Elementary Bulletin

Dear Elementary Parents,
The elementary class finished off the week with a trip to the library, outdoor explorations and further work with parsha and spoken Hebrew. We also began learning a new song in Hebrew with Mrs. Lichtash.

The topics we covered this week included
he story and needs of plants, photosynthesis and leaf shapes in botany.
​- ​
In art, we explored the work and style of Piet M
using lines and primary colors.
​- ​
We read books that inspired mural making.
​- ​
In history, we talked about the beginning of the universe and the story of the Hebrew alphabet.
​- ​
We used basic art techniques for practice writing Hebrew and drawing leaves. We experimented with density and volcanoes. We practiced speaking Hebrew and using key phrases to talk about objects in school.
​- ​
Some older students practiced perspective drawing.
​- ​
We had conversations about Parshat Shoftim and
he various roles of people in Jewish society
​. We delved in depth to​
​ the different positions and roles describe
by the Torah. This was followed up by a project emphasizing the interdependency of all types of people in society. 
​Enjoy the photos and we hope that will you can view them with your child and start a conversation about the topics learned in class this week.
Have  wonderful weekend.


פרשת בהעלותך 

Below please find two basic questions, one pasuk and a discussion question per aliya of the Parsha. Please take the time to study this material with your child on Shabbat. As there are varying abilities between children, not all children will be able to answer questions or read the text. Please support the work I am doing with your child by reviewing this material and helping them practice their Hebrew reading.

1.       Whose job was it to light the menorah?
How is the menorah described in the Torah?

דַּבֵּר, אֶל-אַהֲרֹן, וְאָמַרְתָּ, אֵלָיו:  בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ, אֶת-הַנֵּרֹת אֶל-מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה, יָאִירוּ שִׁבְעַת הַנֵּרוֹת


Why was it important for the menorah to be made form one piece of gold?


2.       Who did Moshe appoint to work in the Mishkan in place of the first-borns?
What did Moshe do to them to show they were separate and ready for service?

וְאַחֲרֵי-כֵן יָבֹאוּ הַלְוִיִּם, לַעֲבֹד אֶת-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד; וְטִהַרְתָּ אֹתָם, וְהֵנַפְתָּ אֹתָם תְּנוּפָה


Why was it important to have a specific tribe appointed to only work in the Mishkan?


3.       What did Hashem tell the people to do on the one year anniversary of leaving Egypt?
What option did people have who were impure?

וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לַעֲשֹׂת הַפָּסַח

Who were the people who were impure in this story in the chumash?

4.       What was the one thing that allowed the Jewish people to travel in the desert?
What did the people use to announce travelling, fighting or celebration?

עַל-פִּי ה' יַחֲנוּ, וְעַל-פִּי ה' יִסָּעוּ:  אֶת-מִשְׁמֶרֶת ה' שָׁמָרוּ, עַל-פִּי ה' בְּיַד-מֹשֶׁה

                What can we do to have a similar attitude in our lives?

5.       What did Yitro want to do?
When the cloud finally travelled from almost a year at Har Sinai, how far did it travel?

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, לֹא אֵלֵךְ:  כִּי אִם-אֶל-אַרְצִי וְאֶל-מוֹלַדְתִּי, אֵלֵךְ


Why did the people need to stay at Har Sinai for so long?


6.       What complaint did the people have for Moshe?
How did Moshe react to the second complaint?

לֹא-אוּכַל אָנֹכִי לְבַדִּי, לָשֵׂאת אֶת-כָּל-הָעָם הַזֶּה:  כִּי כָבֵד, מִמֶּנִּי

                Why was Moshe so upset about the complaint for meat?

7.       How did Hashem deal with the complainers?
What did Miriam do and what happened to her?

לֹא-כֵן, עַבְדִּי מֹשֶׁה:  בְּכָל-בֵּיתִי, נֶאֱמָן הוּא


What lesson of carefulness with our speech can we learn from the story with Miriam?


In “To Educate the Human Potential” Maria Montessori wrote: “Education between the ages of six and twelve is not a direct continuation of that which has gone before, though it is built upon that basis. Psychologically there is a decided change in personality, and we recognize that nature has made this a period for the acquisition of culture, just as the former was for the absorption of the environment.” Within this framework, Montessori goes into detail about her observations on and methods for education of the Elementary child. One of the highlights of her framework is the fascination of the child to understand the universe for themselves. The educator’s goal becomes focused on filling the child with wonder about the great context within which they find themselves and encouraging independent thought, understanding and exploration of the world around.

Our Judaic program has operated within this framework this year. While we have explored texts and practiced skills, we have also shared stories about Parsha, Chumash, important Jewish personalities and Jewish history specifically presented for the purpose of filling the children with fascination about where they fit in to the universe as Jews and to present the variety of interesting choices they have in their lives as Jews. Personal conversations where children can flesh out questions or interests that are of real interest to them have been a crucial piece of the learning this year as well. The large goal of Jewish education as identity formation and depth of understanding and exploration has been a focus of our approach in sync with the Montessori Method. 

