Library Story Time for Simchat Torah

We’re in the final stretch of High Holy Days — Hoshana Raba, Shemini Atzeret, then Simchat Torah — the last of which was my focus on Wed. when I read to the lower elementary.

I started with tried and true SAMMY SPIDER’S FIRST SIMCHAT TORAH by Sylvia Rouss. It’s all there — the autumn leaves, the candy apples, the flags, the parades, the singing and dancing with the Torah.

The main message? Just as with our favorite storybook that we read over and over, getting new things out of it each time, so we begin the Torah anew each year, understanding it better as we grow and learn.

I took a slightly different tack with our 2nd book — EZRA’S BIG SHABBAT QUESTION by Aviva Brown. Simchat Torah is, indeed, about the Torah, so why not discuss what is actually IN the Torah — laws and mizvot?

Ezra has a big question is whether we are allowed to tie a knot on Shabbat. Shabbat prohibitions are treated broadly in the Torah — do not work at your occupations — but that was insufficient for the Rabbis of the Talmud. What if you accidentally did something that was prohibited? Big trouble, right? So the Rabbis teased out the detail that surely was there all along, using work definitions involved in constructing the Mishkan Ba-Midbar (the portable sanctuary in the wilderness) as a guide. Learn more here:…/shabbats-work…/

As an aside, I would like to mention that one of the attractions of EZRA’S BIG SHABBAT QUESTION is that it depicts a Jewish family of color, an important new trend in Jewish book publishing. I chose not to point this out to the kids; I wanted them to simply absorb and internalize the wonderful diversity in the Jewish world!


Posted by Rachel Haus in Library, Lower Elementary Library, 0 comments

Hebrew Through Movement Vocabulary – Level 1

This chart should NOT be shared with students. It is for parents only. With Hebrew through Movement, students learn by HEARING not reading.

Several parents have asked for the HTM vocabulary lists so we will be posting each level on the blog as we introduce it.


Posted by OKCJS Director in Curriculum, Hebrew Through Movement (HTM)

Library Story Time — Sukkot!

High Holy Days are chugging right along. Next up this Friday night — SUKKOT!

Sukkot is a joyous, but contradictory holiday. We celebrate the glorious bounty of the fall harvest, enveloped by the warmth of fellowship and good food. But we do so in a structure that is highly fragile, leaving us exposed, vulnerable to the elements. What better metaphor for our current situation? And as I was searching for books to read to the kids, I was overwhelmed by the choices that would speak not only to the holiday, but to the reality of our lives. For more on sukkot, see (which includes a Leggo Sukkot movie!)

I began with ENGINEER ARI AND THE SUKKAH EXPRESS by Deborah Bodin Cohen. Engineer Ari is delighted to celebrate sukkot with his good friends at home, but is sad that he cannot also celebrate with friends he’s made on his train’s route. What do his friends do? They turn one of the train’s cars into a travelling sukkah! Now that’s innovative thinking!

With TBI and COM closed for services, it might be difficult for families to perform the mitzvah of the lulav and etrog. So I figured we could go on a SUKKOT TREASURE HUNT by Allison Ofanansky, about a girl and her family who look for the 4 species — lulav (date palm), arava (willow), hadas (myrtle), and etrog (citrus fruit) — tied to sukkot.

For older children (though the younger ones enjoyed it too), I threw in a slightly spooky story by Isaac Bashevis Singer called A TALE OF THREE WISHES — 3 children learn what happens on the last night of sukkot when, according to legend, the sky opens and your wish is granted…but only if you stand in a graveyard!

Oh, how many more books I wanted to read to them! For instance, TIKVAH MEANS HOPE by Patricia Polacco, could have been ripped from today’s headlines — a family in Oakland CA preparing for sukkot just as the wildfires of Oct. 1991 wreak havok.

Or our newest book, HILLEL BUILDS A HOUSE by Shoshana Lepon about a boy who loves to build things and realizes that sukkot is his perfect opportunity!

Please check out our online catalog, reserve whatever you like, and pick it up from the shul. It’s all waiting for you!

Chag sameach!

Posted by Rachel Haus

Sukkat Shalom Lesson 1 Home Learning

Activity instructions for PreK-3

There is a link to this video in the Seesaw Class App. The only help students will need is with the iron that is used to iron on the transfers. There are two transfers for each student. They can iron one onto their bag and decorate it as well. If your student needs help with anything other than ironing, encourage them to drop in to the Lower El Zoom classroom between 4:30-6:30 M-Th.

Everything in the activity bag is sorted by weeks 1-5. Please make sure your students keep everything together in their bag so that supplies will be reused throughout the year. A new activity bag will be provided before each 5-week module.

Activity Instructions for PreK-3

Challenge instructions for grades 4-7

The written challenge instructions are in your student’s blue folder. If your student needs help, encourage them to drop in to the Lower El Zoom classroom between 4:30-6:30 M-Th.

3-7 Challenge

Family Schmooze

The Family Schmooze document for Week 1 is in your student’s blue folder. Enjoy the learning together.

Posted by OKCJS Director in At Home Activities & Challenges, Curriculum, Judaism

Sukkat Shalom

This week we begin the first of five 5-week Judaism modules. In this first module, we will be teaching the Jewish value of סֻכַּת†שָׁלוֹם Sukkat Shalom and the Caregiving Principle of Creating a Feeling of Safety.

