Mitzvah Points, Starting Trope, and Sukkat Shalom Week 1

This has been a great week of learning for our 6th grade students. Here is what we covered in Hebrew on Wednesday, October 14 and Sunday, October 18:

Hebrew – Trope
On Wednesday we began learning the Sof-Pasuk clause of Torah Trope. Whenever we begin learning a new symbol or clause of trope, we start by chanting the name of the symbol along with a hand sign. Then we write the name of the symbol in Hebrew and transliteration. Then we learn what other symbols belong with that group, or clause. This week we introduced the Sof-Pasuk clause, which includes the symbols: Continue reading

Flipgrid and Our First Sunday

We had a marvelous first day of religious school today! It was great to meet the students and get to know them better. I know a few students were unable to join us this morning, and so I want to take a moment to recap what we covered.

On Sundays we will be learning a new curriculum designed specifically for this year and this time, called LaBriut. I have created an entire page on this website for LaBriut, that includes links to all the learner and parent materials, videos, and more. Beginning next week, we will start with the first lesson or Mifgash (meeting or gathering) of the Sukkat Shalom unit. This week, we learned the terms:

  • Mifgash (meeting or gathering) מפגש
  • K’vutzah (group) קבוצה
  • LaBriut (to your health) לבריאת
  • Brit (covenant) ברית

In order to share the students work and actively engage with one another, we will be using an online platform called Flipgrid. Continue reading

Hebrew Packets for Trope

Materials for Hebrew
Good afternoon, 6th grade Hebrew students will need the following packet each week for Hebrew instruction: Trope Packet 5781. Please print this for your student’s use, or you can stop by TBI in the next week and pick up a printed packet from the school administrator, Mari. Beginning next Wednesday, your student will also need a set of 6 colored highlighters (yellow, pink, green, blue, orange and purple). Highlighters are bagged and also available at TBI with the printed packets, or you can purchase a set such as these or these, or find them around your house. While your student can always access this packet online, they will need physical copies to use for class.

If you have not already done so,  please read through the first post of the year: Welcome to 6th Grade Online, and be sure to have your student read it as well. It will be helpful to have your student bookmark the link to this website, as well as the zoom links page. Please make sure your student logs in to class on-time each week, with just a half-hour for each pod, and no ‘passing time’ it is important for everyone to be punctual.

Erin and I are looking forward to meeting our students today during their assigned pods. If your student  has any difficulty logging in, please contact Mari Plotnik, in the school office, or refer to the zoom links page:

Welcome to 6th Grade Online

Shalom, I am Marla Aviva Bentley, the Director of Music at TBI and your student’s 6th grade Hebrew and Religious School teacher. This is my 10th year teaching at TBI, but for the first time, I am also a parent in my own class. My daughter, Hannah, will be my own student. Some teachers might see this as a challenge, but I am thrilled to teach this wonderful group of learners, most of whom I have known almost their whole lives. It is certainly a benefit to be both a parent and a teacher, and I hope that I will always provide you with the information you need, in a timely fashion, for us to have a wildly successful year together.

6th Grade Blog
Thus, for the past many years, I have created a blog dedicated to this class. Our 6th grade blog will be a consistent source of information to keep you up to date and to find everything you and your student needs in one convenient place. As a parent of two students who are learning remotely in the Deerfield school district, I feel your pain. There are too many links, too many websites, and places to find, check and understand your student’s assignments. I promise to make our class as streamlined as possible, and to have the links to everything you need always at your fingertips. At the end of this introduction, you will find links for Zoom for each class, and where information is on this website. Continue reading

Celebrate the end of 6th grade with cheesecake

Dear 6th Grade Families,
When I scheduled our final extra lesson for tomorrow, I had not realized the TBI Cheesecake Project would conflict. There will be no lesson tomorrow at 4:15 pm, instead, I encourage all of you to stop by TBI to pick up your free cheesecake and say farewell to your TBI teachers. I will be at TBI (at a safe social distance) waving to you. Pick up is available from 3:00-6:00 pm. Please observe all required protocols. If you have not already done so, please register on Shulcloud for this event:

Continue reading

Zoom Classes April 22 – May 27

Dear 6th Grade Families,
Tomorrow we continue our 6th grade Hebrew class on Zoom. I have scheduled class through the end of May, a few weeks beyond the normal ending date. I want to make sure that our students are prepared to begin their B’nai Mitzvah tutoring, a few extra classes will help us to finish Haftarah trope and the Blessings for Haftarah. Zoom information is below, and will remain the same for the rest of our sessions.
To help prepare you for our lessons, please have your student review in Haftarah trope the Sof-Pasuk, Etnachta and Katon clauses. As well as begin familiarizing yourself with the Blessing After Haftarah. All of the resources you need are on our Trope page: Parents, please consider practicing the Blessings before and after Haftarah with your students, or have an older brother or sister practice with them. The more your students practice, the easier and more fluent they will become. In the coming weeks, our goal is to learn the rest of the Haftarah clauses, and to become fluent in reciting the blessings in Hebrew.

