May 20, 2024 |

Grade 1/Kitah Alef 2018-2020

Posted on May 12, 2019

Need a link for a class? ZOOM links are here.

Joanne Camann

9:28 PM (27 minutes ago)

to Joanne

HI All,


I will plan to meet with your children for our last class on Tuesday at 4:00 pm. I have scheduled a Zoom meeting in my personal meeting room (see the invitation below) and am hoping the platform will be up and running smoothly by then. I will be using Zoom tomorrow for my teaching at MetroWest Jewish Day School and will change platforms for Tuesday if there appear to be problems tomorrow. Apparently people all over the world had trouble with Zoom today-church services and other events were cancelled and more. At the beginning of this teaching online, we considered using Google Meet but it has certain disadvantages (as well as advantages) and it was decided that we would use Zoom. Please help your children connect with me on Zoom on Tuesday unless you hear otherwise from me.


Again, thank you all for your support and patience this year and thank you so much for the generous Amazon gift card.





HI All,

I wanted to let you know that Kitah Aleph will meet at 10:00 this coming Sunday May 18th which is a half an hour earlier than usual. We will meet then so the children can be free to join in the all school celebration and 7th grade siyum at 11:00. Please check the blog for the zoom link. That will be our last class together for this school year. Many Thanks, Joanne


Hi All,
I hope you all continue to do well. I look forward to seeing your children on Sunday at the regular times. Please help them prepare by having paper ( a couple of sheets) and markers and/or crayons or colored pencils. We will watch a video with highlights from Israel, look at a map of the State of Israel and then the children will do their best to draw a copy of the map.  If you are able to print, I am sending you a PDF of a map that they could fill in. At our 5:00 pm time, I will be reading stories as usual.
Please find the link to my personal zoom room on the TI blog.


Hi All,
Just a reminder that I am planning our class meeting tomorrow morning on Zoom at 10:30 and then again at 5:00. Please help your child be prepared for our morning class by having Legos or other building materials available to use. At 5:00 I will be reading stories as usual. I look forward to seeing your children at those times. Shavua Tov,  Joanne
Reminder: you can find the Zoom links to all of the TI Hebrew School classes on the blog. See below.


Hi All,
I am listening to the wind and watching the rain and hope you are all well and still have your power in this storm. I am looking forward to seeing your children again this coming Sunday at the same times:
10:30-11:15 on Sunday morning and 5:00-5:30 in the afternoon.
In our morning time together, I will introduce the upcoming holiday of Yom Ha’atzma’out or Israel’s Independence Day. We will watch a short video about the old city in Jerusalem and then I will ask the children to spend some time using Legos to build their own version of the old city.  At the end of our time, they will share what they have built. To that end, please help your child have a collection of Legos available when we start our time together. If you do not have Legos, any blocks or even recycling materials that they could use to build, would be great.
At our 5:00 pm time I will be reading stories as we have been doing.
Below is the link to the TI site with class Zoom links.
Mo’adim L’simcha,
Need a link for a class? Go directly to the Hebrew School blog or copy and paste this into your web browser:
You can also use the information below for my meetings.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 607 828 0693
Password: 451197


Hi All,
I hope you have a wonderful beginning of Passover. Just to be sure that you are able to easily access our Sunday class via Zoom. I am sending you the links directly now.  Please do note that I do not check or respond to email on Shabbat or Yom Tov (so Thursday, Friday or Saturday (until after Shabbat) of this week. Chag Sameach, Joanne
Joanne Camann is inviting you to two scheduled Zoom meetings.
Topic: Joanne Camann’s Zoom Meeting
Time: Apr 12, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
A second zoom meeting on that date at 5:00 for stories
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 607 828 0693
Password: 451197


Hi All,
I am inviting you to join a class meeting on Sunday from 10:30-11:10 and then a story time meeting on Sunday from 5:00-5:30. The details are below.
Please do note a couple of items. I very much would appreciate it if you could help your child be ready for our class on Sunday morning dressed, having already eaten breakfast and sitting up at a table or desk in a quiet space. I would ask that your child also be ready with some paper, a couple of pencils and some either markers, colored pencils or crayons for some drawing and writing. Learning in class while at home is challenging for most first graders (frankly its challenging for me too) so if you can limit distractions as much as is possible (and I know that this is not always possible) that would be great. Thank you in advance for your partnership and support in this new crazy world we are inhabiting at present. Best, Joanne
Joanne Camann’s Zoom Meeting
Time: Apr 5, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 607 828 0693
Second zoom meeting:
Time: Apr 5, 2020 05:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 607 828 0693


Hi All,
I hope you are all doing well and that the children can join me at these times.
Best, Joanne
Joanne Camann is inviting you to two scheduled Zoom meetings.
Topic: Kitah Aleph lesson
Time: Sunday Mar 29, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 607 828 0693
Passover Story
Sunday March 29th
5:00-5:30 pm
Same zoom link (I hope)
Hi All,
I hope you are all doing well and that the children can join me at these times. Best, Joanne

Hi All,
I am looking forward to connecting with your children online on Sunday. I hope that they will be joining in the tefilah zoom meeting the Cantor Ken at 9:30. After tefilah, I would like to have a zoom meeting with the children as well for about 40 minutes. During that time, I will plan to review some of the Hebrew letters we have learned so far this year and introduce them to a new letter. I also will teach them a bit about Passover and read a Passover story.
Here are the instructions for joining the meeting:
Joanne Camann is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Topic:
This is a calendar meeting Time: Mar 19, 2020 08:41 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 607 828 0693
One tap mobile ,,6078280693# US Toll Dial by your location US Toll Meeting ID: 607 828 0693 Find your local number:
You also should receive an invitation from me at my MetroWest Jewish Day School email.
Thank you for your partnership in this new online endeavor.
Shabbat Shalom,


Shalom Kitah Aleph Families,
It was wonderful to be back together again after the February vacation. Today we began to prepare for the upcoming holiday of Purim. In tefilah with the cantor, the children learned some new Hebrew Purim songs in addition to our usual tefilot..  Back in our classroom, they especially enjoyed acting out the Purim story from Megilat Esther with my guidance.  The children took turns taking on the various roles of Queen Vashti, Queen Esther, Mordecai, King Ahaseurus and even the wicked Haman. We used some costumes and props, including a pretend royal scepter, to re-enact the story. Kitah Aleph students then worked on some popsicle stick puppets of the Purim characters. Next Sunday the children will finish the puppets and them use them to retell the Purim story in their own words.
In Hebrew today, the children learned the new Hebrew letter, chet. As we do every week, in addition to learning a new letter, we reviewed all the letters we have learned so far this year. I called out the sound and the children had to find the letter matching that particular sound. The letters we have learned so far are as follows: aleph, ayin, shin, tav, mem, lamed, bet, vet, vav, hey, resh, dalet, chaf, koof, tzadee and nun. The children also know three of the vowels, two that make the sound “ah” and one that makes a long e sound. The students are doing a great job remembering the names and the sounds of the letters. They have only eight more letters to learn to complete the aleph-bet.  The next letter we will learn will be the letter yod and the next vowel will be one that makes a sound similar to the English letter O.
A few friendly reminders: please have each child bring his/her own nut free snack each week along with his/her own water bottle. Next weekend, we change the clocks. We will begin Hebrew school at 10:00 (daylight savings time) instead of the usual 9:00 start time to give everyone a chance to get a bit more sleep. Don’t forget the Purim carnival next Sunday afternoon after Hebrew school.

Have a fabulous week. Shavua Tov, Joanne


Shalom Kitah Aleph Families,

Students arrived and we did morning greetings in Hebrew and letter coloring. Then we had the morning meeting where we went through the schedule and passed the ball around discussing what we were looking forward to in the coming weeks. After morning meeting we went upstairs to Tefilah with the Cantor. There was prayers as well as discussion/questions about mezuzot.
Tu B’shvat was also introduced and a few songs were sang and Cantor led the kids in the a circle dance. Once we got back to the room we transitioned to Hebrew. Bay led the aleph bet with some assistance and the rest of the class responded to the song. After we did some review of letters from the white binder.

We got back on task with introduction of the new letter “Nun” and reviewed the mnemonic. After learning the new letter kids got their Hebrew books and worked on pages 53-55, making their way through the activities with assistance when needed. After making their way through the pages in their books the kids were given Hebrew reading sheets. In pairs the kids moved to the floor and read lines providing each other stickers after successfully completing each line. Overall the kids seemed to have good comprehension of the letters and vowels. Boaz reads very well, but tried to go ahead and gets a little distracted. He not only can read the lines without error, but also could spot and correct my purposeful mistakes. Roy and Jacobi worked well together and went through the sheet at a good speed. Bay and Sophia later joined the groups reading letters. Bay worked with Sarah and seemed to have good comprehension and speed. Sophia knew the letters and vowels for the most part, but had a few stumbles. After being told it was wrong and thinking a little she was able to arrive at the right answers. All the kids completed and put the finished Hebrew line sheets in their bags to bring home. Following Hebrew we had a quick snack and then went upstairs to join second grade for the Tu B’shvat seder. Once the kids settled down they seemed to learn and make contributions about the holiday and enjoy the food. Following seder first grade returned to the green room. Sarah read a story book about a tree and then we held a discussion about trees, their importance, uses, and types. Following the discussion we transitioned to working on the Tu B’Shvat packets. The boys worked quickly through the first color by shape page, but greatly enjoyed the challenge of the word search. The girls focused a bit more on the coloring. We worked on the Tu B’svhat packets until dismissal. The kids took home their unfinished packets to show their parents and work on at home. 