The Hebrew phrase, סכֻּתַ†שָׁלוֹם (sukkat shalom), means “shelter of peace,” a place that generates the feeling of safety and protection. It is part of the Hashkiveinu blessing in the evening service, in which we request that God:


U’fros aleinu sukkat sh’lomecha.

“Spread over us Your shelter of peace.”

Video Overview for Parents

Posted by OKCJS Director in Curriculum, Judaism, 0 comments

Library Story Time for Yom Kippur — Teshuva and Mechila

Yom Kippur is on the horizon and so I read two books to the kids that touched on the choices we make and the power of forgiveness.

The first was relatively new — YOM KIPPUR SHORTSTOP by David A. Adler. What do you do when the most important Little League game of the year falls on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar? Similar to the quandary faced by world-famous ball player Sandy Koufax, Jacob must make a tough decision — which team is more important to him?

Our 2nd book was tried and true SAMMY SPIDER’S FIRST YOM KIPPUR by Sylvia Rouss.

Of course, Josh and Sammy learn all about saying “I’m sorry”, but the bigger lesson they learn is the importance of mechila (forgiveness). Teshuva (repentance) is a two-way street; if teshuva is sincere and lasting, then the wronged person is REQUIRED to offer mechila, bringing healing to both sides. See the following for more info:…/is-forgiveness…/

Tzom kal and gamar chatima v’tova — Easy fast and may you be sealed for good [in the Book of Life].

Posted by Rachel Haus, 0 comments

Library Story Time for Rosh Hashanah

Last Wednesday was my first Library Storytime of the new school year and of course I had a tech snafu. Still, in the end I had fun reading 2 wonderful books to lower elementary.

First was a brand new book written and illustrated by two Orthodox sisters back in May when everyone was in extreme lockdown. LET’S STAY HOME by Mushka and Bluma Lewis is a delightful rhyming story about a brother and sister trying to navigate their world — school on Zoom in their pajamas, everyone under foot and stressed (sound familiar?) — in the very strange reality of Covid-19. And yet they are thankful that they are safe, healthy, and able to communicate through the wonders of modern technology.

The second book was an old Rosh Hashanah favorite, but strangely appropriate for our times — THE WORLD’S BIRTHDAY by Barbara Diamond Goldin. Understanding that Rosh Hashanah celebrates, among other things, the world’s creation, a young boy wants to throw it a birthday party, complete with cake and candles. But how to invite the whole world? Why, bring the party (and the cake) outside, of course! Both books speak to our current challenges, but they suggest ways to enjoy daily and religious ritual through innovation and flexibility.

Thus, the Library may not be open physically, but through our new online catalog, you can still check items out (including the two books I read to the kids). Also, for the most up-to-date information on the Library and virtual literary programs, check us out on our Facebook page — or on Twitter —


Posted by Rachel Haus

Revised Weekday Schedule

This week’s learning includes:

  1. Attend at least one weekday drop-in session each week in the Lower El classroom on Zoom. See new schedule below. Students are welcome to come everyday. We are happy to keep your students occupied so that you can get some work done!
  2. Complete home learning activities posted in Seesaw by 8am Friday each week.
  3. Schedule 1:1 Hebrew lessons. Go here to schedule and see Zoom links for Hebrew 1:1 if you haven’t done so already.

Based upon attendance and parent feedback, we have made a few changes to the weekday schedule.


4:30 PreK-3 Story Time
5:00 Hebrew Through Movement 
5:30 Hebrew Through Movement 
6:00 Hebrew Through Movement 
4:30-6:30 3-7 Lego Alef Bet, Kahoot! & Quizlet Games 
4:30-6:30 Help with Home Learning Activities & Challenges


5:00 PreK-3 Story Time
4:30-6:30 3-7 Lego Alef Bet, Kahoot! & Quizlet Games
4:30-6:30 Help with Home Learning Activities & Challenges


4:30 PreK-2 Library with Mrs. Rachel
5:00 Hebrew Through Movement 
5:30 Hebrew Through Movement 
6:00 Hebrew Through Movement 
4:30-6:30 3-7 Lego Alef Bet, Kahoot! & Quizlet Games 
4:30-6:30 Help with Home Learning Activities & Challenges


5:30 PreK-3 Story Time 
4:30-6:30 3-7 Lego Alef Bet, Kahoot! & Quizlet Games
4:30-6:30 Help with Home Learning Activities & Challenges

Posted by OKCJS Director

PreK-7 There’s Still More Learning this Week

Our new learning model has four components. Our children did the teacher-led group learning on Sunday. Many students have completed or started some of the other components. If they haven’t already, please make sure your student participates in the other three:

  1. Attend at least one weekday drop-in session each week. See Drop In Schedule. They are welcome to come everyday. We are happy to keep your students occupied so that you can get some work done!
  2. Complete home learning activities posted in Seesaw.
  3. Schedule 1:1 Hebrew lessons. Go here to schedule and see Zoom links for Hebrew 1:1.

For security, 1:1 Hebrew documents require a Gmail account. If you did not include a Gmail account on the online registration form, please send Nora your Gmail address to get access. If you don’t have a Gmail account, email Nora to schedule.

If you did not schedule before Wednesday, lessons will start next week.

No school this Sunday. It’s Rosh Hashanah 2.

Posted by OKCJS Director