Norma’s HaKol Article

Temple Beth El Religious School January 2020 Update

Norma James normajames@tbeknox.org

Happy New Year and welcome back to Religious School!

Midweek Class Resumes January 8th and Religious School resumes January 12th.

After all the Chanukah festivities and long school vacation, it feels really nice to have a quiet January.  This gives our staff an opportunity to get back into teaching our wonderful ISJL Curriculum.  Special events are great, but students enjoy just having the time to study and play with their Religious School friends.  We always strive to make each Sunday an engaging experience for everyone.  Our fingers are crossed that our weather cooperates!

Yes, we have Religious School on MLK Weekend! This is a wonderful opportunity for our teachers to plan lessons that promotes our Jewish values of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and g’milut chasadim (acts of loving kindness).  We will plan some special music and T’filah to fit the theme of the day.

Let’s talk about Hebrew: I want all of our families to know that your children are doing an amazing job learning Hebrew!  We have students at all skill levels, and everyone is making wonderful progress. 

  • Our PreK & Kindergarten students enjoy Hebrew songs, prayers, and activities that introduce them to the sights and sounds of Hebrew.
  • Our 1st/2nd graders are rockin’ their Aleph Bet. I feel very confident that they will truly know the name and sound of every letter by the end of the year.  They are also learning how vowels work with letters to make syllables.  They will be able to recognize several prayer words and recite several prayers by memory by May.
  • Our 3rd/4th graders are blowing my mind with how well they are catching on to reading Hebrew. We are locking in their letter and vowel skills. They are learning how to divide unknown words into syllables and then decode them.  These bright children are learning how prayers are organized and beginning their Prayer Hebrew vocabulary.  This class can already READ & CHANT the Daily Miracles!  They ASK to take home Aleph/Bet flashcards to practice on their own!  I even had two of them tell me they were disappointed when we had another event that replaced Hebrew class one Sunday. I am so proud of them! Speaking of proud, we have some students with special needs who are learning Hebrew as well.  Of course, these children have different learning issues, and Emily Schulman and I work to design a program that works for each child.  Emily also stays for Extended Hebrew to provide extra help to anyone who needs it.  Emily is doing a beautiful job with her students. 
  • Our 5th/6th/7th graders are fabulous. This group is diverse in skill level and years of Hebrew preparation.  Yet, they are supportive of each other and help without being asked.  This is exactly the atmosphere that promotes learning.  The 5th and 6th graders understand that we don’t expect them to be totally prepared for B’nai Mitzvah this year, but they learn faster when they have the models of our 7th graders to help them when we read as a group.  Our students are gaining a good vocabulary of Prayer Hebrew. We want them to “Know what they say when they pray.”  They have learned how to read and chant many prayers and are working through the Prayer Book in preparation for their B’nai Mitzvah.  We want our students to have a clear idea of what they need to learn.

We are able to use both whole group and small group learning on Sundays and Wednesday thanks to my co-teachers Justen Bain and Ryan Gibbons.  Ryan also stays late on Sunday to provide extra assistances to our students who need it. We are fortunate to have these wonderful young men. The students love working with them.

Friday, February 7th Chai Class conducts Shabbat service for KJA Shabbat