Vav Class Updates 2018-2019 (5779)

We reviewed the year and talked about all the different groupings of Kadosh (holy):

1. People

2. Places

3. Things

We emphasized how men and women are holy and how we are the start of the whole chain. We discussed that without self esteem we can not fulfill G-d’s wish of our being Holy and being born in the image of G-d.  We discussed some of the laws in the Torah and how they apply to our being holy.

-Written 5-19-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

Our Yom HaShoah program focused on the theme of indifference to the suffering and persecution of others. In doing so, it highlighted the response of the American government and many Americans to the plight of Jewish refugees from Nazi antisemitism seeking entrance into this country during the 1930’s. The response was characterized largely by xenophobia, nativism and Judeophobia. The American refusal to admit greater numbers of Jewish refugees was highlighted by the screening of the film, “The Double Crossing: The Story of the St. Louis.” The 80th anniversary of this doomed voyage of some 900 Jewish refugees, turned away by the United States, Canada and Cuba, symbolized the indifferent response of the world to Jews attempting to flee the Third Reich. The lesson that Elie Wiesel took from the world’s apathy in the face of the genocide of European Jewry was that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. Another lesson is the need for a Jewish state, the state of Israel, that can serve as a Jewish refuge and haven.

-Written 5-6-19 by Dr. Elliot Lefkovitz


We began with a powerful Yom HaShoah Assembly led by Dr. Elliot Lefkovitz.  I then covered the followed with Kitah Vav:

1. The Avot and Emahot – when you are talking to G-d we need to introduce who we are and what is your background. Does G-d need your introduction? No but just like a parent teaches you to say thank you and introduce yourself so do we do the same with G-d

2. How Awesome is G-d- we say how great G-d is and how we thank him/her for all they have done throughout the ages. Then we go after complementing and make our request.

3. Requests- now we get to our requests

4. We introduced the concept of in Tefilot of :

a. What – what do I want from G-d

b. Why – why do I want it – for a greater good or to be selfish

c. What does G-D want? – what would G-d want us to do.

We looked in the Siddur and saw how this applies.

-Written 5-5-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

We talked about the Mishkan (Tabernacle in the dessert) how the Tribes were arranged around the Mishkan and what was the Hierarchy regarding Moses vs Aaron being the high priest. We also learned that the arrangement of spacing around the Mishkan included Josephs two sons Efraim and Mannashe. We saw pictures how the camp looked and students asked great questions about the layout as well as who was permitted into the area of the Mishkan.

-Written 4-28-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

School presentation of Bar – Bat Mitzvah Projects. Some great and interesting presentations.  We then got into a conversation about how to arrive at Jewish law. We took a look at how the Talmud is constructed. All the different parts and how a page of Talmud is studied and dissected. We reviewed the concept of Torah Mishnah and Talmud and looked at an actual page of the Talmud.

-Written 4-14-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

We learned about the concept of Hametz and the origin in the Torah for the restrictions on Passover as well as the positive commandment of Matzah.  We discussed the difference between leavening and fermentation to understand why wine is kosher on Passover but Honey-nut bread is not.  Pickles are fermented and kosher for Passover … A pound cake baked with yeast and baked for more than 18 minutes is NOT.  We also saw and reviewed the concept of selling Hametz via a Pruzbul (a contract selling your Hametz for the week of Passover). Finally, we focused on the two basic laws of Passover: eating Matzah on the first days and NOT eating Hametz (leavened items).

-Written 4-7-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

We had a small group so we focused on their project which I will forward to you. The project was to describe and illustrate via pictures different parts of the First and Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and some of the activities that occurred including some of the activities of the high priest.

-Written 3-3-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

We were at the mitzvah projects presentations and enjoyed learning about the Passion, Am Yisrael and Israel projects of the students from Kitah Zayin. This really covers all bases and makes the student stretch.  We had some time and the students continued to work on their First and Second Temple projects both graphic and word based. They also viewed a short film on Tefilin which will elaborate on next session.

