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Week of March 7-Judaic Studies

Morah Mary-Margaret-Judaic Studies

This week we learned about the difference between the Torah and Haftarah and looked at where student’s Torah portions take place in the Torah.

Week of March 7-Trope

Cantor Lissek-Trope

This week in trope class our students put their knowledge of Haftarah Trope to the test.   Each student studied and prepared a sentence of a Haftarah to chant for the class.   They each did an amazing job putting the Hebrew together with the Trope.  They will be sight reading Haftarot very soon!

Week of February 21-Trope

Cantor Lissek-Trope

This unit in Trope Class we are studying Haftarah Trope.   Together we learn from a Haftarah Trope series of 3 YouTube lessons that are fun, easy, and comprehensive to learning Haftarah Trope.   Last week we added the “fancy” trope in lesson 3.  The students have fun singing and doing the hand motions and are always up for the challenge of really elaborate trope signs.   We also continue to review all of the most common trope.  Repetition is the key to learning trope.  Hearing, singing, and doing the trope hand motions provides a comprehensive method for internalizing the trope.  

Week of February 7-Judaic Studies

Rabbi Wolk

Rabbi Wolk started teaching the Kitah Vav students this past Sunday.  Our first class was a getting to know you session and in future classes we will start to learn about each student’s Bar/t Mitzvah Torah portions.

Week of January 31-Judaic Studies

Morah Mary-Margaret

This week we continued our exploration of  b'tzelem elohim with a video-- 
 and discussion of what it means to become a bar/bat mitzvah, a Jewish man or woman, and the important role of mitzvot in that new role.

Ask your child to explain the difference between yetzer hatov and yetzer hara and how they connect to b’tzelem elohim.

Beginning next week and for several weeks thereafter Rabbi Wolk will be joining our class to get to know these students better as they prepare for their B'nai Mitzvah.  He will be working with the students, helping them learn about their Torah portion for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah.We created a whiteboard to share with him that will help him learn a little more about each student as he joins the group.  Ask your child what they shared on the board.

Week of January 24-Judaic Studies

Morah Mary-Margaret

We continued today with further discussion around B'tzelem Elohim,  The class participated in a Kahoot! based on the concept of being created in God's image--ask your child where we first learn about B'tzelem Elohim and how it relates to everyone in your family and around us in the world.

The students are challenged with acting in ways that reflect B'tzelem Elohim all this week--please help them by watching for their actions and calling good attention to it when it occurs.  Also, there is another version of the Dan Nichos song B'tzelem Elohim with the printed words so it is easier to sing along.  (

Week of January 10

Morah Mary-Margaret

Today we began exploring B'tzelem Elohim, created in God's image.  This version of my very favorite Dan Nichols song helped us get the conversation going: .  We discussed what it means and how it relates to Teshuvah, a value we delved into deeply in the first semester.

Ask your child how they learned the whole of the Torah while standing on one leg--and how that relates to B'tzelem Elohim.  Finally, have your child point out to you instances of B'tzelem Elohim they see throughout this upcoming week.  We will be exploring the concept further in the coming weeks.

Morah Mary-Margaret

It was more Chanukah celebration today in Vav.  We all enjoyed this creative celebration of the holiday by Six13--I am sure it will ring some familiar bells for you too:   Bohemian Chanukah

After we found all the history and tradition packed into this version we created a Chanukah ABCs--working collaboratively on the Zoom whiteboard students contributed one Chanukah related word for every letter of the alphabet.  Once we had pointed out the relevance of each of these students were challenged to create haiku using the words and phrases. 

See above for our alphabet and our haiku poems. Discuss with your student the significance of each word or phrase.

The Vav students have done a tremendous job this first half of the year, overcoming all the obstacles and hanging in there for some great online learning.  I so appreciate their resilience and persistence--being here every week.

May the remainder of your Chanukah be filled with great light and may the new secular year of 2021 bring us joy, healing, relief, and togetherness.


Week of December 6

Cantor Lissek-Trope

This week in trope class we put our Torah Trope knowledge to use with Torah text and studied chanting the V’ahavta with Trope.   Our students had an aha moments putting together what they have heard in Tefillah with the Trope they are learning.   This is a great building block for reinforcing their trope knowledge.

