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Posts tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality’

A Rich Torah Curriculum

Vegetation along the Nile. You can see the riv...

Image via Wikipedia

In Siddur Class, we continued learning the blessings for the Torah. Once we say the brachos for the Torah, we study some Torah right away – it’s right there in the siddur. In birkas kohanim we ask hashem to give us good things, and to protect them from anything bad happening to them. A person can give a gift but can;t make sure that the gift will last, but Hashem is the giver and the protecter, so Hashem can do this. We ask Hashem to show us a “shining face” be kind to us, and give us peace – shalom.

We continue to learn Torah by studying about mitzvos that don’t have a limit to how much we may do. We can leave large corners of our field for needy people to take whatever grows there. When we have the beis hamikdash, we can give a lot of fruits to the kohein. We may appear many times at the beis hamikdash on Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos, and every time is a mitzva. We can help many people every day, and each time it’s a mitzva. The more Torah we study, the more mitzvos we are doing, with every word. Thses are all mitzvos without a shiur – they are limitless – unlike the mitzvos of Sukkah or lighting Chanukah lights, which are limited in the number of days we may do them, or Shabbos, which we may observe only while the day lasts.

We drew examples of limitless mitzvos using the tools of the virtual classroom.

Book Club Class: In the story No Questions Asked, we discussed assumptions, and speculated about whether Aliza’s assumptions about how fantastic Gita’s mother is will turn out to be true.

I enjoyed subbing for Rabbi Resnick’s Parsha class. Beginning of Parshas Shemos with selected Rashis.

We studied the psychology of Pharoh’s personality. There are opinions that say that he was the sme man who was “not the same man” anymore, because he changed his attitude and his rules. He was also worried that the Children Of Israel, who were having six babies at once, would become so many and so strong that they would overpower the Egyptians and either leave Mitzrayim slaveless, or else chase out the Egyptians. Pharoh expressed concern that the Jews would leave, when his true concern was that he would be forced to leave.

A student brought up the issue that it might have been difficult for the Jews to take care of so many babies. We suggested that there were also so many older siblings to help out.

How did they come up with names for all the babies? one student wondered. We learned that at the time the Jews were slaves in Egypt, they actually invented many original and creative names that reflected the times they lived in and their trust in Hashem. Some names in the Torah are popular nowadays, and some are not commonly given. Students reflected on their Jewish names and those of their family members.

Kids asked insightful questions!

And I enjoyed subbing for Rabbi Resnick’s Halacha Class! Kitzur Shulchan Aruch – Siman Vav – Seifim Aleph Beis and Gimmel –

A Little Bit About Brachos

We learned that before we say a bracha, we have to know which bracha we are saying. The main part of the bracha is the first part, which mentions Hashem’s name, but when saying that we need to know how we will end off. Some foods can be challenging as far as knowing which bracha to say, because they are made of different ingredients. We should make sure we know which bracha is right! In Israel many foods actually have the correct bracha pinted on the packaging. One student in the US said that the snack Tiny Bits states its blessing on the packaging.

The only things that should be in the mouth when saying a bracha are the words praising G-d.

It is inappropriate to say Hashem’s name for no reason, in any language. It’s bad to curse a person using the name of G-d. One student said that some groups of Jews do it so maybe it’s allowed for them. We learned that although a student may know Jews who speak this way, all Jews need to try to speak in a refined manner.

Then I taught Parsha during Morah Miriam’s class. (Morah Miriam had a baby boy on Shabbos. MAZAL TOV!)

On Simchas Torah we started reading the Torah from the beginning, and last weel we completed all of the Book of Bereishis. This week we begin a new Book called Shemos. The parsha of the week is also called Shemos.

We – the Jews – our great great great great great etc. grandmothers and grandfathers were made slaves and had to work hard for the mean King Pharoh in Mitzrayim (Egypt). At first there were only 70 people from Yaakov’s family, but Hashem blessed the Jews and gave every mother six babies at one time! Pharoh was angry that the Jews were becoming so many, and wanted to kill them. He told the midwives (women who help mothers have babies) Shifra and Puah to kill the baby boys. But they didn’t listen. Hashem was so proud that Hashem made the people that came from them kohanim, leviim and Jewish kings.

Pharoh made a law that all Jewish baby boys had to be thrown into the Nile river. but Hashem made the water carry the babies to caves, and made milk and honey flow out of rocks for the babies to eat. Later the boys were able to go back to their families. Another way Hashem may have protected the babies was b making their mouths like the mouths of fish, so they were able to breathe under water.

