Friday, June 8, 2018

Shabbat Around the Table -- Shelach

From June 2017:

In parsha Shelach, Moses sends the twelve spies into the land of Israel to do a reconnaissance mission. They come back talking about a land flowing with milk and honey, but also inhabitants the size of giants. The scouts had felt like grasshoppers in their presence. Upon hearing this report, the Israelites are terrified.
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I imagine that some of our students entering kindergarten next year might feel like grasshoppers when they walk through the doors of a school much bigger than the one they've just left. 

It's hard to do something for the first time. And going to kindergarten -- all by yourself, without mommy or daddy or a caregiver to walk you to your classroom door -- is a big first. But it's also one you'll never forget. 

I hope that your child's first day of kindergarten, whether it'll be this September or a fews years from now, is beautiful and meaningful. Your child might go in feeling like a tiny little grasshopper, but on the way out, full of pride and accomplishment, they'll feel like a giant.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Celebrating Israel

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Last month, the children in the preschool flew to Israel to celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Just like last year, they flew on a plane piloted by yours truly. They learned that Israel is so far away that you have to cross the whole ocean to get there. After landing, they got their passports stamped, and this year Morah Miri greeted them with Bruchim Habaim.

Last year, they got a little taste of the whole country. They visited Jerusalem and worked together to create a beautiful Yerushalayim shel Zahav (City of Gold) collage, which still hangs over our doorway. They visited the Kotel and left prayers in the cracks of the stones. They ate Bissli and did some Israeli dancing before heading to the Dead Sea for a little sink or float activity.

They visited a kibbutz this time around. In preparation for the trip, they talked a lot about sharing and community with their friends and teachers. They ate snack in the cheder ochel (dining hall) and learned how to eat cafeteria style. At the petting zoo, they met bunnies, a llama, ducks, chickens, and a turtle and learned how to take care of all the animals. They would have done a little laundry together in water tables out in the sukkah courtyard had the weather been more cooperative. Finally, they planted flowers by the parking lot side of the building to help take care of and beautify our synagogue environment. Each child planted one flower knowing that together their efforts would add up to make a beautiful community garden.

Next year, we may plan our trip to Israel to coincide with Lag B’Omer instead of Yom Ha’Atzmaut. I’ve already started talking with Morah Miri about what that could look like. Lag B’Omer, as it’s celebrated in Israel, reminds me a lot of how we celebrate Memorial Day in the US. It will be another great opportunity to introduce the preschoolers to Israeli life and culture.

Outdoor Magic

Early childhood educators have long known the   benefits of outdoor play . To name but a few, outdoor play improves physical and mental heal...