education – 4th grade

Today in class we worked on: 

2/5-

  1. Owing to the 5th Grade Model Wedding we had an unusual morning schedule.  After a joint Tefilla with the primary students, which featured the 5th graders acting out a Shabbat Chatan V’Kallah, we enjoyed an abbreviated Shira with the 6th graders in our class room, led by Morah Ari. 
  1. Once our time of Limud in the classroom began, we first enjoyed a lesson, led by our Madrich Charlie Schwartz on the Israeli flag.  The talmidim had the chance to make their own Israeli ensigns and we talked how in countries such as Canada and South Africa, agreeing on a national flag was often the source of great political divisiveness in those countries. 
  1. Then we had a scavenger hunt and learned about famous Israeli cities, such as Tel Aviv and Haifa. We had a discussion on why Tel Aviv is Israel’s financial capital and how, during Israel’s early years as a country, some immigrants settled in Haifa because housing there was more affordable than elsewhere. Additionally, we discussed how Tzfat, in the 1500’s, was briefly the center of the Jewish world and how Tiveria is a favorite vacation destination for Israelis. 
  1. Before class ended we made Purim cards for Beth Am’s college students away at university and looked through a commemorative album made for Israel’s 25th anniversary in 1973.  Students were fascinated by a photo of an actual heart surgery going on in an Israeli hospital. 
  1. Happy Tu B’Shvat 

L’ Shalom-Moreh David 

Homework to be completed by next class: 

N/A 

Today in class we worked on: 

1/29-

  1. It was cold and wintery outside, but inside in our class we warmed by learning new things about our Jewish homeland in Medinat Yisrael.     
  1. After our “Meet and Greet” with Rabbi Prass and Morah Ari, we learned about the different sports that are popular in Israel, including curling, which the class was very familiar with.   
  1. Afterwards, we saw the end of the Rick Steves Israel travel video, which was featured a visit to Israel’s Holocaust Museum, Yad V’Shem.  This tied into last week’s observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Rick also visited religious sites in Israel which was a great tie into our study of contemporary religion in Israel and enjoyed a hearty Israeli dinner with friends at a Tel Aviv bistro!   
  1. At Shira we had a great time with Morah Ari, singing the “Tree Song” and Austin Rappaport’s suggestion “The Hope.” 
  1. Back in class we learned about the different religions and strains of Judaism in Israel.  We talked about how the Women of the Wall were bringing egalitarian prayer services each Rosh Chodesh to the Kotel and these tefilot were broadcast worldwide over Facebook.   
  1. At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass talked about the prayer in which we express our thanks for having adequate clothing.  We also enjoyed the 6th graders rendition of the events in this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Beshalach.  All in all, it was great day in our class at Beth Am. 

L’ Shalom-Moreh David 

Homework to be completed by next class:  

N/A

Today in class we worked on: 

1/22-

  1. We all came in from the snow to enjoy a terrific morning in Religious School!   
  1. After our “Meet and Greet” with Rabbi Prass and Morah Ari, we learned about the different school systems in Israel and how Israeli kids start their school day very early in the morning but often finish by lunch time.  Our class had a discussion as to which of the different schools they would want to attend if they moved to Israel.  Austin Rappaport suggested he would want to go to the schools for Israeli Arabs, while Ella Bennett was more inclined to sign up with the secular system as she liked their focus on math and science!  Additionally, some of the young men in our class felt they’d opt for the Chinuk Atzmai schools since,  as Mason Krive suggested, “they only study Jewish things and I wouldn’t have to work hard learning math or history!”  (As their teacher I tried to explain that in those schools a student works very hard studying Jewish topics!) 
  1. At Shira we had a great time with Morah Ari getting into the spirit of Tu B’Shvat!   
  1. Afterwards, we saw a video on how Eliezer Ben-Yehuda revived Hebrew as a modern language.  Our class enjoyed a great discussion of why it was important for there to be one common language if the Zionist hope of creating a new country in Eretz Yisrael was going to work.   
  1. Finally, at Tefilla many of our class members participated in a short skit describing this week’s Torah portion of Parashat Bo.  Ben Greenberg did an amazing job portraying the evil Pharoah.   
  1. We ended our perfect Sunday with students really enjoying the taste of Israel, Cinnamon Rugelach, baked in Medinat Yisrael, fresh from the kosher section of my local Jewel Foods. 
  1. L’ Shalom-Moreh David 

