Kitah Alef/Bet Updates 2018-2019 (5779)

Shalom Parents,

         Last week and today, we completed a short Pesach unit where we learned about the terms associated with the holiday, the items that are symbolized on our seder plates, and the Passover story.  Today, the children completed their personalized seder plates. Thank you to all the parents who brought in family  pictures for this project. It is our hope that you will use these seder plates at your seders this year and for many years to come!

         Today was a busy day as we heard the older students describe their mitzvah projects, prayed at T’filah, and made afikomen bags in the art room.  As always, we met in our Hebrew groups.

         Your children brought home today a plastic bag filled with their seder plates, afikomen bags, Pesach discussion booklets, and paper seder plates that they may color.

         I wish you and your families enjoyable seders and a meaningful Passover. I look forward to seeing your children on April 28 when we will learn about the Omer period, make Omer counting boards and begin our unit on Israel.

Ask your children some of the following questions or initiate a discussion.

What are some of the mitzvot of Pesach?

What are the items on the seder plate, and what does each one symbolize?

We were strangers in the land of Egypt?

Have you ever been the new person in a school or camp? How do we treat someone who comes to a new place?

Encourage all of your seder participants to ask questions

Ask the children  to tell parts of the story that tell how we were freed.

Chant the 4 questions

Have your child describe how he made his/her seder plate

Describe something funny or interesting that happened at a family seder.

Diane Rosenfeld

Alef/Bet Teacher

-Written 4-14-19 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,


Shalom Parents,

            Last week, we began our 10 Commandments project; most of the children finished this week and took them home. ( The children did a great job on these and learned about the various commandments). We also made get well cards for one of the art teachers who had surgery.  In art, we finished making drawings for a Jewish calendar contest. Some children added their handprints to the table in the art room.

            Today, we listened to the story of Purim, discussed some of the characters and terms associated with the story, talked about the 4 mitzvot of Purim, and did a Purim crossword puzzle. Some of the children began making shalach manot containers as this is one of the mitzvot of Purim.

            In art today, the chldren made either crowns or graggers. We encourage them to use these at the meggilah reading on March 20. As always, we conclude each Sunday with our Hebrew reading groups, and the children are progressing nicely.

            I look forward to seeing your children next week. Don’t forget- please dress in costume. We will have class time for the first 35 minutes when we will finish making our shalach manot boxes. I hope that you will fill up your child’s box with goodies and give it to a friend, relative or neighbor . I wish your family a Happy Purim and a safe and restful spring break. We will have two Sundays of spring break. I look forward to welcoming your child back to class on April 7 when we will “dive into” our study of Pesach!

Thank you to all who sent empty milk cartons for our shalach manot project.

Ask your children some of the following questions:

Who are some of the characters in the Purim story that we admire?

What qualities did Esther have?

What qualities did Mordecai have?

Tell one of the mitzvot of Purim.( listening to the megillah, enjoying a Purim seudah (feast), giving tzedakah, handing out shalach manot)

What does the Purim story teach us?

What makes someone a hero?

Diane Rosenfeld

Alef/Bet Teacher

-Written 3-10-19 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

Shalom Parents,

         During our last class session (Feb. 10), we read about Moses on Mt. Sinai receiving the 10 Commandments, the impatience of the Israelites waiting for him, and their decision to build the Golden Calf. We continued with this today. We learned about making agreements and what might happen if we break our agreements or promises. We will do a project on the Ten Commandments next week. Today we finished our Ten Plague projects, and the children took them home. You will notice that we used a variety of materials in creating the plagues. (One father said they will use this at their seder table).

         We had a very busy and productive morning as we had art in the Omanut (art room), T’filah, and also listened to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah students speak about their mitzvah projects. We continued with our reading groups.

         Your children were very engrossed listening to the older students describe their mitzvah projects. When we returned to the classroom, we had a discussion. Children shared with me the projects that interested them. Most liked the ones where they could donate food items or anything that has to do with  animal shelters. The children who went to the Ark a few weeks back were very excited about it and shared their visit with us.

         In Omanut, the students created pictures of Judaica which will be entered in a Jewish calendar contest.

Please discuss with your children some the following questions:

What are G-d’s laws called?

What can you do to honor your parents or grandparents?

What can your family do to help take care of the world?

What can your family do to make Shabbat a special day?

Discuss 3 things your family can do to keep your covenant with G-d?

Why did the Israelites do something they knew was wrong ( building the Golden Calf)?