Specifically in class this past week, the children had the experience of hosting several visits from rising kindergarten students. They took pride and pleasure in showing their guests around the class and explaining routines and materials that were unfamiliar. Presentations were made of research done about Red Pandas, Dolphins and Cheetahs. We have also begun setting up the beginnings of a vegetable garden in the courtyard outside our window.


Parshat Nasso:

1. If a person hurt someone else, what would they have to do at the Mishkan? Before any sacrifices or payments, what does the Torah say the person who sinned must do? Why is talking about your mistakes so important according to the Torah? 

2. What were the rules for a Nazir? How long would a person be a Nazir? When the Nazir had finished his time as a Nazir, what would he do? Why? What does this teach us about the purpose of becoming a Nazir?


3. What gift did the leaders of the tribes bring for the Mishkan? Why? What did they do special at the dedication of the Mishkan?


4. Which group of people had the special task of blessing the Jewish people? What specific words are supposed to be used in blessing the people? What is the final and greatest blessing? What is Shalom?


Please remind your child to wear a school shirt.

We have discussed the policy of wearing a school shirt for the El class. Please make sure they do so on Tuesday. 

After a soggy and early start to our day last Friday, we finally arrived at the Folger Shakespeare Library to perform some scenes from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Night Dream." After just a few weeks of practice since Pesach, all our 3-6 years mastered and played a role in putting on the performance. The experience of traveling via Metro, walking to the theatre and entering an environment prepared for great actors and talents was larger than life and gave our children the chance to expand their horizons beyond the classroom. The students spent weeks preparing their lines, timing and acting all while exploring the history and times of Shakespeare. Students learned the skills of independence, working as a group and supporting each other. All of this support lent itself to students performing beautifully and admirably in a public setting with pride and confidence. The experience has brought them and us many lessons and pride.

Back in class this week, children continued work with graphing and coordinates, measuring angles and ratios. Students continued researching various interests and several ongoing projects were brought to completion. Presentations were made by students about the Holocaust and China and a group of students went for a going out to study specific planes and rockets at the Air and Space Museum with Adam Herman. The first years delved into details of the creation story, second years are focusing on Avram's name change, third years continued our study of Yakov's flight from his parents' home and fifth years continue to learn about the details of how the Jews left Egypt. Several of the older students are also focusing on Mishnah study and the role of the Oral Tradition in Judaism.

Parshat  Bamidbar:

1. What did Hashem do to the Jewish people at the beginning of the parsha? Who was counted? How did He do this? Why did He do this?
2. What does the Chumash tell us about the camp of the Jewish people in the desert? How many groups of people were there when they camped? What formation did they have for traveling?
3. Where was the tribe of Levi? What special job did they have? Why did just one tribe have that job?


What does a polar bear eat? What habitat does a red tailed hawk prefer? How big can a hammerhead shark grow? These are some of the zoology questions the children began exploring this week. The questions lead to research and life sized models of these and other animals. Children also explored supersonic flight and the basic physics behind rockets this week. We also are extremely focused on the upcoming Shakespeare play and are getting in our last rehearsals and preparations for the show. The children have become so familiar with the words of Shakespeare, that some have begun writing a parody in the language of Shakespeare entitled "A Midsummer's Night Feast."

In Chumash, we are discussing the role of Man in creation as described in the narrative of the beginning of the Torah. Additionally, we have explored the reasoning behind G-d's promise to Avraham of servitude for his descendants and the following story of Hagar and the birth of Yishmael. Third year students have finished or are soon to finish Parshat Toldot and the story of Yakov's flight from his parents' home. Our oldest students continue our focus on the long dialogue between Moshe and G-d at the burning bush.

Parshat Bechukotai-

1. What does Hashem promise the people when they keep the Torah? What will they succeed in doing as a result?

2. What is the long section of punishments for not listening to Hashem called? Give some examples of punishments Hashem promises to bring on the people for not following the Torah. What attitude does Hashem repeatedly mention makes Him particularly frustrated? What can we learn from this in our service of Hashem and how we treat each other?

3. Which mitzvot does the Torah discuss at the end of the parsha? Why is this included at this point?

4. What is Lag Be'omer? Why is it a day of celebration?

Rabbi Moses & Ms. Hess


This past week, the children of the Elementary class had the chance to learn about and hear personal accounts of the history of Israel. We marked Yom Hazikaron on Monday with a moving presentation from Iris Yachin, that showed the children the personal sacrifice so many friends and family have made in establishing the State of Israel. Ayelet Lichtash helped underscore key territorial struggles to the children and helped them see the significance of various wars in Israel’s short history. This naturally flowed in to our celebration and performance on Tuesday of Yom Ha’atzma’ut and Morah Rachelli’s interactive activities emphasizing the uniqueness of specific regions in Israel. We are so proud of our first-year students on their receiving siddurim and chumashim and wish them many years of continued use of these treasured books!

In class this week, in addition to our regular work, we continued working on our play. Children explored the effects of the deluge of water after the storm last week. We researched various marine animals and completed projects related to other research we had been working on. In connection to some of our research, we have been working on time management and better planning of the steps needed for various projects.

