June 19, 2024 |

Grades 4 and 5 (2020-2021)

Posted on September 6, 2020

Update from Tali (April 16, 2021)
Dear Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,
It’s hard to believe we’re approaching April vacation (welcoming us with snow in true New England style) and only have a few classes left for this school year. Despite the uniqueness of this year, time has flown by and we have accomplished a lot!
I’m very proud of our fourth and fifth graders. They have learned so much while keeping a positive attitude.  We have recently focused on resilience and community in Jewish American History while also reflecting on how important resilience and community are in our personal lives today.
Through books, videos, personal stories, games, a virtual field trip, and art, students have not only learned about JAH, but also themselves. Working with your children has been a very rewarding experience.
Earlier today, you should have received an email from Robin about the date change (May 2) for the Family Museum. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Please find our class slideshow attached. Students are welcome to review it before our game day on May 8.
Shabbat Shalom and enjoy the break,
Update from Cheryl (April 13, 2021)

Dear Fourth and Fifth Grade Families:

Last Sunday in Religious School we talked about Yom HaShoah. We looked at a picture of an art installation in the Jewish Museum in Berlin by an Israeli Artst. We also learned about “Righteous Genitles” or “upstanders.”  Our art project was a reclaiming of the Jewish Star by decorating our own stars with things that make us happy or proud to be Jewish. Your students had some wonderful thoughts and insights to share.

Ask your child about the art installation – both what it looks like and what it sounds like!

A good week and happy school break to all! I will see your students on Sunday, May 2 when we will once again back up a little to discuss Yom Ha’atzma’ut – Israel Independence Day.

Cheryl Gelfand

Update from Margie (March 26, 2021)
Shalom Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,
I can’t believe that it is almost Passover!  To put us in the mood of celebrating the holiday saw how some people prepare and celebrate the holiday in Israel.  We saw communal chametz  burning before the holiday and
 Passover Seders celebrated in different places in Israel such as private homes, army bases and kibbutzim.  I wonder who remembers what is different about grocery shopping during Passover in Israel than shopping here?
We also saw a video about recent archeological discoveries in the Judaean Desert, including fragments of scrolls from the books of prophets written in Greek, except for God’s name which was written in Hebrew.  The artifacts were located in a cave which could only be accessed by the archeologists repelling down a cliff, reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark!  https://www.timesofisrael.com/bible-scroll-fragments-among-dazzling-artifacts-found-in-dead-sea-cave-of-horror/?jwsource=cl
Next week we will continue in the pamphlet about kindness, making connections to both Passover and Israel. Wishing you all a very Happy Passover, 

Update from Margie (Sunday, March 14, 2021)

Shalom Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

I hope that your children enjoyed our “travels” through the Old City of Jerusalem over the last weeks as much as I did.
We climbed the walls of the city and enjoyed the views both into the Old City and to the surrounding areas.  We visited all four quarters of the Old City, seeing important historic and religious sites in each quarter.  I think that we were all impressed by the architecture and ornamentation of the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque as well as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
We spent time at the Kotel (Western Wall), learned about its history, how it functions today as a prayer space under the control of the Ministry of Religion with separate places of worship for men and women, and saw military ceremonies in the Kotel Plaza.
We saw Robinson’s Arch where egalitarian prayer services are conducted, one student even commented that she had a relative who celebrated a Bat Mitzvah there.
In the Jewish Quarter, we saw a road from Roman times and noticed how much lower it is than the parallel modern road. (I wonder who remembers why?)
We noticed the differences in the signs, clothing, shopping , architecture, and “feel” of each quarter.  We also noticed a lot of similarities in the architecture, of people enjoying coffee and meals together, walking in the streets, and being with friends.  We all agreed that it would be an exciting place to visit.
This week we will begin the last of our The Hero In Me brochure, reading about kindness.  Please help your child come to class ready to learn with this brochure.

Update from Tali (February 28, 2021)

Dear Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,
We will finish reading Journey to Ellis Island next week and play a Kahoot game that will have questions about the story.  If anyone has missed a chapter, links to the chapters are below.
Students can continue to email their resilience pictures so I can add them to our slide show. For examples, please view slides 9 – 18 of our class slideshow that is attached to this email.
Have a great week!