Shavua Tov,
Kitah Aleph students learned the letter ayinthis morning. Like the letter aleph, ayin is silent and “speaks” only through it vowel. We spent a few minutes looking at ayin and comparing it to the letter we learned last week, the letter tzadee. Those two letters do look a lot a like and it is easy for new Hebrew readers to confuse them.
The children had fun acting out some Torah stories this morning complete with some costumes. The children acted out the story of Jacob meeting Rachel at the well and then going home with her to meet Lavan. Lavan then agrees to have Jacob work for him for seven years to earn marriage with his beloved Rachel. We continued the story when Jacob is tricked into marrying Leah instead of Rachel and has to work for another seven years before being allowed to marry Rachel. We finished with Jacob and his family traveling back to the land of Israel and Jacob wrestling with a stranger over night in the desert. The children shared ideas about the identity of that stranger. Their ideas included an angel from God or even Esau in disguise.
We missed Yahav this morning as he was out sick. However, the children did write some short notes with prayers for Yahav to put in the Kotelthis week when he goes home to visit Israel. We wish him a refuah shelaymaand a wonderful visit to his family at home in Israel.
We began preparing for the upcoming holiday of Tu B’shvatthis morning. The children saw a video about Honi the circle maker ( and learned about the mitzvah of ba’al taschit, not wasting or destroying anything but rather doing things to take care of the earth. Honilearned about the importance of planting trees for future generations. Ask your child to show you the booklet we read together about the Jewish value of taking care of the earth.
Best wishes for a wonderful week ahead,



Hi All,
Today we began talking a bit about the upcoming holiday of Tu B’shvat. Tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh Shvat and we talked a bit about the Jewish calendar and the fact that it is a lunar calendar which is different from our secular American calendar. In addition, to singing our usual tefilot with Cantor Ken this morning, the children looked at pictures of almond trees in Israel and began learning both English and Hebrew versions of the song, Hashkediyah Porachat, or the Almond Tree is Blooming. We talked about the fact that although it is still winter here in the USA, in Israel, spring will begin in a few weeks. Later in the morning, during our time with Yahav, the children decorated leaves and branches for large cardboard class trees.

In Hebrew today, the children learned the new Hebrew letter, tzadee and a new vowel, chirik, which makes a sound like an English long E. We spent quite a bit of time reviewing all the letters we have learned so far this year.

We continued our discussion about justice/or tzedek,from two weeks ago, when we read about the friendship between Dr. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Today we focused on tzedakah,which comes from the same Hebrew root as the word tzedek and which of course begins with our Hebrew letter of the day, tzadee. The children enjoyed hearing the book, How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tine Blue Box and Other Wonders of Tzedakah by Linda Heller. Ask your child to tell you about the story. The children then went on to make their own tzedakahboxes, which are currently hanging in our classroom to dry. They should be ready for the children to take them home next week.

For our torah lesson today, we reviewed what we learned two weeks ago about how Rebecca and Jacob tricked Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing of the first born, which forced Jacob to flee his home. Today, the children listened to the story of Jacob and his dream of the ladder reaching to heaven with angels going up and down on the ladder.

Toward the end of our morning, we had a chance to do some singing with Anna. All in all, it was a very busy and productive morning.

Have a wonderful week ahead! Best, Joanne


Shavua Tov,
As always, we began our morning with morning meeting. This is a chance for the children to sit together, greet each other and share highlights of their week. We also go over the schedule for the day at this time. We then had tefilah in the sanctuary together with the preK/K class and second grade. Cantor Ken was unable to join us but the children did a lovely job singing the tefilot with some help from the teachers.
This morning in our Hebrew lesson the children learned two new Hebrew letters, vav and koof. We talked about the fact that the letter vav sometimes appears as a letter and sometimes appears in Hebrew as part of a vowel. Kitah Aleph students seem to especially enjoy playing the “back game.” In this game, an individual child comes up to the front of the room and I hold a letter on his/her back. Another child then says the sound that that particular letter makes and the child with the letter on his/her back has to say the name of the letter. This is a fun way to review and the children did an excellent job saying both the sounds and names of the letters we have learned so far this year.  The children completed the pages that go along with these letters in their Aleph-Bet workbooks and went on to practice some Hebrew reading with a partner, as we do each week.
Yahav paired the children up with a partner and had each child draw a portrait of his/her partner. Then Yahav taught the children the Hebrew word for friend, chaver. The children have a growing list of Hebrew words in their Hebrew dictionaries.
During snack today, we read the book, As Good As Anybody, in preparation for celebrating the birthday of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. next weekend.  As Good As Anybody tells the parallel stories of Dr. King, growing up and facing racism in the south, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who grew up in Poland and Germany and faced anti-Semitism there. The book goes on to describe how the two men grew up and became friends and allies in the civil rights movement. We talked about the Hebrew saying, Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdoff, roughly translated as “You should pursue Justice.”  As a class, we then discussed he connection between the Hebrew word tzedek, justice, and the word, tzedakah, which is often translated as charity but really has more to do with making the world a just/fair place for everyone. Ask your child to show you the pamphlet we read about tzedakah.
We finished our morning with a fun bingo game using Hebrew colors and a few minutes of Herzl Omer.
Best wishes for a wonderful week ahead.



Shavua Tov,
It was wonderful to be back at Temple Israel with all of the children this morning! After a quick morning meeting in our classroom, we went upstairs to the sanctuary and had tefilah with Cantor Ken. We began with a minute of silence to give everyone a chance to focus in on tefilah. It was amazing to see a fairly large group of preschool through second grade children sit totally silently for what to them can seem like an eternity. We then had a lovely tefilah session with the cantor. In addition to singing the prayers, a number of the children in preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade, shared things for which they feel especially thankful. Things they mentioned included: candy, technology, family, friends and being “being loved so much by my family.”
After tefilah, Kitah Aleph students learned two new Hebrew letters: daletand aleph. As always, we reviewed the letters we have learned previously as well. We have now learned a total of twelve Hebrew letters and two vowels. We are almost half-way through the letters but do have a number of vowels still to learn. Overall, the children are doing a great job of remembering the letter names and sounds especially given that we meet only once a week and have not had school for a few weeks. Please do encourage your child to “show off” his/her Hebrew reading skills by reading the yellow Hebrew reading sheet that came home today.
The children were happy to see Yahav as always. In our time with Yahav today, the children listened to some Hebrew songs and played a variation of musical chairs. Then they added the Hebrew word, shir, which means song or poem to their Hebrew vocabulary booklets.
We ended our morning with some Torah study. We reviewed the story of Eliezer meeting Rebecca at the well. Then the children acted out the story of Eisav and Yaakov and the exchange of the birthright for the bowl of stew. Kitah Alephstudents thought that Eisav was not thinking ahead very well when he agreed to sell his birthright to his brother for such a simple thing. They wondered if he perhaps wasn’t getting enough to eat otherwise. Next, the children went on to act out the story of Rebecca and Yaakov tricking Yitzchak into giving the blessing of the first born to Yaakov. We discussed the fact that Rebecca had spoken to God before the babies were born and knew that her younger son would “rule over’ the older one. Thus, she was probably acting on what she thought was God’s will when she helped Yaakov trick his father. The children thought that both Rebecca and Yaakov probably felt a little sad about having to trick Yaakov. There was some great method acting in our class, especially around Eisav threatening to kill his brother, and a lot of giggling was involved in the acting as well. Some of the children said that acting out the torah stories is their favorite part of our mornings together.
Best wishes for a fabulous week ahead.


Kitah Aleph

Hi All,
The theme of the day was definitely Chanukah. The children began the morning eating delicious latkes and applesauce  provided by the brotherhood.  We then watched two videos to learn a bit more about the holiday. The first video was a reading of a book called The Story of Hanukkah by Jeremy Frank and read by Peter Jacobsen. It is a retelling of the story of the Maccabees fighting against the powerful Assyrian army and winning despite overwhelming odds. It can be found here: The second video was the Chanukah themed video that is part of a series of videos for Jewish children on the website  and tells the story of a Jewish family helped to celebrate Chanukah by two little anthropomorphized sparks of light. It is a very cute series that the children seem to enjoy and it conveys the important message of Chanukah as a time of spreading light to the world.
In Hebrew today, the children learned the new Hebrew letter vet. We talked about how vet and bet appear very similar to one another; the only difference being one little dot in the center. We compared the vet and bet to the chaf and kaf in appearance as these letters are easily confused by new Hebrew readers.
In tefilah with the cantor this morning, we sang a number of Chanukah songs and reviewed the Chanukah candle blessings. Yahav shared a bit about Chanukah in Israel and then he showed the children how to make dreidels out of a CD and a marble. Please be certain to have your children show you their beautiful dreidels. Kitah Aleph students added the Hebrew letters nun, gimel, hey and shin to their dreidels as well as various decorations. Yahav also showed the children two different dreidels, one from Israel and one from the USA. He explained that in Israel the dreidels have the Hebrew letter pey which stands for the Hebrew word “po” to show that the miracle happened “here” in Israel while in the States we say that the miracle happened “sham”  or “there.”
We ended our morning reading The Magic Dreidels by Eric Kimmel, singing more Chanukah songs and doing a Chanukah fun packet. Please encourage your children to do more pages in the packet at home since there was not enough time for them to complete it at school.
Thank you all so very much for the generous gift card! It was so lovely of you to think of me. Best wishes for a joyous Chanukah, a wonderful December break and a happy new year. I look forward to seeing the children back on January 5th.