Ms. Hess

First Years- We have begun looking at the second perek of Bereishit and the second account in the chumash of the creation story.
Second years- We have been discussing the promise of Hashem to Avram of the eventual slavery of his descendants and the purpose of this promise.
Third years- We have read the berachot from Yitzchak to Yakov and Eisav, the differences and purposes of each.
Fifth years- We have focused on Moshe’s conversation with Hashem at the burning bush and followed up on modern Jewish history studies and the important and powerful recent events that have shaped modern Jewish identity formation.

Parshat Behar:
1. What does the Torah say to do every seven years with our fields of crops? What is this called? What is the purpose of this? What lesson does this teach us about our sensitivity to the earth?
2. What is the special name for the fiftieth year? What happens during the fiftieth year? What lesson doe this teach us? Do these laws still apply in Israel in modern times? What challenges are there to keeping this mitzvah?
3. How does the Torah tell us to treat someone who is struggling with having enough money to survive? How do we do this in modern times? Even though slavery is allowed in the Torah, how are we supposed to treat slaves?

Rabbi Moses


As we get closer to our performance at the Folger Theater, we have continued practicing our lines for the play and studying the dynamics of dialogue. Additionally, we have begun understanding the body language necessary in our play through beginning to practice our acting.

Our Yom Hashoah discussion on Monday flowed into a discussion of Pavel Friedman's poem I Never Saw Another Butterfly and the creation of many butterflies to commemorate the loss of so many children from seeing these creatures while in ghettos and camps. We also continue to prepare for the school's graduation ceremony next week through practicing songs and short speeches. With the heavy rain on Wednesday, we walked on the deck in back of school and discovered a river of water flowing through our field and various other effects on the earth from the vast amount of rain.

Ms. Hess

Judaic Update:
First Years- The students are finishing the story of Creation through close textual study and discussion of the progression of Creation from one stage to the next. We have emphasized the complex and beautiful preparations that were made for Man before he arrived on Earth.
Second Years- We have finished the 14th Perek and begun the 15th Perek in Parshat Lech Lecha. We have discussed Avram's diplomacy after winning the battle to free Lot and G-d's promise of Avram's progeny.
Third Years- The children are nearing the end of Parshat Toldot and deep in discussion of Yakov's deception of Yitzchak to gain Berachot. Important discussions of honesty and the value of Berachot have ensued.
Fifth Years- We have discussed Moshe's discovery of the burning bush. We analyzed Moshe's reaction to the bush and how this indicated Moshe's deeply important trait of thinking before acting. We are also discussing the story of Gideon in Navi, his humility and miraculous victory. The children are also continuing to work on their timeline of modern history of Israel.

Parshat Emor-

1. Which group of people were considered most unique in Bnei Yisrael? What did they do that made them unique? Why did their job give them extra responsibility? How did they have to behave and what were some rules for them as a result of their responsibility?
2. What was the rule for animals brought as sacrifices in the Mishkan? What special days does the Torah say require special sacrifices? Why? What do we do nowadays to remember this?
3. What happened at the end of the parsha? Did Moshe know the rule for this situation? What did Hashem tell the people to do? What other rules does the Torah give us at the end of the Parsha?

As an integral piece of shaping our children's Jewish identities, we made presentations today relating to Yom Hashoah. As a group, we discussed in broad brushstrokes what the Shoah was and read a book together that recounted one family's story of survival. The themes of prejudice, hope, family traditions and resilience after tragedy were touched on in the book. We lit candles signifying the light we hope to shine in honor of the souls lost in the Shoah and recited the special "Eil Malei Rachamim" prayer for martyrs of the Shoah. Additional books were left out for students to explore individually as they wished. We followed up with private discussions and explorations tailored to specific concerns and questions from the children. Please feel free to continue the conversation as you feel comfortable with your children and feel free to reach out to us for guidance if you have questions about how to talk about the Shoah with children.

Additionally, our fifth year students followed up the general Shoah discussion with a discussion about the political connection between the Shoah and the establishment of the State of Israel. They have begun researching and will put together a timeline of recent Israeli history tying together Montessori history, methodology and Judaism. The plan is to present their work for the rest of the class on Yom Ha'atzma'ut next week and help the class understand important aspects of the history of Israel.

Rabbi Moses


The children learned a lot about Pesach over the last few weeks. They have prepared a Hagadda, in which they wrote some of what they learned. They worked with Morah Racheli, in Hebrew, and with Rabbi Moses, to prepare their Haggadot.

Have a wonderful Pesach!


I have enjoyed working with your children this week, subbing for Rabbi Moses. During the daily hours with your children at the Elementary class, I was able to do both reading and Chumash with the students. They have also been working on their haggadot, with Morah Racheli, which they will continue with Rabbi Moses when he returns next week. I apologize for not getting to teach them Parsha this week- I hope you can fill in for me, and they will be back on track with Rabbi Moses next week!

Miriam Singer


This week Mrs. Singer was privileged to work with the children on Chumash, and Judaics and sub for Rabbi Moses. In addition, Morah Racheli took the opportunity to work with the children on their basic Chumash vocabulary words. The classroom has packets of basic Chumash words (which are very often modern Hebrew words as well), and the children are excited to progress from one packet to the next ). The children are looking forward to returning to their regular schedule, with both teachers, next week, as they prepare for Purim.