Diane Rosenfeld

Alef/Bet teacher

Requests: The Bet students (2nd graders) will be bringing home folders with the letters and vowels that the children have learned so far. They have great clues which help the children remember the sounds. Please review these sheets a few times a week with your child and make sure that he/she takes the folder back and forth each Sunday.

Please save any half gallon cardboard juice and milk cartons for an upcoming Purim project. You can bring these in the next 2 Sundays! Thank you!

-Written 2-24-19 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

Shalom Parents,

The past two weeks we have been studying about Moses because these lessons correspond with the Torah portions of the week. We will finish this unit next Sunday. We continue to use the activities from “My Weekly Sidra” as the children arrive in the morning as well as the Behrman Houses “Let’s Discover the Bible” booklets. The first Sunday of the unit we made “Moses in the Basket” using small wooden crates, wooden stick figures  and other materials to represent Moses as a baby. Last week we began a project on the ten plagues which will be completed this Sunday and sent home.

Each week, we have enjoyed art, music and T’filah ( Prayer). We complete each class session with Hebrew reading groups.

Please ask your children some of the following questions:

Who were the brave and resourceful women who helped save Moses’ life?

Why was Moses such a great leader of the Jewish people?

Name some of the plagues that G-d caused upon the Egyptians?

Why did he cause these plagues to happen?

What do you think was the worst plague?Why?

Why could Pharaoh not be trusted?

What did Moses keep asking Pharaoh to do?

What do you think it would  be like to spend 40 years in the Sinai wilderness?

Why is it a miracle for the Jews  to walk across the Reed Sea?

Diane Rosenfeld

Alef/Bet Teacher

Request: Please save any half gallon cardboard juice and milk cartons for an upcoming Purim project. You can bring them in any Sunday! Thank you!

-Written 2-5-19 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

Shalom Parents,

On Sunday we finished our short 2 week unit on Tu B’shevat and the environment. We read, discussed and did the activities in our “Let’s Discover Holidays – Tu B’shevat” booklet and then had a very abbreviated mini seder where we talked about and tasted the 3 types of fruits eaten on the holiday: fruit with outer coverings or skin ( oranges), fruits with pits or seeds (apricots), and those fruits that can be eaten entirely (raisins).

We finished creating our beautiful havdalah sets in art. As the children finished, they came back to the classroom and played the board game “Tu B’shevat Countdown”or decorated an almond tree using cotton balls. We completed our morning with T’filah and then Hebrew reading groups.

Ask your children the following questions:

Why is it so important to take care of our environment?

What are some ways that we can take care of the environment?

What are some ways in which we can celebrate Tu B’shevat here in America?

What are the 3 types of fruit that we should taste on Tu B’shevat?

Name some things that trees provide for us.

I look forward to seeing all of you this coming Shabbat afternoon for our Havdalah service.

Diane Rosenfeld

Alef-Bet Teacher

-Written 1-22-19 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

Shalom Parents,

I was happy to welcome back your children after winter break. Last Sunday we learned about the difference between tzedakah and g’milut chasadim tovim (acts of loving kindness). Tzedakah is giving of our resources to help others, and g’milut chasadim is giving of our time to help those in need. We learned through discussion and by our booklets on Jewish values. We also began creating the objects that we will use for our upcoming havdalah ceremony.

Today in class we studied the importance of taking care of the earth and our environment . We learned about Tu B’shevat, the New Year of the Trees. We talked about the importance of trees especially in the land of Israel. We learned about the Jewish National Fund and how we can plant trees in Israel to help beautify the land. We did this through discussions, and activities. We heard the story “Honi and the Carob Tree”. We also worked on our beautiful havdalah sets.

Please ask your child some of the following questions:

How are tzedakah and g’milut chasadim different? Give examples of each:

What are some ways that we can help others who are in need?

Why do we have a responsibility to give tzedakah?

Who can we help by giving tzedakah?

Why is it important to plant trees?

What are some ways that we can take care of our environment?

Name some things that we can recycle.

I look forward to seeing you and your children at these important upcoming events:

Wednesday, January 16, 3:45 – 7:00—Parent- Teacher Conferences

Saturday, January 19- Shabbat Family Program and Lunch -9:30-12:30

Saturday, , January 26- Alef / Bet Havdalah

Warm Regards,

Diane Rosenfeld

Alef/Bet Teacher

-Written 1-13-19 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

Shalom Alef/Bet Parents,

These past 2 weeks have been very busy. Last Sunday, Dec. 9, we did activities and games in celebration of Chanukah. This past Sunday we focused on the Torah portions Miketz and Va’yigash, and we also learned about the mezuzah and the Shema.

