Chesed Unit and The Haftarah Challenge

How Far We Have Come
It is amazing to me how far we have come this year, and how much your students have achieved, even with all of the innate challenges of being remote. As it is now April 12th, we have just 4 more weeks of Hebrew and Religious School at TBI for this year. We have just completed our K’hillah/Community unit and this Sunday, we will begin our final unit of the year, Chesed. Check out this introductory video to learn a bit more about this unit: Continue reading

Haftarah Trope and K’hillah Unit

My apologies, it has been a few weeks since I have last had the opportunity to update our class blog. So much has happened, here is a recap:

Wednesdays – Haftarah Trope
After our students successfully completed the Torah Trope Challenge, we began our second and final Hebrew unit for this year, Haftarah Trope. Haftarah Trope shares all the same attributes as Torah Trope, except one. Both share the same symbols, the same clause families, the same color-coding, the same rules about each symbol, the same functions (as a m’chaber/connector or as a mafsik/separator), and where the symbol is placed still determines the syllabic stress of the word. The one difference is the melody; Haftarah has its own unique melody. In our first weeks of learning this new unit, the students have already learned: Continue reading

G’vurah and Torah Trope Challenge

Sundays – LaBriut
This last Sunday we began our third unit in the LaBriut curriculum, called G’vurah. G’vurah can be defined as strength and might, or using one’s power for good. Parents can get a sense of what this next unit in this introduction video here:

Throughout this unit, students will be creating a comic book based on the story of a Jewish hero and themselves. Learners will learn to see their own strengths and how they can use those strengths to help others. Continue reading

New Hebrew Pods and Practice Over Break

New Hebrew Pods Beginning 1/6/21
Last week, Lori Sagarin wrote to all the 6th grade families explaining that we will be shifting the Hebrew pods on Wednesdays when we return from break. Morah Erin and I believe that our new hour long format on Wednesdays will allow for greater student success. We hope the additional time each week can be used for further practice, review and time to answer student questions. We have carefully crafted the new pods based on a variety of factors – cohesiveness, range of abilities, peer dynamics, and known schedule conflicts. We announced the make up of the new pods last Sunday in class, and will once again post the lists here. New Zoom links will be emailed to each family next week from Mari, and will also be posted on the TBI Zoom School page. Continue reading

T’vir, R’vii and Beginning Ometz Lev

Let’s catch up on what we have been learning the last two weeks:

Wednesdays – Trope
Last Wednesday we learned our 4th clause,  תביר T’vir. T’vir is highlighted in blue, and features just a few new symbols: דרגא Darga and תביר T’vir. You can hear the sound of each and learn the hand signs here: T’vir is the sound of the “Amein” recited by a person about to read Torah, following someone else chanting the Torah blessings. The T’vir clause is often served by the trope קדמא Kadma, which we learned in our last clause קטן Katon. Additionally, תביר T’vir can be served by a special מרכא Mercha, which sounds like דרגא Darga, but without the middle two notes. The Flipgrid challenge for תביר T’vir is: Continue reading

Katon Clause Continued and Completing Sukkat Shalom

Katon Clause Continued…
Today, we learned the rest of the Katon Clause. The Katon Clause is a longer clause, that includes a couple of unique things, including 2 sets of identical twins. Identical twins of course are symbols that look identical, however, like any real set of siblings, they might look the same but they have completely different personalities and functions.

Twin #1 – Pashta and Kadma
Last week we learned Pashta. It has some rules that make it unique:

1. The symbol for Pashta is always on the very last letter of the word
2. Pashta is always followed by Katon or Munach Katon
3. Pashta is a separator; Pashta PAUSES
4. Pashta can also exist as a ‘double pashta’ such as the word B’veitecha in the 6th line of the V’ahavta. Continue reading

Sukkat Shalom Week 2 and Sof-Pasuk

Sukkat Shalom Week #2
Today we continued to expand our definition of Sukkat Shalom סכת שלום (a shelter of peace) to include feelings and people, not just places or spaces. We heard the story of Rabbi Hillel in Snow from Talmud, Yoma 35b, as told by Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. The students and I imagined how Hillel must have felt when the Rabbi’s cared for him physically, when they could have reprimanded his disobedience. We then explored how our faces, eyes and expressions can show emotion, and feelings, and show someone that you care. To further the student’s understanding of these concepts, they should complete the 2nd Sukkat Shalom Challenge on Flipgrid: Continue reading

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

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

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

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

Tashlich 5779

On Wednesday, our class had the opportunity to discuss three topics that are central to this time of year – the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: Forgiveness, ‘Sin’, and Repentance. Without giving them any definitions or insight, I asked the students to define these concepts for themselves in their notebooks, then we would share with the class. The students came up with very thought provoking definitions, you can see here: Continue reading

