I hope you all had a good three day weekend and are staying warm in this weather! I personally enjoy the brisk air, and amazingly my kids never seem to need a coat in any of it :)
Ok, so I'm emailing for a few reasons! One is, I am so pleased to let you all know that due to a generous donor we are now able to offer free attendance for the Festival for Jewish Learning! Of course, it's wonderful if you're still able to pay, but go ahead and use the "student" (free) rate, and sign up to come. We'd love to see you Thursday night at 5pm for my favorite podcaster, Mark Oppenheimer. He's also the author of the book on Squirrel Hill and wrote the NYT Religion column for 6 years. And/or come to Phillips Hall on Friday for a session to remember the Shoah followed by Kabbalat Shabbat led by Rabbi Micah. Another option is to come out to TNS on Saturday night starting at 5pm for a Petra dinner (with libations) followed by Havdalah and songs. Kids welcome too!
Now, on to Purim. First of all, make sure Wednesday, March 16 is on your calendar for Erev Purim at TNS. Secondly, we are hosting "auditions" this Sunday for a kids Purim shpiel! Here's the scoop:
Performance will be on 3/16 at 6ish pm
Also this Sunday the kids will have a special guest, Rabbi Lon Moskowitz, lead in Torah Talk. Please be in touch with any questions and I look forward to seeing all of you in this coming week.
All my best
I hope you've all re-dug out your jackets and sweaters as the cool breezes have sunk in here on the Central Coast after our Feb heat wave. Speaking of the clothes we choose, that was actually the substance of last week's torah portion, and so much behind what Rabbi Micah focused on with our kids this week. He did a beautiful job of explaining the meaning and feelings behind wrapping tefillin and wearing a kippah - how these rituals direct our behavior to be more holy....who could use nasty language with a yarmulke on our heads or with the shema on our arms and heads? Micah also led the kids in feeling what it's like to put a tallit over one's shoulders, wrap the tzitzit around one's fingers, and connect to who/what we care about. Here are a few images from this last week's Torah Talk:
Following time with the rabbi, our students engaged in class time, which largely focused on using our brachot to exercise gratitude. Our Shalhavot class was engaged in listing the 100 things they love and Today we began the unit on Hakarat Hatov הַכָּרָת הַטוֹב (recognizing the good). One way to continue the conversation is to make up your own b’rachah בְּרָכוֹת for something in your family.
Our Nitzotzot class also focused on brachot - Blessings for the Home. The kids made beautiful wall hangings and discussed what it is to bring such love to your household.
Our Gan class was cute as ever, also learning about "Shalom HaBayit," or peace in the home. And, our Kiddush snack this week was all about "Ahava" or love (picture from Israel Museum). Thanks to all who contributed and continue to! Plus nice leadership skills from Asher this week who doled out the cupcakes :)
Finally, a few pictures of Eliana, Dinah, and Ronen presenting on Mitzvah bags and how to use them to make the world a better place. This took place just before our kids service - where we had Alex Barrett, Sophie and Leo Feldman, Simon and Isaac Bandari, and even more kids help out! It's beautiful to see them engaging more and more....
What's coming up
Please note there is NO HEBREW SCHOOL THIS SUNDAY, Feb 20. We will resume the following Sunday, Feb 27.
Before then, PLEASE be sure to check out this amazing program the community is offering Feb 24-26 to educate on antisemitism and celebrate Jewish life on the Central Coast. The website is: https://www.jewishfestivaloflearningslo.com/ and I've attached the detailed schedule to make it easier to see how to sign up. Also, take a second and watch our promo video (narrated by yours truly, Rabbi Micah).
Also, be sure to have marked on your calendars Wednesday, March 16 for Erev Purim. We'll rock the house at TNS with fun for the kids, grogger noise, pizza, libations, and megillah readings. Just come.
In the meantime, be in touch with anything you need. I'm always a call, text, or visit away.
What a beautiful Shabbat and Sunday school we enjoyed last weekend! Our Family Shabbat Service led by Rabbi Micah was vibrant and full of beautiful energy. The entire evening overlapped with a Hillel Pride Shabbat at TNS, and the Klein Room was full of Cal Poly students and celebration. As that happened, Micah led our littlest ones in a Tot Shabbat that included the upcoming Purim tune "La Cova Sheli, Shalosh Pinot...." practice it here!
The tots then went to have their own kid-dish with the cutest "shabbat candles" I've ever seen - thought of by our newest member and her family, Ariella Leva! Tanner then sang the entire HaMotzi on his own for us :)
Meanwhile, our older kids helped Rabbi Micah lead in many of the blessings - from Barcu to Aleinu to Adon Olam.