Chapter 2:


Update from Margie – Friday, January 22, 2020

Shalom Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

This week in class we tackled the topic of what is fairness using a packet from The Hero in Me Series.  We learned a bit about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and her love of the phrase Justice, justice you shall pursue  (from the Book of Deuteronomy). I discovered that we have many RBG fans in the Fourth and Fifth grades!  We learned about the prophet Isaiah who challenged the Israelites to practice fairness and kindness rather than just making a show of celebrating Holy Days.
At the end of class I asked each child to have a conversation with an adult in their life; a parent, grandparent, or someone else and discuss the questions found on the back of the pamphlet.
-Tell me about a time in your life when you saw unfairness.
-What made it challenging to speak up or act in that situation?
-Please describe what you chose to do.  How do you feel today about your choice?
I’m looking forward to hearing about some of the conversations the children have.
Shabbat Shalom,


Update from Tali – American Jewish History (January 22, 2020)

Dear Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

I’m very excited for our “field trip” this Sunday! Students will be able to add to their knowledge of Jewish American Immigration.
Please feel welcome to join. It might be nice for your child to teach you about what they’ve learned in class in order to “prepare” you for the trip.
Students recently listened to a story, Gittel’s Journey, about a nine year old girl’s journey to America. Because of her age, students were able to think about what it must have felt like for Gittel to travel to a new place/culture/language alone.
If you’d like to listen, this is the link: https://youtu.be/dvBXmxJyYbA
Students also added on to our slide show by working in small groups to discuss the similarities between what we’ve learned from the text book, watching An American Tail, and listening to Gittel’s Journey. They’re making great connections and learning a lot in short periods of time!
Please feel welcome to review the slide show (attached) that we will continue to develop through the remainder of the school year.


Holiday Update from Cheryl – Thursday, January 21, 2021

Dear fourth and fifth grade families:

Last Sunday in Religious School we backed up and talked about Simchat Torah since we missed the chance to talk about it in the Fall. Our discussion centered on circles as both the theme for the holiday and in their larger context as a symbol of completeness.  Circles for Simchat Torah include dancing and the cycle of reading the Torah, which ends and begins again on Simchat Torah.  We looked at a sculpture of children dancing  that is actually installed at Brown University and looks like it was made out of aluminum foil!  Next Sunday be taking a virtual tour of the Tenement Museum in New York. We will then begin talking about Tu B’Shevat and celebrating trees (and other living things).

Ask your child about the hidden message when we end the Torah reading and begin again!

A good week to all!

Cheryl Gelfand


Israel Update from Margie – Friday, January 15, 2021

Shalom Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

This past week in class we hosted Rabbi Liben as a special guest. It was great to be able to catch up with him and to hear about his recent trips to Israel.  Each class had a very different conversation with Rabbi Liben reflecting the students interests in each group.
Some of the topics included:
The differences between different cities and neighborhoods in Israel as well as the different levels of religious observance among Israeli Jews.
Different types of schools in the country.
What it’s like to be an Conservative American Rabbi in Israel.
How the army functions during the pandemic.
The uniqueness of Jerusalem.
Some of the big “God questions”.
This coming week, in honor of MLK day and in remembrance of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, we will be looking at our pamphlet about Fairness.
Shabbat Shalom,


Israel Update – January 8, 2021 (Margie)

Shalom Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

This past week we finished our tour of New Jerusalem.  We began the tour in December when Ayal took us to Machane Yehuda (the open air market place-the shuk) before we all made Hummus together.  The following week we returned to Machane Yehuda and saw the amazing murals which have been painted on the metal grates in front of the store fronts.  These murals depict both historical and contemporary figures from all walks of life and add a lot of life to the Shuk, especially at night when the shops are closed.  You can check out some of the images at this link. https://www.timesofisrael.com/young-artist-turns-jerusalems-market-into-gallery-of-famous-faces/
This week we saw a couple of photos of Yad V’Shem (the Holocouat Memorial) and talked about its significance. We also saw the Ultra Orthodox neighborhood of. Meah Sharim discussed that different families choose to live in different ways as Jews. We also saw one of my favorite places in Jerusalem; “haMIfletzet”, the Monster. Have any of you had the opportunity to slide down?
This coming week Rabbi  Liben will be joining us. He has recently returned from Israel and perhaps he will share some of his recent experiences and impressions.  The week after that we will be taking a brief pause from. our Israel studies and looking at pamphlet The Hero in Me-Fairness.
Shabbat Shalom,


Israel Update – December 20, 2020 (Margie)

