Dec 19

Chanukkah Joy

Gather around! It’s time to light the נרות (nerot–candles) for Chanukkah.

How wonderful to be able to celebrate Chanukkah together over the last week, cozy together as the נרות (nerot–candles) burned.

We’ve played competitive games of סביבון (sevivon–dreidel).

Created our own beeswax נרות (nerot–candles) to take home.

And even made special Chanukkah-shaped עגיות (ugiyot–cookies).

We hope your family has a wonderful final night of Chanukkah, and we look forward to being back together in January!

Dec 17

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The past few weeks have included lots of joyful Hanukkah explorations in Shalom Chaverim.


There were Hanukkiyot for touching, feeling, covering and uncovering.

We found the shamash (helper candle!) and counted the neirot (candles) in both English and Hebrew together as we filled the hanukkiyah.

The children explored dreidels, and hanukkiyot as they used cookie cutters to cut out a special Hanukkah treat.

We worked hard together to mix up a delicious batch of sugar cookie dough.



We formed our own hanukkiyah using play dough one day, blocks another, and then magnetic tiles. 

All around the room we found signs of Hanukkah! Spinning the dreidel and cheering for the “winning” letter brought laughter and beaming smiles to the children’s faces.

We shared these joyful feelings by creating our own Hanukkah cards to share with special people in our families.


Happy Hanukkah!

Dec 15

Play, explore, celebrate

We’re still reeling from the excitement and energy of a fascinating first theme. The ענפים (Anafim, “branches” for 3rd-4th grade) projects are up in the social hall, if you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet. And what better way to unwind and celebrate than with חנוכה (Hanukkah)!

(pictured: making cards for loved ones)

Here are a few things Anafim love about חנוכה (Hanukkah):

-Special משחקים (mischakim– games) and challenges: Hey, the words of this special חנכה (Hanukkah) chant are hidden all around the hallway. Can you find them?

How quickly can you put them in order?

Another special חנוכה (Hanukkah) tradition is wondering about and researching the origins of the holiday. There is a lot of cool information from different ancient texts and archaeological evidence, so ענפים (Anafim) are always ready to reflect on what they know and wonder about what else they could discover.

This year, a question about the difference between a חנוכייה (Hanukiyah, the special 9-branch lamp lit on Hanukkah and often called a “menorah”) and a מנורה (menorah– “lamp,” referring to the 7-branched lamp in the ancient temple in Jerusalem) led us on a journey through a Torah text, a Van Gough painting, and the Arch of Titus in Rome. (In our imaginations, of course.)

What’s your favorite Hanukkah tradition?

חנוכה שמח (Hanukkah Sameach, Happy Hanukkah)!

Dec 15

The Learning Keeps Going

Just because our installation of children’s ideas about Torah is now affixed to the wall, it doesn’t mean the learning stops! Here are three ways folks continued to learn from our installation this week.

  1. We Go Back to Reflect on Our Work

We headed downstairs to read and think about each other’s projects.

We wrote each other notes with ideas and questions about our friends’ ideas.

We named what we now know, and what questions we still have about this part of the Torah, relationships, and God.

2. Educators From Other Schools Come Learn, and We Learn From Them

Educators from Mensch Academy visited our installation this week to learn more about how projects let children explore Torah, Judaism, themselves, their communities, and more, all at the same time. Our Enrichment Center educators learned about how to make children’s learning “speak” through the design of our installation, even more strongly.

3. Community Folks Have New Ideas About Torah, and About Children

“There’s real stuff there,” a community member told me. He’s grandfather-age, with no grandchildren enrolled at the Enrichment Center. “I’ve read about half of the children’s comments, and there are really interesting, and deep, ideas. They brings their own perspective to these texts and it gave me something to think about.”


Come visit our installation of children’s ideas about Avraham v’Sarah!

Dec 14

Shteelim Chanukah Story

In Shteelim (‘Saplings’ for kindergarten), we have been listening to and playing the Chanukah story.

The following narrative outlines the Chanukah story as told by Shteelim (different children on different days).


“There was a king, Antiochus. Before the king, Jews could do Jewish things like celebrate Jewish holidays and maybe they sang Aleph-Bet.”

“The king said, ‘No more doing Jewish things!'”

“He told his army [the Syrian-Greek army], “Go mess up the Temple.”


“The Jews had a small army and fought the big Syrian-Greek army, who has elephants to help them fight. The Jews won and could go back to the Temple, but they had to fix it up.”

Fixing a broken Menorah.


“They cleaned, they fixed the menorah.”

“I think they celebrated, they sang and danced.”


We have also started reading different endings to the Chanukah story.

