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Posts tagged ‘Shabbat’

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.

 

 

Newest Tech, Oldest Text

The First Paragraph of the Shema as written in...

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“Evyatar” showed up as we were ending Siddur class. I’m not sure what time he expected class to start! Slowly we are adjusting to the new winter schedule. It’s pretty straightforward: All of Morah Elana’s classes start at 3:45 EST. Too bad I had to go and confuse things because I live in Israel, and we switch the clock at a different time. I’m among those who would like to abolish Daylight Savings. But I hear the benefits – my husband says it’s done because of the time by which we need to say the morning Shema prayer. 😉

In Siddur class, we reviewed the idea that the organs in our bodies are very complex. We are so thankful to Hashem that our bodies work the way they are supposed to, so we can live and do everything we need to do in the world, lots of mitzvos. The more science we know, the more we understand the amazing ways Hashem makes the world and how much we have to thank Hashem for.

Elokai Neshama, the next prayer, tells us that our neshama (soul) is tehora (pure). When we wake up each morning we know that Hashem thinks we are good and can make good choices that day. After we hopefully live a lot of years, we die and Hashem takes our neshama all the way back to Hashem. At some time after the moshiach arrives, there will be techiyas hameisim. The people who died will live again. Hashem will return their neshamos into their bodies. At some time after the moshiach arrives, there will be techiyas hameisim. The people who died will live again. Hashem will return their neshamos into their bodies.

“Devorah” mentioned that smoking damages the lungs. We spoke about the mitzva to care for our bodies so that we can live long and do mitzvos. We should not damage our bodies by smoking or using drugs.

In our Book Club, we discussed the story Responsibility, about a Jewish boy who takes care of things at home because his parents are both deaf and mute. discussed One fact we learned about sign language is that words do not always have to be spelled out, but there are hand symbols for different words. A person can choose a symbol to represent his or her name. We used our webcams and the smartboard to try imagining what symbols we might choose to represent our names in sign language.

“Devorah” and “Esti” were a little challenged when it came to sharing space on the board. “Devorah” wanted her boundaries better respected. But at the end of class, she drew a girl standing in the rain, and “Esti” collaborated by drawing an umbrella for the girl in the drawing. 🙂

In Aleph Beis class, Morah Elana explanied that Hebrew is actually a very simple language because all the words sound exactly the way they are spelled. A few students were very surprised that Hebrew is easy – they said it’d difficult! We learned that our wise rabbis from the Gemara teach us that all beginnings are difficult, kol haschalos kashos. But once we learn all the letters and vowels, we will be able to read any word at all in Hebrew with no mistakes!

We were introdiced to the vowel kamatz. We saw how it looks and what sound it makes. We saw examples of the kamatz placed under a letter, and how that changes each letter’s sound.

We continued Peanut Butter and Jelly for Shabbos in Storytime class. Laibel thought it was too hard for the two boys to make all the Shabbos food. Sometimes something seems difficult, but when we try to do it, we see that Hashem helps us and we are able.

Using the board, “Avi”  gave the boys’ mother a bright yellow key to enter her house. “Kobi” drew a baby sister for the boys, all pretty in pink.

Hashem tells us to take care of our bodies – to try to stay healthy. This mitzvah is venishmartem meod lenafshoseichem. Young children should not use a sharp knife. We can help keep ourselves and other people from getting sick by washing our hands with soap and water before we handle food.

Insightful words from Room 613’s principal, Rabbi Yosef Resnick:

 

It strikes me as ironic that we are using the latest in technology to study the oldest text in the world! But then, the Torah has always been ahead of it’s time. So why shouldn’t the methods we use to study it also be? As I occasionally like to remind students, the Torah may seem antiquated to those on “the outside,” but we know that the Torah is actually timeless, and  perhaps might even be described as post-modern

 

Special Needs in the Virtual Classroom

Ritalin (photograph)

Image via Wikipedia

My friend Ayala had Shabbos guests, a personable, intelligent couple named Yitz and Rivka and their young children. During the meal, the general prevalence of ADHD came up. Yitz started joking about it. My friend and her husband let it go. Then Rivka began joking that there really are a lot of people around with ADHD; the prisons are full of them!

