions using this version--  Many of the Aleph students are excited that they will be the ones singing the Ma Nishtana at their Seder table this year. Regardless of who is leading this is a good video to provide all with some practice.

It has been great fun preparing for Pesach the last two weeks.  Although we may still be far apart from those with whom we would ordinarily share our Seders I hope you all find some light and joy in the holiday and next year, not only in Jerusalem, but in Jerusalem with all our loved family and friends and well past this pandemic.

Chag Pesach Sameach.

Week of March 14

Morah Mary-Margaret

In line with our study of Ometz Lev and to begin our study of Passover we read the story of Nachshon Who was Afraid to Swim.  Nachsohn, a slave boy in Egypt,  was brave in every way--except when it came to being in the water. Then Moses came along and helped Nachsohn face his fears and realize that with faith in God and belief in yourself you can find freedom from that which makes you most afraid. Ask your child how Nachsohn showed Ometz Lev and helped the Israelites to freedom.

We then discussed how the Israelites ate for the years they were in the desert.  While God took care of them by sending them manna the Israelites still had to work to gather the manna--and it wasn't easy, as we learned by gathering manna ourselves.  Was your child able to gather enough manna to feed their family?  For how long?

Finally today, we reviewed the symbols and traditions of Passover and prepared for upcoming Seders by decorating new Afikomen bags. Some went home today and other are still drying so will go home next week.  We hope they will become a part of your family's celebration this year and for many to come.  More Pesach next week!!!!

Week of March 7

Morah Mary-Margaret

We continued our exploration of ometz lev אֹמֶץ לֵב (courage) today and the role that trust plays in helping us use our ometz lev.  Students worked in teams to create tape bridges that were full of tricky twists and turns.  Then we engaged in trust walks.  One partner was blindfolded and the other had to lead them successfully across a bridge that they did not build.  Next roles and bridges were switched so students once again had to navigate unknown territory trusting in their partner.   Ask your child how it felt to trust someone else’s directions without being able to see. Was it harder to be the one blindfolded or the one leading and why?  Who had to trust who?

We then listened to a favorite camp song, “Gesher Tzar Me’od,” (“All the World is a Narrow Bridge”). Want to learn this song and sing it at home? Check out this video We discussed how "All the world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to be overwhelmed by fear.” (the words to the song).  Discus with your child what this means. How will they cross the narrow bridge of the world without being overcome by fear?

Finally, we started a book reading that makes a perfect "bridge" to our next topic--Passover.  Expect an update next week on what happened to Nachshon and how he showed his ometz lev. 


Week of February 28

Morah Mary-Margaret

What is courage? How do we distinguish between being brave and being foolish? When do we show our courageousness and who are some of the people who have shown bravery in our history? This week we focused on the value of ometz lev אֹמֶץ לֵב (courage of the heart). We did an experiment to learn about how when we use our spine and stand up strong, we can manage things that may look too difficult at first. Ask your child how a sheet of paper can hold up a book! 

We explored different situations and determined if specific actions were courageous or foolish, a fine line which can be difficult for children to navigate. Ask your child to share some situations in which they can show ometz lev.  And we created ometz lev אֹמֶץ לֵב bookmarks, to remind us of showing courage and bravery, even in difficult situations. 

Finally, we watched Gabi and Rafi in “Heart Heroes”  and discussed how ometz lev אֹמֶץ לֵב helps us cope with strange and unusual situations. Then ended with someone else who had to show ometz lev, 

There’s a Nightmare in my Closet . Discuss with your child when you have had to face fears like the boy in the story does.

Week of February 21

Melissa Lefko



Melissa and Hannah led the Kitah Aleph class this week. We were so excited to celebrate Purim with your children!


First we read a story called "Queen Vashti's Comfy Pants". We learned all about how Queen Vashti stood up for herself. She was hanging out with her friends and they were in their comfy pants. The King wanted the Queen and her friends to come entertain him, and Queen Vashti said, "NO!" The students were very supportive of Queen Vashti--once you are in your comfy pants, you really are not interested in leaving the house. 🙂 


Next, we made our own groggers. Each part of the Purim story was represented by a small item. We told the story of Purim, and we put the items depicting each part of the story inside our jars. We also filled the jars with rice and glitter, and then sealed up the jars. 


Everyone dressed up wonderfully for Purim! We ended our school day by singing Purim songs and parading around the building, shaking our groggers every time we heard the name "HAMAN"! 

We hope you will celebrate Purim with your Temple Israel family on THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25 at 6:15pm. Please CLICK HERE to join via Zoom.

Week of February 7

Morah Mary-Margaret

Today first focused on Shabbat שָׁבָּת, the creation story, and how our daily lives mirror the creation of the world. We work and create for six days and we rest and enjoy Shabbat שָׁבָּת on the seventh day. Everyone really enjoyed this video about Shabbos, (Good Shabbos)

watch it with your child and find all the customs and rituals of Shabbat.