As we flow in and out of winter and spring, our explorations continue in the Elementary classroom. This week we have been busy observing inorganic and organic material with a microscope. The children discovered that when they looked closely at living things, they could see small "bubbles" that we identified as cells. A group of students have planned a "going out" to continue their exploration of minerals at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. We also had the opportunity to visit the Davis Library this week and the children have been able to explore more areas of literature. A fascination with roller coasters is leading us to the study of potential and kinetic energy and momentum. In Hebrew and Judaics, the children continue to explore the spoken and written Hebrew language through games and exercises and analyzing and imagining about the Chumash narratives about Avram, Sarai, Yitzchak, Rivkah, Yakov, Eisav, Amram, Yocheved, Miriam and Moshe. We have also planted seeds in our class that will hopefully grow into seedlings in time to be planted as a vegetable garden at school.
Ms. Hess

Parshat Pekudei:

After all the items for the Mishkan were built and brought to Moshe, what did he do? What did he say? Why was this necessary? What does lesson about tefillah does this teach us?

How was the Mishkan constructed for the first time? How were the kohanim first dressed in their special clothing for the Mishkan? Why was this necessary?

What did Moshe spread on the items for the Mishkan and the kohanim? Why did he do this? What does this teach us about the importance of beginnings?

Here are the pesukim learned this week:

First years: vocabulary and reading preparation for Bereishit 1:9-13.
Second years: Lech Lecha 12:1-5
Third years: Toldot 25:29-34, 26:1-7
Fifth years: Shemot 2:1-15

Rabbi Moses


The buzz in school this week was the celebratory Opening Event. In preparation for the event, the Elementary students busied themselves with finishing off fabric art projects, helping prepare a display of their mezuzah case production and practicing the songs they presented. The children also continued some of their ongoing work on fictional story writing and research of ancient civilizations. With the snow compacting through melting on the field, the children also explored building various snow structures outside. 

The second year students deserve a special Mazal Tov for completing Parshat Noach this week as well.

Please note that this coming week, Ms. Hess will be away on personal leave. While she is away, Rabbi Moses and Morah Racheli will be running the class.
Ms. Hess

Parshat Vayakhel:

What did Moshe tell the Jewish people to do before he told them how to build the Mishkan? Why did he do this? Which restriction did the Chumash specifically mention? Why?

What did the leaders of the tribes donate to the Mishkan? Why? What lesson does this story teach us about the Jewish people's excitement about mitzva performance?

Why does the Chumash repeat all the details of how the Jewish people built the Mishkan? What lesson does this teach us about the Jew's excitement about doing Mitzvot?

Rabbi Moses


This week we have continued our hands-on explorations and creations in class by experimenting with fabric art of the Israeli flag. We have continued research of various sea creatures and mammals and have begun discussing and planning possibilities for goings out to see the animals we researched in person. Additionally, we have extended our explorations of growing potatoes and carrots in to full plants by beginning the planning of a vegetable garden for the spring. As a group we have also begun focusing on developing methods for managing time responsibly, planning future tasks and predicting time needed for specific activities.

Ms. Hess

Parshat Ki Tisa:

       1.       What lead the Jewish people to think that Moshe had died on Har Sinai? What did they feel they needed to replace Moshe? How did Aharon react? What lesson does this teach us about jumping to conclusions about people?

        2.       How did Moshe react when he saw the people worshipping the Golden Calf? Who followed Moshe in stopping the worshippers of the Golden Calf? Why did Moshe react this way? How did Moshe feel about the people?

 3.       What did Hashem want to do to the people at this point? How did Moshe convince Hashem not to react to the people? What did Moshe receive from Hashem that showed the people were forgiven? What lessons about standing up for justice and forgiveness can we learn from this part of the story?

Rabbi Moses


As we entered the week of the Parsha which discusses the sewing and crafting of the priestly clothing, it seemed the Elementary students sensed the need to walk in the steps of their ancestors and explored various fabric arts and sewing projects in class this week. We continued collecting data from experiments and exploring ways of measuring in our environment. Other research we pursued included group work on the ancient Aztec, Egyptian and Chinese civilizations, individual explorations of shark species and the origin and meaning of our names. In anticipation of receiving the scrolls for our mezuzot in the school, we also spent time this week putting a lot of creative energy and effort in to crafting enough mezuzah cases for all the doorways in the school.  

Parshat Tetzaveh:

1.     1.   What type of oil was used for the Menorah? When was the Menorah supposed to be lit? Who was supposed to light it? What do we do in modern times to remember the Menorah? What lesson does this teach us about serving Hashem?

2.       2. Who was selected to be the Kohanim? What was the role of the Kohanim? What did Hashem tell the Kohanim to do to teach them about their special role? What can we do to follow this lesson in our lives?

3.       3. How many pieces of clothing did the regular Kohein wear? How many pieces did the Kohein Gadol wear? What was the special item the Kohein Gadol wore on his chest? What did it have on it? What lesson was this supposed to teach Benei Yisrael?


** Please send in a bicycle helmet to ice skating

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When it is snowy and cold, the Elementary goes sledding. While the weather served as a deterrent for some activities, we capitalized on it with some exciting and invigorating winter fun at our new campus.  This week in class we have been busy making gorgeous mezuzah cases for our new building with beading artist Devora Malka Gilbert. We have also been preparing to write a class newspaper by interviewing fellow students and staff members. Some students have been exploring and researching the ideas of freedom and responsibility and how these ideas play out in our lives and school. Students have also been exploring the scientific method and applying it to explorations of growing plants from roots.

