Sep 13

Gearing up for a Sweet New Year

Shorashim (‘roots’ for nursery) and Shteelim (‘saplings’ for Kindergarten) are starting the year off on the right comunal foot. On our very first day together, children were already practicing talking and listening to a partner.

Finding out, “what are you excited about for this year in school?”

We read a story where a whole community works together to help a child make her family’s Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) applesauce. We shared some ideas about taking care of each other, including:

  • “Listening to each other.”
  • “Sharing something you need.”
  • “Saying thank you.”

Then we made applesauce to share, just like the main character in the story!

Adding salt and cinnamon.

We played a game where children had to find the card with their Hebrew name on it. We all played the game together for the whole time and took turns moving the cards to new places around the room!

I am looking forward to seeing how we will continue to grow as a community through the year!

Sep 11

Turning toward each other

All year we work to build community in our kevutzot (groups). A foundation of trust, respect, and safety allows children at the Jewish Enrichment Center to wrestle deeply with text, ask profound questions, and create a Judaism that is personally meaningful and connects them to the ancient and ongoing Jewish conversation through the centuries.

Even in our second week, I intentionally turn children toward each other so that they ask their peers’ advice, make decisions together, and begin to value the perspective of others.

Today, children worked with a partner on a collage of Genesis 1:13-23. As children approached me to ask my opinion about their creative process, I recommended that they ask their partner or consult a different group. It’s a small step in building our community, but even the small steps matter in these first few weeks.

Take a peek at the beginning partnership in Beit Nitzanim:

“I think we should trim this.”

“Where should I put the bird?”

Child 1: “Do you want God [in our collage], Child 2?”

Child 2: “What if we make him like a ghost?”

It was all smiles as children shared their work with each other, so proud of their collages and their teamwork.

Sep 09

….And we’re back!

Last week we joined back together for another fantastic year in Anafim v’Alonim (“branches” for 2nd-4th grade and “oak trees” for 5th grade)!

Next week we’ll start to explore our new fall theme as a kevutzah (group). This week children shared things they’re excited about for the coming year at the Jewish Enrichment Center.

Some children shared their excitement for painting and putting on plays. Other children shared things they wanted to work on strengthening their writing or reading skills in ivrit (hebrew).

This past Sunday was our opening picnic. Before we joined together as a community for the picnic, all of the children in Anafim v’Alonim (“branches” for 2nd-4th grade and “oak trees” for 5th grade) spend some time in our room playing different ivrit (hebrew) games. There were so many new relationships developing as children drifted towards new children they haven’t been in a group with before!

This new year is going to be fabulous and I can’t wait to continue learning and growing with Anafim v’Alonim (“branches” for 2nd-4th grade and “oak trees” for 5th grade)!

Sep 06

A Discovery-Filled First Day

We started our VERY FIRST theme of the year on the VERY FIRST day of Nitzanim with a trip to visit the Torah! And guess what else?!? Our text is the VERY FIRST words of the whole Torah! Wow, that’s a lot of firsts!

Nitzanim first and second graders were ready with their keen skills for observation and their insatiable curiosity.

Maybe the Torah lives in an aron (ark) to “keep it safe.”

Child 1: Is this the real (original, first) Torah?

Child 2: Maybe the real one is with the first Jewish people on earth 

Child 3: I agree with him. Maybe so there’s no arguing [over who gets to have the first Torah]. 

Child 1: Maybe it’s in a museum 

Child 4: Maybe the people who go to their temple don’t say, “we have the oldest Torah, and you’ve only got copies.” 

Child 2: Maybe they make many real ones.

Child 1: Yeah they’re all real ones, but the first one.

Child 1: It’s like real gold

Child 2: I think it’s a mailbox

Child 3: No, it’s a Shabbat box. People put money in it on Shabbat for people who don’t have money.

Morah Sara: Do you mean a tzedakah box?


“These [crowns] look like plants [on top of the letters.”

Wow, Nitzanim! What an exciting first week of discoveries!

Jun 06

Preparing For Sunday

This week, the educators of the Jewish Enrichment Center have been very busy getting ready for our Shavuot End of Year Torah Celebration, taking place this Sunday, starting at 9 AM!

Setting the stage for remembering and discovery.
Creating cue cards.
Preparing project descriptions connected to projects created by children.

We are looking forward to sharing all of the Torah we have explored at the Jewish Enrichment Center through the years! See you on Sunday!