Chag Chanukah Sameach, Joanne


Kitah Aleph,

This past Sunday Kitah Aleph students learned a new Hebrew letter, the letter kaf. They also began to learn about the holiday of Chanukah and the miracles of the small band of Jews who triumphed over the larger and stronger Assyrian army as well as the oil that was supposed to last for only 1 day but lasted for 8 days. The children enjoyed making “stained glass” dreidels with tissue paper. As usual, they had tefilah with the cantor and learned new Hebrew words with Yahav. The children are building a dictionary of Hebrew words with Yahav’s help and by the end of the year, they should have collected a large dictionary of words. Finally, they learned the torah story about Rebecca at the well. 


Shavua Tov,
This morning, the children learned two new Hebrew letters, hey and kaf. They are doing a wonderful job of recognizing all the letters we have learned and putting them together with the two vowels that we have learned so far this year.  In addition to the Hebrew consonants they have learned, the children have been practicing two vowels, kamatz and patach, that make the sound /a/.  Just a reminder for those of you who do not read Hebrew, that consonants and vowels are quite separate in Hebrew.  The children have now learned a total of seven letters!  Most recently, they have even been able to decode a few simple words (it is not so easy to find words that use only those letters and vowels). Next week, the children will learn the letter resh.  Each Hebrew letter that the children have learned has a specific English mnemonic to help them remember the sound. Ask your child to tell you the mnemonics we have learned to date.
In our torah lesson today, the children acted out the story of Abraham and Sarah welcoming three visitors who turned out to be messengers from God. According to the rabbis, this story teaches us about the important mitzvah of hachnassat orchim or welcoming guests.  When I asked the children what they do at home to help guests feel welcome in their homes, we came up with the following list:
  • Invite them in
  • Ask they what they want to do
  • Offer them something to eat and drink
  • Walk them out when it is time for them to leave
  • Clean-up the house before they come
  • Give them a nice place to sleep if they are staying over.
We also talked about what is required of guests when they visit and came up with the following:
  • Handle items carefully
  • Bring food to share
  • Bring a toy or other gift
  • Take turns picking an activity to do
  • Ask for things using polite manners
  • Help clean-up
  • Say thank-you for having me when you leave
I have to say that I was impressed with what wonderful hosts and guests the children must be! We will continue to explore this mitzvah a bit more next week as well in anticipation of Thanksgiving coming soon.
Kitah Aleph students had music with Anna today and tefilah with Cantor Ken as usual. Yahav is away but will be back next Sunday.  We played Herzl Omer and a the “color game” at the end of our morning.
Best wishes for a wonderful week ahead.


Kitah Aleph children participated with some of the other younger children in a special Veteran’s Day assembly.  First, the children watched a light hearted video staring former First Lady Michelle Obama and the penguins of Madagasca,r who help explain some facts about military service. Then the children heard directly from three members of Temple Israel who are either former or current members of the US military. The children were very engaged in the program, asked some great questions and shared some comments as well. A number of the children mentioned family members who have served, particularly in the IDF. Questions included: How much training did you need? What would happen if the general in charge got hurt? Why did you decide to go into the army? How did you get in touch with each other? How did you know where to put the cannons? And more…
Back in class, we played a fun Hebrew game with Yahav, very similar to Red Light/Green Light,  and then had snack. In Hebrew, we reviewed the letters that we have learned so far (tav, shin, bet and mem) and learned a new letter, the letter lamed. The mnemonic for lamed is that lamed has a lap and says /l/. The children read and did work in their Aleph Bet workbooks.
The children acted out this past week’s parsha, Lech Lecha, when God speaks to Abraham and tells him to take his family and move to a new place. After acting out the story, the children shared their thoughts about what it must have been like for Abraham and Sarah to leave their home and travel to an unknown land. We made a list of things that they might have taken with them and talked about how hard that must have been for Abraham and Sarah.  The children shared ideas about why they thought that Abraham and Sarah were willing to do follow God’s words and why we consider them to have been the father and mother of the Jewish people. We listened to Debbie Friedman’s beautiful song: Lechi Lach.
The children did a shabbat fun packet and listened to two stories about Shabbat. We read Once Upon a Shabbos by Jacqueline Jules and a chapter about shabbat from an old standby, Ktonton by Sadie Rose Weilerstein.  We finished our day with music with Anna. The children reviewed the Noah’s ark song, Rise and Shine, that we learned last week and also sang David Melech Yisrael, complete with hand motions.
Best wishes for a wonderful week ahead. Joanne

Friendly reminder: Our class starts right at 9:00 with a morning meeting and review of the day’s schedule. Learning begins right away. I understand that Sunday mornings can be hectic but please try to have your child in class promptly at 9:00 or even a few minutes before to ensure that he/she does not miss out on any of the learning. 


Hi All,
This morning, as part of our torah study, we reviewed the story of the creation of the world through the book Genesis illustrated by Ed Young and then read a version of the Noah’s ark story. The book we read is titled Two by Twoand was written and illustrated by Barbara Reid. This particular book happens to be one that belonged to my own children when they were small.  Kitah Aleph students especially enjoyed the amazing illustrations which were made with Plasticine that is shaped and pressed onto illustration board and then photographed.  We then learned the song, Rise and Shine, which retells the Noah’s ark story in a rather “campy” but fun way.
In Hebrew this morning, the children leaned the new Hebrew letter mem which makes an “M” sound. We reviewed the other letters we have learned so far (shin, bet and tav) along with the two vowels we have learned. The students worked in their Aleph-Bet workbooks and then practiced reading with a partner.
We had a lovely visit with our shinshin, Yahav, and we were lucky to have a former shinshin, Bar, stop by to say hello as well. Bar is now in the Israeli Defense Force, but took vacation time to come and visit us at Temple Israel. Yahav prepared beautiful challah covers for the children to decorate! Please make sure to ask your child to show you the one he/she made today.
The children worked on finishing up their fun packets about Bereshit that we began last week. We continued our study of Shabbat with the book, Annie’s Shabbatby Sarah Marwil Lamstein. This “chapter book” tells the story of Annie and her family and how they prepare for and celebrate Shabbat.  We will continue our focus on Shabbat next week.
A highlight of the morning was playing Shimon Omer  (Simon Says in Hebrew) and our color game. Ask your children to explain the color game and have them tell you the names of some colors in Hebrew.  
Best wishes for a wonderful week!



Hi All,
It was wonderful to be back at Temple Israel with everyone this morning. We had a very full agenda today. We began our morning with our usual morning meeting. Since yesterday was Shabbat Bereshit, it seemed natural to take some time to review  the creation story. Today we focused on the very beginning of Bereshit which speaks about how God created the world in 6 days and rested on the seventh day. The children enjoyed learning, singing and performing the hand motions to a Bereshit song.  
After learning torah, we went into the sanctuary for tefillah with Cantor Ken. The cantor taught a fun version of one of the tefillot we sing to praise God. You may be familiar with this stand up/sit down song that has the words, Hallelu, hallelu, halleluyah, hodu la’Shem. Then we had a chance to look a beautiful wimple made by a child who recently celebrated his bar mitzvah. After returning to the class, we played a game to help the children learn the names of the colors in Hebrew.  In this game, after I say a color in Hebrew, the children have to walk quickly around the room and find a hidden piece of paper in that color, returning to the rug before I count to 10 in Hebrew. If they return before I get to 10, they win but if they are not back in their place by the time I count to 10, I win. Not surprisingly those speedy children won the game, with a score of 5 points to my 2.
In our time with Yahav today, we learned about the dove as a symbol of peace and the children made paper doves with accordion style wings. It was great to see our shinshin Bar from 2 years ago who came back to visit and helped us with the doves today.
In Hebrew today, we reviewed the letters tav and bet. Then we learned the letter shin as well as the vowels kamatz and patach, which are two vowels that generally make a sound similar to the English short a sound. The children practiced reading the letters and vowels together and completed the appropriate pages in their Aleph-Bet workbook. They took turns reading to me and to each other to practice the sounds of the letters and vowels.
We began talking about Shabbat today. Kitah aleph students listed to the book, Mrs. Moskowitz and the Shabbat Candles.  We talked about the connection between Bereshit and God’s creation of the world and Shabbat.
We finished our morning with some beautiful singing with our friends in the pre-K and kindergarten class and the music teacher, Anna.

