BY OMID SAFI, WEEKLY COLUMNIST For On Being
I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.”
Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.”
The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.
And it’s not just adults. When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right.
After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled. She finally said: “She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it’s gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She’s just…. so busy.”
Horribly destructive habits start early, really early.
How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?
Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we overschedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?
Thursday, October 30, 2014
By Malina Saval for Raising Kvell
So I totally get that sitting around with friends bashing your collective Hebrew school experience from the 80s is pretty much a national Jewish sport, and that we’re all so “traumatized” and “tortured” by the years spent in the cantor’s office memorizing our haftarah portions while wondering when his shiny black hair piece was finally going to fall off that now we’re all refusing to send our own kids to Hebrew school, complaining that it’s a waste of time and they’re not going to learn anything anyway.
But I’m here to tell you that sending my kids to Sunday morning religious school at our local Los Angeles area synagogue is quite possibly the best thing to happen to me post-childbirth since the prescription for Percoset that I got following my two emergency C-sections.
Admittedly, my perspective is slightly skewed because I’m also a Hebrew school educator, but only part-time, one morning a week, in-between writing books, journalism assignments, and my full-time job as an online magazine editor (I want to make it clear that I’m not really this rah-rah sheket b’vakasha…hey!Hebrew school teacher spokesperson; I don’t wear t-shirts with the name of my synagogue on it).
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014
Friday the 17th at 5:30 – Youth Service and Dinner
There is also a 7:30 service with special speaker, Julis Stiles, biblical artist. Her artwork will be on exhibit in the Ben Weisbein Social Hall beginning Oct. 14th
Sunday the 19th at 5 p.m. member Ted Herstand presents his one-man play, “Harold.” Deli supper to follow. Tickets are $25 and must be made in advance.
Kabbalah, Mysticism, and Spirituality - Wednesday nights, beginning October 22nd through December 17th.
Through the different insights of teachers such as, the Neo-Chasidic teacher Rabbi Arthur Green, and Jewish scholars like Martin Buber, Aryeh Kaplan, and Abraham Joshua Heschel, we will explore deeper ideas and insights that can help us understand what useful insights does this shrouded Jewish mystical tradition hold. This will be not only take kabbalah and Jewish mysticism into consideration textually and historically but we will also be experientially delving into guided meditations, niggunim, and much more. Please join us on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Sign up with Stacie, firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-862-5125
Adult Hebrew Crash Course - Thursday nights beginning October 23rd through December 18th
Have you always wanted to learn to read Hebrew but never had the opportunity? Now’s your chance. If you’ve never had a Hebrew lesson before, this class is for you. You’ll be reading after the first session, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. sign up with Judy, email@example.com or 802-862-5125
Global Day of Jewish Learning – Sunday, November 16th 10:00 a.m.-12 p.m.
The 2014 theme is Heroes, Villains, Saints and Fools: The People in the Book. The Bible is not a book to be idly read in passing, and the men and women of the Scriptures are more than mere life portraits: they continue to live and function long after their deaths in this world. Four separate units to choose from, adults and teens. No reservation needed, just show up.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
So what makes a lulav and etrog “perfect”?
Lulav/Branch of a Palm Tree: A lulav is actually the closed frond of a date palm tree. A nice lulav is green, with no signs of dryness. It should be straight, without any bends or twists near the top. The tip and top leaves of the lulav must be whole, and not split. It is placed in the center of the hadassim and the aravot with its spine facing inward.
Hadassim/Three Myrtle Branches: The hadassim, which are bound on the right side of the lulav, should have moist, green leaves grouped in level rows of three. There should be no large, uncovered section of stem. The stem and the leaves should be whole, without any nips at the top and the leaves should cover the entire branch to the top. There should not be more berries than leaves and there should be no large twigs.
Aravot/Two Willow Branches: The aravot, which are bound to the left side of the lulav (slightly lower than the hadassim) should have reddish stems with green, moist leaves. The leaves should be long, narrow and smooth-edged, with no nips or tears.
Etrog/Citron: The Torah describes the etrog as “the fruit of a beautiful tree” (Leviticus 23:40). Ideally, the skin of this yellow (or green when not ripe) citrus fruit must be clean of spots and discolorations. It should be bumpy, not smooth like a lemon, and should be broad at the bottom and narrow toward the top. (Please note that the etrog is very delicate and should be handled with care. If dropped, the etrog can be damaged and rendered unfit for use!)
