May 26, 2024 |

Notes from Robin

Posted on September 10, 2020

August 27, 2021/Elul 5781

Dear Parents:

I hope you and your children had a wonderful and safe summer. We are preparing for another busy year of learning and celebrating at Temple Israel— IN PERSON! The teachers and I are thrilled that we will be back together again in real space and real-time!

We are so happy this year to welcome six new families to the religious school. Welcome to the Fox, Johnston, Levy, Parag, Tevet, and Zenlea families! We look forward to getting to know you and celebrating with you throughout the year.

I am also excited to welcome two new teachers, Catie Jacobs and Marin Moore, a new song leader, Zoe Halperin, and a new Madrichim Program Coordinator, Melanie Lieberman. All of our teachers’ bios are on our website. What a great crew!

Finally, we welcome Temple Israel’s Senior Transitional Rabbi, David Klatzker! Rabbi Klatzker is eager to meet our students, introduce new family and parenting programs, and spend time with our 7th graders each week.

This letter outlines essential information for you and your family. As you carefully review this information, please know that safety is always our number one priority. We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, staff, and the community. Since safety comes first, the guidelines and expectations, listed in the first part of this letter may change. But, however that might be, our plans and programs, described in the second part of this letter, will continue to be shaped to inspire and excite your children. In particular, based on our success last year, we have redesigned our schedule with teachers teaching by subject area and students having multiple teachers. We are confident in this new format and look forward to using it to create the best possible learning environment for your children.

  1. COVID (safety, protections, and expectations)
  • The entire faculty and our teen madrichim are fully vaccinated.
  • TI requires that everyone eligible for vaccination be vaccinated to attend any program at TI. To attend religious school, all students who are 12 years and older must be vaccinated.
  • If your child isn’t feeling well, please keep them home.
  • Masking. Everyone is required to wear a mask (covering their mouth and nose) indoors. Students should bring two extra masks with them each day. (If outdoor masking is required, we will let you know.)
  • Outdoor Classrooms. Temple Israel has purchased multiple tents, and, weather permitting, most classes will meet outdoors. Students should dress for the weather!
  • Indoor Classrooms. On Sunday mornings, other than the congregational morning minyan that meets in the sanctuary, no Temple functions, events, or meetings, will be scheduled indoors during Religious School hours. This means that, as needed, we can easily socially distance our students in spaces throughout the building. During the week, our Early Learning Center students will be downstairs. RS students will not be in contact with those other students.
  • Food. Except for specially planned programs, food will not be served to students, and no food may be eaten indoors. Students should bring a kosher/nut-free snack each day and a water bottle. All classes will eat their snack outside. The water fountain at TI is not in use. Note: We know that apples and honey, latkes, gelt, hamentashen, and so much more are important and delicious ways we celebrate our holidays. The COVID task force and I will work together before each holiday to determine if and how we can safely serve Jewish holiday foods.
  • Air filtration: Every classroom has a portable HEPA air filtration system and windows or doors that open outside.
  • Disinfection and sanitizing – Our maintenance team’s regular cleaning routine complies with COVID cleaning protocols.
  • Hygiene: Handwashing stations and hand sanitizer will be available both indoors and outdoors.
  • Drop-Off and Pick-Up: Parents will not be able to enter the building. Students should be dropped off by the courtyard. Pick-Up will take place in the courtyard. Parents should park and meet their children in the courtyard at noon on Sundays and 6 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  1. Programmatic Things To Know
  • When we reopen on September 19, it will have been over 18 months since our religious school met in person. Our teachers’ lessons will focus on (re)connecting and (re)orienting everyone. Their lessons will incorporate social-emotional learning skills into the content they are teaching. Our goal is for everyone to feel a sense of belonging and connection with the community.
  • The religious school calendar is on the religious school website, and it is kept up to date. You can also find flyers for upcoming events in the calendar section of the website. I hope to see you at the S’mores event next Monday night. Please RSVP here.
  • Based on the success of small group Hebrew and our teachers teaching by subject area last year, we have redesigned our program and are piloting subject area teaching. Each teacher will teach content areas that match their passions. As they did last year, students in grades 2-7 will have multiple teachers. A chart outlining the schedule for each grade will be emailed soon.
  • Our madrichim—student guides—program continues to evolve. For the past six years, we have trained high-school students to support teachers and students in the classroom by developing and implementing lessons and by responding to students’ unique learning styles. This year we are investing in our 11th- and 12th-grade madrichim and will pay them to be teacher aides. Giving our oldest teenagers added responsibility in our community is a win for everyone!
  • Since we plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, we’ve hired a teva (nature) specialist to teach a Jewish outdoor education course with grades 2-5. We hope to introduce teva in the other grades as well.