Shalom Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

This past week we had a great tour of public displays of Hanukiyot (Hanukkah Menorahs) in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  We saw huge ones lit at the Kotel and on the top of a Yeshivah in the Old City.  We learned that there are even special alcoves built into the front of many old buildings to make it easier to display the lights outside.  We saw them in the squares where people (usually) gather after dark and even neon ones on lamp posts lining the streets.  In Tel Aviv we saw less traditional displays, the City Hall’s windows lit up like a hanukiah, the sides of a famous trio of buildings displaying a hanukiah and holiday greetings, neon candles in the Port, and huge dreidels in Yaffo. Even the Electric Company had it’s trucks lit up and in line like eight candles!    We also lit a virtual hanukiyah together and watched the candles burn down as we talked about how we were celebrating the holiday. As a follow up to last Sunday’s virtual tour to Israel we visited the artist’s village of Ein Hod, just south of Haifa, and saw some of the amazing sculptures which fill the streets of the village.

Israel Update – December 13, 2020 (Margie)

Shalom Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

Last week in class we continued exploring the North of Israel, beginning in Haifa and going up the coast to Akko and Rosh HaNikra and then looking at the Druze villages on the top of the Carmel Mountain.  Learning about Akko we spoke briefly about the Crusaders coming from Europe to the Holy Land (Modern Israel) and establishing a presence in Akko.  We were impressed by the buildings they erected without the help of modern machinery.  On the Carmel we saw pictures of the Druze villages and discussed that this community is a small group that is an offshoot of Islam, and lives in Northern Israel and Souther Lebanon and Syria. The Israeli Druze community serve in the Israeli Defence Forces. We also saw some of their shops and of course the food they are so well known for among Israelis who love to visit.  We read about an Israeli Arab child and his love of his culture and football (soccer). He also talked about living in a democracy and that his parents are able to openly disagree with the Israeli government.
Happy Hanukkah,

Holidays Update – December 13, 2020 (Cheryl)

Dear fourth and fifth grade families:

Today in Religious School the group that was with me did the last part of our of Chanukah study, with a big idea of publicizing Chanukah to the world. We talked about why we would want to advertise it to the world and about times and places in history when such a public statement of our religion would have been dangerous. We looked at a Tiffany window and talked about stained glass windows (I showed them the Notre Dame stained glass window and the Chagal windows on Hadassah Hospital in Israel). The students designed their own stained glass windows to show the world about the celebration of Chanukah.

Next week the group with me will do the same Chanukah study this week’s group study. Our trip to Israel with Ayal will include making Hummus, so please make sure that you have picked up your white bag of supplies from the synagogue.

Ask your child about their stained glass windows!

A good week to all!

Cheryl Gelfand


December 6, 2020 -Update from Cheryl (Holidays)

Dear fourth and fifth grade families:

Last Sunday in Religious School we illustrated the story of Chanukah. We talked about the fact that the menorah the Maccabees lit had seven branches, not nine like a Chanukah menorah. We learned about the various ways the Greeks defiled the Temple and made it unclean. And we talked about the meaning of the word “Chanukah” as dedication and the fact that Judah Maccabee and his men rededicated the Temple to Judaism.

Next Sunday we will continue with both our Israel tour and our Chanukah discussion, this time looking at the idea of Chanukah as a public celebration. For our art we will be designing Chanukah “windows,” as a way to publicize the festival of Chanukah.

Ask your child how long ago the story of Chanukah happened!

A good week to all!

Cheryl Gelfand

December 4, 2020 (Update from Margie – Israel)

Shalom Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

We began our day with a tantalizing seasonal gastronomic tour through Israel-sufganiyot (donuts) of every kind!  Some of us had favorites, some of us had a hard time choosing, or wanted to taste them all!  I wonder what your family’s favorites would be.
We continued our journey through Israel leaving the Dead Sea Region heading north to Haifa.  “On the bus” we discussed the complicated issue of a country which is both Jewish and a Democracy, and what that means for non-Jewish citizens.  We learned that every citizen is guaranteed equal rights and that there are Arab political parties,  government ministers and even Supreme Court judges. We also discussed that there is disproportionate poverty and lack of education and services in the Arab population.
We read that Haifa is considered an “Island of Tolerance” with many different religious and ethnic groups living peacefully. We learned that Haifa and Boston are sister cities and that the cities share many similarities.  Ask your child what some of the similarities are.
Shabbat Shalom,

November 29, 2020 (Update from Cheryl – Holidays)

Dear fourth and fifth-grade families:

Last Sunday in Religious School we began our discussion of Chanukah, with a big idea of bringing more light into the world. We talked about what that means – not just lighting a candle or flipping a switch. We looked at a piece of art from a modern Israeli artist. And we talked about the story of Chanukah and the miracles we are celebrating. Next Sunday we will continue with both our Israel tour and our Chanukah discussion, this time looking at the idea of Chanukah as a public celebration. For our art we will be making Chanukah “windows.”