We then explored Havdalah הַבְדָלָה, specifically focusing on the candle, creating our own Havdalah הַבְדָלָה candles. This turned out to be as much a lesson in science as it was about Havdalah.  Ask your child what we learned about the need for heat when trying to turn something solid, but meltable, into a malleable enough form to manipulate.  (Hint--big bowls of water spread the heat out too much--it needs to be more concentrated.)Thank you to our madricha Hannah for making many trips back and forth to the kitchen where she kept mugs of boiling water.

Havdalah הַבְדָלָה is a fun, easy, short multi-sensory service many families really enjoy doing at home. Here are some short videos to get you started on incorporating this fun experience into your family’s Shabbat שָׁבָּת. 

·         A karaoke style video which includes the first paragraph of the Havdalah הַבְדָלָה 

·         A different karaoke style video which starts right at the blessings of Havdalah הַבְדָלָה

·         An explanation of how to do each part of Havdalah הַבְדָלָה or

L’hitraot לְהִתְרָאוֹת

Week of January 31

Morah Mary-Margaret

This week we discussed the Jewish value of bal tashchit בַּל תַשְׁחִית (not wasting), in conjunction with Tu B’Shvat טוּ בְּשְׁבָט, the birthday of the trees. To begin the students were charged with filling small cups with water and maintaining them--keeping them safe and full.  Ask your child if they had trouble keeping their cup full (Hint:  most of the cups had one or several small holes drilled in them).  They were all amazing as some who were losing water at a slower pace tried to help others whose cups just couldn't hold water at all.  We connected this to the cups being our world, the leaking water the loss of our natural resources and the finding ways to plug up the holes to stopping the acts in our lives which create waste. They learned along with the Plonys why bal tashchit בַּל תַשְׁחִית is so important to us. Watch the video at home ​discuss how your family can practice bal tashchit.  Each student brought home a good start with a "pledge" as to how they will work to stop waste.

We also tied our conservation discussion into the recent celebration of Tu B'Shvat.  Tu B’Shvat טוּ בְּשְׁבָט has become a time we are thankful for nature and consider ways we can make our natural world a safer and better place. Reducing our waste is a very important step we can all take to make our Earth healthier. 

 We read The Forever Garden, by Laurel Snyder, 
and discussed how we can plant things or save things for other people (even people we may never meet) because making the Earth better is good for all people. 

It was a great morning of sharing ways we can take care of the trees and all the Earth.  Help your child remember the Hebrew word for tree (eitz) and the very important part of our Judaism that we liken to a tree (Torah). Listen to Eitz Chayim Hi together and discuss the meaning of the words--Hebrew and English (we focused on eytz, Adoni, and Shalom).  We will be practicing this song more in the coming weeks.

Week of January 24

Morah Mary-Margaret

To begin the day we practiced several Hebrew phrases having to do with coming and going.  Practice these phrases with your child (or the whole family).  Should you be coming in the door when you hear this phrase? Going out the door? Going to bed? Or perhaps you could be doing any of these:

Boker Tov

B’ruchim Habaim, 


Lila Tov, 

Shalom(Remember to answer Boker Or when you are greeted with Boker Tov).

You call out the words and have your child show you the appropriate action--then switch places.  

Our value studied today was todah תּוֹדָה (saying thank you). We spent time exploring the essential question of how we show gratitude to the people in our lives and to God for all the things we have, even the most everyday things.  We watched this fun video of Kid President ( ) who reminded us of even more things for which we should be thankful. (Ask your child what they learned about Morgan Freeman)

We then created "Gratitude Stones".  Be sure to have your child share the stones they created and read with them the poem included.  Everyone should receive a stone and place it where they will be reminded every day to say "Todah" for even the most taken for granted elements of life.  

Next, we watched this video story time ( ), based on a Talmudic tale of a family who feels their house is too small and noisy. Watch the video with your child and ask them to summarize the lesson learned by the main character.  It is a wonderful story for us to understand how sometimes we don’t see or we may forget about our many, many blessings in life. 

As always, "Todah" to you for sharing these absolutely, amazingly, wonderful Aleph students with me. 

Week of January 10

Morah Mary-Margaret

It was so great to see everyone back after the holiday break.  This group is growing and maturing before my eyes.

Today we explored the mitzvah מִצְוָה of bikkur cholim בִּיקוּר חוֹלִים (visiting the sick). This is a tangible and easy mitzvah מִצְוָה for your child to learn about and practice. Everyone has been sick at one time or another and has enjoyed the extra attention and love of someone close to them. 

We started our morning off with watching Shaboom: “The Best Medicine” ( We saw how the Plony family learned that visiting their grandfather when he was in the hospital with a broken toe really cheered him up. 

