Grades 1-3

with Brianna Brostoff & Rikki Condos


February 12, 2012
Despite a rough patch in respect and attentiveness this week, we discussed one of the most important Jewish holidays of the year: Shabbat! What does it mean to us? How do we observe it? Do we need to observe it exactly as we're told to? How does Shabbat impact our lives and what can we learn/gain from it? Is it a burden or an opportunity? We covered some of these probing questions in class and I encourage you to experience Shabbat in your own home if you do not already! Please parents, remind your children that this class must be taken as seriously as their regular school classes. Next week we will open with a little discussion about respecting the classroom, our classmates, and our teachers. Thank you!

February 5, 2012
What do kids and trees have in common? In this week's class we delved into discussing this week's tree-related holiday, Tu B'Shvat! After reviewing last week's kashrut lesson, we played a matching game and tried to remember which foods can be eaten together if we are keeping kosher. We read a Tu B'Shvat story, talked about the importance of trees in our lives, and learned a song and dance which we performed for the other classes. It was quite a hit!

January 22, 2012
Shalom! Following t'fillah, our combined classes had music time with Ricki, then gathered together for a weekly check in. After a brief hafsakah, we started our Tu B'shvat study by constructing a "community forest", whereby each student drew their own tree of life with words, colors, and pictures expressing their life foundation and values and who in their experiences have added to it. Our "forest" will "planted" on the walls of BIJ next week and will be prominently on display at the First Friday Shabbat Service and Potluck Dinner on February 2.

December 4, 2011

Combining our class with Shani's class this week was a great success! We began by watching the G-dcast video detailing the story of Jacob and Esau, this week's parasha, and discussing our understandings of change and struggle, and how they are interrelated to one another. Our conversation allowed students to speak up about what bothers them and how they can change these issues in their lives. After break we split into groups with close-to-even numbers of "big kids" and "little kids" in each. The students recreated scenes from the story using only construction paper, adhesive, and their imaginations. Arranging torn paper in colors of their choice, the groups came up with creative representations of the story's battle, Jacob's change, and the brothers reuniting. Each group presented its art project and the students were fascinated and engaged!


November 20, 2011

Our theme for this Family Education Day was Kehillah Kedoshah. Check out our pictures, they're worth 1000 words!


November 13, 2011

What sweet kids I have the privilege of teaching! I returned to teaching this week to find out that each student present last week put love and effort into making me beautiful birthday cards! After thanking them, we began to discuss "yetzer hatov" and "yetzer harah", respectively, good and evil inclinations. The students shared examples of ways in which their good and evil impulses have been manifest in their lives. We took turns adding features to 2 drawings on the board: one good person and one evil person. The drawings looked pretty similar and we agreed that a) it is almost impossible to tell who is good and who is evil on a surface level, and therefore b) there is no such thing as a person who is entirely good or entirely evil. After the break we began working on our art projects for a homeless shelter, as part of our gmilut chasadim initiative! Hope everyone is having a great week!

October 30, 2011
This week's class was full of art projects! We read a book about the story of Lech Lecha, this week's parsha, and talked about the significance of names. Students shared stories about their names, some even knew their Hebrew names, and what they mean! We made some crayon scratch art with our English and Hebrew names that came out a little differently than we expected, but it was a pretty neat result in the end! We're still working on getting our G'milut Chasadim project together and thought it would be neat if the students could bring in small items like soaps, shampoo, conditioner, combs, paper towels, any old books, or other items you can think of that would be ideal for sending to a homeless shelter. Feel free to send some of these items if possible with your children over the next few weeks, and we'll work on getting them to those in need. Happy week everyone!

October 23, 2011

What a busy day we had! This week's lesson began our series on G'milut Chasadim, or "acts of loving kindness". We talked about ways to help out in the community and whose responsibility it is to put forth charitable efforts. This week's torah portion is Noach, the story of Noah and the Ark. We watched a video about this story on (I strongly recommend this site by the way, for highly accessible short films about each week's portion)! We began discussing a charity/art project in which we will be distributing our art and love to people in a homeless shelter, hospital-bound children, and elderly care facilities. Our first project will be the homeless shelter. Finally, we made animal masks out of paper plates to represent the animals on Noah's ark! See you all next week!

October 16, 2011 

Chag sameach! This week we learned about the four species, spent some time experiencing them hands-on in the sukkah, made collages with found leaves, and discussed customs of Sukkot! We also had an exhilarating music session with Ricki, in which we prepared with some tunes for Simchat Torah next week. I encourage you to ask your children what they can tell you about the four species, and also to visit our BIJ sukkah before the chag ends. Looking forward to seeing you all soon!


October 9, 2011

The morning began with a slideshow presentation about a boy who is helping his father build their sukkah. He describes the holiday and explained why we construct a temporary dwelling each year. We had a fantastic day learning about Sukkot and the traditional ushpizin (guests) who are invited. We discussed characteristics of each character and why they deserve to be invited to the sukkah each year. It was a great opportunity to refresh our memories about our forefathers. Together everyone made paper doll chains of the ushpizin that they want to invite into their sukkah.


September 25, 2011

This week's class was great! We reviewed a bit from last week's lesson on Rosh Hashana, as well as discussing Yom Kippur. The students made Shana Tovah cards, for their families and friends, which I hope get delivered in one piece! I sent the kids home with a word search to do with you and talk more about Yom Kippur. I also sent them with pictures representing the story of Jonah and the Whale, and kapparot, which they are to tell you about at home. If they don't remember to offer, please ask them! Shana tovah! Gmar chatimah tovah, and I look forward to seeing you all in a couple weeks for Sukkot!

September 18, 2011

This past week was quite exciting in our class as we learned about Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. The students shared what symbols they associate with the holiday and talked about how their families celebrate. We had quite a range of answers and it was interesting for their fellow students and me to hear the different customs of each family. We ate apples dipped in honey, played bingo, and learned the significance of the sounds of the shofar. Next week they should be looking forward to learning about Yom Kippur since we won't have another class between the holidays. Shana Tovah everyone! 

First day of Classes - September 11, 2011

It was great to start the YAFE year with so many eager students! Unfortunately, due to some technical issues in the classrooms, we got a slow start. It will be nice to get into a routine and transition quickly between tefillah and the classroom in the coming weeks. We had a rousing music session with Jamie’s class and our music specialist, Ricki Weintraub. After music, our classroom had been rearranged for an afternoon program… so we scrambled a second time! After putting our things back together we were able to make some name tags for our desks. Each was decorated with things that represented each student. We gathered in a standing circle, introduced ourselves and shared what we want to learn this year. With the excitement of the first day, it was hard to concentrate on all the ideas and Jewish concepts we will learn all year, but over the coming weeks we know we’ll learn a lot! I know we’ll have great participation and excitement all year; looking forward to this upcoming week!