May 15

Shorashim Gets Ready for Shavuot

The Jewish holiday of שבועות (Shavuot – weeks) is coming up, and Shorashim is getting ready!

We have been searching for as many shins (ש) as we can find, to help us learn how to spell Shavuot.

We made some flower art outside, to enjoy the warm spring-time weather!  We’ll be sure to use our art to decorate our space so everyone knows that it is Shavuot!

We looked for all of our dairy and wheat ingredients in our kitchen.

Then we put them all together (along with some other yummy ingredients) to make a delicious dairy soup!

We invited friends over to join us to enjoy our scrumptious Shavuot meal!

We can’t wait to celebrate Shavuot for real next week!

May 10

Springing forward

Look, I know we say it every year. But it’s true every year: I can’t believe how much you’ve grown! It’s especially visible right now, as the ענפים (Anafim– “branches” for 3rd-4th grade children) are simultaneously finishing up their last theme projects, and their last big עברית (Ivrit- Hebrew) challenges of the year. Everywhere I look, I see collaboration, confidence, and knowledge that just bowl me over.

Last fall, could you have collaborated as fluidly and joyfully on writing, filming, and editing a movie together?

Could you have parsed a whole list of Hebrew words taken from the prayerbook, identifying prefixes, roots, and suffixes?

Could you have self-identified a Hebrew תפילה (Tefillah- prayer) to master, and chosen the materials and strategies you needed to sit down and begin learning it yourself?

Amazing. Do you see how much you can do now, ענפים (Anafim)? And can you imagine what you’ll be able to do a year from now?

May 10

There Is Still Time!

As we approach the end of the year, in Shteelim (‘saplings’ for kindergarten) we are finding that….

there is still time….. to play a new עִברִית (Ivirt- Hebrew) choice! This one is called מלחמת אותיות (Milchemet Otiot), a variation on the card game war that helps us review אותיות (otito– letters) and recall letters from memory.

“We give out all the cards, everyone puts down a card at the same time, if your card is closest to “א” (the first letter in the Hebrew Alphabet) you get the cards.”


There is still time….to try a new modality for telling a story about fixing אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים (Ona’at Devarim- hurting with words)!

A comic about fixing אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים (Ona’at Devarim- hurting with words), with an apology of action.

“I want to make a whole book of comics about fixing אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים (Ona’at Devarim- hurting with words)!”

“Lets make a comic about fixing אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים (Ona’at Devarim- hurting with words) together!”

There is still time… to build with new materials! Shteelim (‘saplings’ for kindergarten) is trying out the large arched blocks. Its not easy to balance these blocks on top of each other, but we found a strategy that works!

There is still time… for a new מִשְׂחָק (mischak– game)! In Gematria, each Hebrew letter has a numerical value. In Gematria ball, someone calls a Hebrew letter and everyone works together to figure out the numerical value, then we group the correct number of כדורים (kadurimballs) with the letter.

We are always finding new ways to work together!

May 10

Any Partner is a Good Partner

Social relationships are PRIMARY in middle school. Kids care a lot about who they work with.

Yet, this week, when we launched our year-end project, something beautiful happened: middle schoolers paired up based on the content they were excited about, not with their closest friends. Pairs who’ve been working together all year split up, and new pairs formed – without my help! And they did it kindly, without even a hint of grumbling or pulled face.

It all happened so fast, and with such ease, that I’m not even sure the children were aware of their milestone.  But as a teacher, I’ve been working with them for years on what teachers call “working with non-preferred partners.” As we move through life, we’re going to encounter situations where we have to work with people who aren’t our favorite people to work with, so I teach children how to form pairs with kindness and including everyone.

What a demonstration of caring and community this week!

May 09

A walk down memory lane

This week in Beit Nitzanim, we’re taking a walk down memory lane to begin reflecting on all of the learning and growing we’ve done in our community. We started by looking at photographs to help us remember our favorite ways to play, the projects we’re so proud of, and all of the עברית (Ivrit–Hebrew) learning we’ve done this year.

This practice of looking at photographs is a much beloved routine for Nitzanim children, so much so that I’ve done it with the children every year. But this year, I added a brand new question, and I was completely amazed by the children’s honesty and thoughtfulness. Take a look!

Find a picture that shows something that was really challenging for you this year, but you’re glad that you did it: 

“Focusing during זמן עברית (zeman Ivrit–Hebrew time).”

“Interviewing other children for our אונאת דברים (Ona’at Devarim–Hurting with words) ebooks.”

“Building Sukkot out of these materials that are hard to work with.”

“Working with children I don’t usually work with.”

“Working in the classroom when Morah Sara is in the hallway working with a different group of children.”


May 08

Shorashim Teaches Us How To Show Chesed

Shorashim has been learning how to show חסד (chesed – kindness) like Ruth in Megillat Rut.  In Megillat Rut, she shows חסד by sharing her barley.  That is certainly one way that we can still show חסד, but there are so many other non-barley related ways!  Throughout our day in Shorashim last week, we noted times that we showed חסד and added it to our list.  By the end of the day our list was so big that it filled up a large white board!  Who knew there were so many different ways to show חסד?  Check out our list below to learn how you too can show חסד!  And if you are sharing this post with someone who is not a reader (like many of our Shorashimers), you’re in luck; we added pictures to each idea to help us make sense of our list!