Torah Trope Challenge

I am proud to announce that our student’s have learned 5 of the 6 Torah Trope clauses and they are now ready to demonstrate their understanding in the Torah Trope Challenge.  The Torah Trope Challenge will take place on Sunday, January 14, 2018. It consists of three parts:

1. Each student will chant the V’ahavta in Trope.

2. Each student will chant the Blessing Before for the Reading of Torah in Hebrew.

3. Each student will chant the Blessing After the Reading of Torah in Hebrew. Continue reading

Help with Hebrew

During one of our recent classes, I noticed that quite a few students were having difficulty reading in Hebrew script when I wrote on the board.  Script is how one writes Hebrew (think handwriting vs. print).  Hebrew, like English, is printed slightly differently than it is written.  At TBI we work exclusively in script and this is what our students have been encouraged to do since they began writing formally in 3rd grade.  I have several links available on our class blog that are helpful when it comes to script practice and I would like to point a few of them out now… Continue reading

Haftarah Trope

We are now just over the halfway point in our study of Haftarah trope.  We have completed the first three clauses: Etnachtah, Sof-Pasuk and Katon, and we will be beginning on T’vir in the next week.  The students are using an example from Judges 4:4-18 to practice their identification, color-coding and chanting.  We have also been working the Blessing Before Haftarah as it uses most of the Haftarah trope clauses.  Continue reading

T’filah Project

Yesterday the students and I discussed our next assignment, the T’filah (Prayer) Project.  This is a year-long project where each student in class has the opportunity to be a teacher for the day.  They will research, practice, and present a prayer to the class in a creative and fun way.  We discussed the assignment in detail and what each student’s responsibility will be.  The entire assignment can be found here: Continue reading

Trope Assignment

During the last few classes we have learned so much in trope. We discussed how trope functions in three ways:

  1. Melody – each trope symbol has a given sound.
  2. Pronunciation (syllabic stress) – where the trope is located indicates the syllabic stress.
  3. Punctuation – each trope symbol tells you to connect (m’chaber) or separate (mafsik) from the symbol that follows.

Continue reading

Our first week

What a fantastic first week of school at TBI.  It was great to meet you and your students, I hope you all enjoyed our picnic, bake sale and official opening of school last Sunday.

On Sunday we had a great discussion about tzedakah and how it comes from the Hebrew shoresh (root) [צדק].  Another important Hebrew word which comes from this root is tzedek or justice.  Continue reading

Welcome to 6th Grade 5777

ברוכים הבאים כתה ד

My name is Marla Aviva Bentley and I am thrilled to welcome you to 6th grade at Temple Beth Israel.  This is my 6th year teaching at TBI.  In addition to being your teacher, I am also the temple Music Director.  I have two children, Hannah Jane (2nd grade) and Jaret (Kindergarten), and my husband of twelve years is Newell.  We live in Deerfield with our dogs, Duke and King. Continue reading

Am I Awake

Throughout the year on Wednesdays we have focused on the T’filah Project – your students teaching the class the prayers of Seder Kriyat HaTorah through the concluding prayers of Aleinu and the Mourner’s Kaddish.  On Sundays for the last month or so, we have approached prayer from a different angle, examining traditional prayers on the right-hand pages of the Siddur and then comparing and contrasting to the alternative prayers on the left-hand pages of the prayer book.  The students have also had a chance to write their own prayers based on a given theme such as Hodaah (Thanksgiving), Ahavat Olam (G-d’s Everlasting Love), T’filat HaLev (Prayers of the Heart), and Mi Shebeirach (Prayers of Healing). Continue reading

Coming to a close

We have had quite a year, and it is amazing to me that we are almost at the end of it. Our final T’filah (prayer) Project group presented the Mourner’s Kaddish today.  I am exceedingly proud of the effort, work and presentations of this class.  Your projects really inspired me!  Kol HaKavod.

Another major accomplishment, is our Tzedakah collection.  Thus far, this class has raised $290.90 to benefit the Wright-Way Animal Rescue in Morton Grove.  I am sure by the end of the year, we will be able to give them a check for $300.  Feel proud of your efforts – we are going to help a lot of animals. Continue reading

Haftarah Trope Challenge

This past week I announced to the class the details of the upcoming Haftarah Trope Challenge.  Unlike the Torah Challenge, the Haftarah Trope Challenge is 3 parts and therefore requires effort and practice at home.  The HTC will take place on:

Sunday, May 1 and Sunday, May 8 (if needed), during Hebrew School (11:10-12:10 pm)

The students are required to: Continue reading