Week of December 6

Morah Mary-Margaret

We prepared for the upcoming celebration of Chanukah with a review quiz.  We reiterated why 8 nights, why latkes and sufganiyot are favored foods, why the letters Nun, Gimel , Hey and Shin, appear on the four sides of the dreidel, and why it took 8 days to get more oil for the Ner Tamid.

Want to play along with your Vav child or the rest of the family?  Go to: The students did great on the quiz--see if everyone in the family can match their performance.

The harder questions are at the end--so if you are short on time skip ahead.  The challenge on each question is not only to answer it correctly, but also to explain why that is the correct answer.

The other challenge given to Vav students this week is to share at least one fact and explanation from this quiz on the first night of Chanukah as you all gather to light the candles. They must tell which fact and explanation they shared in class next week--so hold them to this challenge.

Chag Chanukah Sameach

BLOG Vav  (6th) Week of November 22

Morah Mary-Margaret

This week we learned that often in life we are challenged to stand up and take responsibility for our communities and ourselves.

Students first reviewed the concepts Ayeka and Hineni.  They then applied their knowledge of Ayeka and Hineni concepts to Biblical figures. Ask your child who answered "Hineni" and who failed to step up:  Adam, Abraham, Noah, Esther, Jonah, Judah Maccabee, and Joseph.

We then looked once more at a modern day scenario-- and watched for examples of God calling "Ayeka" and for individuals who responded "Hineni" and for others who failed to step up. Watch with your child and discuss how sometimes it is difficult to hear "Ayeka", but how we can stay alert so we answer "Hineni".

Enjoy your Thanksgiving break however large or small it may be this year and we will see you back at TIRS on December 6.

BLOG Vav (6th) Week of November 15

Morah Mary-Margaret

This week we learned that often in life we are challenged to stand up and take responsibility for our communities and ourselves.

Students reviewed the story of Adam and Chava (Eve) in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden). After God gives explicit instructions to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge, the serpent tricks Chava into eating the fruit, and she gives some to Adam to eat. Adam and Chava realize they are naked and hide. When God calls to them, “Ayeka (Where are you)?" they respond by blaming others and not accepting responsibility.


Students also reviewed Avraham, Isaac, and the Akeidah, or “Binding of Isaac.” Both Avraham and

Isaac respond "Hineni” during this significant event in Jewish history when Avraham binds Isaac

to the altar with an intent to sacrifice him to serve God.


Finally, we recalled Moses and the burning bush when God calls out “Moses, Moses”, which is

also a form of “Ayeka.” Moses responds “Hineni,", or “here I am,” indicating a readiness to step up

and serve.


How will these students know when God is calling "Ayeka" to them?  We watched this video for clues-- are we being called?  When do we miss it? And what do we have to do so that we can respond "Hineni"?

The Maccabeats - Book of Good Life... -

Parody of "Good Life" by OneRepublic This and all Maccabeats music is recorded a capella For bookings: Add us on Facebook: ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Learn more about the high holy days: ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Directed by Uri Westrich Produced by Immanuel Shalev Production Assistant - Rivie Shalev Assistant Director - Josh Itzkowitz Music Producer - Mike Boxer ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lyrics to the song: Woke up and realized yesterday Think it's a bummer end of the summer Kinda nervous that we're almost there At the days of awe Prayers in a language that I don't know Standing for hours and hours more I wish that someone would please tell me-e-e-e What it is we're praying for O

BLOG Vav (6th) Week of November 8

Morah Mary-Margaret

As we continue our study of the Jewish value of Teshuvah the Vav students examined in depth Rabbi Hillel’s teachings of “If I am not for myself, who will be for me…”.   Using this musical version by Debbie Friedman,

Debbie Friedman's Im Ein Ani Li - YouTube

I love Debbie Friedman's version of this song!! Of many of the songs she composed and sung, "Im Ein Ani Li Mi Li," from Pirkie Avot 1:14, shows and clarifies ...


students examined what each phrase means to them personally and how they can use this meaning to further show teshuvah.  They then applied the meanings to their understanding of taking responsibility for themselves and others.