Parshat Terumah

1. What was the Mishkan? What was its purpose? What do we have in modern times that is similar to the Mishkan? How can we personally try to live by the lesson of the Mishkan?
2. What was the Aron (Ark)? What materials was it made from? What was on top of it? How many boxes were part of the Aron and from which materials were they made? What was placed inside the Aron? What lesson do the materials of the boxes teach us?
3. How many sections were there in the Mishkan? What were they and who could go in them? What lesson about our personalities do the sections of the Mishkan teach us?


** Please send in a bicycle helmet to ice skating 

January weather has brought us both frigid temperatures as well as quite nice temperatures. We have to be vigilant in our preparation for the weather and our outdoor dress. The lovely weather on Wednesday gave us a prime opportunity to take a walking trip to the Davis library. The students enjoy the exercise and getting new books to read.

Several new books from the library have included some fascinating science experiment books that have caught the attention of students. We have been gathering supplies and will have more results to come!

The time is upon us to celebrate TuB’Shvat. The students have brought in a variety of fruits to share. In preparation, they have been learning the Hebrew names and labeling the fruits. The children had a Tu B'Shvat seder with Morah Racheli, in honor of the holiday. They cut up the fruit, prepared for the party, and then sang songs and celebrated!

We have also been discussing various important themes surrounding choices and how the choices we make affect others. In remembrance of Martin Luther King Day, we have discussed parts of his “I have a dream” speech. While you enjoy the day off on Monday, please remember the importance of your choices!

The students have now participated in their first ice skating lessons of 2014. After a very successful trip, the students are looking forward to returning. The coaches have asked that each student bring a bicycle helmet to the lesson


While keeping Mother Nature at bay and getting back to consistency at school, we have been busy at school this week. We have picked up some of the independent explorations, research and writing we started before the winter break. Additionally, we have been honing our math skills through consistent work and practice. Some of the integrated studies we have explored have been discussing properties of matter in connection with the beginning of Bereishit, the effects of varying sunrise and sunset with the seasons on Tefillah times in the Mishnah and the volume of water drunk by camels to understand the amount of water Rivkah drew for Eliezer’s camels. Our fifth year students have finished Parshat Vayigash (with a discussion of Yosef’s tax policy in Egypt) and are busy preparing presentations in preparation for Parshat Vayechi.

Parshat Beshalach:

1.      Which direction did the Jews travel out of Egypt? Why does the Chumash say they traveled this way? What does this teach us about making changes?

2.      How did Moshe react when the Jews panicked at the Yam Suf? What did Hashem tell Moshe? What does this teach us about responsibility?

3.     How did the Jews react after they were saved at the Yam Suf? What does this show us about gratitude? How was this gratitude expressed? What does this teach us about the value of singing?


As the seasons have turned and we head in to winter, the Elementary class has focused on some weather themed explorations. We have been reading the nature themed poetry of Robert Frost and depicting his imagery with water colors. Additionally, the children have looked at natural snowflake structures and discovered the unique geometry, angles and symmetry of each snowflake. Many children have also begun a unit exploring computer science through the materials and curriculum available at code.org. This has been a wonderful platform for bringing the great lessons of numbers and language together in a practical modern application. The children have also completed filming a short retelling of the stories in Parshat Bereishit as a way of presenting what they have learned in Chumash lessons.

Parshat Shemot:

1.      What change happened in Egypt after Yosef and his brothers died? What was Paroh’s fear? What was his plan to save him from his fear? Why was Paroh confident in his plan?

2.     How did Moshe survive the command to throw the Jewish babies in the Nile River? Who raised Moshe? How did Moshe feel when he saw the Jewish people enslaved and working hard? How did he react? What was the result?

3.    What strange thing happened when Moshe was out in the field tending sheep? What did Hashem tell Moshe he was destined to do? How did Moshe react? What does this tell us about Moshe’s personality?

4.    What was Hashem’s final offer for helping Moshe on his mission? What lesson about the way the Jewish people are supposed to function does this teach us?


As the the Elementary class adjusts and settles in to its new space, we have already gotten busy working. We finished out the last few days of Chanukkah with dipped wax candle making and a PowerPoint presentation put together by the children. These activities opened discussions about and helped emphasize the halachot of candle lighting on Chanukkah. Also, the children are gearing up to present their famous person research next week and are busy producing creative methods of sharing information with the class. Additionally, the second year students have been busy collaborating with other students to produce a play summarizing the information they learned in Parshat Bereishit.

Parshat Vayigash:
1. How did Yosef reveal his identity to his brothers? Why was this so shocking? What lesson about responsibility does this story teach us?
2. How did Yakov behave when he was introduced to Pharaoh? What does this teach us about our attitude about events in life?
3. How did Yosef gain ownership of all the property in Egypt for Pharaoh? Why did he do this? What was going to happen in the future as a result?


