Dear Parents and Guardians of TNT Religious School Students,
As you may recall, we recently formed a Parent Committee for the TNT Religious School to foster communication and parent involvement in the religious school. We write today to let you know about some of our exciting first initiatives and how they involve you.
Existing communication: Currently, all parents and guardians should be receiving periodic email updates from Iris Schwartz and/or Maribel Leon. Families of students in K-5 classes should receive regular email updates from their child’s teacher. If you are not receiving these updates, please let Iris Schwartz know. Additionally, parents of 3rd through 6th graders can check the Homework Google doc for their child’s weekly Hebrew homework.
E-geret Kids: Each month, we will be sending out a short email newsletter with information for kids and families. Coordinated by editor Sandra Kahn, the newsletter will feature announcements and events, as well as content related to parenting, families, and Jewish values. Our first issue will be out soon.
Class parents: In order to improve class-level connections and communication, we will implement a class parent network starting in Fall 2019. Class parent volunteers will work with the Parent Committee and religious school staff to share information about classroom needs and upcoming events with other families.
Welcoming new families to our community: We are working on plans for an annual orientation and welcome event for families new to our religious school. We are also planning to create a buddy system in which new families will be matched up with returning families who will help introduce them to the community and/or serve as an additional friendly resource.
Class directories: Want to work out a carpool? Ask another parent for some help on religious school homework? Or maybe you just can’t remember the names of those parents you say hello to all the time? Starting in the fall and using the information already contained in the Temple’s online Member Directory, we plan to distribute to each class family a directory of the families in their class for use in religious school-related communication. If you wish to have your information withheld, please let Maribel Leon know by August 1.
Activities for Adults: We plan to launch an annual school-wide fall parent social as well as host smaller gatherings and workshops throughout the year to engage parents and connect us to one another. Stay tuned for announcements of our first events.
We are excited to help support building community within our religious school—for parents and guardians, educators, and children. We welcome your feedback on these initiatives and your suggestions for the future.
TNT Religious School Parent Committee
Erin Ackerman and Lauren Schneider, co-chairs
Iris Schwartz, Religious School Director
Did you know that our 3rd through 6th graders recently participated in the Shark Tank show or that our 2nd graders took a trip to Israel? And how about those 4th-grade architects?
Experiential learning, which means learning by doing, is a hallmark of our religious school program. We strive to provide our students with opportunities to participate in different types of engaging learning experiences that help them construct and strengthen their Jewish identities. For example, ask your 3rd through 6th grader about his/her experience competing in our Purim Shark Tank for example. Students created inventions or products to help one of the characters in the Purim story solve a problem or assist them in some way. Once generated, students pitched these ideas to their class, and each class chose a winner to compete in the school-wide Shark Tank challenge. Ideas ranged from the creation of a Mordechai doll that would bow down that Haman could squeeze to get out his anger to innovative lie detectors to an app that would help King Ahasuerus find a new queen. Students had to have a good knowledge of the Purim story, its characters, and main ideas in order to create their inventions and products. They had to put themselves in the place of the Purim characters and also work together as a team in order to succeed. And, of course, fun and the silliness connected with the holiday of Purim underscored it all.
Welcome to the first edition of E-Geret Kids! As the preschool of Temple Ner Tamid, we hope you enjoy learning about some of the wonderful things we do at Shoresh!
We had a wonderful visit from Dr. Sultan from Dentistry for Children. Dr. Sultan came in and did a presentation on good oral care, how to brush our teeth well, and how to even floss! Dr. Sultan also brought in a giant mouth with pretend teeth so we got a chance to try it out!
We have been super busy discussing Purim, singing songs with Miss Vivian in preparation for our Purim parade, and creating shalach manot baskets and groggers. We will also be baking hamantashen – traditional three-sided cookies we eat during Purim. We love baking but we love eating them even more!
In STEM this week we all pretended to be astronauts. Miss Emma was able to show us real constellations and stars using a projector and turning the lights out! Then we made straw rockets to take home.
Our bubbes and zaydes came into our classrooms this week and have been sharing stories and reading books to us about Purim.
Me and My Family—How We Incorporate Judaism into Our Lives Every Day
By Jessica Leiken
When I started to think about my own every day Jewish life, it had to come back to the kitchen. My mom taught me all of our Jewish food traditions while I was growing up. We made bread together and she taught me how to braid challah. We made hamentashen at Purim and I discovered all the different fillings you could use. My mom preferred prune and poppy seed fillings, and I went for the super sweet apricot or raspberry jam. Matzo Brei is a family favorite, and not just for Passover. I still use Grandma Shirley's Matzo Brei Pan out of a sense of tradition. As I got older, matzo ball making became a two-stage process we shared. Mom made the batter (with real chicken fat) and put it in the refrigerator overnight; I shaped and boiled the matzo balls the next day.
Years later, I discovered that my mom's family recipes weren't actually family recipes. She relied almost exclusively on Mimi Sheraton's memoir/cookbook "From My Mother's Kitchen." Now out of print, this book contains stories and recipes that go with the traditions of Ashkenazi Jews growing up on New York's Lower East Side. My copy is filled with notes on how to customize the recipes with our adaptations ("add 1 tsp of baking powder to the potato latkes, but don't whip the egg whites"). I buy used copies of this book and give it to friends and family to share my Jewish food traditions. My brother, the chef, even put Jim's Matzo Ball Soup on the menu at his restaurant and described it as "his mother's recipe." When Mimi Sheraton showed up at the restaurant he brought out his copy of the book for her to sign and owned up to the fact that “his mother's” soup recipe was really hers (although now with duck fat).
Every family has its own food traditions and that is often where we turn first when we think about being Jewish at home. We have expanded beyond Mimi Sheraton, and our house has several Jewish cookbooks that we turn to for inspiration. There are many other ways that we can nourish ourselves with our Jewish identity. Food is just the beginning.
Jessica Leiken’s family recommends:
"Jim's Matzoh Ball Soup" recipe:
From My Mother's Kitchen by Mimi Sheraton (1979)
Jewish Cooking in America by Joan Nathan (1994)
The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden (1996)
All of these books are available through local public libraries and on Amazon. If you decide to purchase a copy, please consider using the Amazon shopping link from Ner Tamid’s homepage.
Please share your Jewish family traditions or ways in which you bring Judaism into your everyday life with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi. My name is Alexa and I’m counting down the days until…sleepaway summer camp! It’s going to be my 4th summer and this is the year I move on up the hill to Cedar Lake. There are so many amazing things about camp it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one favorite. But…believe it or not, I look forward to Shabbat dinner. Yes, I said it. Shabbat dinner is one of my favorite things to do in camp. Shabbat dinner gives us permission to bang on the tables, sing prayers, sway arm in arm, wear white and look forward to a clean slate for the new week ahead. When camp is over, I’m excited to see my family, but then after a week, I start to miss my camp friends. My family and I celebrate Shabbat at home, but it’s completely different and it’s more serious – more parental. I love that I have both experiences, and I know my parents like when I try to “bring a little more light” to our family Shabbat with my singing and dancing. Only 110 more days until camp.