Homework to be completed by next class:  

Today in class we worked on: 

1/15-

  1. It was good to be back in Religious School, following the winter break!   
  1. Following our Boker Tov! All school “Meet and Greet”, we closed our study of the American Jewish experience by contrasting the philosophies of two great American rabbis Abraham Joshua Heschel and Yosef Baer Soleveitchik.  Our talmidim seemed to like Rabbi Heschel’s ideas more than Rabbi Soleveitchik, although everyone was happy to learn that they were religious heroes, in the fashion of Rav Soleveitchik, by coming to Religious School! 
  1. At Shira we had a great time with Morah Ari getting into the spirit of Tu B’Shvat!   
  1. Afterwards, we watched, as an introduction to our study of Medinat Yisrael, a Rick Steves travel video to Israel and learned about Israeli foods.  We also saw how things were difficult in the early years of the Jewish state as food was often rationed.  Next week I hope to share Israeli style rugelach with the students, since everyone liked the photo of this dessert and Mason Krive announced that at his Israeli bakery he’d sell them for a pricey sum! 
  1. Finally, at Tefilla Rabbi Prass discussed how many American Jews, supported Dr Martin Luther King in his important work as we approach MLK Day.  We also had a great play, facilitated by the 5th graders, on this week’s Torah portion. 
  1. L’ Shalom-Moreh David 

Homework to be completed by next class:  

Today in class we worked on: 

12/18- 

  1. We had an all school t’fillah led by Rabbi Prass and Morah Ari.  One student from each class helped with the physical holy objects.  We focused on the symbols of light we Jews use: the 2 Shabbat candles, then moved into making Havdalah (the wine cup, spice box, and twisted Havdalah candle), and then we lit the chanukiah in preparation for the first night of Chanukah.  At the end of t’fillah we had the opportunity to ask Rabbi Prass questions about Chanukah or the lights.  
  1. Then we went broke into 10 groups for the CBA Chanukah Candle Challenge (think Amazing Race for Chanukah).  The 9 challenges were: 
  1. Make a group magen (shield) just like the Maccabees 
  1. “figure out” the Chanukah story thru a rebus and then video it 
  1. Calculate how many candles you need for all 8 days including the shamas 
  1. Prepare a Chanukah song and record it (those will be posted on the CBA Facebook page) 
  1. Match Chanukah customs from around the world 
  1. Different spellings of Chanukah (the most correct one is the Hebrew one 😊) 
  1. Dreidel learning thru dreidel play 
  1. What are the important Chanukah gifts I can give (the answers will be posted on the CBA Facebook page) 
  1. What are my brachot (their work will be posted on the CBA Facebook page) 
  1. We regathered as an entire school to for a Chanukah shira led by Morah Ari.  We also heard the Chanukah story in the form of a play led by the 4th grade class.  

Homework to be completed by next class: 

  1. Please remember tzedakah. 
  1. Happy Chanukah!!! 
  1. There is Hebrew School this Week (12/20 & 12/21) 
  1. The CBA Winter Break schedule is: 
  1. Sunday, December 25 - Sunday, January 8 NO Religious & Hebrew School – Winter Break 
  1. Tuesday, January 10 - Tuesday Hebrew School Resumes 
  1. Wednesday, January 11 - Wednesday Hebrew School Resumes 
  1. Sunday, January 15 - Religious School Resumes 
  1. You can always access the school calendars by clicking here
  1. You can always access the entire CBA calendar by clicking here

Today in class we worked on: 

12/11-

  1. We had one of our best classes of the semester today! 
  1. After our “Meet and Greet” with Rabbi Prass, we had a scavenger hunt, linking clues to important Jewish personalities such as Chicago Bears player Sid Luckman, or entertainers Fanny Brice, Jack Benny, and Eddie Cantor as well as scientists Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer. 
  1. At Shira we had a great time with Morah Ari getting into the spirit of Chanukah, with some of the classic songs of the chag.   
  1. Afterwards, we saw how American Jews were very happy when the State of Israel was created and discussed important American Jewish events since that time.  We saw how there was great debate as to whether Holocaust survivors should accept compensation from Germany after the war. 
  1. Finally, at Tefilla Rabbi Prass went over the meaning of some of the prayers in our school siddur. We acted out, with the help of several members of our class, this week’s Torah portion which tells the story of Joseph and his brothers.   
  1. L’ Shalom-Moreh David 