Continue reading

Zoom Class on March 25, 2020

Dear 6th Grade Families,
I hope you and your families are doing well. I know this time of isolation can be challenging for everyone, mentally and physically. Tomorrow, I am offering a Zoom Class for our 6th grade. We will meet from 4:15-5:00 pm, the call in/login information is below.
My goals for tomorrows class are as follows:
  1. Check in with each of the students
  2. Introduce them to the online Trope Academy
  3. Review known Haftarah clauses (Sof Pasuk, Etnachta, Katon)
  4. Continue working on Katon clause

Trope Videos for Online Learning

Dear 6th Grade Families,
Well it seems like a different world than when we were last in class together on Wednesday. All of you are now adjusting to learning and working from home as we do our best to self-quarantine. With our TBI programming and lessons cancelled until April 30, I am doing my best to make resources available to you to continue our learning.
My first and largest project has been creating a video series called Trope Academy. For the last few days, I have been recording each clause for Haftarah and for Torah trope, as well as the Blessings before and after each, and other videos for you to learn from. These videos are now embedded in our class blog on the trope page:

Continue reading

Torah Trope Challenge 5780

Today, I announced to the students the Torah Trope Challenge. The Torah Trope Challenge is an assessment of the Torah Trope clauses we have learned, as well as the Blessings for the Reading of Torah. As you continue reading, please review the details of this assessment as well as the resources to help your student practice over break. The Torah Trope Challenge will take place on Sunday, January 12, 2020. Continue reading

Prayer Project 5780

Year after year, when I ask the students about their favorite lesson or activity in class, the prayer project is always at the top of their lists. Ben Franklin is quoted as saying: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” The prayer project flips our classroom and makes each of the students the teacher. Your students will research, learn, prepare and teach their peers one prayer from Seder Kriat HaTorah, or the Service for the Reading of Torah through our concluding prayers. The prayer assignments and designated teaching days are as follows: Continue reading

Welcome to 6th Grade 5780

ברוכים הבעים B’ruchim habaim, welcome to 6th Grade at Temple Beth Israel. My name is Marla Aviva Bentley and I will be your teacher. Most people call me Morah Marla מורה מרלה. This is my 9th year teaching at TBI and I am so excited to get to know you and start off this year! I have spent this summer working, studying, singing and praying. In June, I was installed as the President of the Guild of Temple Musicians. In July, I attended the North American Jewish Choral Festival for my work with HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir. In August, I served on the סגל segel (faculty) of Kallah Atid at OSRUI. I just returned from a relaxing camping trip in Wisconsin with my family. It has been a busy summer, and I am really looking forward to beginning our school year together.

Visiting Old World Wisconsin

Camping in Kettle Moraine

This is our 6th grade blog. It will be the place you can keep up with what is happening in our classroom. Take a few minutes to explore the blog and it’s pages. To learn more about me, visit the About page. In 6th grade we will be exploring our relationship with God, delving into the prayers of  סדר קריאת התורה Seder Kriat HaTorah (the prayers surrounding the Torah service), learning Cantillation, or how to chant תורה Torah and הפטרה Haftarah, as well as continuing to speak, read and write in עברית Hebrew.

I look forward to meeting you and your parents, or catching up if I have taught your older sister or brother. We are going to learn so much this year, and have a great time doing it. See you Sunday!

Writing Prayers

Today we had a very powerful lesson. After the students arrived this morning, several asked why the Skokie Police were outside our building, had there been another shooting? I answered their questions to the best of my ability, and we had a brief discussion about the shooting at the Poway Chabad yesterday. We talked about how we can take our emotions and place them on paper, that we can turn our anger and sorrow into words of prayer.

First, I read to them the words of Rabbi Ari Hart, who wrote this on Facebook last night in response to the shooting: Continue reading

Haftarah Trope Challenge is May 5

Spring has officially arrived, and with the month of April we have exactly 6 Sundays and 6 Wednesdays left of school. This year has flown by! We have been working diligently on Haftarah Trope for the past months, and it is time to announce our final project – the Haftarah Trope Challenge.

The Haftarah Trope Challenge (HTC), like the Torah Trope Challenge, will demonstrate each student’s knowledge of trope and the blessings, so I can say with confidence that these kids are ready to begin preparing for their Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s. The HTC will take place on Sunday, May 5, 2019. It consists of each student chanting three parts: Continue reading

Hebrew Rebus and T’vir Clause

We have been having a great time in Hebrew. Borrowing from an idea that I first saw through Behrman House*, we have been creating a rebus for common Hebrew words. A rebus combines pictures, and words or letters, to create a puzzle, or in our case, allows our students to read in a more fluid manner. The students took great ownership in creating the drawings that would represent particular words. We decided that the drawings should be simple and clear, and that their meaning could be easily deciphered. Here are some examples of the pictures we created for common Hebrew words used in prayer: Continue reading

B’rachah vs. T’filah

We have been discussing the differences and similarities between a B’rachah (Blessing) and a T’filah (Prayer). The students  discovered that all b’rachot (blessings) are t’filot (prayers), but not vice versa. Blessings can be defined by the Hebrew formula “Baruch Atah Adonai,” which sometimes continues, “Eloheinu Melech HaOlam…” or “Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, Ruler of the Universe…”. Some b’rachot also include the words for fulfilling a mitzvah or commandment: “Asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu…” which translates as “who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to…”. Continue reading

Be our guest

This meme from Lori Sagarin seemed appropriate after the discussion in B’nai Mitzvah Seminar this last Sunday. A friendly reminder about what it means to be a good guest…

“We came to visit Grandma”

For more resources on the understanding the Jewish value of Hachnasat Orchim, or Welcoming Guests:

Haftarah Trope

Two weeks ago, we began our next big adventure in 6th grade, the cantillation of Haftarah. We started with a discussion about how Haftarah trope and Torah trope are similiar:

1. The names of each symbol are the same (Mercha, Tipcha etc.).

2. The family or clause groups are still the same (and their color-coding): Sof Pasuk, Etnachta, Katon, T’vir, R’vi-i and Segol.

3. Each trope symbols still functions as it did in Torah, as a M’chabeir (connector) or Mafsik (separator).

4. The location of the trope symbol, above or below a word, still indicates the word’s syllabic stress. Continue reading