Have a fabulous week. Shavua Tov, Joanne


Shavua Tov Kitah Aleph Families,
This morning, Kitah Aleph students made some great decorations for the Temple’s sukkah. We were lucky to have Randy Singer from the Sisterhood come into class to help us decorate some wooden shaped apples that will be hung in the sukkah.  We began our morning with morning meeting as usual and then had tefilah with Cantor Ken in the sanctuary. At the end of tefilah, the cantor opened the ark so that the children could have a closer look at the torahs. We saw the bells and crowns that decorate the torahs as well as the pointers or yads that are used when someone is reading from the torah. The cantor pointed out the ner tamid or eternal light that hangs over the ark and never goes out reminding us that God is always with us.  Our timing this morning was excellent, while we were in the sanctuary, someone came along to change the torahs into their special white covers for the high holidays so the children were able to observe that as well.
Back in the classroom, the children had snack and listened to the book, The Hardest Word, A Yom Kippur Story by Jacqueline Jules about a large bird who learns that the hardest thing to say is “I’m Sorry.”
We talked about the fact that saying sorry is sometimes so hard to say because it requires admitting that you were wrong and did something you should not have done.
In our Hebrew reading lesson today, we reviewed the sound of the letter bet.We use mnemonic devices to help the children remember the sounds and names of the letter. The mnemonic for bet is that it is a ball in a box. Then the children learned the letter tav which begins the word Torah and “has a toe” (of sorts).  Ask your child to point out the toe on the letter tav. The students then completed a couple of pages in their Aleph Betworkbooks. The children also are learning the Aleph Bet song by Debbie Friedman. Singing the song reinforces the names of the letters and their order in the Hebrew alphabet.
At the end of the morning, we were joined by the pre-K and Kindergarten students for a shofar round robin activity. The children were divided into three groups which then rotated through three stations. Each station had a different kind of shofar and each child was able to try to blow each of the three kinds of shofar. We reviewed when we blow shofar and the different kinds of sounds that we hear on the shofar. The children enjoyed singing the song by Peter and Ellen Allard about the blasts of the shofar. You can find it here:
There is no school next Sunday as it will be erev Rosh Hashanah. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year and I look forward to seeing you all at Tashlich on Sunday October 6.
Shana Tova,



HI All,
It was wonderful to meet all of the children this morning! We began our day as we will each Sunday with a little morning meeting. Morning meeting includes a greeting and an opportunity for each child to share something about his/her week. We then go over the schedule for the morning and often play a game. Today we played the game, When a Warm Wind Blows, which is a great game for beginning to get to know each other a bit better. Ask your child how to play. We also played a fun round of Shimon Omer or Simon Says in Hebrew beginning with the Hebrew words for head, legs, mouth, and stomach. We will add more and more Hebrew words as the year goes along. We also began our study of Rosh Hashanah this morning and the children heard the book, The World’s Birthday by Barbara Diamond Goldin.  The children enjoyed listening to the shofar during tefilah with the Cantor this morning. He did a little “show and tell” to teach the children about tallit and tefillin in addition to leading them in some beginning prayers. Later we met our shinshin, Yahav and the children played a game with him to help them get to know him a bit better. We began our study of Hebrew letters with the letter bet and the children completed the first couple of pages in their Aleph Bet workbook. It was a very busy day in Kitah Aleph. Best wishes for a wonderful week ahead. I look forward to seeing the children again next Sunday.

Best, Joanne

Hello Gan Class Families!

Thank you all for such an amazing year!  Below is our final Gan Class Update but you will be hearing from me again in the next few weeks with some specific information about your student.
Another busy day had us completing so many of our long term projects.  We read our final Torah story, about Jacob’s family and illustrated the one daughter and twelve sons that Jacob had.  We then made a cover for all of our stories and but them together in one book.  We also made a Torah Cover out of felt to cover out personal stories from the year.  I know that there will be lots of things to look back on when you unroll them.  We were excited to see our families at Tefillah and watch the “big” kids show all that they have learned at Temple Israel. 
It was so nice to catch up with many of you at brunch and to see the heartfelt goodbyes many of our students had with Nitzan.  Thanks for being an amazing Gan Class!
Bina, Jo and I would like to thank you for your support and encouragement throughout the year as well as the generous gifts and heartfelt sentiments we received today.  It was our pleasure to spend the year with your students.
I wish you all a relaxing summer vacation and I can’t wait to see you in the fall.


It is hard to believe that we have only one Sunday of Hebrew school left. Today Kitah Aleph students learned the final Hebrew letter, the letter zayin, which makes a sound comparable to the English letter z. The children completed the pages in their Aleph-Bet workbooks and took them home today. They also made aleph-bet flashcards with the hope that they might take them out and review some letters over the summer. It is a long time from now until September!
This morning we counted the Omer with Cantor Ken during tefillot. Ask your child which day of the omer we counted today. Back in class, we watched a short video about the omer period and what it signifies. Here is a link to the video if you would like to watch it with your children:
The children learned that the omer was a measure of grain that was brought by farmers in ancient Israel to the Temple. We count 49 days from the second night of Passover until the next major holiday of Shavuout. The children also learned that the period of the omer is considered a somewhat sad period because of a plague that occurred among the students of Rabbi Akiva. Traditionally there are no Jewish weddings during this period and some people do not buy new clothes or cut their hair. However, Lag B’Omer, the thirty-third day of the counting of the omer, is a day when the mood lightens. This is a day when the plague stopped. It is a scholars’ holiday when Jews around the world go on picnics and build bonfires. Kitah Alephstudents especially enjoyed hearing the Lag B’Omer story from K’tonton by Sadie Rose Weilerstein. This is a book from my childhood and it follows the adventures of a thumb-sized Jewish boy who celebrates all the Jewish holidays.
We were fortunate to have some time with Nitzan this morning. Nitzan gave the children the opportunity to ask her any questions they have been wondering about her or the State of Israel. Questions ranged from those focusing on Nitzan’s family, her siblings and their names to questions about what she will do once she returns to Israel and goes into the army. We have been very lucky to have Nitzan as our shinshin this year.
At the end of class today, we did a little catching up or “ketchup” time as we sometimes call it. The children worked on completing their maps of Israel, their Hebrew name posters and then worked on a packet of fun pages about Israel. We also learned a bit about the upcoming holiday of Shavuot.
I want to take this opportunity to say again how much I have enjoyed getting to know your children this year. I truly have enjoyed teaching every one of these bright, sweet and engaging youngsters. I will not be in school next Sunday. Although I will be sad to miss the final day with your children, I will be happily attending my daughter’s college graduation weekend. I will be busy celebrating with her and of course, helping her pack up to come home.  Your children will be in excellent hands with Cheryl as their teacher next Sunday.

Best wishes for a wonderful and relaxing summer! Joanne


Hi All,

This morning we had a wonderfully fun drumming workshop! The children used shakers and small drums to try out various beats to different tefillot including Modeh Ani, Halleluyah (Psalm 150) and V’ahavta. The children also had the chance to try playing the large drum, also called the “mother drum.” Starting our morning with drumming to tefillah was pretty awesome!

In Hebrew today we learned the letter gimel. Gimel “is going for a goal” and makes a sound similar to a hard G in English. We also learned two vowels that make an “oo” sound. We have only one letter left to learn (the letter zayin) which we will do next week. Next Sunday the children will complete the final pages in their Aleph-Bet workbooks.

We spend a good part of our morning focused on Israel since Israel’s birthday, Yom Ha’atzmaut is coming later this week. Sadly Nitzan was out sick today so we missed our time with her but we look forward to seeing her back next Sunday. In class, we watched a video about Israel titled: Israel Small but Outstanding. It can be found here if you would like to watch it with your child:

The video includes some beautiful pictures of Israel and really showcases its diverse landscapes, people and animals. The children also saw pictures from a book called A Day in the Life of Israel.  This book includes photographs from 50 of the world’s top photojournalists who were given one day to take photographs of Israel and submit them to be included in this book. We learned part of a song that children in Israel sing, called Eretz Yisrael Sheli, about building the land. You can find it here: you would like to hear it. We will practice it again next week.

Toward the end of the morning, we examined the map of Israel. After spending some time together finding key areas and cities, the children went off to work individually on labeling their own maps of Israel. We will finish these up next Sunday.

Best wishes for a wonderful week ahead.



Hi All,

I hope you had a wonderful Passover and a great school vacation week. It is hard to believe but we are fast approaching the end of the Sunday school year. There are only a few more Sunday classes remaining. Today in class,  the children learned a new Hebrew letter, the letter “sin.” Sin makes a soft S sound, the same sound made by another Hebrew letter, the letter Samech. Sin looks almost exactly like the letter Shinbut has a dot above it and to the left while the Shin has a dot above it and to the right.