Each Sunday we study the Torah portion using the “My Weekly Sidrah” worksheets. Last Sunday we focused on Joseph and his relationship with his brothers, jealousy, bragging, making peace and forgiveness. We use the Behrman House booklets for the Bible characters. We also used Behrman House booklets (Jewish Symbols) to learn about the mezuzah and shema. We know that mezuzot can be any size and can be made from a variety of materials, but they should all have a shin on the front. We learned that the most important part of the mezuzah is the kosher scroll inside that has the shema written on parchment. The children enjoyed making their own mezuzot and decorating them and placing the shema  inside.

We also enjoy T’filah each Sunday and continue to work in our Hebrew groups. Some of the the Alef students have completed the pre-primer and have joined the Bet students for Hebrew.

Please ask your children some of the following Big Questions:

Discuss how you can be angry with a brother or sister and still love him or her very much.

Joseph taught his brothers an important lesson. Have you ever taught something important to others?

G-d changed Jacob’s name to Israel. What does your name teach you?

Why is sharing important?

What are some ways that you can show that you love G-d?

I wish each of you and your families a Healthy and Happy New Year and a restful, meaningful, safe vacation! I look forward to  seeing your children on January 6.

Diane Rosenfeld

-Written 12-23-18 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,


Shalom Alef/Bet Parents,

We had quite a busy morning today! We finished the Chanukah gifts for our parents/grandparents as well as spending time enjoying music and T’filah. We also worked on a Chanukah booklet. We observed the older children in their chugim ( art, band, Yad Squad, kahoot, and musical drama).

We will also talked about and did activities on the Torah portion, Vayeshev, which teaches about Joseph and his relationship with his brothers. I hope you and your families had a Happy and Healthy Chanukah, and I look forward to seeing your children on Sunday.

Diane Rosenfeld

Alef/Bet teacher

-Written 12-2-18 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

Shalom Alef/Bet Parents,

Today in class we heard the story of Chanukah and discussed some of the ways that we can celebrate. We made our own Chanukah bingo cards and did some other activities related to the holiday. We sang Chanukah songs in music today. We continued in our reading groups and are progressing nicely. In art we made special gifts which the children will take home on Dec. 2. We continue to lead all the other SJS classes in donating the highest amount of tzedakah each week. Let’s keep up the good work!

Please ask your children the following questions:

What is the only mitzvah of Chanukah (something that we are required to do in order to celebrate the holiday)?

What were the Maccabees fighting for?

Enjoy a happy and meaningful Thanksgiving with family and friends! I look forward to seeing your children on Dec. 2. You child is invited to bring a Chanukiyah to class on Dec. 2, but please do not send anything that is breakable!


Diane Rosenfeld, Alef/Bet Teacher

-Written 11-18-18 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

Shalom Alef/Bet Parents,

Last Sunday, we studied the Torah portion, Chayei Sarah, which describes Abraham sending his faithful servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son, Isaac. Eliezer devised a test to find the perfect young woman; one with inner beauty who possesses the qualities of kindness, courage, strength, generosity, and compassion. We used our Bible story booklets, and also did a crossword puzzle. The children also had art where they painted beautiful ‘Tree of Life’ pictures. There was little chance to work on our Hebrew last week as the children made cards for the loved ones of the victims of the “Tree of Life” synagogue.
Please ask your children:
What can you do to make someone feel welcome? Give examples.
What can you do better?
Why did Rebecca pass Eliezer’s test? How can we be more like Rebecca? How can you tell when people are being kind?
Today we learned from the Torah portion Toldot which describes the tumultuous relationship between twin brothers; Esau and Jacob. In this portion, Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil soup. Sometime after, Isaac is ready to bestow the blessing of the firstborn upon Esau. However, Rebecca realizes that Jacob would be a much better leader of the Jewish people, so she tricks Isaac into giving the blessing instead to Jacob. We learn that even though it is very wrong to deceive another person; especially a loved one, Jacob was clearly the better choice to lead the Jewish people.
Today, our class also worked with some older children on a pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah project. Then we made Esau and Jacob bowls of vegetable soup. The children cut out an alphabet soup of Hebrew letters along with the prayer over vegetables and some pictures and attached all of this to the bowl. This reminds the children of the bowl of soup that Esau hastily sold his birthright for.
We learned terms today like SHALOM BAYIT and how to make peace with someone we love, and things we can do at home or in school to promote peace. We then broke into our reading groups.
Please ask your children questions like:
What is so important to you that you would never sell it?
What are some special blessings your parents give you?
In order to get the blessing, Jacob had to fool his father. Was this the right thing to do?
The special blessing was Jacob’s family treasure. What is one of your family treasures?
Our Alef Bet class continues to be the class that donates the most amount of tzedakah each month. Thank you and keep up the good work.