Wishing everyone a Chag Sameach
Reprinted from JewishTreats.
Monday, September 15, 2014
It was so great to see everyone on our first day of school. As always, there was so much excitement in the air as friends greeted old friends, made some new ones, and met the new teachers.
This is going to be a lengthy, newsy blog post so please take the time to read it when you have time.
Jade Walker - Grades 1-2
Zora Berman - Grade 3
Audrey Chafetz (J) & Judy Alexander (H) - Grade 4
Jon Polson - Grades 5-6
Dana Rachlin (J) & Bruce Chalmer (H) - Grade 7
Teacher bios are posted outside the classroom. Additionally, all of you (except grade 1-2 parents) should have received an introductory letter from your child’s teacher(s).
New programs this year:
Jewish Scavenger Hunt. Yesterday each student received a “Passport to the Jewish Year” filled with suggested Jewish activities whereby each child will earn a ‘point’ for each activity completed. We will offer small rewards at the quarterly ceremony, as outlined in the passport. A students completing 24 activities by the end of the year will get a grand prize.
Not on the list but talked about: On October 5th Brotherhood needs help moving tables and chairs out of the classrooms for rug cleaning. Your child can earn a point for doing this activity. Please let Patty Greenfield know if you plan to participate.
Own a Holiday. I will go into detail about this on Sunday, September 21. You and your child should plan to attend this orientation session at 10 a.m. as it will affect the entire congregation.
Join the Rabbi:
Every Thursday from 4:15-5:15 Rabbi Glazier plans to have an informal gathering with parents and congregants who would like to drop in to ask questions and/or talk about current events in the Jewish/Israel world.
Oldies but goodies:
As in years past, you will need to sign up to bring snack several times a year. The snack sign-up schedule is not yet up and won’t begin until October. I’ll send out an email when it’s running. Try to keep it simple and if you are sending in fruit, please wash it.
Your child is encouraged to bring each week either money or a non-perishable food item for the food shelter
Hike for Hunger:
We’re teaming up with Hunger Free Vermont this year on September 27th to participate. Register at: www.firstgiving.com/team/276486. For more details go to www.hungerfreevt.org
and follow the links to Hike for Hunger 2014 or contact Patty Greenfield firstname.lastname@example.org
Lots of them are coming up in short order. Sept. 24th is Erev Rosh Hashanah
No school Oct. 9th due to Sukkot
Oct. 16 is Simchat Torah and we plan to hold services during school hours with a dinner to follow. Plan to stay with your child for services for this holiday and also to Consecrate our new students and to give siddurim/prayer books to those in grades 4 and upwards who have not yet received their siddurim.
Begins Oct. 2nd. Watch for registration.
Torah Chanting for 6th Grade students
Begins Oct. 23rd from 6:15-6:35
Adult Beginning Hebrew Reading Crash Course
Begins Oct. 23rd from 7:00-8:30
November 16th – Learning opportunity for the whole family
Tot Shabbat and Story Hour
Listed on the school calendar. First Story Hour is on Sept. 21st. Students in grades 5-7 are encouraged to sign up to help with both or either of these monthly events.
Zora Berman, our Grade 3 & Music Teacher, will also lead these services. Different students over the course of the year will be participating. I will let you know in advance if your child is part of a given monthly service. These 5:30 services are youth friendly and followed by a dinner, provided by our Brotherhood. It’s a wonderful way to meet other parents and make Temple connections and I encourage you to come as often as possible.
The following grades are leading the services on the following dates:
Jan. 17th - grades 5, 6 & 7
Jan. 31st - grade 4
March 21st - grades 1, 2 & 3
Please plan to be at your child’s class service as this is considered a class session; you are also encouraged to attend other grade services that your child may not be in. Since we are a one-day-a-week program, we try to have enrichment opportunities, such as services. We do have a service attendance requirement -- all students should attend 8 services per year; students in the year preceding their B'nai Mitzvah should plan on attending 16 services, with four of those services being a Bar/Bat Mitzvah (either at this temple or another one). When your child attends a service, please have him/her put the date in the black loose-leaf note book, which is either on the black table in the lobby or in its drawer.