During tefillah with Cantor Ken, the children learned about the process of counting the omer, the measure of grain that the Jews have used for centuries on to keep track of the seven weeks between Passover and the next major Jewish holiday, the holiday of Shavuot. Now-a-days we use a calendar but we still “count the omer” on a daily basis. We discussed the fact that these weeks between Pesach and Shavuot are generally considered a serious period during the Jewish year when some Jews do not get married or hold large parties. Many people do not shave or cut their hair during this period, at least until the holiday of Lag B’omer.  The children will learn more about both Lag B’omer and Shavuot over the next few Sundays.
Nitzan spent time with the class as usual today. She played a game with the children to teach them about the many innovations that Israelis have contributed to the world. The children were surprised by the fact that some of these well-known and well used items were first invented by Israelis. The items invented in Israel are quite diverse and used all over the world. These items include: drip-irrigation, the iron-dome system, USB drives and the game Rummikub.
Today’s class focused on the Jewish value of Tzedakah. We learned that the word tzedakah actually means righteousness and generally refers to what people give to others in an effort to make the world a better place. The children watched a short video about tzedakah entitled “Get with the Giving”  ( They also listened to the story Benny and The Bagels about a little boy who tries to give bagels to God as thanks but ends up giving tzedakah to a man in need instead. The story teaches that helping others is a perfect way to show God our appreciation for the blessings that we have in our lives. At the end of the morning, the children decorated their own tzedakah boxes. These are sitting in their cubbies in the classroom to dry and should be ready to be taken home next Sunday.
Best wishes for a wonderful week ahead. Joanne


Hi All,
This morning Kitah Aleph students enjoyed tefillah with Cantor Ken. In addition, to our usual tefillot, the children practiced singing the four questions. Cantor Ken also taught them the song for the order of the seder, complete with hand motions. We ended this morning’s tefillah with the singing of Dayenu and the English version of Echad Mi Yodeiya or Who Knows One. Ask your children if they remember what the numbers up to five represent (One is HaShem or God, two are the tablets that Moshe brought, three are the fathers, four are the mothers and five are the books of the Torah). In class, toward the end of the morning, we went over the four questions again this time singing them while following along in the haggadah. The children were able to identify a number of words that they can now read since they have learned so many of the Hebrew letters.
Back in class, we also reviewed many of the symbols of the seder. These symbols include:  the parsley which represents spring; the salt water which reminds us of the tears of the Jewish slaves; the bitter herbs which represents the bitterness of slavery; the charoset which reminds us of the bricks that the slaves had to make; the egg which represents spring and the cycle of the year and the matzah which we eat to remind us that the Jews left Egypt in a hurry and did not have time to let their bread dough rise. Kitah Aleph students finished up their beautiful Passover placemats and worked on a fun Passover packet. We read the book, The Matzah that Papa Brought Home, by Fran Manushkin with gorgeous illustrations by Ned Bittinger.
During Nitzan’s time with the children, she described Passover in Israel. Nitzan told the children that in Israel, schools are closed for three weeks-the week of Passover and the week before Passover and the week after Passover. She explained that there is no February vacation for the children in Israel so this is their first break since December. It is a time when lots of families take vacation together. Nitzan also said that it is nearly impossible to buy chametz (anything not Kosher for Passover) anywhere in Israel during the holiday and that most of the restaurants switch over to being Kosher for Passover; even Ben and Jerry’s becomes Kosher for Passover. Nitzan played a fun charades game with the children, having them act out various symbols of the holiday.
In Hebrew today, the children learned another new letter, the letter Phey which sounds like the English letter F, and a new vowel tzayrehwhich is said either as the sound ay or the sound eh, depending on your accent and whether you are Israeli or American. They are getting close to completing their Aleph-Bet workbooks. We have only three more letters to learn and one vowel.
Our next Sunday class is in three weeks, Sunday April 28th.
Best wishes for an enjoyable spring break and a wonderful, fulfilling Passover.
Chag Sameach,


This morning Kitah Aleph students learned two new Hebrew letters: Pay and Samech. Pay makes a sound like the letter P and Samech has a sound similar to a soft S. The children completed the pages in their Aleph-Bet workbooks for these two letters. They then played a tic-tac-toe game with a partner. In the game, the children had to correctly read a Hebrew letter and vowel before they were able to claim a particular space for their X or O.
We had a wonderful visit, as always with Nitzan. She shared a beautiful video of Israel made by a drone with views of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Acre, Massada, the Dead Sea, Be’ersheva and more. Then Nitzan split the children into two teams and gave each team a cut up version of the map of Israel. Each team had to try to put together the map. The first group to finish the map was the winning team. The children seemed to enjoy the challenge and this activity gave them a better sense of the geography of the land of Israel.
Kitah Aleph students practiced singing the four questions using the Haggadah. We then read the questions in English and reviewed the answers.  We also went over the symbols on the Seder plate including the bitter herbs, the salt water, the parsley, the egg and the charoset and why we eat them. Ask your child if they can identify the reasons that we eat those things at the Seder as well as why we eat matzah.  The children worked on some Passover placemats with the symbols on the seder plate written in English and Hebrew. We then read the book: The Ten Plagues of Egypt by Shoshana Lepon which tells the story of the plagues and the exodus from Egypt in verse with some very silly illustrations.
We finished our morning with a wonderful session with Josh Warshawsky, an amazing song leader and rabbinical student from the West Coast. Josh led the children in singing some tunes and prayers that they have learned with Cantor Ken as well as some lovely new tunes in both Hebrew and English, complete with hand motions and even some dance moves.

Best wishes for a wonderful first week in April! Joanne


Hi All,
Wow! Kitah Aleph students have now learned six Hebrew vowels and twenty Hebrew letters. We have only six more letters to learn and a couple of vowels. Today the children learned the Hebrew letter Tet which makes a T sound and the vowel segol which makes an “eh” sound. The children spent time on our usual Hebrew activities: singing the aleph bet song, reviewing letters previously learned, reading some Hebrew letters combined with vowel sounds and working in the aleph bet workbook. In addition, we played an aleph bet bingo game which the children seemed to very much enjoy.
Since Cantor Ken was busy helping second grade practice for Kabbat Siddur, Kitah Aleph combined with the kindergarten class for our own tefillah service. The children did a great job singing Mah Tovu in a round and just generally singing the tefillot. It is hard to believe but Passover is about a month away. We ended tefillah with some Passover songs including the four questions. Our songs included a version of the song “Who Knows One.” If you are not familiar with this song, feel free to check out this video: version on the video is very close to what we did except that we say: One is HaShem rather than One is God and the chorus is a bit different.
Kitah Aleph students had fun acting out some stories from the beginning of the book of Exodus. We had Baby Moses, Miriam, Yocheved (Moses’ mother) and Pharoah’s daughter right in our classroom. We also learned why Moses had to flee from Egypt and how he ended up meeting his wife Tzipporah. Ask your children to tell you why he had to run away.
We went over some Passover traditions and the reasons for them. For instance we talked about why we eat Matzah and open the door for Elijah at our seders. The children heard the book, Only Nine Chairs, one of my favorite Passover picture books.
Lastly today we did some “catch-up” (or ketchup as I like to call it) work. The children finished up some Purim puppets that we began last week in class and worked on some fun packets around the Joseph story. Make sure to look for those in your child’s backpacks. Next week we will continue to practice the four questions and will learn more about Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush and his return to Egypt.
Have a wonderful week. Best, Joanne


The Kitah Aleph students had a wonderful time this morning at our drumming workshop with Josef Kottler. They had the opportunity to practice drumming and to learn about incorporating rhythm into some of our favorite songs. The children used small drums and shakers and tried out different beats while saying or singing words; for instance, singing the “bim bam” song for Shabbat. They did a great job listening and following Josef’s directions!
In Hebrew today, the children learned the letter yod (which “yells” and makes a Y sound). We also learned two new vowels today: cholam maleyand cholam chaser. Cholam maley looks like the letter vav but has a dot over it and makes an “oh” sound. Cholam chaser is just a dot that appear over and a bit to the left of a letter and also makes the “oh” sound. The children read different letters combined with the new vowels for practice and also worked in their aleph-bet workbooks. The children were excited to realize that they can now read the Hebrew for the word “Torah”.
Nitzan spent time with the class this morning as well. She shared pictures and descriptions of how Purim is celebrated in Israel. Kitah Aleph children were surprised to learn that there are big Purim parades in Israel. Nitzan also explained  that starting a full week before Purim, the Israeli school children have a special daily fun theme that they follow. So for instance, one day is pajama day and all the children come to school in their pajamas; another day might be crazy hat day and everyone wears crazy hats to school, etc. We also talked about the practice of mishloach manot, giving gifts of food to your neighbors and friends and the importance of matanot l’evyonim or gifts to the poor  as well.
Kitah Aleph students had fun acting out the Purim story together. Children took turns playing the parts of Haman, Mordecai, Esther, Vashti and a score of other minor characters. Each child played multiple roles as we acted out the story in a series of scenes from the megillah. We also watched a brief video re-telling the Purim story. You can find that video here if you would like to watch it with your child:
Please note that we watched the first video on the page entitled: The Purim Story.
At the end of the morning, the children began making some small puppets of the Purim characters which they will finish next Sunday. They also heard the story Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale by Barbara Diamond Goldin.
Have a marvelous week and a joyous Purim! Joanne


