Kitah Hei Updates 2018-2019 (5779)

We have continued to study the idea of a kehilah kedoshah, a holy community. Last week we considered what it means to include many different types of people in out communities, and to accommodate their needs, using Susan Cain’s TED talk “The Power of Introverts” as a jumping-off point. We also used Diébédo Francis Kéré’s talk to explore what happens when a community is able to come together for an important goal. Both videos sparked fascinating discussions, and clearly opened up new ways to think about these issues!

-Written 2-26-19 by Hazzan Lawrence Szenes-Strauss (Mr. S.),

On Sunday we reviewed the Torah portion of Yitro. In this portion the 10 commandments are listed. After going over the 10 commandments, I challenged the kids to come up with an 11th commandment. Something they feel is missing in 2019 and would like to add. Next week we will continue with the mensch handbook.

Stay warm!

-Written 1-30-19 by Mr. Allan Arnet,

We elaborated on the qualities we believe would make a community holy, which meant figuring out just what “holy” means. It’s a tricky word to pin down! Some important elements of being holy are (1) striving for good and (2) being distinct or apart from the rest. Fun fact: The Hebrew verb for “set aside,” as in “I’ve set aside these cans of tuna for later,” is להקדיש, “to sanctify, to make holy”!

-Written 1-27-19 by Hazzan Lawrence Szenes-Strauss (Mr. S.),

On Wednesday evenings we spend our time focusing first on tefillah.  We daven tefillah in the Sanctuary along with the Gimel and Dalet classes.  The Hei class has done a great job of helping take on a leadership role during tefillah and have most recently been helping lead Hatzi Kaddish.  In the classroom we have been working hard on learning the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Siddur words seen on the framed pictures in the classroom.  The students have created and used flash cards to play games and practice with the words and most recently even been able to write full sentences in Hebrew using the words that they know.  We have also spent time practicing Judaic values and holidays.  We have explored the idea of Teshuvah and B’Tzelem Elohim along with looking at the various holidays that have come up.  We most recently looked at Tu B’Shevat and discussed the ways we celebrate the upcoming holiday.  I am enjoying working with your children and look forward to a great second half of the year.

To learn common Hebrew words found in the Siddur, Tier I, please click on the following link:

To learn common Hebrew words found in the Siddur, Tier II, please click on the following link:

-Written 1-16-19 by Mr. Marc Sender,

We have now met twice as Kitah Hei JLab. During the first meeting we talked through some basics of Jewish prayer – what times we do it, what the services are called, etc. we started with Schacharit and zoomed in on Birkhot Hashachar. We practiced reading in Hebrew and looked at the English after talking about our own morning routines. We talked about importance of giving thanks for the things we take for granted every morning. Each student ended their Birkhot Hashachar with an extra, personal line of thanks. During second session we moved onto the Torah service and looked at the weeks parsha – talking about when Joseph reunites with his brothers. The students analyzed wether they thought Joseph should have been kind like he was to his brothers or if he had the right to hold a grudge, etc.

-Written 1-16-19 by Morah Annie Glasser,

This past Sunday we started to learn about Tu B’Shavat and the importance of the holiday. Why do we need a day to celebrate trees? Does it seem strange that the word birthday or tree is not anywhere to be found in the Hebrew name of the holiday? Please ask your child about the holiday and it’s importance.

-Written 1-16-19 by Mr. Allan Arnet,

To finish our unit on tochechah (respectfully and constructively correcting others) we created a series of one-page comic strips illustrating situations where someone is corrected for their behavior in a way that demonstrates compassion and a desire to be helpful. Many of these comic strips are autobiographical, and we will be adding them to the walls of our classroom as we redecorate. Great job, Hei!

-Written 11-18-18 by Hazzan Lawrence Szenes-Strauss (Mr. S.),

We have just about completed our first unit in the Mensch Handbook. We spoke about what you have to do like shoveling the snow in front of your house. We also spoke about going the extra mile like, not only shoveling the snow in front of your house, but continuing on and shoveling the snow in front of your neighbors house as well. What about making cookies for your neighbor just because. Visiting a sick friend or helping an elderly neighbor with their groceries.

All these extras or as I like to say the “just because”   is what makes us a true mensch. As the weather turns to cold, let us not forget those around us who might need extra help, someone to check on them or maybe even shop for them. Let us all try and add one “just because” today. Try it, it is contagious.