With Hanukkah and the move imminent, the Elementary has been focused on continuing research, writing and math work from last week. We have also been applying problem solving and research skills to working out logistics of the move and making decisions about how to establish our new classroom in the new building. Students have been getting in the Hanukkah spirit through Hanukkah lessons, creative writing, singing and creative construction of menorahs. The children have also been working on helping  our school community through getting personally involved in packing and other move preparations. 

Parshat Vayeishev:

1. What did Yakov give to Yosef? Why? What happened as a result? 

2. What did Yosef's brothers do to Yosef at first? Whose idea was this? What did they do with Yosef in the end? What did the brothers tell Yakov? How did Yakov feel after this news?

3. What happened to Yosef when he arrived in Egypt? Where did he end up? What job did he have? How was Yosef able to succeed despite having such bad things happen to him? What does this teach us about perseverance?


Brrr! Some of us are still shivering from our trip to Flag Ponds Nature Park! While we discovered that being out in cold weather for several hours requires proper attire, we also had a wonderful time exploring a variety of habitats near the Chesapeake Bay. In the swamp, tidewater forest and bay habitats in the park we explored, touched and observed dragonfly nymphs, shrimp, water bugs, swans, eagles, great blue herons, keely fish, blue crabs, skillet fish and pipe fish to name a few. Our naturalist, Gene, did a wonderful job guiding us in discovering and learning about the unique ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay. We owe a special thank you to the chaperones who helped make this trip possible through their presence and driving services: Andy Boltax, Ami
Katz, Abe Sterne and Iris Yachin. Stay posted for the children's own words describing their experience in next week's bulletin.

Additionally this week, we continued and extended our president reports through experimenting with music and singing of all the presidents' names. We also extended our exploration of the natural world through studying and learning how to classify rocks, crystals and gems. We also studied leaf types, gathered samples of fallen leaves and labeled various leaf rubbings. Additionally, we began preparing for Chanukah through forming our own "natural" menorahs made from dirt and clay from the earth outside our building.

Judaic Roundup:
1st years: reading, vocabulary work,
2nd years: finished Parshat Bereishit!
3rd years: Bereishit 24:1-3, discussion of Avraham's beginning to search for a wife for Yitzchak
5th years: Berishit 47:1-6, Yosef's brothers meet Paroh
Mishnah: finished the first Perek of Berachot
Chanukah: beginning to discuss ideas related to the Chag

Parshat Vayishlach:

1. How did Yakov prepare for his meeting with Eisav? What does this teach us about how to prepare for meeting with people who may be difficult to deal with?
2. Who was the mysterious man that Yakov wrestled with in the night? What did yakov want from the man? What did the man tell Yakov and what was his explanation? How did Yakov describe this experience afterwards?
3. How did Eisav describe his wealth when Yakov asked? How did Yakov describe his family and wealth? What does this teach us about how to view what we have in life?


This week the Elementary was busy observing and exploring in preparation for our trip to the Chesapeake Bay next week. Specific species we investigated included discussions about crabs and zoo plankton. We looked at and defined various parts of trees and plants. Additionally, we explored jellyfish and bats that live in and around the Chesapeake Bay. We also discussed the inter-connectedness of humans and all of these living things in the food web and the affect of our actions on life in the bay. Other areas we explored this week were statistics, graphs and other practical math applications.


Ms. Hess

Judaic Roundup:


1st Years- Hebrew Reading, Gematria, Pre-Chumash work, vocabulary

2nd Years- Bereishit 5:1-32, Discussion of the ten generations from Adam to Noach

3rd Years- Bereishit 23:7-20, Discussion of the sale of Maarat Hamachpeilah

5th Years- Bereishit 46:8-30, Discussion of Yakov’s descent to Egypt and initial greeting of Yosef

Navi- 3rd Perek of Shoftim- The Shoftim cycle playing out with Otniel and Ehud

Mishnah- Torah Shebaal Peh concepts, First Perek of Brachot


Parshat Vayeitzei


  1. Why was Yakov on the run at the beginning of the Parshah? Where was he going and why? Where did he stop and what happened there? What lesson can we learn from this incident?
  2. For how many years did Yakov work so he could marry Rachel? What happened at the end of this time? How did Rachel handle the situation? What does this teach us?
  3. For how many years did Yakov live with Lavan? What happened that caused him to decide to leave Lavan? why was this so significant?
Rabbi Moses

Elementary Program Field Trip - November 12 Read all the information on the Director's Desk.

This week the Elementary continued their regular work. Additionally, they explored the optical art of Vasarely, which uses straight lines to create the visual effects of curves and three dimensions. The children experimented with the ancient Jewish numeric system of Gematria through guided work and math conversions. The children have also been enjoying a variety of books and literature through independent reading. They have been using these books as inspiration for follow up compositions of their own story writing. The children have also explored using cinquain and quatrain forms of poetry. The third year students have just finished Parashat Vayeira and have begun planning a siyum showcasing elements of the Parashah in creative ways. We have also begun singing Chanukah songs in anticipation of the upcoming holiday.