We then did a science experiment to help us see how visiting someone who is sick helps they feel better. Ask your child about someone sick having the "blues" and how bikkur cholim can help the blues fade away.  Because of the current COVID situation it is much more difficult to "visit" those who are not feeling well, but we can still do things to cheer them up.  Each student made a card to be given to someone who is feeling sick or experiencing some kind of pain or loneliness.   Some students know someone who is currently in need of bikkur cholim so they took their cards home to distribute. Others left their cards with me and I will see they are distributed to someone not feeling well.  All of the students took great pains to convey a message of healing and love to those needing it.

Additionally, here is a short two-minute video about ways you can continue this conversation at home Don’t forget to talk with your child about all the times they have already done bikkur cholim בִּיקוּר חוֹלִים! 

Week of December 13

Morah Mary-Margaret

Chag Chanukah Sameach!

Today was a sweet celebration of Chanukah in Kitah Alef.  First we reviewed the historical miracles of Chanukah, then, while watching this video, The Chanukah Shaboom Special we identified the person miracles this family experienced.  What personal miracles has your family experienced since last Chanukah?  Be sure to celebrate them as you are lighting your holiday candles.

Next we were provided lots of yummy treats--pretzel sticks, frosting, and candies to each create our own edible chanukiah and dreidel.  Ask your child to describe how they made--and ate--their treats.

It saddens me that with this pandemic I could not hug every one of my Aleph students as they left for the holiday break.  I certainly send them off with lots of love. Wishing you a bright and happy Chanukah and that the new secular year of 2021 brings us much needed light, joy, and relief.

Week of December 6

Morah Mary-Margaret

Today we prepared for Chanukah (Hanukkah--we even discussed the various ways it is spelled in English) by first watching this video--The Maccabeats Candlelight  and then retelling the story.

The most distressing facts we reviewed--the Greeks had told the Jewish people that they could not celebrate Shabbat, they could not be Jews, and that the Greeks so dishonored the Temple that they brought their elephants in there to live and make messes.  We all shared the hope that when the Maccabees won they also took over the elephants and that although they had to move them out of the Temple they were kind to the creatures and gave them a good life.

When the Temple was cleaned and readied again for Tefillah , and the Ner Tamid was ready to be lit--then came the miracle of the oil.  And it is to remember that miracle that we provide light now with a chanukiah.  The students then all worked on a quite complex project that will result in a Chanukah item you will treasure for years to come.  Thank your child for all the hard work they have put in so far--they had to follow several steps, count out and keep track of various parts, and then be very patient with their sole glue-gun toting Morah.  

Our time together is so short--the glue didn't quire have time to dry today so the treasures will come home next week--and we did not have the time I hoped to practice the Chanukah Blessings--so here is a good source to use for practice:  

·         Learn to Light The Chanukah Candles

Enjoy your nights of candle lighting before we are together again and Chag Chanukah Sameach to all!!

BLOG Aleph (1st) Week of November 22

Morah Mary-Margaret

Today we revisited "hachnasat orchim" (welcoming of guests) and viewed this video--  about Abraham and Sarah and how they welcomed three strangers to their tent.  You can watch with your child and find all the ways Abraham and Sarah offered hachnasat orchim.


We then explored how during Sukkot we often offer hachnasat orchim to our friends and family when we welcome them into our sukkah and read a book about the construction of a sukkah by a young boy--and, as it turned out,--his family--it would be difficult to build a sukkah alone.


Finally, we explored the similarities between Sukkot and the American holiday of Thanksgiving.  In both we welcome guests to our home--either permanent or temporary, we celebrate the harvest, we eat well, and we are giving thanks to God.  This reminded us of the value we studied some weeks ago--hakarat hatov--to show gratitude.


Students started a "chain of thanks" by creating loops depicting those things in their lives for which they are thankful.  They also took home with them extra loops so that all family members can participate in hakarat hatov this Thanksgiving. Have everyone create a loop depicting what they are thankful for and then join them together for a family "chain of thanks".


Whether you can show lots of hachnasat orchim this Thanksgiving by welcoming guests and family or, like me, will have just a tiny , intimate meal with those in the household, may you celebrate with health, happiness, and hakarat hatov.


Reminder--no TIRS classes next week so see everyone on December 6.

BLOG Aleph (1st) Week of November 15

Morah Mary-Margaret

Aleph - Today began our two-week investigation into hachnasat orchim הַכְנָסַת אוֹרְחִים (welcoming guests) .  We visited the tent of Avraham who kept his tent open so as to always invite guests. Ask your child to tell you all about it and share their ideas about they can make guests feel welcome in your home. We were also introduced to b'ruchim haba'im בְּרוּכִים הַבָּאִים (welcome, I'm so glad you are here.) You and your child can practice saying it together when anyone visits your home (even virtually these days).