On Sunday, our children were super engaged in the Torah Talk. Please do talk to them about it too. We reviewed the 10 commandments, the architectural renderings of the Tabernacle, and made tin foil golden calves that we then acted out and casted away! (thanks to Alex Barrett as Moses). Below is the slideshow to discuss any of these topics in more detail at home, as well as the Adon Olam song I played for the month of Adar (to the tune of "Happy").
In Shalhavot class, the students reviewed and discussed the Purim story. In Nitzotzot, they talked about "Shalom Ha'Bayit" and in the Gan class, the children upcycled plastic water bottles learning about "Bal Taschit" (not wasting) and reviewed the letter "tet."
Lastly, thank you to all who sponsor onegs, bring school snacks, refill our supplies, and take care of our grounds. It truly takes a village!!!
Stay tuned for more coming up, now that we are in Adar. There will be lots of exciting build up to erev Purim, so save the date to be at TNS on the night of March 16th!
All my best
PS - on a community note, PLEASE check out and register for this amazing program we've put together (including yours truly) - https://www.jewishfestivaloflearningslo.com/
You can read in the New Times Op-Ed from Rabbi Micah more on the conference, as well as watch this promo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjzajKTdHZY&feature=emb_imp_woyt
I hope you have had the chance to speak with your children about our last TNS school session. It was an impactful and profound morning, honoring Holocaust Remembrance, and I really want to send a message of appreciation to your children for taking it all in so respectfully and seriously. We started out the morning watching the film "The Tattooed Torah."
Following the movie, we had Noah Tendrih present his take on "Diary of Anne Frank." Please take a moment and read Noah's words. I encourage all of our students who are ready to read this book to still please do so and present their thoughts another Sunday.
Then our school heard from TNS president, Susan Stern-Pearl, on the background of her father, who liberated Buchenwald, followed by a history on our past congregant, Irving Klein, z"l, who survived the Holocaust and whose estate helped build our community room. Lastly, the kids went through an evacuation drill with John Belsher, who reminded them that TNS is a place of warmth and safety, and that we do these drills to help ensure that.
During class time, the Shalhavot students reviewed a number of our blessings and their meaning, including the hamotzi and the blessing over fruit of the vine. Our Nitzotzot class watched a film about Anne Frank and wrote letters to her. See below to understand how they took such a lesson in. The Gan class was focused on Israel this week - and made their own passports!
We ended the day with kids service - and I love that more and more of our students are joining me on the bimah to lead in the prayers! Alex, Sophie and Leo did a great job with Sim Shalom and here is Levi Medina leading in Adon Olam -
The pieces of Sunday morning came together with Rabbi Micah leading in a moment of silence and explaining to our school the more serious nature of what we were teaching. Rabbi Micah will be leading this Friday our next Family Shabbat Service! Come by 6pm for the 15 minute tot shabbat, followed by a kid-dish for the littles. Then our regular service will start with the older kids being called up to the bimah to lead in various prayers with Rabbi Micah. The Kovens are generously sponsoring an oneg so there will be some treats to follow the service.
Also coming up this weekend is our next Rosh Chodesh gathering, on Sunday, Feb 6 from 4:30-6pm at Sycamore Springs. Please RSVP to me if you can attend.
Also, on the community-side of all things Jewish on the Central Coast, I want to let you all know about the 2nd Jewish Learning Festival! It's an incredible program of speakers and learning sessions we've put together, both in educating against antisemitism and as a response to the swastika that was graffitied on the AEPi house last year, and as a way to celebrate Judaism. Check out the website and come to the keynotes or more! https://www.jewishfestivaloflearningslo.com/
Lastly, TNS has a new website!!! Take a look at templenershalom.org and you will see the new look, plus a synagogue calendar that includes service times, birthdays, and more on the "Koleinu" page. That page you need member access - the password is "tns1818"
I look forward to seeing many of you later this week. You'll certainly hear from me again with a reminder for the Family Shabbat Service.
All my best
Letters to Anne Frank from Nitzozot Class
Dear Anne Frank
I would be so scared if I was a Jew in the Holocaust and you were very brave, and if I was in a mini room and could not go outside, I would be so mad.
Dear Anne Frank
You lived in a hard times, you faced hard things, and became famous
Dear Anne Frank
Thank you for helping out during the war. You did a really good job in helping our world
Dear Anne Frank
I'm sorry I don’t think I would be able to survive that long. You also inspired me to get a diary. I am sorry .
I'm thankful for my life. And I hope you are the same.
Dear Anne Frank
You are cool by finding out how to find something to do when you were stuck. I feel bad for how you felt.