Pharoh was told by people who read messages from the stars that a Jewish baby boy would be born, and when he grew up he would take the Jews out of Mitzrayim. A mother named Yocheved had a baby and hid him for three months. Then she placed him in a wooden box that she made waterproof, into the Nile river. She told his older sister Miriam to hide among the tall plants called reeds and watch to see what would happen to the baby. (We know that it was Moshe, and he would be fine, and really take the Jews out of Egypt when he grew up.)

Next  time we will see what happened to the baby.

Students drew a baby in a box in the river, and he was crying WAA!

In Book Club Class, we finished reading No Questions Asked. When Aliza finally realizes the truth about Gita’s amazing mother, she begins to appreciate her own. (Gita’s mother died.)

In the story we visit Gita’s pretty bedroom. The students drew their own rooms as we discussed the story.

A fast paced and very productive reading of the letters with vowels kamatz and patach occurred in Aleph Beis Class. Students did some drawing of letters on the board.

Fire Safety on Chanukah

Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanukiah.

Image via Wikipedia

We had a beis hamikdahs where we felt that Hashem was right here with us. But it went away. One reason is that the Jews forgot to keep in mind how special the Torah is and always say a bracha in the morning thanking Hashem for the Torah.

Hashem makes us special with mitzvos. One mitzvah is to study the Torah. We ask Hashem to make us all enjoy doing this. And we and our children and grandchildren should all study the Torah just because it’s the right thing to do and good to do.

Hashem chose us from all the nations (groups of people who live in different countries) and gave the Jews the Torah.

Hashem is called hamelamed – this means that Hashem is the greatest teacher in thw world! Hashem is also called nosein haTorah, the giver of the Torah.

Students used the tools of the virtual classroom to draw colorful open and closed Torah scrolls. Students also drew children lighting the menorah. The original menorah had seven brances and stood in the beis hamikdash. In Israel we call the one we light on Chanukah a chanukiah.

We began a story by Libby Lazewnik called No Questions Asked.

In the story, Aliza has complaints against her mother’s way of doing things in a disorganized fashion, but she also appreciates her mother’s warm and loving personality.

Often we are called in many directions and we have to prioritize to decide which direction we will choose. Students decided that taking care of burning food was the most important thing to be done in the story. We have to be very careful around fire. When we light Chanukah menorahs we should roll up our sleeves, not get too close, and not behave wildly near the flames. We should keep an eye on babies and young children, because our parents may be called in many directions. it’s a mitzva to help keep everyone safe.

Vocabulary words we discussed were stoic, oblige, recoiled and sympathetically.

Spelling words were organized, laundry and directions.

Students were very considerate about sharing space on the board.

We had an advanced student today, so we did a quick review of the letters with kamatz and then moved on to some unusual vowel combinations such as the chataf patach and chataf segol.

Very good question from a student: Why is there sometimes a chataf patach (etc.) in the Torah (instead of just a patach)? What is its meaning? Morah Elana said that she would research this.

When Morah Elana said a bracha before she drank a cup of water, two students typed “amen” into the chat box! We wondered if that works as far as being considered as having answered amen to a bracha.

We read the word Chanukah. Students drew Chanukah related drawings on the board. We spoke about fire safety around the Chanukah lights. It’s a mitzva to protect our safety – venishmarten meod lenafshoseichem.

We talked about Parshas Mikeitz. Pharoh had two strange dreams. His wise men and magicians explained them, but Pharoh did not like their explanations. Yosef, who was known to be good at explaining dreams, was called to Pharoh – but was first given a haircut and clean clothes to stand before the king. When we daven we are standing or sitting before Hashem so we make sure to dress neatly and appropriately.

Yosef didn’t know that he would be taken out of jail suddenly. Sometimes we have difficulties but Hashem can make things better in an instant.

When Pharoh complimented Yosef for being able to explain dreams, Yosef did not brag or act like a big shot and say that he was the greatest. He said that Hashem is the One who understands everything, and maybe Hashem will make him thik of the right explanation.

Yosef’s explanations made sense to Pharoh. Pharoh chose Yosef as the wise person to collect and save food during the seven years when there would be extra, and give it out when there would not be enough food.

Yosef’s own brothers went to Mitzrayim to get food but Yosef pretended not to know them. They did not recognize Yosef after all the years they had been separated.