Homework to be completed by next class:  

Today in class we worked on: 

12/4-

  1. It was nice to be back in class after the Thanksgiving break.  We enjoyed the new morning schedule, which features a “meet and greet” assembly as Religious School starts. 
  1. When we got back in class, we saw a Tik Tok video produced by the Jimena (Jews from Middle Eastern Nations) group in honor of Mizrachi Jewish heritage month which was observed in November.  Through the testimonies of young Mizrachi Jews, most of whom lived in Israel, we learned the importance of the heritage of Jews from these countries. 
  1. At Shira, Morah Ari led us in songs for the upcoming holiday of Channukah.   
  1. Afterwards, we learned about great 20th century American rabbis, such as Stephen Wise and Mordechai Kaplan.  Our amazing madrich Charlie Schwartz read Judith Kaplan Eisenstein’s, who was Rabbi Kaplan’s daughter, account of the first Bat Mitzvah in Jewish history.   
  1. We finished class with a look at how American Jews tried to help their fellow Jews trapped in Europe during the Shoah. 
  1. At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass led us in a play describing the events in this week’s Torah portion of Vayishlach.  All in all it was a great morning of Jewish learning! 
  1. L’ Shalom-Moreh David 

Homework to be completed by next class:  

N/A

Today in class we worked on: 

11/20-

  1. It was nice to have such a large class, the week of a holiday! 
  1. At Shira we enjoyed singing along with Morah Ari before having a great class where we learned about Jewish immigrants coming from Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire.  We had a nice discussion on the different jobs these New Americans had and their living conditions  Additionally, we used Google Translate to read out our scripts for the Yiddish Theatre in their original language  Special thanks to Mason Krive who did an amazing job in reading from the Yiddish with its Hebrew letters! 
  1. We also learned about Moshe Gadol and his special mission to hep his fellow Ladino speaking Sephardic Jewish immigrants in the US. 
  1. Finally, we finished our morning at Tefilla, led by Rabbi Prass.  Rabbi Prass helped us to understand our Tefilot better and we acted out some of the main themes of this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Toldot. 
  1. A Happy Thanksgiving to all! L’Shalom-Moreh David 

Homework to be completed by next class:  

N/A

Today in class we worked on: 

11/13-

  1. Well after a long hiatus Bokor B’Yachad,  where 4th grade parents had the opportunity to spend a morning in religious school was back!   
  1. Our morning started with introductions where the talmidim introduced their parents and grandparents. 
  1. At Shira we enjoyed having Morah Ari back.   
  1. Afterwards parents enjoyed a study session with Rabbi Bellows, while our class had a Kahoot on everything we have learned until now and then worked on our script for a Yiddish Theater play! 
  1. When parents returned, our students enjoyed interviewing them to get a sense of family history.  We discovered that many adult members of our 4th grade community had fond memories of childhood summer vacations in southeastern Michigan.   
  1. Finally, we finished our morning at Tefilla, led by Rabbi Bellows.  We enjoyed listening to a Dvar Torah on this week’s upcoming parasha of Chaya Sarah!   
  1. All in all, it was a great Sunday and Moreh David’s car thankfully didn’t break down going to and from the JCYS building. L’Shalom-Moreh David 

Homework to be completed by next class:  

N/A

Today in class we worked on:

11/6-

  1. We started our morning looking at the 19th century American Jewish newspaper our talmidim put together.  Students composed articles on events that occurred in the 1850’s including the story of Jewish peddlers, how Rebecca Gratz helped Jewish orphans, and the tragic kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara in Italy.  Afterwards, we looked at how American Jewry was divided on the slavery question, some Jewish leaders were opposed to it while others were not.
  2. At Shira we enjoyed Matt Swolsky, a graduate of Beth Am’s Religious School, fill in as song leader for Morah Ari’s planned absence. 
  3. Back in class we discussed how the Civil War impacted American Jewry; Jews fought on both sides of the conflict, and we had a good discussion on how medical care improved during the war.
  4. We finished our class composing a Memorial Service for the martyred President Abraham Lincoln, as American Jews of that era themselves did! 
  5. At Tefilla, some of our students suggested “Movember” participants at Beth Am should grow a beard like the Jewish Union Civil War General Frederick Knefler!  We also enjoyed the play on this week’s upcoming Torah portion of Vayera. 
  6. All in all, it was an awesome Sunday for fourth graders!