We visited our Shaboom friends and learned how they welcome guests. Being a good host means making your guests feel welcome by making them feel genuinely appreciated and honored. You can watch the episode at home and engage in a conversation about what’s Jewish about welcoming guests (short two-minute video for parents). 

We wrapped up our day making hachnasat orchim treat jars so that the next time your child has a guest over, they can welcome them with a sweet treat. It was a busy multisensory morning of learning. 

BLOG-Aleph (1st) Week of November 8

Morah Mary-Margaret

Today we continued our conversation about the Jewish value of s’licha סְלִיחָה (saying you’re sorry) and learned more about Yom Kippur. We learned that on Yom Kippur there are lots of actions we specifically do (wear white, attend services) and many we don’t do (eat, wear leather) in order to observe this holy day. We visited our friends Gavi, Rafi, and the Plonys, our Shaboom friends, and learned with them how to say s’licha סְלִיחָה. You can watch this again at home with your child


We then all worked together to create a dramatic recreation of Jonah and the Whale. We had Jonah, a ship full of sailors, a storm, and citizens of Nineveh.  Ask your child which part they played, then together tell the story of Jonah.  The link to the song below, which we used to end our day will help refresh everyone's memory.

Yom Kippur: A Book of Jonah song for kids on the Jewish holidays - YouTube

Yom Kippur is the Jewish holiday of repentance, atonement, and forgiveness. Watch this video to learn how the Day of Atonement relates to the story of Jonah!...

BLOG-Aleph (1st) Week of November 1

Morah Mary-Margaret

Aleph - Today, after practicing Modeh/Modah Ani we encountered the Jewish value of s’licha סְלִיחָה, (saying I’m sorry). We talked about how, to say you’re sorry, you need to be flexible in your thinking. We molded pipe cleaners into straight, stiff positions, then into flexible, bending, giving positions. We then practiced putting our bodies into these two kinds of positions--stiff and straight--then flexible.  We did some yoga to further represent this and discovered it is much easier to be flexible, even if it means a little more work sometimes.  Our bodies just feel better.  We then talked about how we can connect the flexibility of our bodies to the flexibility of our mind and our hearts. If we let them move more freely it is easier to say we are sorry.


In our story The Hardest Word, a Yom Kippur Story we met the Ziz, a Jewish mystical character who unwittingly makes mistakes and must learn how to say he is sorry. If you'd like to listen to the story with your child here is the link-- on s'licha next week.

BLOG-Aleph (1st) Week of October 25

Morah Mary-Margaret

Today we continued learning about and practicing hakarat hatovהַכָּרַת הַטּוֹב  (recognizing the good), as well as reviewing Tov and Lo Tov.  We discovered that on some things we have personal opinions as to whether something is tov or lo tov--(tastes in food, pets, places to vacation), while other things are universally tov or lo tov like kindness, friendship, or mistreating others.

We then discussed the first time each day when we should show hakarat hatov הַכָּרַת הַטּוֹב. The Modeh/Modah Ani מוֹדֶה אֲנִי is the first prayer we say upon waking up, offering us an opportunity to share things we are thankful for first thing each morning. Here is a link to a version we listened to in class- Modeh/Modah Ani.  I also shared with the class the melody I use when I say this prayer daily.  Share with your child the melody you know for this prayer--or explore online the many, many versions available.

Finally, ask your child how "Rosie", the character in a story we read discovered she was missing out on a great opportunity for hakarat hatov.  

BLOG-Kitah Aleph (1st)

Morah Mary-Margaret

Shalom Kitah Aleph parents, 

Welcome to Kitah Aleph, first grade. This year our ShalomLearning curriculum focuses on Jewish values and holidays through the senses: touch, taste, sight, sound, smell, and sense of space. Each week we will encounter a new Hebrew word and a Jewish value during our time together.

I am excited to share with you all the things we learned in our first week together. We spent some time this morning getting to know one another, learning the Hebrew word tov טוֹב(good). We set the stage for our learning about our first Jewish Value, hakarat hatov הַכָּרַת הַטּוֹב, which means gratitude. 

We used our imaginations and listed items we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch, then decided if they were tov- טוֹב(good) or lo tov  טוֹב לֹא (not good). Then we met Gavi and Rafi our Shaboom! friends and learned with them how we can do hakarat hatov הַכָּרַת הַטּוֹב, by finding the good in situations. You can watch this again at home with your child Additionally, here is a short two-minute video about ways you can continue this conversation at home. It’s called, “What’s Jewish about Gratitude.”

It is so great to be back in person and learning together.  I look forward to our future classes.

Morah Mary-Margaret 

(Morah M&M)

Tue, April 13 2021 1 Iyyar 5781