Ayala placed a hand on Rivka’s arm. “Stop,” Ayala said, in a kind voice. Rivka brightened at Ayala’s apparent interest, smiled, and started elaborating on the humor.

Ayala looked into Rivka’s eyes, speaking calmly and firmly. “Stop. Stop.” Ayala’s hand remained on her guest’s arm.

After a moment Rivka turned a little pale and whispered confusedly, “Oh, I’m sorry.”

Ayala’s son has ADHD and related behavioral and learning issues. She and her husband have had a lot of challenges with their son. Currently he resides away from home and seems to be doing well in a yeshiva that tries to meet his needs.

It’s disconcerting to Ayala to hear a Shabbos guest suddenly bring up her deepest fears.

You never know on whose toes you may be stepping.

Speaking of meeting the needs of special learners, I think that Rabbi Resnick, who runs Room 613, put it so well:

Students are able to choose their method of participation in the virtual classroom. As I remarked recently, for a student to use a smartboard, perhaps the ultimate in traditional classroom technology, they still have to walk up to the board. And that seemingly simple act can be a painful experience for some students.

Our format allows for so many permutations and possibilities for learning. Students can tailor their experience to their own comfort level.

Some of our students just use the chat feature – exclusively – to participate in classes. That means neither I nor the other students have ever seen their faces or heard their voices! Yet they are an integral part of classes, fully engaged and participating, offering their opinions and ideas.

Others choose to use a microphone, with or without a webcam. 

For the shy student, for the autistic student, for those who like attention, and choose to use the webcam and mic, I can’t think of a better way to reach, empower, and satisfy all types of learners.

My first week of classes

A pair of sterling silver candlesticks for use...

Image via Wikipedia

 Tuesday:

 My first class is a Kids’ Jewish Book Club. I prepared a story about a boy who pretended that he needed glasses, to get attention. All my points for discussion were carefully documented in Word.

My book with the story went missing.

I chose a new Chaim Walder story on the spot, because the kidsthat arrived in my class were younger than the age group I expected. It was about two girls who planned their birthday parties for the same date at the same time, and invited the same guests. I read and we discussed the concepts and lots of vocabulary. Also the idea of Veahavta Lereacha Kamocha.

The kids are amazing! They participated fully, typing remarks into the chat box or clicking to talk into their microphones..

We stopped at suspenseful point, and talked about what that means.

We also learned about a narrator, a publication date and where in a book it can be found.

Wednesday:

In Aleph Beis class, we determined that some kids know all the letters, and some kids know a few letters.

We identified aleph, beis, veis, gimmel and dalet among other symbols and among all of these letters.

 We explained that beis and bet are the same letter – there are two ways to say it.

Same with veis and vet.

We learned the correct way to write the aleph and the beis, and we practiced writing these letters step by step.

The students were very considerate of giving one another space on the screen to write their letters. They all typed or spoke into their mics.

We said that whoever wants can practice writing the aleph and the beis until the next class.

Thursday:

We read Is It Shabbos Yet? by Ellen Emerman.

Friday is a special day because it is Erev Shabbos. We talked about ways we help our parents get ready for Shabbos. Some of our students know how to mop or bake challah! In Israel we wash the floor with a sponga stick and a cloth dipped into a pail of water.

We drink wine or grape juice, and eat challah on Shabbos. We eat other special foods too. In our story, Malkie helped make chicken soup, chicken and salad. Our students said they enjoy challah, pasta and chocolate cake!

Some people give tzedaka before lighting Shabbos candles. We explained how the money gets to the needy. (Needy people need things like money and food and clothes. Baruch Hashem – thank G-d, we have all these things, but some people need them.)

When all the work is done and the Shabbos candles are lit, then it’s finally Shabbos. And we can say Good Shabbos!