Monday, September 15, 2014

Look What's Happening in School and Temple this Fall

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.

Teachers:
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:
Snack:
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. 

Tzedakah:
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 greenfieldp24@yahoo.com

Holidays:
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.

Chai School:
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.

Youth Services:
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.

Grade Services:
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

The Back to School Blogger Edition 2014-2015

Shalom,

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.

Scavenger Hunt*
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.

Youth Services**
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.

Grade Services**
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.

B’shalom,

Morah Judy

*New
**Oldie but goody

Monday, August 4, 2014

Thinking About Science, Judaism, Time Machines

The following article is reprinted from ReformJudaism.org

Note in the picture on the right is our very own Peyton Coel, who incidentally, had the greatest time at this camp.

Until a few days ago, I had never thought about building a time machine. I had never thought about flying a drone. I had never thought about editing files (other than Word Documents or Excel spreadsheets) in the guts of a computer. Now, I’m thinking about all of those things.
Why am I thinking about these things now? A few days ago, my 25-year-old daughter Alyssa and I went to visit a Jewish summer camp. It’s something we’ve done a few times over the years, but this time was different. This time, we visited the Union for Reform Judaism’s newest overnight camp, URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy. Though we only spent several hours at camp, I was profoundly impacted by what we saw and experienced while there.
I’ve always believed that Judaism can and should be able to be integrated into one’s passions – that no one should have to choose between being an athlete and participating in Judaism, between being a dancer, a musician, or a scientist and integrating Judaism into their life. In yesterday’s society, that was challenging. In today’s, it is less so. Many people in the Jewish community are committed to finding ways to help young people integrate their passions with Judaism, and the opening of URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy is a great example.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What is your child doing this summer? What about you?

Chances are pretty good that you'll be spending time in the car with a smart phone or on a computer.  While you have this 'downtime' take the time to learn something Jewish with Jewish Interactive Applications


  • Learn about Sukkot with the Sukkah Challenge.
  • jiConnect lets you see how Jews all over the world celebrate holidays and lets you learn their customs
  • Shabbat Interactive brings you into the magical, enticing and fun-driven realm of shabbat
  • Go on a Mitzvah Hunt in this interactive game, filled with music and animation that encourages children to look for the good in other people.
  • iThank You teaches children the importance of gratitude
  • JI Studio encourages children to let their imaginations run wild.


Start downloading and let me know how it's going.  Have a great summer!



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Reincarnation


Reincarnation is a word that to most Jews screams of foreign cultures. What is not common knowledge, however, is that the reincarnation of souls is a concept found in Judaism known as gilgul.

Before discussing any aspect of gilgul, Jewish Treats feels that it must advise you that this is an extremely complex kabbalistic idea, which we can only present in a broad and superficial manner.

Gilgul is not mentioned in the Torah, nor is it a focus of the sages of the Talmud. In fact, the concept of gilgul only became a topic of study in Medieval times. It was discussed by scholars such as Saadia Gaon (882-942) (who rejected the idea) and Nachmanides (1194-1270) (who accepted it). It was the kabbalists of Safed, however, who delved into the depths of the idea of reincarnation. The teachings of the Arizal (1534 -1572) were published by his disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital (1543-1620), in the book Shaar Hagilgulim. These teachings then gained prominence in the early Chassidic movement.

The basic kabbalistic understanding of gilgul (which comes from the Hebrew word for cycle) is that every soul has a purpose. When a soul does not complete its purpose the first time it enters the physical world, it is returned to this world again in order to create a tikkun (repair). It is placed in a new life in a new body where the flaws of the previous life may best be rectified. And while chassidic/kabbalistic texts discuss reincarnation, it is not a primary focus in Jewish life because it then becomes a distraction to those creating the tikkun.(Sometimes, however, dramatic stories have arisen of special souls that made themselves known.)
Today's Tip:
No Assumptions
 
Before assuming that a concept is foreign to Jewish life, ask a rabbi, Jewish scholar or write to
Jewish Treats (jewishtreats@njop.org)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Making Meaning of the March

The “March” reminds us that the Jewish educational engagement of all Jews must remain an enduring goal.

by Dr. Gil Graff for eJewish Philanthropy

For the third time over a period dating to 1996, I have joined thousands of Jews from dozens of nations around the globe in the experience of “March of the Living.” Initiated by Israeli Jews, a “Holocaust to Redemption” theme is palpable: 70 years ago, Jews were, fundamentally, powerless and millions perished; today, there is a powerful, sovereign State of Israel. This very theme is often – including in his Yom ha-Shoah message – invoked by Binyamin Netanyahu, with reference to the threat of Iranian nuclear capability: “Unlike our situation during the Holocaust, when we were like leaves on the wind, defenseless, now we have great power to defend ourselves….”