May 04

We Love to Learn in So Many Ways

Hey. Just because we can think critically and have long, respectful conversations to hash out our point of view (and absolutely adore doing it), doesn’t mean it’s the only way we like to learn. Please nurture the whole of us. We love to learn in so many, many ways.

We like to learn outside. We like to ask our own questions to get to know people.

We like to use our found natural materials to design a centerpiece for everyone to recall the main ideas of the holiday of Shavuot.

We like to catch up our friend who wasn’t with us last week by spontaneously doing a skit.

And we like a change of scenery. And a chance to share our ideas in different ways, like writing on the board.

And when it starts hailing, we’d like a moment to appreciate the amazing scene right outside our window.

And another moment to marvel at how different it all looks once the sun is out again.

The thing is, because we’re so mature and responsible these days, you might forget that there are many parts of us that need nurturing. But if you listen to us, we’ll help you know what we need in order to grow.

May 04


You can hear the sound of children’s voices from out in the hallway.

Inside of the ענפים (Anafim- “branches” for 3rd-4th grade children) classroom, ten eight- to ten-year-olds are sitting at tables, each across from a partner. And as each pair reads and discusses a Jewish text together, an ancient tradition called חברותא (chavruta- ‘friend,’ or learning partnership) comes to life.

It’s not as easy at it looks! To be a good חברותא (chavruta) you have to listen closely to the words of the text, listen closely to your own reactions and intuitions, and listen closely to the words of your partner. You have to take turns, and make sure each person’s ideas and questions are heard. You have to figure out how to explain not only what you think, but why you think it, so that your partner can understand your thinking and really respond to it.

As summer draws closer, it’s easy to hear how much ענפים (Anafim) have grown this year, in their thoughtful ideas, connections to previous texts, and respectful dialogue between peers. Amazing. Can you imagine what kinds of communication and learning they’ll be able to do next year?




May 02

The Shteelim Guide to Becoming an Ona’at Devarim Fixing Superhero

Step 1: Learn about אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים (Ona’at Devarim- hurting with words)

Shteelim (‘saplings’ for Kindergarten) began our אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים (Ona’at Devarim- hurting with words) with hearing a playing stories where someone is hurt with words and they receive a verbal apology.“They were walking to the snack bar at the pool. One of them is carrying an empty bowl and accidentally threw it onto someone’s head, they laughed and said, “you look so funny”, then he said, “sorry”.”


Step 2: Learn about Apology of Action

“…If someone got hurt with words and they wanted an apology of action then the person who hurt them with words could make them a picture or offer them a hug, to show they were really, really, really sorry.”

The children had many idea about what they could do for an Apology of Action:

I was going to say give them a flower with a jewel inside, to say sorry and there was an i’m sorry card inside…”

“I want to fix it with a friendship bracelet.” 

“Make a dance party for them.”


Step 3: Make an Apology of action utility belt:

“Inside your utility belts you put things that would help another person do an Apology of Action”:

”You could put a tiny picture.”

“A little apology note.”

“A טוש (tushmarker). To let them know they could draw an I’m sorry picture”

Step 4: Create and play stories where you fix אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים (Ona’at Devarim- hurting with words) with an Apology of Action

Picking an apology of action:

Creating an אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים (Ona’at Devarim- hurting with words) story from our story building buckets:

Building an אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים (Ona’at Devarim- hurting with words) that takes place on a camping trip:

Step 5: Share how you would help fix אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים (Ona’at Devarim- hurting with wordswith an Apology of Action at the Jewish Enrichment Center.


“You would tell them that Apology of action is doing something for people, so they feel better. Because the person who אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים happened to wanted an apology of action.”

“You might have to say, ‘this utility belt has things inside to remind you about fixing אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים with an apology of action’.”

Congratulations! You now qualify to become an אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים (Ona’at Devarim- hurting with words) fixing superhero at the Jewish Enrichment Center!

Kol Hakavod Shteelim! Your compassion has helped you think about the choices that you could make to fix it when someone is hurt with words, and what to do if you see אוֹנָאַת דְבָרִים happening at the Jewish Enrichment Center!


May 01

Shorashim Helps Dubi the Bear

This past week Shorashim discovered a visitor in our space: Dubi the Bear!  He is a staple at the Jewish Enrichment Center who lives in our סִפְרִיָה (sifriyah – library).  He wasn’t feeling very well, and he heard that Shorashim was learning about showing חסד (chesed – kindness) to each other, so he decided to come on over and see if we could show him חסד (chesed – kindness) and take care of him!

We offered him loving kisses.

We brought him over to the כיבוד (kibud – snack) table so he wouldn’t feel lonely while we ate.

We gave him lots of hugs!

We even shared some of our כיבוד (kibud – snack) with him.

We covered him with a blanket.

And we gave him a sparkly mask so that he wouldn’t catch any more bad germs.

We loved taking care of Dubi!  Who knew showing חסד (chesed – kindness) could be so much fun?!


Older posts «

» Newer posts

Facebook Like Button for Dummies