First and foremost, a huge TODAH RABAH to Phylissa and all of you for leading the charge, helping out, and hosting last Sunday's Tu B'shvat Community Session! What a beautiful way and a beautiful property on which to hold such a special holiday. Below you'll see the pictures of endearing messages the kids wrote on their TNS leaves, and I love that the recycling art was such a hit. Hopefully too we'll enjoy some of the planted parsley at our Passover Community Session seder. (I also included some photos from the previous week's Tu B'shvat activity that Michal's class enjoyed)
Also, relevant for tonight - if you can still make it and didn't last night, know that "Fiddler on the Roof" is playing at the PAC! Kids can get the student price, which is 50% off (just call the box office) and adults can use the JCCSLO discount code for 10% off. Us Bandaris will be there tonight, so just letting you all know!
Now for this Sunday, and even today. Many of you may know, today is recognized as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. There are a number of online and virtual options to recognize and discuss this, including many films to view on the SLO Jewish Film Festival site. In fact, our school will view one of the shorts this Sunday, "The Tattooed Torah." This is an animated piece geared toward elementary-school aged children to introduce the subject of the Shoah. Amazingly, the Canadian school system actually implemented this film into its curriculum for young elementary aged kids. We are honored to play it for the SLO Jewish Film Festival and at TNS Hebrew school. That said, if you are at all uncomfortable with your child watching the film and discussing this topic, please be in touch with me directly.
Further, our Shalhavot class has been asked to read "Diary of Anne Frank." Part of our Torah Talk time, which will be with Rabbi Micah, will include a handful of the kids presenting on what they learned from the book. We have extra copies and I hope this inspires more of the kids to read it, whenever they are ready.
Also, this Sunday, please note that our past TNS president and property guru, John Belsher, will be leading the kids and TNS staff in an evacuation drill at 10am. In certain ways this is regular procedure, but certainly the Colleyville incident makes it ever more so pertinent.
Lastly, I really, really encourage all of you adults to read this book on the tragedy of what happened in Pittsburgh a few years ago. Not only because it is beautifully written and honors the souls of the 11 who passed, but also because it is so about the community who rallied around the synagogue and showed the power of what it means to have such support. Plus, the JCC, Hillel, and AEPi are bringing the author to SLO, to Cal Poly, next month! (Feb 24) The author will be part of our 2nd Festival for Jewish Learning, which will include a whole lineup of talks on antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and a celebration of Judaism. The festival is also a collaborative response to the swastika that was sprayed on the AEPi house last year - and educating the community on the history of antisemitism and gravity of such an incident.
And, I'm almost done! First, please note I will be leading services this Shabbat at 6:15pm (here is the zoom link if you want to join virtually). But, also, mark your calendar for our next Family Shabbat Service with Rabbi Micah! That will be for next Friday, February 4 at 6pm. Again, the first 15 minutes will be for our youngest ones, and then our older kids will be called up to the bimah to help with the regular Shabbat service.
Also, I have the tub reserved - our next Rosh Chodesh gathering is Sunday, Feb 6 from 430-6 at Sycamore Springs. Please RSVP to me and let me know if you can join, learn, and talk.
Thanks so much for all and I trust to see you all soon.
What a great report I got from last Sunday. A huge yasher koach and thank you to Maxi for leading the charge. I heard she did an amazing job leading Torah Talk about the parting of the Red Sea and then tying the lesson in to the kids yoga she led. What a treat!
Of course thank you to all our regular teachers and TAs who kept things going too. The Gan class made Miriam’s tambourines and continued to talk about courage. Responsibility is the value in older classes. Here are some of the pics I received:
So for this next week we will host the Tu B’shvat Community Session at TNS from 930-1130. Phylissa (Ethan and Jonah’s mom) will be in charge and definitely relying on your support. Be ready to help move tables and chairs and help with set up/clean up! It will be a robust Tu B’shvat program with multiple stations, learning sessions and rabbis. Most of it is planned for outdoors so we can stay as cautious as possible. Of course if your child isn’t feeling well, please do not send them in Sunday.
Parents, please do plan to stay for Rabbi Micah’s adult education session entitled “Identifying the seeds and shells of our souls” It will be during the kids’ “class” time and be out in the patio.
Please note too that 15 minutes into school starting this Sunday we will close the gate. There will also be more communication about any further measures tns is taking to help with our synagogue’s security.
On a lighter note, please send me any pics from this Sunday too! The Bandaris are sorry not to be there and will look forward to returning to our TNS family. In fact, I lead Shabbat services on Jan 28 and will be there to lead International Holocaust Remembrance Day recognition with a special animated film from the SLO Jewish Film Festival (www.slojff.com) on Jan 30 with the school. For the older kids, please do read “Diary of Anne Frank” by Jan 30 and try to prepare a few words to say about it.