Judaic Review:
1st Years: Reading, prefix work, chumash vocabulary
2nd Years: Bereishit 4:11-19, Kayin's punishment, jealousy and the following generations
3rd Years: Bereishit 22:17-24, 23:1-9, G-d's promise to Avraham, Avraham's family and Sarah's death
4th Years: Bereishit 45:26-28, 46:1-7, Yakov's reaction to the news that Yosef wants him to descend to Egypt, G-d's reassurance that it is for the best to descend to Egypt
Navi: Shoftim 2:11-20, The importance of passing national history to the next generation and the cycle of Shoftim
Mishnah: underlying concepts of Torah Shebaal Peh, review of Brachot 1:1

Parashat Toldot:

1. How many descriptions of Tefillah does the Chumash give for Yitzchak and Rivkah before their children are born? Why is Tefillah so important in the lives of the Avot and Imahot? What can we learn about how to daven from the examples in this story?
2. How does the Torah describe Yakov and Eisav respectively? What was their order of birth? Which parent preferred which child and why? How did Yakov buy the firstborn status? What was important about being the firstborn?
3. How did Yakov get the brachot from Yitzchak? What was the difference between the berachah for Yakov and the berachah for Eisav? How did Eisav react when he heard the berachah had been given to Yakov and why?


This week in Elementary we have continued pursuing our various areas of studies. Some highlights included learning about Pointillism and looking at examples from Surat. We then started creating our Pointillist styled works. Other explorations were made into the history of ballistics and racial integration of professional sports. The children also worked on understanding and producing geometric designs in three dimensions. Additionally, children looked in to some of the science and geography  of sports.
Ms. Hess

Judaic Roundup:
1st years: Hebrew reading, Chumash vocabulary and skill work
2nd years: Bereishit 4:1-4:9. The story of Kayin and Hevel
3rd years: Bereishit 22:13-22:24. Completing the story of Akeidat Yitzchak
5th years: Bereishit 45:19-28. Discussion of the bringing of Yakov to Egypt and the beginnings of exile.
Navi: Shoftim 1:1-36, 2:1-10. Jewish conquest of Canaan and loss of identity in the land.
Mishnah: Berachot 1:1-2

Parashat Chayei Sarah

1. What was Avraham's challenge in dealing with Ephron? How did the timing of this challenge make it even more difficult? How did Avraham conduct himself? What does this teach us about communicating with others?
2. How did Eliezer refer to himself when talking to Betuel? Why would Eliezer emphasize this about himself? What can we learn from this story about focusing on goals and missions?
3. What was Yakov doing when Rivkah first saw him? How did she react? What does this story teach about the experience of tefillah?

Rabbi Moses


This week in the Elementary we were busy exploring the origins of written language. Students experimented with making their own pictographs, clay tablets and creating their own language. As an extension of this study, we have scheduled for a demonstartion from a sofer (Jewish scribe) in a few weeks.
The children have also been researching the Solar System and constellations. The children have begun planning creative ways of showing what they have learned.
Also, the children have begun exploring forms of fiber arts through finger weaving with a variety of materials.
This week we celebrated October birthdays with a cake baked by the birthday children for the class.
With the success of the bake sale last week, the funds have been raised to help offset the cost of our trip we have scheduled on November 12 to explore the Chesapeake Bay at Flag Ponds Nature Park. The fifth year students did a great job of developing leadership skills through organzing the school and coordinating the logistics of the sale. All the students had a chance to participate and actively engage in helping turn an idea into reality as a group.
Judiac Roundup:
1st Years: Pre-Chumash skills- Work with Hebrew nouns, verbs, prefixes and reading
2nd Years: Bereishit 3:6-21, Discussion of the mistake of eating from the Eitz Hadaat.
3rd Years: Bereishit 21:26-34, 22:1-8, Discussion of Avraham's treaty with Avimelech, Beginning of discussion of Akeidat Yitzchak.
5th years: Bereshit 45:10-18, Discussion of Yosef's plan for bringing his father and brothers to live in Egypt.
Navi: Introduction to Navi and Shoftim
Mishnah: Discussion of history and personalities of major Tannaim
Parshat Vayera discussion questions:
1. What character trait did Avraham display at the beginning of the Parshah? Why did this become the most important character trait for Avraham? What did this have to do with him discovering G-d on his own?
2. In response to the prayer of whom does the Chumash say G-d saved Yishmael? What reason does the Chumash say Yishmael deserved to be saved? What lesson can this teach us about changing our actions?
3. What did G-d ask Avraham to do to Yitzchak at the end of the Parshah? Why was this particularly confusing to Avraham? Did Avraham tell anybody about this mission? What happened in the end and what did this show about Avraham? What lesson can we learn from this story?


Dear Elementary Parents, 
We are finally on our road, and the school year is progressing well. 
This week, the Elementary has been busy with many big projects and important discussions.
Bake Sale - Field Trip
All of the children have rolled up their sleeves and helped out with the bake sale we are running to raise money for our trip to Flag Ponds Nature Park. The students have coordinated a naturalist led program to explore the Chesapeake Bay. They hope to have the chance to get a hands on experience of the bay and the life within it. 
Writing Reports & Written Language
The students are also working on reports about famous people including Presidents, First Ladies, authors and athletes. They have been gathering research in preparation for making presentations in clas.
We have also begun discussing the story of written language. The students are learning about the development of the alphabet from  cave drawings and pictographs. 
Team Activities
The children have also had important class discussions regarding how to make collective group activities work more smoothly. The concepts of compromise and allowing others to voice their opinions respectfully were emphasized. 
Many of the children were very interested in discussing their attitudes towards animals in response to Parashat Noach. This, again, gave the children the opportunity to share their thoughts respectfully and listen respectfully as a group.