Juxtaposition of the Holocaust and a powerful, sovereign state, understandably resonates with most Israelis. Jewish sovereignty, after two millennia, is a remarkable phenomenon. For Israelis, sovereignty and the responsibility of power are realities that call for serious reflection. The experiences of “March of the Living” provide a springboard for such reflection.

Data released shortly before Israel’s Independence Day showed an Israeli Jewish population of 6.135 million, representing 75% of Israel’s 8.18 million residents. The opportunity of shaping a Jewish democratic state, drawing upon values rooted in Jewish teaching, extending to the public sphere in the 21st century, is a unique chapter in Jewish history. Though thousands of North American Jews have chosen to move to Israel, the overwhelming majority of American Jews – no less numerous than our Israeli counterparts – feels quite at home in the land of their birth and citizenship. America is not viewed as a nation in which anything akin to the events leading to the Holocaust – let alone anything resembling the Holocaust – might ever occur. While appreciating the significance of Israeli sovereignty through the lens of the “March,” what, for North American Jews – teens and adults – is the directly applicable take-away of March of the Living?

As there are “seventy faces to the Torah,” there are multiple approaches to making meaning of the “March.” The horrors of genocide and the imperative of responding to the sorts of rhetoric and action that can lead in that direction, are clear. In addition, I would suggest that a key message for North American Jewry is the enduring importance of Jewish learning.

Poland was, for hundreds of years, home to the most populous and, arguably, the most culturally rich Jewish community in the world. Apart from sites that one (hopefully) visits over the course of a “March”-associated week in Poland that reflect this past, a magnificent museum of the Jewish experience in Poland has recently opened, in Warsaw, devoted to sharing this legacy. The vitality of Jewish life was grounded in communities that valued and nurtured Jewish learning which, in turn, related to and influenced daily living. By the latter half of the nineteenth century, hasidim, mitnagdim, maskilim, hovevei zion, socialists, the musar movement and new yeshivot each drew in their own way from a shared heritage of learning. Despite ideological divides, most of these groups were sustained by the rich wellspring of Jewish learning, though – to be sure – differently filtered. “Marchers,” who proceed to Israel, recognize that there, too, elements of shared language undergird the ferment that is part of Israel’s vitality.

Jewish learning represents a shared language that connects Jews of those dozens of countries – including Israel – from which Jews “march.” Moreover, it enables bringing accumulated Jewish wisdom and experience to bear on issues of life and society in the communities of which Jews are a part, ennobling our lives in the process. In the absence of Jewish learning, the fabric of Jewish living – including the capacity to contribute the richness of our heritage to the body politic – will surely fray.

Near the close of this year’s March of the Living ceremony in Birkenau, a Torah scroll was publicly completed. Fittingly, Holocaust survivors shared in transmitting this torch of Jewish learning by filling in some of the last letters of the scroll. If we are to remain a people with a purpose, our actions must be grounded in Jewish learning. The closing words of the Torah are: “before the eyes of all Israel.” The “March” reminds us that the Jewish educational engagement of all Jews must remain an enduring goal.

Dr. Gil Graff is Executive Director of BJE: Builders of Jewish Education.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Testing Positive for Judaism: Unlocking a Family’s Genetic Secret

A genetic test for Tay-Sachs revealed surprising results—and helped my husband and me discover what Judaism means to us

By Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy


Being tested for a genetic disorder is usually not a laughing matter, but that’s exactly what we were doing when my husband had his blood drawn to see if he, like me, was a carrier for Tay-Sachs. His being tested was a formality for us as Jewish prospective parents. We didn’t take it seriously because we didn’t have anything to worry about: Matt had been born and raised Catholic in a rural town in northeastern Pennsylvania. He converted to Judaism before we got married two and a half years before. He had told me that loving me meant loving everything about me, including my Judaism. He had told my parents that he felt a resonance in Judaism that he had never found in Catholicism. He had told our rabbi that he felt personally committed to helping ensure that there would be future generations of Jews in the world, to parent and raise Jewish children of his own. And yet Matt’s commitment to his new faith didn’t alter the statistical improbability of his being a Tay-Sachs carrier.

Which is why we were shocked, stunned, speechless when we learned that he was a carrier. Not just because of what that test result meant for our efforts to have children, but because of what it meant beyond that: My husband, the Jew-by-choice, had been Jewish all along. Genes don’t lie; a genetic counselor told us that Matt had, without a doubt, a specifically Ashkenazic version of the mutation that causes Tay-Sachs.

The news was explosive, but also revelatory. While my husband found himself obsessed with discovering the origins of this long-buried family secret and strangely comforted by a new feeling of understanding with his connection to Judaism, I felt like I was, in many ways, meeting my husband, and my own sense of my faith, all over again.

Keep reading.