Religious School News – June July 2019

Seth Kellam

Let’s keep on learning!

I know! I know!  We just finished out the school year!  And, by the way, what a great school year it was.  Lots of learning, lots of giving and lots of fun!  But there is no better time to think about our CBHT Religious School mission than now.  As we know, our goal is to Grow Jewish Lives.  And, that doesn’t need to end at the end of the school year.  As parents we are often considering ways of closing the gap that summer break creates.  Our Jewish lives are no different.  So, here are some fun ways to continue to grow Jewishly, over the summer:

  • Come to services! Family and Regular services have their own vibe during the summer.  You may find that we are outside more.  We also like to mix some more traditional tunes with some covers.
  • Light Shabbat candles at home. If you are feeling insecure about the blessings or the tunes use YouTube!  You may find old favorites or new ones that resonate with your family.
  • Make Havdalah! You can build your own Havdalah set!  Find some spices from the yard!  Did you know that there is more than one tune for Havdalah?  Check out the Rick Recht version!
  • Why don’t we start saying Shema before bed? Can you use a different tune for every night? How about Billy’s Shema?  What about the Pik Shema?  Of course, we can always do the traditional Sultzer version!
  • Do you ever say Motzi before eating? How about the camp version?  Can you make up your own?
  • Gratitude, gratitude gratitude! There are always opportunities to express thanks.  From Modeh Ani in the morning to conversations of thanks at the dinner table.

 Needless to say, Jewish living and growth never have to end.  And, if you want to feel the joy that we create every Sunday try including some of our homegrown tunes, at home!


 Seth Kellam

Education Director 

Religious School News – April 2019

Thanking Our Teachers

When I think back, I can still remember the names of most of my elementary school teachers and some of my junior and senior high school teachers.  They made an impression.  They impacted my educational experience and taught me some important values by who they were and how they acted.

This month on Sunday, April 28th we will be honoring our religious school teachers.  If you look up the definition of teaching, it is basic: to impart knowledge or skill.  On a survey defining teaching, people responded:

  • great enthusiasm and interest
  • teaches you how to teach yourself
  • inspires students
  • learns as much as they teach

In Wikipedia, a teacher is defined as someone who helps others to acquire knowledge, competencies or values.   In Pirke Avot, the sayings of the fathers, it says, “Find yourself a teacher and get yourself a fellow student.”

Think back to your best teachers.  Would you like to thank them?  The teachers and madrichim here have made a difference in the lives of their students.  We look forward to the opportunity to thank them

I am proud to say that all of these definitions hold true for the teaching staff at CBHT.  In addition to being wonderful teachers, they are also dedicated teachers, many of whom have been here for many years.

Alcalay has said “Happy the teacher whose pupil thanks him” (her).  This doesn’t always happen, but I urge all parents and students to be here on Sunday, April 28th for Teacher Appreciation.  While it can and should happen at any time, this will be our formal opportunity to thank the teachers and madrichim for helping their students to acquire knowledge, competencies, and values.  Please help us show our teachers and madrichim our appreciation for their efforts and the wonderful results.  See you there!

Toby Koritsky, RJE

Education Director


Religious School News

March brings us the holiday of Purim.  It is a very fun holiday.  People dress up in costumes and act silly.  You are even encouraged to drink.  However, in a close reading of the megillah, the Purim story, there is a lot more to it.  A lesson that really stands out to me for myself, and the students here, is one about choices and making decisions (or not making them) and how that influences us.

King Ahasuerus may not have been a great decision maker and was frequently swayed to do things by his advisors.  It certainly made the path easier for him.  Vashti chose not go to the King’s party even when commanded.  As a result, she lost the throne.  Today, many people feel that Vashti had been misjudged, and should have received praise for her brave decision.  Our heroine, Esther, had many decisions and choices to make:  Hide that she was Jewish, tell the King that she was Jewish, save herself or all of her people, approach the King even if it meant death.  Mordechai could have bowed down to Haman and saved himself a lot of trouble but his convictions led him to the decision to stand up for his beliefs.  What would have happened if Haman had been a different type of person?  Would he have chosen to use his influence with the King to persecute the Jews?

Jim Nightingale, author of Think Smart-Act Smart says, “We simply decide without thinking much about the decision process.”  In a classroom setting, we encourage students to look at the pros and cons and debate different sides of a decision.  In real life, we don’t always take that kind of time.  In an article in Wikipedia, it says that the process of decision making has long been the focus of research and that there are elements of psychological needs, environmental influences as well as logic and rationality.

For my purposes, as a Jewish educator, I am struck by the needs and values represented by decisions.  Going back to the story, there are many elements of power, determination, courage and just letting things happen (which is a way of deciding).  These things happen not only in the Purim story but in our daily lives today.  How students treat each other, how they react to a bully, what kind of a person they become all result from decisions and choices they make.  Teachers and parents influence and guide students in their decision-making process.  We hope that the Jewish values of rachamam (compassion) and derekh eretz (literally the way of the land but more so the way you should go) serve as tools for students in making choices.

Through the characters of the Purim story to all of us today, choices and decisions made have a tremendous impact.  As J.K. Rowling, in Harry Potter says, “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Chag sameach Purim – Happy Purim!

Toby Koritsky, RJE

Education Director