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Posts tagged ‘Torah study’

A Rich Torah Curriculum

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

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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.

Technology,Torah and Teaching

Personal Handy-phone System mobiles and modems...

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I am all ready to start teaching a class at Room 613, with my webcam reinstalled once again and my mic connected, my documents uploaded and my chat box resized to fit my full screen setting. A minute before class, my cell phone rings. It’s Avraham Weiss. “Hello,” he says. “This is Avraham Weiss, your son in law Moishe’s brother in law.”

“Hi Avraham,” I say pleasantly and quickly, the seconds ticking by. “I know it’s you; it says so on my telephone screen.”

“Really?” He has time. This is a great guy who leads a quiet life, who is reported by my daughter to say, “My wife and I enjoy socializing but only with each other.”

“It’s amazing what technology can do nowadays,” he marvels.

I pause and do a double take to my online classroom where my students await my ending this phone call. Amazing. Yeah!

In Aleph Beis Class, we reviewed all the letters in order, and also the sounds each letter makes. Talia was surprised that there is a letter called kaf sofis, but it’s really in the Torah! Not a final chaf, but a final kaf.

We tried naming the letters out of order, and it was a little difficult. But it’s important to know the alef beis out of order, because when we read Hebrew, the words are made of letters in all kinds of orders.

Reading from the Chumash and the Siddur starts with reading the letters. The alef beis is the basis for learning Torah. When we study the Hebrew letters we are learning Torah.

Esti said that she doesn’t know the aleph beis at all. Morah Elana told her that by the end of this class she will not be able to say that anymore!

I found myself emailing my principal the following line, which struck me as rather unique:

Bichlal mai nafka mina if blog dates are approximate? I was asking him in the Aramaic words of the Gemara what difference it makes.

Now does that sound like the typical question a teacher would ask a principal regarding school? 😉

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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!

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?