Hi All,
It was great to see so many of the children this morning despite the snow and some illnesses that seem to be making the rounds. Our Hebrew letter of the day is the letter Chet. Chet and Chaf make the same guttural back of the throat sound that we do not have in the English language. Chet begins a word that we are familiar with, the word Challah. Today Kitah Aleph students helped me count the letters that we have not yet learned and realized that there are only 7 letters (and some vowels) remaining. As always, we reviewed the letters that we have learned previously.
This morning, we continued to prepare a bit more for the upcoming holiday of Purim. The children sang Purim songs with the Cantor and in class we reviewed the story of Purim. The children decided that Esther and Mordecai were indeed brave upstanders who risked their lives to speak up for the Jewish people. The children are starting to get excited about Purim; a number of them already have begun planning their costumes for next Sunday. Please do remember that the Purim carnival will be next week immediately after Hebrew School.
We played a game with the names of the colors in Hebrew today. Ask your child if he/she can tell you the Hebrew for any of the colors including red (adom), yellow (tza’hov), green (yarok), pink (va’rod), blue (ka’chol) or purple (segol). Kitah aleph students played against me as a group and although the game was close, they won by one point. Kol Hakavod students!
In our torah lesson today, we completed the story of Joseph. The children acted out the part of the story when Joseph’s brothers come down to Egypt because of the famine. He recognizes them but they do not recognize him. Joseph tests his brothers by first insisting that bring Benjamin to him, framing him for theft and threatening to keep him as a slave in punishment. Judah offers to take Benjamin’s place and Joseph sees that the brothers have repented for their treatment of him. He becomes emotional and reveals his true identity to them. The brothers return back to Canaan and bring Jacob and the rest of their families to Egypt. This sets the stage for the story of the Exodus which we will focus on after Purim.
Have a wonderful week! Best, Joanne


Hi All,
It was great to see the children this week back after February vacation. Almost everyone was present which was a treat. As always, we began our morning with each child rolling a ball to another child, greeting him/her with the Hebrew greeting of Boker Tov or Shavua Tov and sharing something about his/her time away from Sunday school. Some children shared activities that they did over vacation and others shared plans for an upcoming event or birthday. In our tefillah time with Cantor Ken, the children have begun using the Halleli Nafshi siddurim designed by faculty and students at Solomon Schechter Day School specifically for children. Now that they know more Hebrew letters, it is becoming a bit easier for the kitah aleph students to follow along with the Hebrew in the siddur. Cantor Ken also began teaching some Purim songs in preparation for the holiday which is now a little more than two weeks away.
Back in our classroom, the children acted out a couple of different stories from the end of the book of Genesis about Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams. Ask your children to tell you about the dreams of the butler, the baker and  Pharoah and what Joseph said that the dreams meant. The children also began a packet with some fun pages about Joseph.
Nitzan spent time with us today. She shared some pictures of her home and her family from her recent visit in Israel. We looked at a map of Israel to see where Nitzan’s home city of Haifa is located in relation to other parts of Israel and the surrounding countries.  Nitzan also showed the children a video about Israel’s first launch of a spacecraft to the moon. She emphasized how exciting this is as Israel is only the fourth country to send a spacecraft to the moon and the other three countries who have done so (the USA, Russia and China) are so much bigger, wealthier and more powerful than Israel.  
In Hebrew today, the children learned the letter nun which makes the same sound as the English letter N. The children completed pages in their aleph-bet workbooks and worked with a partner to review and read the  letters and vowels we have learned so far this year.
We played a fun game of Shimon Omer in Hebrew. The children have become Shimon Omer experts, so much so that I find it hard to trick them into doing the wrong thing. They now know the Hebrew words for hands, head, legs, knees, shoulders, stomach, nose, mouth, eyes and ears. They also know the commands for walking, running, jumping, standing up and sitting down.
Best wishes for a safe, warm and wonderful week ahead. Joanne


Hi All,
In Kitah Aleph this morning, we reviewed the Jewish values we have focused on so far this year. These include: hachnassat orchim (welcoming guests), bikkur cholim (visiting and supporting the sick), sh’mirat ha’lashon(guarding one’s tongue/thinking before we speak and using kind words) and shalom bayit (making and maintaining peace in the our families and with our friends). We talked a little about each of these mitzvot and then watched a video about shalom bayit. Here is a link to the video in case you would like to watch it again with your child:
The children learned another Hebrew letter this morning, the letter ayin. Like the letter aleph, ayin has no sound; it is heard only through the accompanying vowel. The children are doing a wonderful job overall of remembering the names of the Hebrew letters and the sounds that they make. Ask your child to sing Debbie Friedman’s aleph bet song and identify the letters that he/she has learned so far this year.
Kitah aleph students have been decorating construction paper sheets with their Hebrew names. On these sheets, each child has his/her Hebrew name along with pictures of things that he/she finds important in his/her life. Examples include family, pets, sports activities, school, Temple Israel, vacations and more. Come into our classroom the next time we meet to take a peek at these lovely pictures as they go up on our bulletin board. We have talked about the importance and significance of our names and related this to the story of God changing Jacob’s name to Yisrael in the torah. Today during our torah study, we reviewed the story of Joseph’s dreams from last week. Then the children acted out the part of the torah when Joseph’s brothers throw him in a pit and sell him to the passing Ishmaelites.
We had a quick practice lockdown drill this morning as well. The children did a great job of following directions as they did last week during our evacuation drill.
In tefilah this morning, the children spent time examining the Halleli Nafshi siddur at some length. We looked at the pictures and related them to the meaning of the prayers that we say every week. The children recognized many of the Hebrew letters we know within the tefillot we say each Sunday. Even though Purim is not for a while, we sang our first Purim song today.
Best wishes for a wonderful, health and enjoyable February break. Joanne


Hi All,
This morning we continued learning torah and went over the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. We talked together about what it must have been like for Joseph to grow up in a household with 12 siblings. Kitah Aleph students thought it was probably quite noisy, busy and messy in that household. The children also agreed that it was not fair or right of Jacob to pick out favorite children and the children understood that Joseph’s brothers felt angry and jealous of his status as the favorite son. We acted out parts of the story together and left off (to be continued) when the brothers threw Joseph in the pit and then sold him to the passing Ishmaelite traders.  We also talked about the importance of names in relation to Jacob’s earlier name change to the name Israel. Kitah Aleph students each shared a bit about their names both English and Hebrew. Each child then began a picture with his/her Hebrew name and the people and things that are most important to him/her. We will continue working on these next week.
We learned another Hebrew letter, the letter tzadee which makes a sound similar to the letter combination of “ts” in English. The children were excited to finally learn a new Hebrew vowel, a chirik, which is one single dot and makes a long “e” sound. We then practiced putting the chirikvowel together with the letters that we have learned previously.
In tefilah this morning, Cantor Ken talked about and showed the children his tallit and tefillin. We were able to see the framed copy of the parchment pieces inside the tefillin as well which was very “cool.” The cantor showed the children how to put on and take off tefillinand I think they are excited about learning to do that themselves when they are older.
Nitzan visited today as well and talked to the children about the Dead Sea. She explained that it is called the Dead Sea because the water is so salty that no fish can live in it. The children had many questions including some technical ones about how much saltier it is than other bodies of water and what items might float verses sink when placed in the Dead Sea.
Best wishes for a warmer and wonderful week ahead! Joanne


Hi All,
This morning the children learned the Hebrew letter koof which makes the same sound as the Hebrew letter kaf and the English letter K. The children have now learned fourteen Hebrew letters which means that they know more than half of the aleph bet! Ask your child to read to you from the reading practice sheet that they took home today.
We took the opportunity to extend our celebration of Tu B’shvat to this morning. We sang some Tu B’shvat songs with Cantor Ken at the end of our tefillah time. Then we came together with the preK and K class and  Nitzan told the children a Tu B’shvat story. Both classes together made a paper tree complete with leaves filled with Jewish values.
Kitah Aleph students had fun playing a game with Hebrew colors and also playing Shimon Omer. Our Shimon Omer game got a little silly when I asked the children to put their noses on their knees and their ears on their shoulders (all done in Hebrew of course).
We concluded our morning with torah study. We continued the story of Jacob and learned about his return trip from Haran to his homeland and his meeting with his brother Eisav. The children heard the story of Jacob wrestling with a man and we discussed different ideas about the identity of that “man.”  Some children thought the man was definitely a messenger from God. We learned about some alternate interpretations of that story, for instance, that the man was really Eisav who came to wrestle with Jacob or that the man who wrestled with Jacob wasn’t really a man at all but Jacob wrestling with his own conscience about what he had done in tricking his brother out of his inheritance. In the end, we noted that the two brothers made peace with each other. I read the children a book called Sharing a Sunshine Umbrella which is about two friends who argue and then make up. We talked about the importance of making peace with friends and siblings after a quarrel and the Jewish saying that you should love peace and chase after it. It isn’t enough to just want peace but you have to actively facilitate peaceful solutions to conflict. On that note, I wish you all a peaceful and fulfilling week. Best, Joanne


Hi All,
We began this morning with our usual morning meeting which includes a greeting in Hebrew, attendance and reviewing the daily schedule in Hebrew and English. I reminded the children that there is no Hebrew school next Sunday but we will meet again in two weeks.  Tefillah with Cantor Ken was spirited as usual and included some songs for the upcoming holiday of Tu B’shvat. An extra special piece of our time with Cantor Ken was an opportunity to look at the inside of a haftorah scroll and compare it to the inside of a torah. For me personally, this was especially exciting as I have never seen a haftorahscroll before. Many of you probably already know this but this haftorahscroll was at Temple Israel in honor of Men’s Club Shabbat yesterday. The children noticed that unlike the torah scroll, the haftorahscroll included vowels. Both kinds of scrolls have trop or musical notations. The letters in the haftorah scroll do not have the beautiful crowns that adorn some of the letters in the torah scroll, however.
Back in our classroom, we played some games in Hebrew and had a visit from Nitzan. She played a game with the children to teach them about Tu B’shvat. Nitzan also taught the children some new Hebrew words including P’ree (fruit) and Eytz (tree). As always, we reviewed the Hebrew letters we have learned and learned a new one, the letter vav which makes the sound “v” just like the letter vet.  Today we counted the letters in the Hebrew alphabet and came up with the number 26 including the letters that look similar but are pronounced differently, for instance vet and bet. Ask your child to read to you from the Hebrew reading sheet that he/she brought home today.
We read the book As Good As Anybody by Richard Michelson which is a boy that tells parallel stories of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel. The book describes how they both faced discrimination as children because of who they were and how they came together to march in support of civil rights. The children were fascinated by this true story of friendship and standing up against injustice.
We completed our morning with an activity packet for Tu B’shvat while listening to some Tu B’shvat songs. Here is a link to a site on Spodify with some children’s songs for the holiday
In two weeks, we will have a Tu B’shvat seder led by Nitzan in honor of the holiday! We will be tasting lots of different fresh fruits.
Enjoy the long weekend next weekend and I look forward to seeing your children again in two weeks.


