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

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

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

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

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

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

Torah Trope Challenge

Torah Trope Challenge will take place on Sunday, January 8, 2017

The students are responsible for chanting three things:

Each link includes the written prayer and the soundcloud link is a recording for aural learners.  We have gone over each aspect of this assignment in class and have practiced together.  I have encouraged all the students to spend a few minutes each day practicing each part of the assessment.  For further resources, including a color-coded V’ahavta and recordings of each clause, visit the TROPE Page.


I have created a SoundCloud page to aid in our learning of Trope.  I will be updating it as we go along, but so far it contains recordings of each of the six Torah Trope clauses, the blessings before and after the reading of Torah as well as the blessings before and after the reading of Haftarah.  You can take a look at it here:

I have also updated our Trope Page to include direct links to these recordings.

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

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

Haftarah Trope – Katon Clause

We are coming right along in our study of Haftarah Trope!  With our prior knowledge from Torah Trope, the students were excited to realize they already knew quite a lot: the symbols and names of each trope, the clauses, the color coding, and how each trope functions as a mafsik (separator) or m’chaber (connector).  They were also pleased when I told them that with Haftarah, they will be able to read with Hebrew vowels and trope symbols (no memorizing as with Torah).  The main difference between the two trope systems is melody.  Continue reading

Kol Hakavod

Kol Hakavod 6th Grade!  The entire class passed the Torah Trope Challenge with flying colors.  I am so proud of you and of all the hard work you put into learning your trope.  This past Sunday, we concluded our unit in Torah Trope, reviewing all 6 clauses and introducing a few rare tropes like Pazer and Shalshelet. Continue reading

Torah Trope Challenge

Over the last two weeks we have learned and completed the 5th clause of trope, R’vi-i.  As we begin working on the 6th clause, Segol, and learning a few of the rarer tropes, it is now time for the 5776 Torah Trope Challenge.  The Torah Trope Challenge is one of the ways I assess our students’ knowledge, comprehension and readiness to complete this segment of our learning and move on to Haftarah.  The challenge is simple, each student must chant the prayer V’ahavta in Trope. Torah Trope Challenge will take place on Sunday, January 31, 2016. Continue reading

Homework First Torah Portion

We have spent the last few weeks mastering the first two clauses of trope, אתנחתא Etnachtah and סוף פסוק Sof-Pasuk.  Today we added סוף סוף פסוק ‘Sof’ Sof-Pasuk.  סוף סוף פסוק ‘Sof’ Sof-Pasuk is a special melody used for סוף פסוק Sof-Pasuk clause to aurally indicate the end of an aliya (reading of Torah).  To further our practice and mastery, we looked at a brief reading of Torah in class today, from Numbers 34:24-28.  Continue reading