Take care everyone and be in touch. Do please text or email me if you cannot attend school next week.
Happy rainy Thursday and winter break, everyone!
Here's a recap of last Sunday's session, plus highlights for what's coming through the rest of December, into January, at TNS.
December 19 recap
Our last Sunday before winter break coincided with the last parsha of Genesis (Vayechi). It's where the brothers (Jacob's sons) do come back together, grandchildren are blessed, and we move on to the stories of Exodus.
Rabbi Micah kicked off the day with a Torah Talk focused on the power of names, which are highlighted in this parsha. We made up poem songs for many of our students' names and practiced blessings.
Following rabbi time, our kids split into their classrooms. Gan and Nitzotzot zeroed in on lessons on Shabbat, and our Shalhavot class cracked open our Chumashim and read through the torah portion to understand and discuss in more detail. We learned about the definition of "Israel," took in more detail of Jacob's sons, and discussed the blessing he gave to his grandsons, Ephraim and Menasseh, that we carry on today each Shabbat to our sons and daughters.
A thank you to the Hartless-Romero family for providing snacks - and leading in blessings! Please remember, I really need you to sign up for such help starting in January through the end of May:
Parent Sign-Up 2021-22
What's Coming Up
All my best
Happy Friday, everyone, and an early Shabbat Shalom.
This is a reminder that we DO have Sunday school this weekend, December 19. After that, we will continue online Hebrew sessions (through Wednesday) and not be back for school until January 9th! Please remember to text me (805-295-0890) or email me if you know you will be absent.
December 9 review:
Last Sunday was super fun and different. We started out the morning with an impromptu play on the story of Joseph - acting out how his brothers mistreated him after feeling like he was spoiled with the gift of his beautiful coat from his father Jacob. Then we showed how even when they threw him in a hole and he sent to Egypt for slavery, Joseph found a successful path for himself, and stayed true to his Judaism. When the brothers were suffering from famine, they came to Joseph to beg for relief not recognizing him, but he knew who they were. Eventually, they reconnected, Joseph forgave and helped his brothers, and in the end, believed he was meant to have such a fate so eventually he could bail out his family. Here were the kids performing (Leo Feldman as Joseph):
Also from last Sunday, I want to send a hearty "Yasher Koach" to Emma, who subbed for our teacher Michal for the first time! Emma taught this class on the details of Havdalah. Here is a summary, plus below are the vocabulary words this class has been learning for the last number of weeks. Please review with your kids - no matter their age!
This week we experienced Havdalah הַבְדָּלָה, specifically focusing on the smell, the besamim of Havdalah הַבְדָּלָה and the beginning of the creation story. We experience the light and darkness created on the first day, water and air on the second day, and land and plants on the third day. We enjoyed learning the song “Seven Days” (https://youtu.be/u7HgGU-Cr7U) which helps us remember what was created on each day. We engaged with most of our senses today, including sight, touch, sound, smell, and movement.
In the Gan Zikukin class, teacher Amber also focused on Shabbat, and the kids made challah covers that we hope you can use at home. They reviewed the letters of Shabbat - Shin, Bet, Tav and are practicing the blessings.
In our oldest class, Shalhavot, Joel completed the curriculum unit on Gevurah גְבוּרָה (inner strength). Part of gevurah גְבוּרָה is knowing how to argue and compromise with dignity. In previous weeks, we talked about showing courage at personal risk. This week, the class focused on showing other strategies that are not either/or situations. Compromise (peshara) is one way to turn an argument into a win/win situation. Very often, an argument (machloket מַחֲלוֹקֶת) is based on more than one person believing that they have ALL the truth. But the root of the Hebrew word machloket מַחֲלוֹקֶת is chelek חֵלֶק (part). We may say that all parties to the argument have a חֵלֶק chelek or piece of the truth. This allows the parties to compromise with dignity.
Here are some ways you as parents can reinforce what was discussed last week:Car Talk
What are some times that we need to compromise as a family?
With your child, listen to a song about building relationships: “Chazak” by Dan Nichols https://safesha.re/1xl (5.3.4 “Chazak” with Music—Dan Nichols).
The mezuzah מְזוּזָה is a symbol of compromise. Can you think of another symbol of compromise? Take a picture of it and explain.
A few last reminders:
All my best
Religious School Director, Lauren Bandari
Mom, educator, Jewish community advocate, Lauren Bandari, has the privilege of running the TNS religious school. She is passionate about teaching and connecting our kids, solidifying a strong sense of Jewish identity, and finding joy in our beautiful traditions.