Hi All,
We had a very busy morning today in Kitah Aleph. We began our morning with our usual morning meeting. We reviewed today’s schedule in English and Hebrew, greeted each other with Boker Tov and shared highlights of our vacations. We played a quick game of Simon Says in Hebrew. Then we went off to join the pre-K/K class and second grade in the sanctuary for tefilah with Cantor Ken. In addition to our usual tefilot, we sang a few songs in preparation for the upcoming holiday of Tu B’shvat which this year will fall on the same day as Martin Luther King Day. Back in our classroom, we talked about why trees and important and why we have a holiday for trees. The children helped make a list of reasons we need trees. This included: trees give us fruit, nuts, maple syrup, paper, wood for houses and furniture, oxygen to breathe, homes for animals and they help prevent soil erosion. We talked about the importance of trees to the early chalutzim or pioneers who first built the state of Israel. Then we watched a video about Honi Ha’Ma’agal, Honi the circle marker, who learned about the importance of paying it forward, planting trees for future generations. Here is a link to the video online in case you want to watch it with your child:
In Hebrew, we sang the aleph bet song and reviewed the letters we have learned so far. We also learned the letter aleph, the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet which is silent. The children worked on some pages in their Hebrew books and read to a partner. I met with them each individually as well to go over the letters and their sounds.  When Nitzan came in today, she played a matching game with the children. The game was made up of Hebrew words that Nitzan has been teaching them. Ask your child to share one or two Hebrew words that he/she has learned from Nitzan. These include: har/mountain, yam/sea, sheket/quiet, mishpacha/family, yabasha/dry land, rikud/dance, yad/hand and others.
We reviewed some of the mitzvot or good deeds that we have been learning about this year. We have learned about welcoming guests/hachnassat orchim, visiting the sick/bikkur cholim and our most recent mitzvah, shmirat halev/guarding the tongue. The children read and answered a booklet about guarding one’s tongue; please ask them to show it to you.
Lastly today, Kitah Aleph students enjoyed acting out some torah stories. Everyone had a chance to act in at least one story. We covered the story of Jacob fleeing from his home and dreaming of a ladder with angels going up and down, the story of Jacob meeting Rachel at the well and lastly Jacob being tricked by Lavan into marrying Leah first before getting to marry Rachel.
Have a wonderful week.


Hi all,

This morning we had tefilah with Cantor Ken as usual. After tefilah, we stayed in the sanctuary with the second grade and talked about how a torah is made. The children learned the word parchment and got to touch and see a torah up close. The children had many thoughtful questions about the torah including who writes it, why some of the letters had crowns and many more. Ask your child why we use the silver yad or pointer when reading the torah rather than touching it with our fingers.

In Hebrew, the children learned the new letter dalet. Dalet has a dent (which distinguishes it from the letter resh) and makes a sound similar to the English letter D. As always, we reviewed the letters that we have already learned. We also played the color game and Shimon Omer. We began working on the Hebrew for jump, sit and run in addition to the parts of the body we have been working on for a while.

Unfortunately, Nitzan was not feeling well today so we missed our time with her. We reviewed earlier parts of the story of Jacob and Eisav and the birthright and continued the story including Rebecca and Jacob tricking Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing meant for Eisav. We watched a short video from Godcast re-telling this story. You can find the video at is the second one on the site; the one by Nechama Tamler).

We began some discussion of the Jewish value of sh’mirat ha’lashon or guarding one’s tongue. Each child wrote something kind on a slip of paper, folded it up and put the paper in a container. The children then took turns picking out one kind thing that someone had said and reading it out loud. We read the book: The Shema in the Mezzuzah; Listening to Each Other.

Many thanks to you all for the generous amazon gift card! Have a wonderful vacation and I look forward to being back with the children in the new year.



Happy Chanukkah to you all on this the last night of the holiday. Today in first grade we learned the Hebrew letter vet. Vet looks exactly like the letter bet except it is missing a dot and consequently has the sound of the English letter v rather than the sound of the English letter b. The children are doing a fabulous job overall remembering the letters that we have learned so far this year.

We had tefilah this morning with kindergarten and second grade as usual. However we were missing Cantor Ken, as he was busy at minyan. We discovered together that many of the children have been lighting their very own Chanukkiot this holiday and a number of them use Chanukkiot that they themselves made. We also discovered that most of the children have the shema hidden in their houses somewhere. Ask your child if he/she remembers where the shema is tucked away in your house.

The children finished up work on their Chanukkah fun packets and decorated dreidels with Chanukkah stickers. Please ask your child to show you the lovely tissue paper, “stained glass” dreidels that we made last week. We watched a somewhat silly but also informative video on the history of Chanukkah. You can catch it here if you want to watch it with your child: Please note that the video we watched is entitled: God Cast Spins Chanukah and can be found partway down this link.

We had great fun at the Chanukah party with the rest of the school this morning. We sang the Chanukkah blessings and many Chanukkah songs with Cantor Ken and the rest of the school. The children played with the dreidels at our table and pretty much everyone had their fill of yummy latkes, apple sauce and apple cider. Many, many thanks to the brotherhood for preparing and serving this delicious feast.

Back in the classroom, we finished our morning with two wonderful Chanukakh books: Nathan Blows out the Hanukkah Candles and The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes.

Next week we will resume our torah stories with more about Jacob and Esau and will learn the Hebrew letter Dalet.  Have a great week! 



Hi All and Happy Chanukkah!

First grade students reviewed the Chanukkah blessings and sang Chanukkah songs today with the cantor. From Nitzan, we  learned a bit about how Chanukkah is celebrated in Israel.  The children especially enjoyed playing a charades game with Nitzan acting out some of the symbols of Chanukkah. They learned that in Israel, Chanukkah is a time when we think about heroes. Each child shared a personal hero like a parent, sibling or grandparent and what makes that person heroic. We made “stained glass” dreidel pictures which are currently drying in the classroom and worked on Chanukkah fun packets. The children listened to one of my favorite Chanukkah stories, the Chanukkah Guest. Ask your children if they can tell you the Chanukkah trivia question they learned today during tefillah. We all are looking forward to continuing to celebrate Chanukkah next Sunday with latkes and other treats.

In Hebrew today, the children learned a new Hebrew letter, chaf. Chaf is tricky because it looks exactly like kaf but is missing a dot. The mnemonic for chaf is that it has a cough (in contrast to kaf which has a cough drop). Another challenging thing about chaf is that it makes a sound that we do not have in English. Overall, the children are remembering the letters we have learned beautifully. Since we meet only once a week, I do not really expect them to learn to read this year but I do hope that they will become familiar with most if not all of the letters and be able to name at least many of them.

In our torah lesson this week, we acted out the story of Eliezer meeting Rebecca at the well. The children also learned of the birth of Jacob and Eisav and how Eisav traded his birthright to Jacob for a pot of stew. To be continued…
Best wishes for a delightful Chanukkah!


Hi All,
Our new Hebrew today was the letter resh which has a round back and makes the sound “r.” The letter resh begins the Hebrew expression “Refuah she’laymah” which one says when wishing someone a speedy recovery from illness. In class today we began to learn a bit about the mitzvah of bikkur cholim, visiting the sick. The rabbis tell the story that God demonstrated this mitzvah by visiting Abraham when he was not well. Today the children made get well cards to be kept at TI. These will be sent out to students and faculty at the school who are sick during the year. In our study of Torah today, we reviewed the story of Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, who goes to find a wife for Isaac. He determines that Rebecca is the right person to marry Isaac after she not only offers to give him water but offers to give water to all 10 of his camels. The children concluded that Rebecca’s offer to draw water for all of Eliezer’s camels showed that she was a kind person who was good at sharing. KItah aleph students enjoyed our weekly game of Simon Says in Hebrew. We have now learned the Hebrew words for eyes, ears, nose, mouth, head, shoulders, stomach, knees and feet. Ask your child which ones he/she can tell you. We also played a game with the Hebrew names of the colors. The children practiced the blessings on the Chanukkah candles during tefillah with Cantor Ken and then again at the end of our class. It is hard to believe but the next time we meet will be on Sunday December 2nd. Chanukkah will begin that evening. We finished our morning with the book: Potato Pancakes All Around by Marilyn Hirsh.  Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. 