Ask your child how they can be for themselves, yet also for others; share with them how you use this quote to guide your life.

BLOG-Kitah Vav (6th) -Week of November 8

Cantor Lissek-Trope

Thank you all for making sure your kids are tuning in for Trope Class.  This week we learned 4 new “fancy” trope, and learned to put the trope with biblical text.   The texts we chanted were central lessons from our tradition including Sh’ma, Humans created in the “image of God”, “God said let there be light.”  Trope helps bring out the meaning of the text.  Our students engaged in Torah study and then added the trope.   With this method we were able to study our ancient text in the original language and unpack it’s meaning.    

BLOG-Kitah Vav (6th) Week of November 1

Cantor Lissek-Trope

This week we had fun in Trope class singing and playing the Trope game on our zoom white board.   Our students are starting to know the most frequently used Torah Trope and enthusiastically engage in the class.  It’s a delight seeing and hearing them each Sunday morning! 

BLOG-Vav (6th) Week of November 1

Morah Mary-Margaret

Vav - I apologize that our Vav Zoom session did not work today.  I was subbing in a class just before yours and got trapped in a Zoom loop where I could not get out of that one and into yours.

I missed seeing you, but we'll pick up with the lesson next week.

In the meantime--remember the quote we ended with last week and be thinking about it:

If I am not for myself who will be for me? 

Yet, if I am for myself, what am I?

And if not now, when?

BLOG - Vav (6th) Week of  October 25

Morah Mary-Margaret-Judaic Studies

This week the students learned about the importance of taking responsibility for our actions and self-analysis as a step in the teshuvah process. Ask your children to share their impressions of Shel Silverstein’s poem Zebra Questions.  You can watch a video of the reading here:


·         Students reviewed teshuvah and how to name the four steps in the process. As a part of this we discussed the difference between "sorry" and "regret"--how do you feel abut the difference?

·         Students began to self-analyze their own strengths and how these will serve them in teshuvah.  (See video noted above).  Do you agree with what your child thinks are their strengths?

·         Students applied their personal values to a “what would you do” scenario-- and evaluated how strengths influence actions. What is the best thing to do if you encounter a bullying situation?  How can you use your strength of "intelligence" if the situation is very physical?

·         Students were introduced to Rabbi Hillel’s teachings of “If I am not for myself, who will be for me…” and asked to begin thinking about its meaning. We'll begin with this next week as we explore how we use our strengths to better ourselves and our communities.

BLOG-Kitah Vav (6th)

Morah Mary-Margaret

Dear Parents,

It was so great to have this group of Jewish learners back together again.  Although we are still not together in person we could at least be reunited via technology and continue our learning together.  Our theme this year will be "Community" and how Jewish acts and values help us build and maintain that community.  This week the students reviewed that teshuvah תְשׁוּבָהis one of the main components of the High Holidays, and begins with the celebration of the new year, Rosh Hashanah.  

Teshuvah תְשׁוּבָה means “return” and is equated with repentance in Judaism. The period of time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as the Days of Awe and is a time for self-reflection and analysis of what we’ve done wrong during the year.  In order to become closer to God and be forgiven for what we have done, we need to go through the process of teshuvah תְשׁוּבָה, which is done person to person. Essentially, we need to apologize to individuals first and ask them for forgiveness during the days leading up to Yom Kippur, and then on the day of Yom Kippur we are ready to apologize to God and seek forgiveness.

We briefly discussed the four steps of Teshuvah and which of those steps is easiest and hardest for us as individuals. What words can we use internally and externally in each of those steps?  We ended with a video that reminds us to engage in Teshuvah, especially during the Days of Awe so that we gain "Clarity".

Cantor Lissek-Trope

It was great seeing our Kitah Vav students in trope class!   We began with Torah Trope which many students recognized from knowing the Shema V’ahavta that we recite during Shira/T’fillah.  We will spend the first part of our year together learning and  exploring Torah trope via singing, games, and our Torah Trope workbooks.   Finally students will be assigned a Torah reading to chant.  

Cantor Shira Lissek

Tue, April 13 2021 1 Iyyar 5781