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

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

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

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

Kol HaKavod

Congratulations 6th Grade! I could not be prouder of all of you. Yesterday, all of you successfully passed our Torah Trope Challenge. Each student chanted the V’ahavta in trope, and the Blessings before and after the reading of Torah. This challenge demonstrated your knowledge of Torah trope – identification of the symbols, the melody, how each trope mark functions (m’chaber/connector or mafsik/separator), and the syllabic stress. Continue reading

Torah Trope Challenge

Today, we learned the 5th clause, T’vir. T’vir may sound familiar as it is the sound a torah reader chants when they sing “Amen” right before reading. That “Amen” is the sound T’vir. T’vir is a relatively short clause, it really only contains two symbols: Darga and T’vir. It can be preceded by Kadma or occasionally a Mercha (that sounds similar to and can replace Darga). To hear this clause chanted go to: and click on T’vir Clause, or hear them on the Trope Page.

A few weeks ago, I announced to the students that our Torah Trope Challenge Continue reading

Starting Haftarah

After the successful completion of Torah Trope, our class has begun its work in Haftarah.  We began by discussing the similarities between chanting Torah and Haftarah: the symbols are the same, the clauses they belong to are the same, how each symbol functions is the same, and the symbol still provides syllabic stress based upon its placement.  The only thing that is different is that each symbol has a new melody. Continue reading

We did it

Kol HaKavod 6th Grade, everyone in class successfully passed the Torah Trope Challenge!  I am so proud of your hard work, and commitment to learning Torah Trope.

Over the past few weeks, we have been exploring two important concepts: Holiness and Revelation.  The students went on a search throughout the temple for objects that one might consider holy.  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

Beginning Trope

My daughter, Hannah Jane, is in 3rd grade.  This is her first year as a Hebrew student at TBI.  Last night we were discussing her Hebrew lesson with Morah Tammy.  She loves this new skill of speaking בעברית (in Hebrew) and last night requested her dinner in Hebrew: ״אני רוצה לאכל נקנק״ (I want to eat hotdogs).  Continue reading

Haftarah Trope Challenge

Welcome back from Spring Break.  During Hebrew today, we completed learning the 5th clause, R’vi-i.  We only have one more clause left and a few oddball tropes, and we will have finished our unit in Haftarah.  I also announced today the dates and content of the Haftarah Trope Challenge.  The HTC will assess the student’s knowledge and make sure that each is prepared for their one-on-one lessons to begin with Shari.  Here are the details: 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