Sep 14

Our own sounds


“Imagine the sound of a great שופר (shofar),” I said, “calling out with a message for the whole world. What do you think it would say?”

“It’s saying, why are we here on earth?” said a third grader.

“Warmth and love” said a fourth grader.

“If ten people blow a שופר (shofar),” said another third grader, “each one of them will say something different.”


What would your shofar say?



Sep 14

How important is it to have a set time of year for forgiveness?

Fifth through seventh graders debated the importance of having a set time of year for giving and receiving forgiveness.

  • “You should have a day where you can confess stuff without getting in trouble.”
  • “Maybe it’s good to have a deadline.”
  • “You don’t need to wait for the new year to say sorry, but you do need a chance to start over.”
  • Forgiveness…to your body, to your mom.”
  • “It’s important because you can rely on it. Let’s say I did something wrong and were a little scared about asking for forgiveness. This way, I have something to latch on to.

Sep 14

Shteelim Shana Tovah Cards

This week Shteelim (‘saplings’ for kindergarten) worked on רֹאשׁ הַשָׁנַה (Rosh Hashanah) cards for their families.

We traced lots of shapes like a תַפּוּחַ (tapuach– apple), a שׁוֹפָר (shofar), a רִימוֹן (rimon– pomegranate) and a pot of דְּבַשׁ (d’vash– honey).

“I’m making mine for my family”

“[Mine is for] my mom”

While we drew, we thought about why we might give people cards.

“Because it’s nice!”

“To give them a sweet new year.”

“I drew my mom in this picture”

“That’s my sister.”


“I’m having friends at my Rosh Hashanah dinner!” “I’m having friends too.”

“Look how many friends are here!”

We thought about what people at a Rosh Hashanah dinner might do.

“They’re baking challah. I’m making the challah, the people, the grape juice and the table.”

And what they might talk about.

“They’re talking about if they think it’s yummy or not yummy.”


And we wished the people we love a שָׁנָה טוֹבָה (Shana Tovah– Happy New Year)!

“Maybe I’ll [add] something else tomorrow!”

Shteelim use their creativity to share New Year wishes with the people they care about.

Sep 13

Shteelim Shofar Exploration

Earlier in the week, children spent a lot of time using  שופרות (shofarot)  in their play, they were really focused on sound.


The past two days, I brought a שופר (shofar) in a Mystery box. We sat down together and took turns putting our יד (yad– hand) in the box, just one of many ways we could extend our exploration of the שופר (shofar).

“It feels smooth and a little bumpy!”

“The texture is rough!”  “It feels a little twisty!”


After we explored the שופר (shofar) with just our יד (yad– hand), we asked the questions we had about the שופר (shofar).  The biggest question for everyone was, “how do you make sound come out of the שופר (shofar)?”

Everyone took turns trying to make a “real” שופר (shofar) sound.


We were really excited when one of the children presented a strategy that really works!

“Look at what my lips are doing (while pressing the שופר (shofar)  to their lips)… It helps if you take a deep breath first… I can show you again.”

Different children spent time trying out this strategy. The children are excited about being able to hear more people blow שופר (shofar) and learn different strategies.

In Shteelim (‘saplings’ for kindergarten) we explore what we are curious about and take care of each other!

Sep 12

Moments of Kindness

We’ve been together for less than one week, and my goodness what a gorgeous community we’re shaping up to be.

It’s in the little moments, filled with kindness and care for each other. 

את רוצה מים “At rotzah mayim?” (Would you like water?). And then one child poured it for the other child, who was busy counting crackers.

“Do you want to see my picture?”

“What sound does this vowel make?” a first grader asked a second grader.

I can’t wait to see how we’ll grow together!

Sep 07

All in a Day’s Work

Did you know that Shteelim (“Saplings” for kindergarten) and Nitzanim (“Buds” for 1st grade) are researchers?

They make observations: 

“Look, round challah.”

They ask research questions: 

“What does a תפוח (tapuach–apple) smell like?” “Like cantaloupe.”

“What צבעים  (tseva’im–colors) are on a תפוח (tapuach–apple)?”

They test hypotheses: 

“Look what happens when I add מים (mayim–water) to my painting.”

They review their careful notes:

And they share interpretations! 

Morah (Educator): Why might Jewish people eat תפוחים (tapuchim–apples) on Rosh Hashanah?

  • “It’s the season to go apple picking. Maybe celebrate [Rosh Hashanah] for apple season.”

  • “Because it’s fun. Because it’s sweet.”

  • “When it [Rosh Hashanah] first started, apples were good luck. Giving good luck to the new year by eating apples.”

  • “When Jewish people were hungry… I think the only food they would find were apples.”

Whew! It’s all in a day’s work.


Sep 01

I’d Go Anywhere With You

Four full-day field trips, and oh, my! you amaze me.

You navigated yourselves through downtown Chicago

Organized yourselves to wait patiently

Stuck together (and ate) in the rain and wind and wet grass, wherever we were and without complaint

And shouted out your joy in being together and everything you’d accomplished.

You’re kids who can go wherever your dreams will take you, because you have each other.

Let’s go to the ends of the universe together and make this world everything you have the power to make it be

Sep 01

That Moment

You know that moment when the children grow still, and they’re so intensely focused?

The Chagall works that we saw this week did that to the children. Every time, after an initial rush to explore and take it all in, they sat transfixed, amazed, quiet. For a half an hour or longer.

And I sat, too, grateful. A thousand moments of practicing with children: skills for observation, for empathy, for accessing our own response to the world, and now, look what we know.

Aug 28

Jewish Architecture Week

Jewish Enrichment Camp was a blast!

As children shared the projects they’d worked on all week, one child took the iPad and made a video of the projects and the great feeling of accomplishment in the room. So cool!

Another child – a third grader! – wrote an introduction for visitors to all of the projects. What an amazing synthesis of our week! He wrote,

“this week, we made sculptures, which all had something to do with Judaism and archetecture [sic]. we had 3 main ideas:

  1. How does the building make you feel?
  2. what makes a building Jewish?
  3. What are Jewish values in building?

Write your response to any of those 3 questions, and your name. Have fun!”

Jun 08

Completing the Year on a Sweet Note

Shorashim (‘roots’ for nursery) and Shteelim (‘saplings’ for Kindergarten) had a wonderful last week of Jewish Enrichment for the שנה (shanah– year)!

Playing one last game of מסטיק (Mastik– the Hebrew version of, “bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish”)!

Last עברית (Ivrit– Hebrew) choices!

Finishing our אותיות (otiot– Hebrew letters) book!

Playing a משחק צבע (mischak tzevah– color game) outside with the parachute!

We made the parachute into a tent!

Baking some of the favorite things we have baked!

See you next שנה (shanah– year)!

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