Ask your child about one way of bringing light into the world – songs with the word “light” or “candle” or “darkness” or “shadow.” See what songs they came up with!

A good week to all!

Cheryl Gelfand


November 29, 2020 (Update from Tali – American Jewish History)

Dear Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

I hope you’ve enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!
It has been a pleasure to continue learning with the fifth graders and getting to know the fourth graders this year.  Our Sunday mornings have been something to look forward to each week!
I’m attaching slides that cover some of the material we have discussed this year. Most recently, students watched An American Tail and jotted down some notes comparing the movie to what they’ve learned in class.
   Jewish American History  🇺🇸🇮🇱
Be well,

November 22, 2020 (Update from Margie – Israel and Values)

Shalom Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

In class, we have spent the last two weeks exploring the Dead Sea and the surrounding area. We learned that it has very unique physical characteristics that have historically made it a difficult area for people to live. We saw that today it is a vibrant tourist area, full of beautiful hotels and health spas with mud baths. We also” visited” the nearby oasis of Ein Gedi, saw some of the wildlife and ancient mosaic floor from a synagogue that was discovered there.  We devoted much of our time to learning about archeology and the history of the area, reading about the Dead Sea Scrolls and Masada.  We had a very lively discussion about the decision that the leaders of Masada made not to allow the people living on the mountain top to be captured by the Roman soldiers. It was a very thought-provoking discussion, with no right or wrong answer and no real consensus among the students.  We did all agree that we would never want to be in that kind of position.
Many of the students had the opportunity to make what they called a “mezoomzah”.  We took small 3 pieces of paper, wrote what we are thankful for on one, what we are looking forward to or praying for on the second, and our names on the third.  We then rolled them up separately to make tubes, attached them with a piece of tape, and wrote the letter Hebrew letter Shin on the bundled tubes.  These can be put where the students go online for learning and Shabbat singing to make their space a little more special.
I hope that you all have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving,

November 8, 2020 (Update from Margie – Israel and Values)

Shalom Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

I hope that everyone enjoyed the sounds of Israel yesterday with our virtual trip, I can’t wait to discover what sense we will be using next week in our travels.
In class last week we finished our unit on Tel Aviv by letting the students design their own day trip.  We quickly discovered that many of us would prefer to eat our way through the city, which is not such a bad idea!  We also had kids who wanted to discover the different sport opportunities, both as spectators and participants.
 We ended the class on a more somber note, discussing poverty in Israel and looking at some of the organizations which have been created to combat the problem.  They included Leket/Food Bank of Israel, Yad LaKashsish/Lifeline For the Old, JNF projects in the south of Israel, Latet/To Give and Yad Sarah. This week we will continue our class journey to the Dead Sea and the surrounding area.
 We will also be doing a short craft project in class this week.  Each student will need the following materials:
3 pieces of paper at least 4″x6″ (can be plain  or colored copier paper, wrapping paper, pictures from a magazine)
Scotch Tape,( can also have fancy colored tape if you have it in the house)
Thanks in advance for helping your kids be prepared,


October 30, 2020 (Israel Update from Margie)

Hi Fourth and Fifth Grade Families,

I hope that all of your kids had fun last Sunday with the Apple and Honey Olympics.  When I asked them what their favorite activity was the balloon games were a clear favorite.
In our studies about Israel we challenged ourselves with learning a bit about the Israeli Declaration of Independence.  We talked about the historic and religious connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, the return of a large number of Jews to land during the late Nineteenth Century and the  Twentieth Century.   We also learned that a significant number of Jews from the British Mandate in Palestine fought alongside the English in WWII.  We compared some of the ideas in the Israeli Declaration with the Declaration of Independence of the United States.  I wonder if you child remembers some of the big differences?
Next week we will finish learning about Tel Aviv, if any of you have photos or items from that city it would be great to get to see them.
Shabbat Shalom,

October 29, 2020 – From Cheryl

Dear fourth and fifth grade families:

This past Sunday in Religious School we began our discussion of Shabbat, including the two big ideas we will be focusing on: rest and holiness. I am looking forward to starting to work on the individual students’ understanding of what Shabbat means to them through the use of art. To that end, please ensure that your child has their supply box, including their Make, Create, Celebrate books, with them this coming Sunday.

Ask your child – is challah holy? You might be surprised at the answer!