I can’t wait to get started!. As we enter a new normal, we are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and healthy. As always, as the year gets underway, we will tweak, adjust, and pivot if we have to. If something isn’t working for your child or family, please be in touch immediately. Your feedback and ideas are important to us and are always welcome. 



P.S.  Don’t forget these important things:

  1. Monday, August 30 – S’more and Backyard GamesRSVP Here.  
  2. Register for outdoor high holiday services and youth programs and our outdoor family service. By registering in advance, you are helping us plan enough space to accommodate everyone safely. (Register Here)
  3. Remember that each day of religious school, your child should bring the following: 2 masks, a water bottle clearly marked with their name, and a kosher snack that is dairy or parve (no nuts and no meat).














Sunday, October 25, 2020

Dear Religious School Families:


Thank you for your outpouring of support and positive feedback as the year has gotten underway.  I feel blessed to work with such a supportive community, fantastic faculty members, and terrific kids!

Remaining Remote

I am writing today to inform you that the Education Committee and I have decided that religious school needs to remain remote through at least winter break.  We are successfully engaging students remotely, and a shift to in-person RS would entail risks that we are not comfortable taking on. Please note that a hybrid model is not realistic given the technology, space, budget, cleaning, and training required.

We are conscious that our area’s COVID cases are rising, and other local RS and supplemental programs remain remote. A number of programs that offered in-person options are now fully remote, and they face staffing shortages as teachers have been exposed to the virus or are home with sick children.

We further recognize that we will bring together students from multiple school districts and cohorts if we return to in-person religious school.  We believe it is important that we play our role in not increasing the risk that our students, and by extension their secular schools, will be affected by COVID.

A Desire to Connect In-Person – Let’s Dance!

While our learning will remain remote, we are committed to some outdoor in-person options co-sponsored with the Youth Department.  The first program will be a socially distanced dance party on Sunday afternoon, November 8, in the TI parking lot.  Click here for the flyerClick here for the waiver.

Community members will be on hand to assure social distancing, and students will be spaced with at least one parking space between them.  This will be a drop-off event; parents may not remain on-site.  No food will be served, and everyone must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth for the event’s duration.  Participants should bring a water bottle.

We look forward to dancing with you!

Providing Feedback

As we move into November and December, your feedback will be crucial to our continual improvement.  Please take a few minutes to complete this survey with your child.  Please complete the survey for each of your children.  And of course, you are always welcome to reach out to any of us.

Livriut U’lshalom, (for health and with peace)

Robin Kahn, Director of Education and Teen Engagement

Michelle Wilen, Education Committee Chair (

Rebecca Katsh-Singer, Education VP (




Dear Religious School Families:

What a unique first week!  Thank you for your patience and encouragement as we rolled out our online program.  We ironed out a few wrinkles, and we are all getting used to this new way of teaching and learning.  Personally, I enjoyed seeing our kids’ faces on the screen, hearing about their summers, and listening to our classrooms come alive with Jewish content.


This Shabbat tefillah begins (9:15-9:45).  Rachel and Anna, our song leaders, can’t wait to sing and daven with you.  Their energy is contagious!  Start your weekend with Shabbat tunes and your TI community.  The links for these services are on the Shabbat tab in your Zoom links spreadsheet.


  • If you missed this week because life is crazy, we’ll see you on Shabbat.
  • If you had trouble with links, the spreadsheet, or anything else, please call 617-823-1312, and I can walk you through it.
  • If you have not already done so, please bookmark the spreadsheet, so it’s easily accessible anytime you need a link.


A loud and resounding shoutout to our teachers, aides, and madrichim.  I appreciate their inspiring lessons, providing tech support, and endless smiles.  Thank you!

I also want to thank the TI Board and Education Committee for their continuous support in ensuring that our online program is of the highest quality! Thank you!

OVER THE NEW FEW WEEKS, our focus’ will be reconnecting with each other, getting used to online classes’ norms, and of course, Rosh HaShanah Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah.


  • Saturday Night, October 10: Family Improv with the Bible Players
  • Sunday, October 25: Apples & Honey Olympics with Ramah Sports Academy (better late than never!)
  • Sundays, November 8, 15, & December 13 & 20: We’re traveling to Israel (virtually) for a one of a kind experiential tour.

Shabbat Shalom,


RS Registration for 2020-2021 is now live: Click here

Robin Kahn

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Director of Education and Teen Engagement

Temple Israel of Natick

cell: 617.823.1312

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