Students drew Yosef storing a lot of food for the future. Yosef explained that the reason that Hashem showed Pharoh the dreams was so that he could prepare for the future – he could do something about it and not just let things happen.

In Peanut Butter and Jelly for Shabbos, Laibel and Yossi managed to prepare an entire Shabbos meal. They met the challenge and saw that Hashem made them able to succeed. Studnts and Morah Elana discussed challenges we faced, and how we tried to do our best. Hashem helped us succeed!

 We began reading Laibels for Laibel. Sharing can be something we don’t want to do, but it’s not nice to live ina family when we keep everything for ourselves. We talked about things we share and drew pictures that represented sharing.

 

 

Kids Collaborating

V11p128001 Torah

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We finished reading and discussing A Happy Birthday? We discussed why the Torah compares embarrassing someone to murder. We gave the girl on our computer screen red cheeks.

Students practiced spelling story words appreciate, happiness and gorgeous.

We began a new Jewish story called Responsibility. Students made good guesses about why an 8 year old boy was the one in charge of his siblings. Chavie thought it might be to teach him responsibility – but Naama and Michal pointed out that he is already responsible. Dena said maybe because he is the oldest in his family. We discussed how often more is expected of a child who is the oldest.

We delved into the vocabulary of the term deaf-mute. Students guessed that the reason these two conditions often go together is that a person learns to speak by hearing others speak.

In the next class we will learn how the mitzvah of honoring parents applies to the narrator of this story.

In Aleph Beis Class we studied letters kaf through sav.

We practiced writing the tes, yud, kaf, chaf, chaf sofit and lamed.

Chaf sofit appears only at the end of a word.

The dot in the middle of some letters is called a dagesh.

Yud is for Yair!

Tes is for Tes Teves – Moshe’s birthday!

Shuvi invented a game of Connecting the Dots with the aleph beis!

Students worked together to connect the dots.

When we, from different parts of the world, all work and learn together, we are collaborating.

It’s great to collaborate to learn Torah!

Happy Classdays

modehani.jpg

Image by w.wabbit via Flickr

In Siddur Class we learned all about Modeh Ani. We can just discuss and discuss…

Had a brand new group of kids, 8 to 12, in my Book Club. The Happy Birthday? story featured once again, this time on a higher maturity level.  We discussed sensitivity to others according to the Torah, rich vs. poor, reading between the lines, the narrator and courage.

We paused at a suspenseful point and discussed it.

We talked about what choice we would make if we were in the narrator’s situation.

We guessed how to spell announcement, decison and courage and practiced the correct spellings.

In Aleph Beis Class, I didn’t notice much participation from Ariella and Evyatar. The others were very enthusiastic.

We are moving ahead at a brisk pace! We identified all the letters from aleph through yud. We practiced drawing letters aleph through ches. Shuvi pointed out that the ches looks like a sukkah! Names that begin with ches are Chana, Chaim and Chafetz Chaim. Chanukah also begins with a ches. Before long we will be reading Hebrew!

Little Changes

Ra'anana city hall

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Rabbi R., my principal, asks me to submit a bio. I emphasize that I am a freelance writer and link my website where my published and unpublished writing can be found. I quip that my dh and I “mostly” enjoy spending time with our nine wonderful children and son in law.

He changes the order so that what parents read about is my educating two of my own children in Hebrew reading at home. I guess that fits better with the whole homeschooling theme.

And he edits out the “mostly”. 😉

Editors are always deleting my jokes. Like when Yated published my short story Today I Am A Man about my oldest son’s bar mitzvah. I wrote, “It’s Friday night. The men are at shul. I’m home with our younger children and the women that have come to Raanana to celebrate this milestone with me, to affirm my mothering of thirteen years. Or maybe they just like a good party.” The “good party” line didn’t pass. Oy.

I go to prepare my classroom and try uploading PDF files. I’m so excited that I finally figured out how to convert my Word docs to PDF form. (Hint: You start to “print” but the process doesn’t get that far.)

After 5 uploads I get a message that I reached my allotted number for the month. I panic and contact Rabbi R., who sends a “support ticket” to the classroom host. Hmm, this could take a while… but when I retry to upload, my limit has vanished! Thank G-d for small miracles.

I ask Rabbi R. what happens if I have to take off for a few days. He says that he thought about lining up substitute teachers; do I know anyone? That’s a toughie. Who is all technologically prepared and willing to teach Torah studies in a virtual classroom on short notice?