May 31

Remembering Our Year

Wow! What a year of exploration we have had in שׁוֹרָשִׁים (Shorashim– ‘roots’ for nursery) and שְׁתִּילִים (Shteelim– ‘saplings’ for kindergarten)!

We have been remembering the ways we have played during our themes from the year and from our experiences of Jewish Holidays.

Ya’akov v’Esav was our first theme this year! The children remembered so much about the text, including the following interactions between characters:

Rivkah (the mother) telling one Son to take the other’s blessing:

Esav (the hairy hunter) being angry and sad when he learn that the blessing was given to his brother:

One of our popular explorations from the first theme was dancing to music that connected to character feelings, identified by children. So we danced again!

One popular way that we remembered some of our experiences with Jewish holidays, was by building parts of texts that are associated with the holiday. Here, children built the temple in Jerusalem being messed up, from a text associated with Chanukah.

We have been making frames for group photos (to take home), to help us remember who we played with this year.

What a wonderful year we have had together!

May 31

All the Anafim News That’s Fit to Print

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Anafim wraps up the year by making a newspaper with all of the biggest stories from our year of learning together!

The Anafim news team is covering a wide range of stories, from our favorite themes to our most memorable modalities.

We’ve got one reporter providing live coverage of the story of Chanukah from 200 B.C.E. Another is interviewing her peers to find out what their favorite projects have been and what they’re looking forward to doing in the future.

This team polled all of Anafim to get the stats about which kibud (snack) options are the group favorites. They are making a graph to display their findings.

Another reporter is interviewing her peers about their thoughts and feelings about the Ya’akov and Esav text. She even reached out to a member of Anafim v’Alonim to get her thoughts!

We can’t wait for you to read our paper next week when it’s hot off the press!

May 30

Short and sweet

It was a short week in Beit Nitzanim, but we filled it it up with joyous Hebrew play…

… and designing a masterpiece.

See you next week!

May 30

Reflecting On Our Sukkat Shlomecha

Earlier this year during a Saturday special session, children in Anafim v’Alonim (“branches” for 4th grade and “oak trees” for 5th grade) built a Sukkat Shlomecha (shelter of peace) just for our kvutzah (group). We discussed what brings us peace as individuals and a community.

To make our space cozy, children made pillows, added blankets, and soft rugs. Some children chose spices like cinnamon to include in small jars to have “calming scents.” Other things children compiled a list of all the visuals children in our kvutzah (group) associated with the word “peace.” Some of the things collected were shells, sand, pictures of puppies, and paper to doodle with. Shells we placed around the perimeter and pictures of puppies, drawings of peace were hung up around the inside.

Yesterday in Anafim v’Alonim (“branches” for 4th grade and “oak trees” for 5th grades) we continued the process of closing out the year together.  With just a few sessions left, it was time to say goodbye to our Sukkat Shlomecha (shelter of peace). At the beginning of session we took a moment to reflect on some of the moments we found peace in the Sukkat Shlomecha (shelter of peace), or a time it was used and was helpful.

Taking the Sukkat Shlomecha (shelter of peace) down was just as much of a communal effort as putting it up. I look forward to seeing what other awesome things children in Anafim v’Alonim (“branches” for 4th grade and “oak trees” for 5th grades)  create to find peace as they grow older!

May 23

Remembering and Reflecting

Can you believe it’s already the end of May? With just a few weeks left of the school year, Anafim (“Branches” for 2nd and 3rd grade) is taking some time to remember all of the awesome things that we’ve done together as a community this year.

We started by thinking about our current theme, nosei v’ol im chaveiro (helping a friend carry a burden.) We’ve made up stories and read texts about nosei v’ol im chaveiro, but have there been any examples of it in our classroom this year? Anafimers responded with a unanimous “YES!”

Some examples of nosei v’ol im chaveiro from our classroom that Anafimers came up with were going slowly with your partner during Ivrit, inviting other children to build with you, taking turns talking, and cleaning up materials.

Next, we looked at pictures of some of the awesome things we did together this year, like all of our past themes, holidays, and Hebrew challenges.

Then it was time to really step back inside of those moments from this past year that we loved. Children set to work recreating their favorite explorations and activities from the year.

Rebuilding the ladder that appeared in a dream to Ya’akov.
Revisiting reasons someone might do a tefilla (prayer).
Retelling the Channukah story

All of this is in preparation for our end of the year project, which is a newspaper covering all of the biggest stories from Anafim this year! Keep your eyes peeled for it to be hitting the shelves at a local newsstand near you!

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