L’Shalom-Moreh David

Homework to be completed by next class:

N/A

Today in class we worked on:

10/23-

  1. As the weather turned summery, we enjoyed a great day in class. 
  2. First, we reviewed the videos we saw last week on the Damascus Affair and the kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara. 
  3. Then at Shira, Morah Ari introduced 4th – 6th graders to songs that were relevant to the upcoming Torah portion of Parashat Noach.
  4. When we returned to the class, we accomplished many things.  We learned about some of the first ordained rabbis in our country such as Abraham Rice and Isaac Mayer Wise.  We also saw how Jewish women, such as Rebecca Graetz and Grace Aguilar contributed to antebellum American Jewish life. 
  5. Afterwards, we broke into groups and started to work on our project of producing a Jewish newspaper from the 1850’s.
  6. Additionally, we virtually enjoyed, from Israel’s Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, some amazing Jewish recipes for treats like levivot(latkes) and blintzes.
  7. At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass built on the themes of the Torah portion and discussed some of the tzedakah projects Beth Am is working on. We also enjoyed having our madrichim lead us in the story/sermon.
  8. All in all, it was an awesome Sunday for fourth graders!
  9. Chodesh Chesvan Tov- Moreh David

Homework to be completed by next class:

N/A

Today in class we worked on:

10/16-

  1. We had a very great morning today, despite the fact that our wonderful madrich Charlie Schwartz was unable to be with us.
  2. First, we looked at copies of the Tanakh, Mishnah, Talmud, and the Siddur,  all important books early American Jews brought with them to build new Jewish communities here.
  3. Then at Shira,  Morah Ari went over songs to help us prepare for the joyous holiday of Simchat Torah, the last of the Fall “High Holidays” in the Jewish calendar.
  4. When we returned to the class, we accomplished many things.  We saw how in the years before the American Civil War,  it was very common for Jewish immigrants to become peddlers;  eventually these individuals would open up stores and organize new synagogues in the towns they settled in.
  5. Additionally, we saw videos on two great 19th century Jewish tragedies the Damascus Affair of 1840 and the kidnapping of a Jewish child Edgardo Mortara in Italy seventeen years later.  We discussed how American Jews organized to help their fellow Jews in Syria and Italy during these events.  A special Hakotorat Ha-Tov to Lauren Weiner who volunteered her phone’s hot spot when the JCYS Wi-Fi kicked out.  This enabled us to finish watching these fact filled videos.
  6. At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass talked about how the end of the Fall Holiday season and passed around Etrogim for everyone to smell.  We also learned of how Jews traditionally pray for rain on Shemini Atzereth.
  7. All in all, it was a terrific Sunday for fourth graders!
  8. Chag Sameach- Moreh David

Homework to be completed by next class:

Today in class we worked on:

10/9:

  1. We began the day with an all school t’fillah in our CBA sanctuary.  As part of the t’fillah, we talked about what makes our sanctuary space unique.
  2. Then we broke into 6 round robin rotations by grade:
    1. An ice breaker to get to know our classmates better
    2. Sukkah visit: with Rabbi Bellows where we shook the lulav & etrog
    3. Movement: Practicing reading/saying the words lulav and etrog by playing duck, duck, goose with the words lulav, etrog
    4. Craft: Talking about ushpizin (sukkot guests) and which ushpizin we want to spend time with this week of Sukkot.  Their ideas were turned into sukkah decorations.
    5. Building: we studied one of the original rabbinic texts (Mishnah Sukkah 1:1) about the Sukkah construction and then built a sukkah with either Legos, Lincoln logs, or designed them with colored pencils.
    6. Sukkot Brachot: We studied the traditional 3 Sukkot brachot, and then wrote our own creative ones based on the traditional themes.
  3. We all came back together for an all school shira in the sanctuary
  4. After shira we met with the mother and sister of Zac, who started Zac’s Zoo.  Our learners had lots of great questions for them and were clearly inspired by this project.
    1. The project continues thru Sukkot & Simchat Torah which is Tuesday, October 18th.  Our learners set the goal of bringing in 100 new stuffed animals.  Thank you to our 7th grader, Hayden Kidd who brought this project to Beth Am.

