Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Back to School Blogger Edition 2014-2015


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.


Morah Judy

**Oldie but goody

Monday, August 4, 2014

Thinking About Science, Judaism, Time Machines

The following article is reprinted from

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.