Hebrew program for grades 1-6
As I mentioned at Orientation, the new Hebrew program/books we’re using this year have an online component called the Online Learning Center (OLC). This component serves to supplement the Hebrew learning your child does in the classroom through games, activities and practice. It can be accessed from any computer as long as you have a unique sign-in and password. If your child does not have her/his own email, s/he can use yours. However, if you have more than one child in the school, you will need a unique email for each child. Parents should all have received the letter and permission form for you to sign up. I cannot add your child to the OLC until I have your returned permission form so please get this back to be ASAP.
In addition to the OLC, the Behrman House website, www.behrmanhouse.com has other exercises anyone can use. Another great/fun website for your child to practice and learn Hebrew is www.shalomsesame.org
I want you to know that all of us at Temple--me, Rabbi Glazier, Mark Leopold, Stacie Gabert, Patty Greenfield, and all the teachers and board members are here to see that you and your child have a successful year and become valued members of Temple. If you have any questions or concerns, we’re here for you so please speak with one of us directly and if we cannot help, we can refer you to the proper party who can be of assistance. This is YOUR temple, it is what you make of it. We’re glad you’ve chosen to make us your ‘second’ Jewish home.
Best wishes for a Happy & Sweet New Year/Shanah Tovah u’Metookah,
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Welcome back. I hope you were able to enjoy the beautiful summer, whether spent in Vermont or elsewhere.
I want to take this opportunity to let you know about the upcoming school year, some program additions as well as curricular changes. What changes can you expect to see?
Online Learning Center (OLC)*
This year our Hebrew program across grades 1-6 is using a program from Behrman House Publishing called the Online Learning Center (OLC). The texts the students will be using have a classroom component and a home component where your child can practice what s/he learned in the classroom with computer games and exercises. It is also a way for teachers and parents to communicate and teachers to keep track of homework and the progress your child is making.
Each child will be issued a ‘passport’ of mitzvah activities to perform throughout the year. This might be attending a service at temple, donating time or money to a worthy cause, helping a neighbor, etc. As your child hits each benchmark, s/he will receive a reward. Anyone achieving 100% of their benchmarks will have a special reward at the end of the year.
Own a Holiday*
Each grade and school family will be assigned and responsible for one of the following holidays: Tu Bishvat, Purim, Passover and Shavuot. You will work with Patty Greenfield to plan and implement a hands-on and learning opportunity for the entire Temple. More information at our Holiday Info meeting on September 21 at 10:00 a.m.
Once again our Youth Services meet once a month at 5:30 beginning October 17. They will be under the leadership of Zora Berman, our new Kitah Gimmel/3rd Grade teacher and Song Leader. Zora will be working with the students 2-3 times a month in the 6:00-6:15 time slot teaching them parts of the service which the students will lead throughout the year.
Please make note of the Saturday service which your child’s class is leading. We know that there are many extra-curricular activities but it’s one Saturday a year so please make every effort to be at the service.
What we need from you:
Reinforce learning: See that your child practices Hebrew every day. One hour a week is not enough time to teach a language. The more s/he practices at home, the more at ease s/he will feel in school.
Model: Good Jewish practices. Come to our Youth Services and Tot Shabbat. Learn some Shabbat songs and sing them at home. Add just one practice a month, whether it’s lighting Shabbat candles, making the blessing over the wine or challah, cooking a special holiday food, reading a Jewish story--it’s never too little. The rabbi, the teachers and I are here to help. We have many resources we’d love to share.
Volunteer: We are looking for parents to serve on our Education Advisory Council. Many of our ideas have come from meeting and talking with parents. I can’t do it alone, I value your input. It’s not a huge time commitment and it’s a great way to meet other parents and make new friends.
Share your talents: Do you have a skill or talent you’d like to share? Perhaps you can help in a classroom through using art to teach Jewish subjects; journaling; singing; leading a band/choir; teaching Israeli dancing; using video or technology to advance education. We’d love to hear your suggestions.
Listen: Ask your child specific things s/he learned that s/he can teach you. Did they learn a new blessing? A custom? A Hebrew word?
I look forward to seeing all of you at our Open House on September 11th at 4:00 pm. Come meet the new teachers, greet old and new friends. We do need you to register, if you haven’t already. It’s very easy with your Chaverware account. If you’ve never set it up, just go to the Temple website and click on Chaverweb Sign In. If you’ve forgotten your username or password, you can always apply for another.
I want to wish all of you a Shanah Tovah u’Metookah, a Happy and Sweet New Year and I look forward to seeing everyone on September 11th.
**Oldie but goody