A good week to all!

Cheryl Gelfand


October 9, 2020

Dear Forth and Fifth Grade Families,

I am having so much fun reconnecting with former students and getting to know students who joined our community after the Second Grade.
We  spent the month of September discussing two important values; curiosity and creativity.  We read about contemporary Jewish figures as well as historical Jewish figures who used these qualities to try to make the world a better place.  Please ask your kids in what ways they are curious about the world, how they channel their creativity and how they think they might impact their worlds in some way using these traits.  Some (big) examples are Steven Speilberg using his film making to create the Shoah Foundation and King David writing psalms to bring comfort to people.  We have all learned alot about each other during class.
In the coming weeks we will be beginning our first unit learning about Israel.  The students will need to come to Zoom prepared with the textbook.
Please check your emails from the school about some great upcoming programs including our annual ((and adapted) Apple Olympics, a Virtual Trip to Israel and holiday programming this weekend.  I am particularly looking forward to the Bible Players on Saturday night.
Happy Holidays and Shabbat Shalom,
Margie Matross


Dear 4th and 5th Grade Families:


We, Cheryl Gelfand, Tali Brauner-Pell, and Margie Matross, Marsha Horovitz, are writing to introduce ourselves as the 4th and 5th-grade teaching team.  

  • Cheryl, Margie, and Tali will be teaching Judiacs to both grades.
  • Marsha will teach all Grade 4 students in small group Hebrew.  
  • Cheryl, Margie, Elana, and Robin are teaching small group Hebrew to grade 5.


About Us


My name is Cheryl, and I’ll be teaching the fourth and fifth graders about Jewish holidays and rituals on Sunday mornings.  I have lived in Natick with my two sons for 15 years and have been a Temple Israel member since I moved here. I also work with students in Natick public schools. My goal is to make this a fun, interactive experience about you and your connection to the holidays and rituals we celebrate each year. I want to help you make these occasions your own so that they will be meaningful to you now and for years to come. 


My name is Tali, and I’m so excited to start the new school year with you! Temple Israel has been a part of my Jewish identity since I was born. I attended TI’s religious school, and I love the community.   I am now married, line in Framingham, and have five-year-old identical twins.  I am passionate about connecting with my students (YOU!) and combining learning with fun and humor. You can expect a combination of discussions, activities, debates, games, and read alouds this year.  This will be my fifth year teaching at Temple Israel and my third year focusing on Jewish American History, which I will be teaching Sundays. I find  American Jewish history and immigration fascinating, perhaps because my parents lived in Israel before I was born and, before that, lived in Hungary and Romania – maybe that’s why I love teaching this class so much!


I’m Margie Matross, and I have been a member of the Temple Israel community as a congregant, parent, and teacher.  I grew up in Newton and lived in Israel for ten years after college before moving to Natick. In the past years, once the students finish second grade, I have not had the opportunity to spend much time with them, so I am looking forward to teaching the class and learning from and with them. On Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, we will be focusing on Israel and Jewish Values.  We will take a more in-depth look into the State of Israel and the people who live there.  We make connections to the history of the Jewish people and the modern State of Israel, and we will look at some of the challenges facing Israel today, such as income disparity, environmental concerns, and coexistence.  In learning about Jewish Values, we will focus on different values such as courage and kindness, learn why in our tradition these concepts are considered important, and see how both historical and modern Jewish figures have embraced these values.  Most importantly, the students will reflect on what these values mean to them and how they can impact our daily lives and who we are.


I am Marsha, and will be the 4th grade Hebrew teacher. I am excited to return for my 4th year at Temple Israel of Natick. I have two adult children. Alexandra will be married on September 12th. David is married to Emily, and they recently welcomed baby Addie to our family.  I am looking forward to meeting all of you soon and beginning our Zoom classes. Please be ready a few minutes before our scheduled time. Please have paper, your binder, and a writing utensil at the start of each class.  All of these will be in the supply box you will pick up at TI late next week.


This year we will be supported by a talented group of aides and madrichim: Lisa Clover, Elianna Mentzer, Emma Freedlander, and Ari Klawans.


You can contact us at:

Margie: margie.matross@gmail.com

Tali: abrauner123@gmail.com

Cheryl: cbstrunsky@comcast.net 


Elana: eberelowitz@gmail.com

Robin Kahn: Robin.Kahn.TIN@gmail.com


We look forward to connecting with everyone as we begin the Jewish Year 5781.


Cheryl, Tali, Margie, Marsha, Cheryl, Elana, and Robin