-Written 11-14-18 by Mr. Allan Arnet, 

Kitah Hei spent their afternoon reviewing their Teir I siddur words by quizzing each other, reviewing in small groups and playing a game. We also began looking at Tier II words through call and repeat to begin listening to the sounds.  To learn common Hebrew words found in the Siddur, Tier II, please click on the following link:

-Written 11-12-18 by Morah Aviva Tilles, 

After services Mr. Sherman did a video of the whole school singing Oseh Shalom that he to sent to Pittsburgh.  In class, we continued with our ripple effect unit and how our actions, both positive and negative, have an impact on those around us. Ask your kids how their actions can have an impact on your household.

-Written 11-1-18 by Mr. Allan Arnet, 

Our class has focused for the past two weeks on the question of how properly to accept criticism from another person. This is a challenging but important aspect of personal growth, and tied with the concept of teshuvah (bettering oneself). As a final exercise in class, students wrote thank-you notes to people who have corrected them in ways that were helpful. While they were not required to deliver these letters to their addressees, some chose to do so!

-Written 10-28-18 by Hazzan Lawrence Szenes-Strauss (Mr. S.),

The past couple of weeks in the Hei class have been very productive ones.  Last week the students dove into the meaning of B’tzelem Elohim, being made in the image of G-d.  They discussed what it means to treat all people like they are made in the image of G-d and how that helps us to treat people better.  This past week we worked on the tier 1 siddur words.  We played games practicing our basic level Hebrew vocabulary.  Go ahead and ask your child to tell you some words they know in Hebrew, you may be surprised at how many words they already know.  We wrapped up this week by diving into the prayer Shalom Aleichem and playing a popcorn game where the students worked together to complete the prayer one word at a time.  We paid special attention to following along and pronouncing each word as it is written instead of how we have heard it before.  Next week we will continue our Hebrew vocabulary and explore more B’tzelem Elohim.

-Written 10-10-18 by Mr. Marc Sender,

On Sunday we started the first unit in The Mensch Handbook. The first unit discuss the ripple effect and how our actions both positive and negative can effect those around us. Please ask your child to explain the ripple effect and ask for an example.

-Written 10-10-18 by Mr. Allan Arnet, 

As we continue to learn about the process of respectfully correcting another person (tochechah), we returned to an exercise from our last meeting: abstract line drawings meant to represent our feelings at a time when someone else corrected our behavior. We took time to share what we felt during those incidents, and to discuss whether we had ever followed up with the other person about those feelings. We also took a lesson from the late Fred Rogers and his surprising approach to an advertising campaign that used his likeness without his permission.

-Written 10-12-18 by Hazzan Lawrence Szenes-Strauss (Mr. S.),

We expanded on our introduction to tochechah (constructive criticism). First each student, with the aid of a worksheet, wrote about a time a friend had told them they’d done something wrong. What was said? Where? How did it feel? Afterward students made abstract line drawings to demonstrate their feelings upon being corrected by a friend. These drawings will be used to illuminate our growing understanding of tochechah.

-Written 9-26-18 by Hazzan Lawrence Szenes-Strauss (Mr. S.),

We have a great new text book that we will be using this year called The Mensch Handbook. This book is truly something special and something you will want to keep and read over and over again. I showed the book to the kids on Sunday and asked them to define the word Mensch. Please ask your child what the word Mensch means.  We also reviewed the holiday of Sukkot and the importance to the holiday.

-Written 9-26-18 by Mr. Allan Arnet, 

I am so thrilled to be teaching Hei! By the time we finished our Tefillah (Prayer Service) on Sunday (it was longer then usual) we did not have much time for class. We did go over my long list of classroom rules, it is really just one rule, kavod and got to know one another.

Please ask your child what the world kavod (respect) means. Looking forward to a great year.

-Written 9-18-18 by Mr. Allan Arnet, 

We learned a new Hebrew word: tochechah (תוכחה), or “rebuke.” The Torah commands us to deliver tochechah whenever we see a fellow Jew doing something wrong, but proper tochechah isn’t as easy as it might seem. Using a comic strip as our jumping-off point, we looked at both harmful and constructive ways to correct someone, and discussed how best to apply these lessons in our own lives. We will be exploring this idea, and how it affects our relationships with others, in the coming weeks.

-Written 9-16-18 by Hazzan Lawrence Szenes-Strauss (Mr. S.),

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