Chumash round up:
First years: Pre-Chumash skills of identifying nouns and prefixes in Hebrew and Hebrew reading practice.
Second years: Bereishit 2:15-3:6- Discussion of the creation of Adam and his life in Gan Eden.
Third years: Bereishit 21:12-26- Discussion of Avraham banishing Hagar and Yishmael and their survival on their own. Discussion of Avraham's treaty with Avimelech.
Fifth years: Bereishit 44:32-45:13. Discussion of Yosef revealing his identity to his brothers.

Parashat Lech Lecha discussion questions:
1. How does the Chumash introduce Avram? Does it tell us anything about his personality or how grew up? Why would the Chumash leave Avram's early years in mystery?
2. What was the "Brit Bein Habetarim?" What was Avram afraid of and how did Hashem reassure him?
3. What is the meaning of the name Avraham according to the Chumash? Why is Avraham given this name? 

Thank you for putting the newsletter together!

Amanda and Daniel


Dear Parents of the Elementary Class,
We have sent an important letter today to your email account. 
If you haven't received it, please contact the office, or the elementary class. 
Please read it and share with us your thoughts. 
Shana Tova and Gmar Chatima Tova,
El Staff

Dear Parents of the Elementary Class,
We have an opportunity to go to Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania on September 23 as a part of the celebration for Sukkot. 
We will meet at the school, ready to leave at 8:15 am. The cost of the the trip will be $42 per child (that includes entry and ice cream). 
We will be returning by 4:30 p.m.
We will need to know if your child is participating by September 12. (If ordered by September 15 save $5).
The children will need to bring a school shirt, an extended lunch box or some $20 to purchase food.
We are looking for chaperons and drivers. If you are interested please contact us at elementary@alef....org
Thank you,
Ms. Hess
Rabbi Moses

Dear Elementary Parents,
Greetings from the Elementary. We have had an exciting first week. Each day we have learned more about working together, communicating, and respecting each other. Our goal is to have a strong community of individuals with the skills to interact respectfully in group discussions and to listen attentively to ideas from others.
One area we feel strongly about is nutrition and its role in our lives. We hope to guide the children in making positive nutritional choices as well as understanding how it affects their body. Please encourage your children to make their own lunches in order to be a part of that process. They may need guidance and assistance in the beginning; however, the independence and choices are key in the Elementary child's development.

A few of the interesting things we have been exploring are:
-buoyancy and boats
-Rosh Hashana and the shofar
-class newspaper
We look forward to a great year together.

Amanda Hess and Daniel Moses


Welcome Back to our Elementary Students - Recap

We are so excited to start a new school year and are happy to have you with us. Our Elementary class started Tuesday 8/27/2013 at 8 a.m. 

 We missed some of you at the Back to School Night for the Elementary Class. Here is a short recap: 

 ·       Communication with our school - We mainly communicate via emails. If you have not received an email from Ellie Lichtash , or info@alef....org, please contact me to add you to the e-mail list.  info@alefbet is checked each day even if Ellie is out of the office, by other office staff: Janel and Miriam.

·       Elementary class messages should be sent to Elementary@alefbetmon.....org 

·       Start time of El class is 8:15a.m.

Drop off is between 8 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.

Pick up is between 3:30 to 3:45 p.m.

·       Please check the Parents Page on the left side bar on the website for Director Desk and Bulletin updates. You will find the list of items that you need for school – such as Indoor Shoes!

·       Snack List – will be posted on google doc, from Janel by Friday.

·       Vision: we shared our vision of expanding the school and hoping to find a new location for the year 2013. This might happen mid year, as we are actively looking for facilities. 

·       Introducing - Miriam Singer, our Level Educational Director, and new staff members Rachel Sharon Hebrew Support staff.

·       Updated Calendar is on the web. Use Yellow copy from the office (replace the blue copy).

·       Educational Night – Oct 16, and October 30 and December (TBA) Guest Speaker Peter Davidson.

·       Extra Curricular Activities – for Elementary are on Thursday between 2:30 and 3-30 p.m.:

soccer, Ice Skating and baseball.

·       Ms. Hess is the teacher for the Elementary Class ages 6 – 12 (1st through 6th grade), Staff – Daniel Moses and Rachel Sharon, Sandra Katz.

·       Miriam Singer is the Level Educational Director for Primary level.

·       Office staff includes: Janel Herman, Business Manger (on all questions of payments, contracts and so forth),  and Ellie Lichtash, Head of School. We are looking to hire PT Office Associate.

·       Make sure to pick up a School Shirt for your child and for yourself (used on Field trips and school activities.

·       Volunteer’s List for the year to the PTO – be sure to sign up for 2 items on the list 

·       Please notify your teacher: If a parent is travelling or if there is a change in the house such as- Grandma is in town, someone close is going through a family crisis or procedure – please let us know. Your child’s emotions are dear to us, and every little change in the house affects her/him. 

 Alef Bet Montessori Staff