Hi All,
Happy Veteran’s Day weekend. We began our morning we the story of Abraham “arguing” with God about God’s plan to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The children listened to the story and we discussed how brave Abraham was to question God’s plan. Abraham challenged God not to destroy two whole cities given the possibility that there were some good/innocent people living in those cities as well as the “wicked” people. We talked about Abraham as an upstander like other upstanders the children know about (Dr. Martin Luther King and Ruby Bridges were two upstanders mentioned today). We will talk about more upstanders, both within and outside of the torah, as we continue our studies this year.
Kitah Aleph students had the opportunity to meet and hear from three members of Temple Israel who are veterans. One of these veterans is the grandfather of one of our own Kitah Aleph students. We ended our Veteran’s Day assembly with the singing of Oseh Shalom and our wish for peace.
In Hebrew, the children reviewed the letters we have done so far and learned a new letter, the letter Hey. At this point, even knowing only 6 letters and a couple vowels, the children were able to read a few very short Hebrew words.
Nitzan spent time with us as usual today. Nitzan’s lesson focused on different places in Israel. The children played a matching game with pictures of some different places. Ask your child how to say mountain in Hebrew and to tell you the name of the mountain near where Nitzan lives in Israel. Hint: it sounds a bit like something you put on a hot fudge sundae and starts with the letter c.
Believe it or not, we have only one more Sunday of Kitah Aleph before we start Chanukkah. We did a very quick review of the story of Chanukkah by watching a video:
We talked about the fact that the Chanukkah miracle was not only partly related to the fact that the small jar of oil that was meant to be enough for only one day actually lasted for eight days. The other miraculous part of the Chanukkah story was that the small army of Jews was able to defeat the mighty Assyrian forces. As part of our preparation for Chanukkah, we practiced the candle blessings and heard The Magic Dreidels by Eric Kimmel. Next week, we will continue to practice the candle blessings and learn more about Chanukkah.
Have a wonderful week.
Best, Joanne


Hi All,
This morning in Kitah Aleph, the children learned a new Hebrew letter, the letter kaf which makes a sound like the English letter K. As we do every week, we reviewed the other letters we have learned so far this year and the children practiced sounding out individual letters and the two vowels we know. We also have been working on singing the Debbie Friedman Aleph Bet song to help facilitate the children’s recognition of all of the Hebrew letters. Ask your child to sing the song for you.
For a little reminder here is a link to Debbie Friedman singing the song:
Please note that I do not do the English parts of the song with the children but rather we sing only the part that pertains directly to the Aleph Bet itself.
We reviewed the story of Abraham and Sarah welcoming the strangers to their tent and the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim today as well. We watched a fun video about this mitzvah and the children read a booklet and did some fun pages as well. Here is a link to the video on the site called Bimbam which has many videos about torah stories and mitzvot:
In other news from Kitah Aleph, we played Shimon Omer, Simons Says in Hebrew, as we continue to learn the parts of the body in Hebrew. The children also played a game with Nitzan similar to Duck, Duck Goose but using the word Arnevet (bunny) and the Hebrew colors. The children played a second game to work on learning the colors in Hebrew as well. We will be continuing to play both Shimon Omer and the color game in the coming weeks to reinforce and expand the children’s knowledge of these Hebrew words.
It is hard to believe but later this week, we will begin the new Hebrew month of Kislev which is the month in which Chanukkah falls. In tefillot this morning, Cantor Ken started reviewing the blessings for the Chanukkah candles. We will be going over these blessings as we go forward and get closer to the holiday.
Best wishes for a peaceful week ahead,


Hi All,
Today in Kitah Aleph we reviewed the Hebrew letters bet, tav, mem and shin and learned a new letter, lamed. The children all took turns reading and did a wonderful job pairing the letters with the two vowels we have learned (the kamatz and the patach which both make the sound “ah”). Each letter has a mnemonic device to help the children remember the letter and the sound it makes. The mnemonic for lamed is that lamed has a lap. We had a fun visit from Nitzan who taught the children three slang expressions in Hebrew: yalla (which means “let’s go”); sabbaba (which roughly translates as “cool” or “it’s good”) and achla (which means “good”). In tefillah, we practiced the sign language for the shema. Ask your child to show you how to sign the words of the shema. We also sang a fun song about Noah and his ark. Back in our classroom, the children acted out Lech Lecha, the parsha in which  God tells Abraham and Sarah to leave their home and go to the land of Israel. The children talked about moves that they have made and what it felt like to have to move to a new house or town. The children also acted out the story of the visit by the three angels to Abraham and Sarah. We talked about the mitzvah of Hachnassat Orchim, or welcoming guests, that the rabbis say we learned from how Abraham and Sarah welcomed these three strangers to their tent. The children shared what they do to make guests feel welcome at home. We learned the Hebrew term for welcome: bruchim ha’baim and made signs with those words. We also reviewed what we learned about Shabbat last week and finished reading the book: Mrs. Moskowitz and the Shabbat Candles, one of my personal favorite books about Shabbat. Next week we will go on to learn the letter kaf and continue the story of Abraham and Sarah.
Have a wonderful week! 


This week in Kitah Aleph we learned a new Hebrew letter, מ  (Mem), and our first vowels. Ask your student where the vowels go! We also discovered that using our new vowels we can now read the word שבת (Shabbat) in Hebrew. We decided that was great timing since we started learning about Shabbat this week. We talked about when Shabbat starts and ends and what special things we do for Shabbat, like lighting candles and eating challah. We talked about how some people won’t ride in cars or spend money on Shabbat. For our Torah study, we reviewed creation then went on to learn about Noah and how he saved two of every animal and even saved seeds to plant when the Earth dried out after the flood. We even read a silly story about Noah’s Bark! Cantor Ken wasn’t there to lead us in Tefillah, but we sang our prayers without him and did a great job. We missed getting to visit with our Shinshin, Nitzan, as she was travelling back from Israel, but are looking forward to getting to spend time with her next week.


Hi All,

It was wonderful to be back with the children today at Temple Israel. We reviewed the Hebrew letter bet and learned two new letters: tav and shin. Ask your children to tell the sounds that the two letters make. Today we also reviewed the story of creation from the book of Bereshit. We read a beautifully illustrated book titled Genesis which uses word directly from the Torah and illustrations by Ed Young. We sang  a Hebrew song about creation and also did a creation chant/rap (see the words below). The children then each chose a day of creation to illustrate. When you have a moment, please come into our classroom to check out our days of creation wall. As usual, the children had tefillah in the sanctuary with Cantor Ken. We took a few extra minutes with the Cantor to look at the beautiful torahs in their covers and to learn about more about a number of items in and around the ark including the eternal light, the torah pointers and crowns. The children had some great questions for Cantor Ken. Finally we played Simon Says in Hebrew and read Once Upon A Shabbos as an introduction to next week’s lesson about Shabbat. Our shinshin, Nitzan was away this week but will be back with us next Sunday.  Have a wonderful week! Joanne

Here is the creation chant/rap we learned:

Once upon a time it was right in the start
God said I’m gonna make light and dark

God said, (do two quick claps here) it’s the ____________ (fill in with first, second, third etc) day
And I did very good work today

Once upon a time
It was day number 2
The waters they parted, the heavens came through

Once upon a time
It was day number 3
The land appeared all covered with trees

Once upon a time
It was day number 4
The sun and the moon and the stars galore
Once upon a time
It was day number 5
The fish in the seas and the birds in the skies

Once upon a time
It was day number 6
The people and the animals were here to mix
Once upon a time
It was day number 7
God said:  I finished the earth and the heavens
God said: sh…sh…it’s the 7th day and I’m gonna rest all day today (2Xs)


Hi All,

We had a very busy morning today in Kitah Aleph. We joined the rest of the religious school and other members of the TI community in the sukkah this morning for hallel. Then after learning a bit about the holiday of hoshana rabba, each child was given a willow branch and allowed to beat it on the ground. We listened to the sound of the beating of the willows, which sounds a bit like the rain we begin to pray for starting tomorrow on Shemini Atzeret.  Back in class, we met our shinshin, Nitzan, who played a number of “getting to know you” games with the children. The children learned three new Hebrew words (mishpacha-family; rikud-dance and machzor-cycle/the siddur we use on the high holidays).  The children had snack and heard the book, The Sukkah on the Roof. We began our study of the Hebrew alphabet today with the letter Bet and the children did the first pages in their Hebrew workbooks. Finally, we had a chance to sing with Cantor Ken in preparation for Simchat Torah. The cantor taught the children how to sing the beginning of the first hoshana for erev Simchat Torah (Monday evening services).

A couple of reminders: There is no school next Sunday October 7th as it is Columbus Day weekend. I look forward to seeing your children on the 14th when we will learn another letter of the aleph-bet and begin to review Torah stories from the beginning of the book of Genesis. We do have a couple of children with food allergies in our class so please be extra careful that whatever your child brings for snack is free of nuts and nut residue!

Chag Sameah,