Homework to be completed by next class:

  1. Next week, Religious School returns to JCYS
  2. Please remember tzedakah.

Today in class we worked on:
10/2-

  1. We had a very busy morning today. 
  2. First at Shira,  Morah Ari went over songs to help us prepare for the important holiday of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.
  3. When we returned to the class, we accomplished many things.  To relive how American Jews, especially in New York City, gleefully participated in parades celebrating the adoption of the US Constitution in 1789, we made “floats” we would have liked to have seen the Jewish community enter back then.  A special shout out to the entire class, whose floats included images of Torah Scrolls and Chanukiyot.
  4. Additionally, we saw a video on how a Jewish merchant from South Carolina, Jonas Philips, worked tirelessly to make sure the new Bill of Rights entrenched the rights of American Jews to practice Judaism freely in the new country. 
  5. As the hour drew on, we read a play on the importance of tzedaka in the early American Jewish community.  We saw how wealthy Jews helped endow new synagogues in the country, assisted poor Jews in Eretz Yisrael, and even built special Jewish hospitals.
  6. At Tefilla, Rabbi Prass talked about how we can build community through the common experience of prayer.  We held our school service outside, despite the rather blustery weather.
  7. All in all, it was a terrific Sunday for fourth graders!
  8. Gmar Chatima Tovah- Moreh David

Today in class we worked on:
9/18-
1) As always, the Fourth-Grade class moved into a very busy Sunday morning starting with a short video on the first 24 Jews in colonial New Amsterdam and their struggles to be allowed to stay there, given the fact the colony’s Governor Peter Stuyvesant was not very open to having a Jewish community in his colony.
2) We enjoyed Tefilla, outside on the tennis courts, with the entire school, where Rabbi Prass blew the Shofar for the entire Religious School in celebration of Elul.
3) When we returned to the class, we accomplished many things. First, we discussed the places Jews in colonial America lived in such as New York, Philadelphia, or Charleston. We also saw what types of occupations they would have had to earn a living in the early colonies.
4) Moving on we learned about the Shadarim, “messengers” from Eretz Yisrael who came to the American colonies to raise money for poor Jews in the Holy Land. Oftentimes, they would remain in these communities for a period of time to help their fellow Jews run religious services and find ways to educate their young people. This created the first bond between Jews in America and the land of Israel.
5) 5) Next, we “met” Gershom Seixas, the closest thing Colonial America had to a full-fledged rabbi. Not only did he lead religious services at his congregation in New York, but he encouraged his fellow Jews to support the Patriot Cause in the American revolution. This led to a discussion of whether Jews of that time were bound by Jewish tradition to side with Chazzan Seixas or remain loyal to the British crown! Additionally, we saw how Haym Salomon, the richest Jewish person in the Thirteen Colonies gave away much of his personal fortune to help General Washington’s army stay afloat in the Revolutionary War. We also saw how, after American Independence was won a new Jewish community emerged in the city of Richmond, Virginia!
6) Finally, at Shira, Morah Ari led us in songs to prepare for the Jewish New Year which starts next Sunday
7) All in all, it was a terrific Sunday for fourth graders!

Today in class we worked on:
9/11-

  • We enjoyed a very active Sunday, starting with the Opening School Ceremony led by Rabbi Prass, who was dressed as a Candy Bar as a sign of our hopes for a sweet school year of Jewish Learning here at Beth Am. It was great to have so many parents with us.
  • Later in class we started off by voting on our tzedaka for this year. Fourth graders will be supporting the Jewish National Fund to help build and sustain forests in Medinat Yisrael, the land of Israel!
  • Afterwards we started our journey of discovery retracing the American Jewish experience. First, we talked about the end of Jewish life in Spain, in the wake of the great expulsion of 1492, which set the stage for Jews to come to America.
  • Then we read a play in class looking at the different countries Jews lived in at the time they first came to what became the United States. We saw how life could be both enriching and challenging depending on where Jewish people lived.
  • Before the morning was out, we discussed what things and services the first Jewish settlers in America would need to create a connection with Judaism in their new surroundings. We also saw how their lives were very different from ours today in the 17th century in terms of family life, health, and immediate environment.
  • Our first day of school ended with Shira with Morah Ari who encouraged everyone to vocally participate as much as possible.
  • Homework to be completed by next class:
    9/11-
    1) Please remember to have your child bring a loose-leaf notebook each week to class to store their weekly handouts. Next week we will see excerpts of a video on Jewish Life in the Early American colonies and look at life for Jews in Colonial America.