-Written 2-24-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

Vav had a great discussion about the tabernacle (Mishkan– that moves) and how it influenced prayer and how the rabbis set up a structure of prayer. We also went on a tangent which I felt acceptable understanding the situation in the Gaza strip with individuals- as Palestinians  who are caught between a “rock and a hard place” in a no win situation  being used as a toy of the United Nations  yet Israel should not be responsible for the mistakes of other nations that did not support their own people.

We also started to look at Tefillin,  sources such as Shema and how it relates to Tefillin and what is inside the Tefillin.

-Written 2-10-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

The class continued their discussions around three topics: embarrassing others, laws between two people, and lashon hara (evil speech, guarding your tongue).  We shared examples of situations where we can be more sensitive to the feelings of others, and how to set the example to be a holy people.  We noted that these three topics are all interwoven, and the need to treat others as we wish to be treated.

-Written 2-5-19 by Mr. Eytan Dallal, Substitute Teacher

Today we broke into groups and worked on a project to list 1. Behaviors of certain Mitzvot, 2. Hear the “words” of the Mitzvah and 3. FEEL this way about the Mitzvah. Directly below are the boards drawn and outcomes.

-Written 1-27-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

I started a conversation about How much time is “leap”, in a secular year and how much time is “leap” time in a Jewish leap year? We discussed the fact about a Jewish calendar in many months having 28 days and others more days. The idea of a leap month, and what holiday is the FIRST holiday in a leap year and how do we celebrate it?  Is this a leap year? How do you know by the calendar we are in a leap year and what Holiday is the first leap year holiday? How do you deal with a second Purim? Which is the one we celebrate?

We then went back to our original topic of Sacred communities and talked about group projects how projects are activities we do all our lives as adults and what to do if someone in your group does not what to work.

-Written 1-20-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

The students spent some time (20 minutes) working on their project of explaining about the second Jewish Temple.  Before that we reviewed the concept of individual holiness up to the idea of Kehila Kedosha – holy community. We then spoke about the differences in other holy communities and how Islam is closer to Judaism than Christianity and how we worship one G-d just like the Islam faith.

-Written 1-13-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

We reviewed our concept of Kadosh from the individual out to the community to the world to the Universe to the holy place. In that guise we are continuing with the project of breaking up into two groups and developing a presentation on the holy of holiest places for the Jews. The Temple in Jerusalem. They chose the second Temple from around 516 BCE to 70 AD.  We reviewed a virtual reality of the Temple fully built from the South corner entrance and I explained the geography now.

-Written 1-6-19 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

We have continued to work on conversational vocabulary and useful phrases while incorporating important words for understanding the siddur. Several students have taken it upon themselves to create a scavenger hunt activity, which we will be doing on December 19th. This should be fun!

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

This period we all are working on a visual description of a holy place the First Temple in Jerusalem. There will be two groups. Today each group will present a video description of the first Temple which will include physical highlights such as the Holy of Holies, The Temple mount and a description of the groups (Types of Kohanim (priests)) who worked on the Temple mount and what they were their jobs.

-Written 12-16-18 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

We lit Hanukah candles but also had a discussion which way to light them.  We discussed the easiest way to remember is to light the newest candles first so we have to put in the oldest first then light the newest candle. We also discussed a little of the military history of Chanukah and how it was one of the first instances of Guerrilla warfare.  We also did a Kahoot I used on Chanukah which discusses the history as well as laws of Chanukah.

-Written 12-9-18 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

Over the past two weeks we have been working on recognizing and using color words in Hebrew sentences. We even took a student-created Kahoot! quiz to check our knowledge! Over Thanksgiving break, students are encouraged to use the vocabulary words they have learned, as well as greeting phrases and basic statements about their own lives (where they are from, how they are doing, etc.).