After we read the ending from the Second Book of Maccabees (chapter 10), Some children wanted to know, “Why was the Temple just all fixed up a year later?”

One child thought, “Maybe king Antiochus was still in charge and made them take a long time cleaning.”

Another thought, “Maybe it took a long time to stop the fighting.”

Another child was really curious about when it said, “They brought a lulav and etrog to the Temple like on Sukkot, because they were fighting on Sukkot and couldn’t celebrate.” 

“I think they were fighting on Sukkot because the king really wanted to stop them from doing Jewish things.”  

I can’t wait to hear what questions and ideas the children have about the last ending to the Chanukah story that we will hear this week!






Dec 12

Some clues

I can’t believe that it’s the week before winter break. It feels like we were just beginning the year with the Opening Picnic! And yet, when I look around Beit Nitzanim, there are so many clues that actually, we’ve been together for a while and we’ve learned so much and worked so hard to be a community together.

So what are some of these clues that Nitzanim have left me about the hard work they’ve done to build community?

They all worked together to move a REALLY heavy box of blocks into our classroom. No disagreements, just all working toward the same goal.

They asked questions about each other’s work naturally, without being prompted, showing a genuine interest and care for other people.

They love to do things together.

They teach each other new things, like how to make a pop-up card.

They share materials and space. The closer we sit to each other, the better.

They help each other solve word searches and complete Hebrew challenges.

And so much more.

What a beautiful community you’ve created, Nitzanim.

Dec 11

Chanukkah Everywhere!

We see חנוכה (Chanukkah) everywhere!

“Look a menorah!”

“Another menorah! It has a helper candle.”

We weren’t sure about this one because it looked a little different, but then we counted. It had שמונה (shmoneh–eight) places for נרות (nerot–candles) and one place for the שמש (shamash–helper candle). Must be a חנוכייה (chanukkiyah–Chanukkah menorah).

A סביבון (sevivon–dreidel), too!

We even had a Chanukkah picnic and sang the ברכוֹת (berakhot–blessings) for lighting the חנוכייה (chanukkiyah–Chanukkah menorah).

(Chag Sameach–Happy Holidays) from Shorashim (“Roots” for nursery)!

Dec 07

Abuzz With Purpose

Everywhere we turn, children are fully immersed – in purposeful play, in expressing the big ideas of their project, and in contributing to the community.

The result? Pride. It’s palpable in every room.

See you on Sunday, December 10 to explore and celebrate children’s insightful ideas!

Painting a giant backdrop for our installation

Creating a giant Chanukah celebration

Determined to finish her project

My chanukiyah – count my candle holders!

Verbalizing my ideas while a volunteer writes

Chanukah feast!

Nov 30

Chanukah is Coming!

This week in Shteelim (‘saplings’ for Kindergarten) we are exploring the objects and symbols associated with Chanukah.

We started out by doing some careful looking a Chanukah photographs:


Child 1: “That’s a menorah! I see a Jewish star!” 

Child 2: “It looks like its made out of metal.”

Child 1: “You light candles each night. It has 9 spots for candles. But Chanukah is 8 days.”


Child 3: “I see a lot of people all together and so, so many chanukiyot (menorahs)!”

Child 4: ” I see someone wearing a little rainbow colored hat.”

Child 5: “That’s a kipa.”

Child 2: “I see another one. You might wear a kipa if you are Jewish and believe in God.”

Child 5: “I think they are celebrating.”

Child 6: “I think they might eat yummy foods like latkes!”

Child 7: “I think they might sing Chanukah songs and hear the story of Chanukah!”



We played סְבִיבוֹן (sevyvon- dreidel) to practice counting:

We practiced writing Chanukah vocabulary:

We made some decorations and cards using Chanukah vocabulary:

“I wrote חֲנוּכָּה שָׂמֵחַ  (Chanukah sameach – Happy Chanukah)!”


We recorded and counted the letters each time our סְבִיבוֹן (sevyvon– dreidel) was finished spinning:

We even led a Chanukah song for the whole Jewish Enrichment Center!


Nov 30

Children at work

Now that it’s project season, the children in ענפים (Anafim- “branches” for 3rd-4th grade) approach me at the beginning of each session with urgent requests. “How much time do we have today?” “Can we get started before כיבוד (kibud-snack?”  “If I do my עברית (ivrit– Hebrew) first, can I have project time all the way until שירה/תפילה (Shirah/Tefillah “singing/prayer,” at the close of the day)?” They rush into classroom like whirlwinds, gathering up their materials, and then spread out in open spaces to sink deeply into their work.  


Just look at that focus and joy.


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