Diane Rosenfeld, Alef/Bet Teacher

-Written 11-11-18 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

Shalom Parents,

It was so wonderful to see so many of you at our Alef/Bet class brunch with the Rabbi last Sunday. The children also enjoyed making and decorating the delicious Challot last week. We have been studying the Torah portions about Abraham and Sarah, Lech Lecha and Vayera. In Lech Lecha, we learned that G-d told Abraham to leave the land where he was born and go to a new city to begin a new life. G-d told Abraham that he would make him the father of a great nation. We discussed that it is hard to leave our home, leave our friends behind, and move to new surroundings. In Vayera we learned that Abraham welcomed 3 guests to his home, 3 strangers who were really angels in disguise. They gave him the news that he would soon become the father of a son and then ultimately, a great nation, the Jewish people. We learned the term “Hachnasat Orchim, which means welcoming guests. We discussed how we can make someone feel welcome and comfortable in our home, school and community. We read a short script on Abraham and Sarah, and we then performed this for the kindergarten class.

In Hebrew, we continue to work in 2 reading groups, and the children are progressing nicely.

I am very proud to announce that as of 10/21/18, our Alef/Bet class had raised the highest amount of tzedakah so far. Thank you for helping your children remember those who are less fortunate. Let’s keep up the good work!

Please have a discussion with your children. You can ask them some of the following questions:

What did G-d ask Abraham to do which was probably very difficult for him?

What were G-d’s two promises to Abraham?

G-d told Abraham that he would be a blessing. What is one way you can be a blessing?

Ask your child about a time when he/she made a new student feel welcome and comfortable?

Why is making someone feel welcome an important mitzvah?

I look forward to seeing your children on Sunday.

Diane Rosenfeld, Alef/Bet Teacher

-Written 10-29-18 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

Yesterday in the synagogue we read the Torah portion Noach, so today in class we learned about Noah. Noah and his family were saved from the flood that G-d created because they were righteous people. We discussed the Torah portion, did activities and made animal bookmarks to represent the animals that Noah brought into the ark. These bookmarks also mark the beginning of Jewish Book Month which starts in a few weeks.  We continue to work in our Hebrew primers and pre-primers. The children are divided into two reading groups; one is taught by Ms. Myra Weisberg.   We discussed the tzedakah options that some of the children suggested last week and voted to give the money we have collected to the following: Orphans of the Storm, Evanston Animal Shelter, Save My Starving Children and the Ronald McDonald House.

I look forward to seeing all of you next week at the Alef/Bet brunch with Rabbi Newman Kamin.

Diane Rosenfeld

AlefBet Teacher

-Written 10-15-18 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

It was a pleasure meeting your children on Sunday morning and interacting with them. Many of them shared stories about their interests with the class. We learned all about Sukkot and SimchatTorah through reading, discussions, stories, art, and other activities. Each child created a paper sukkah by cutting and folding on lines on a paper and using tape, glue and crayons to decorate. We also made little Torahs. If you open your child’s Torah, you will see a small picture of a writing on parchment to represent what we see when we open a real Torah. In Hebrew, I tested the students in order to determine their reading levels. While I was testing, the madrichimplayed a SimchatTorah board game with them, and they were able to take these home as well. A highlight of the morning was visiting the sukkah, reciting the appropriate prayers, shaking the lulav and etrog and, of course, enjoying a snack. I look forward to our next class on October 7 where we will study Braysheet, the story of creation.  We have some outstanding madrichimworking with your children as well. You will be able to meet them as the year progresses.  Can you please send a water bottle with your child each Sunday? Also, if you have not already sent your child’s Hebrew name, please do that as well.  As we are in the midst of the Sukkot holiday and will soon be celebrating SimchatTorah, I wish you and your families a Chag Sameach and Moadim L’Simcha.

Diane Rosenfeld


-Written 9-26-18 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

Much thanks to Debbie Kroopkin for subbing in the alef-bet class on Sunday as I attended to family business out of state. The children learned about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur through stories, discussions and activities. We also began our Hebrew program.  I look forward to meeting your children next Sunday and to working with them this year.  Best wishes to you and your families for a Happy, Healthy and Sweet New Year.  G’mar Chatima Tovah!

-Written 9-16-18 by Ms. Diane Rosenfeld,

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