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

Bonding. – we started by playing “my life in the middle game “ it worked well. A few children did not start in the game but later came in.  We then continued on with the concept of Kadosh and the two types of Kadosh / Ben Adam Lhavero, between man and his fellow man (people) Ben Adam Lamakom (man and G-d) we spent the rest of class illustrating examples of each and how they apply to us. Also how some of the Mitzvot between man and G-d are hard to understand.

-Written 11-18-18 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

Over the past two weeks we have been working on recognizing and using color words in Hebrew sentences. We even took a student-created Kahoot! quiz to check our knowledge! Over Thanksgiving break, students are encouraged to use the vocabulary words they have learned, as well as greeting phrases and basic statements about their own lives (where they are from, how they are doing, etc.).

Today we talked about the concept of Kadosh for the individual and are we holy as individuals and why the Torah specifically says we have an OBLIGATION to be holy and first of all respect ourselves and how lucky we are to be alive. Not many people in the world are as lucky as we are to be alive and healthy and relatively prosperous. We talked about a few central concepts in this respect.  Va’ahavta L’Rei’a’cha Ka’mo’cha – love your neighbor as yourself. Does it LITERALLY mean to love your neighbor as yourself? No, we discussed why and how.

Dan Lkaf zechut – benefit of the doubt – how we should always lean as such

Havanat Paniim – embarrassment and how that is against Jewish law.

Kedoshim Tehiyu – we shall be holy and how we have a Mitzvah obligation to be holy and why

-Written 11-11-18 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

Today we had a great class focusing on why there is an issue of embarrassing someone and they are Kadosh just like you. We used the video about Flint and his  idea of  Spray on shoes to show how we all have similar situations. We talked about the concept in Leviticus of Kedoshim Teheyoo..   And you (Jewish People) shall be holy…. showing how this relates to each of us and how a Mitzvah is a commandment not just a good deed. We also discussed the 248 positive commandment concept and the 365 negative commandments and the difference.

-Written 10-14-18 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

This week we tested out our vocabulary, and learned some more, by taking instructions related to objects around the room. Students learned to respond to instructions to sit, stand, touch the door, touch the whiteboard, sit on a table, sit under a table, write, and draw. They are also learning to recognize when an instruction is given to a boy, a girl, or a group of people. (The verb is conjugated differently in each case.)

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

Wow – we started out talking about the concept of Kadosh and what it means as far as holy places, ideas , and persons.

We then got into a great discussion about the Temple and the Temple mount the Kodesh Kodashim and the Kohen Gadol. Holy of Holies, High Priest and the ceremonies and processes of sacrifices, why we sacrificed and some of the laws of Kashroot (keeping kosher) related to sacrifices. Students were very curious about the Bet Hamikdash (temple mount and structure) so we googled some pictures and had some discussions.

-Written 9-23-18 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

Using conversation as a model, we began to learn vocabulary about families and possession, as well as some more ways to greet a person or ask about them. Students are gaining confidence in their ability to speak simple, coherent sentences in Hebrew. As we add vocabulary, we will focus more on words common in the siddur.

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

On our first date we spent time getting to know one another. We began by reviewing the agreement between students and the teacher. As Kitah Vav students have more independence but also more responsibility.

We spoke of the different areas we will cover in class including the concept of holy, holiness both spaces, places and as individuals. We hope to get much deeper into this as the semester continues.

-Written 9-18-18 by Mr. Dennis Gelbart,

After catching up on each other’s summer adventures, we began a new phase in Hebrew education: building our vocabularies, with the eventual goal of being able to understand most texts in a siddur by only looking up occasional words. We are using a modern Hebrew conversational approach to learning these vocabulary words. By practicing basic greetings and personal information, we laid a foundation of simple words and grammatical concepts (such as gender agreement, possession, and word order) that will be invaluable as we continue our studies.

-Written 9-6-18 by Hazzan Lawrence Szenes-Strauss (Mr. S.),

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