Back to School at Edmonton Talmud Torah

By: Natalie Soroka, TT Society

Talmud Torah Society was in fine form this month, with several Society-led initiatives.

The first was a well attended and fun family event for our kindergarten families. The inaugural Kindergarten Welcome Event kicked off the Sunday prior to the first day of school, held in the Don z”l and Myrna Silverberg Lunchroom. Kindergarten teacher, Morah Shira, thrilled children when she arrived wearing an inflatable dinosaur costume. Shortly after, families were gifted their own Welcome to School boards, with fill-in-the-blank statements, such as “My teacher’s name is”, “When I grow up, I want to be”, etc. Children had a blast decorating them and filling them in, with a little help from their parents. When kosher ice cream sundaes were announced, you can bet the children, and even their parents, lined up for this delicious, sweet treat. After an hour and a bit of schmoozing, and children running off their energy in the gym, the final treat was the children meeting and interacting with the Society’s new TT mascot, Ari the lion cub! Ari will be out and about a lot of TT events this school year and many more in the future, thanks to the generosity of Michael Schayer and Natalie and Ken Soroka.

On the first day of school, large photo booth frames brought additional excitement to back-to-school. Students were eager to have their pictures taken with their family and their friends, as they held the frames and grinned from ear to ear.

In the week leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the wonderful smell of apples, honey and cinnamon filled the air as Early Learning center (ELC) and Out of School Care (OSC) children prepared and ate apples and honey cake. Their small hands were red as they painted apples, while their final artwork beautified the hallways. ELC students came together for an all-group Rosh Hashanah Shabbat in the gym, where prayers were sung, and each child sampled from plates of challah, apples, honey cake, pomegranate seeds and honey. It was a very sweet and joyous scene.

Naturally, Kindergarten to Grade 6 Hebrew teachers were equally involved in providing interesting curriculum content for Rosh Hashanah. As I walked into the lunchroom one day, I observed Grade 4 students involved in a Rosh Hashanah art lesson, led by Moreh Ari, where they sketched different symbolic objects. One student was up close and personal as they sketched a very detailed wine bottle, while another traced a shofar. It was lovely to watch each student plan and execute their vision.

Talmud Torah’s K-6 students had the privilege of meeting and hearing musicians from the Clore Centre for Performing Arts in Kfar Blum, Israel. The talented musicians were in Edmonton as honoured guests for the United Jewish Appeal campaign kick-off, and thanks to Jewish Federation of Edmonton’s Stacey Leavitt-Wright, CEO, and Susan Schiffman, Director of Development, the Clore musicians took time out of their schedule to visit students at TT. They engaged with our students in a fun, educational way, and performed songs that our students knew sang along to. It was proof that no matter where we live in the world, when Jewish kids and adults come together, there is a commonality that is comforting and powerful.

Bouquets of beautiful fall flowers were in bloom this year as TT Society’s Rosh Hashanah flower initiative kicked off. This is always popular among our families and supporters, with parent volunteers personally delivering this year one hundred stunning, splendidly wrapped cut flowers. Each recipient received a card from loved ones, wishing them a Shana Tova U’metuka. This year, the initiative supports Society-led Judaic student programming and enrichment at Talmud Torah School. The organizers thank all those who participated. Our families and community members can look forward to placing their orders when TT ELC organizes the Passover flower program sometime in early March 2024.

The TT ELC and OSC held its traditional welcome event recently, and it did not disappoint! The aroma of chocolate babka filled the air throughout the hallways as educators and bakers extraordinaire, Michal and Livnat, prepared for the event. Held in the gym, families were greeted with activity tables of stickers, paper, crayons, building blocks, along with the always popular face painting. A short introduction was made by Director Sacha Brodie, and Lead Educator, Jennie, welcoming and thanking families for attending. A variety of pasta dishes were served (with gluten free options), as well as salads and garlic bread. Of course, the chocolate babka was a highlight! It was beautiful and heartwarming to see families and children eating together and catching up with each other. New families were welcomed and could be seen chatting and getting to know others. We are looking forward to hosting families again for our annual Chanukah event!

To round out the month of September, this year K-6 students participated in the Yom Kippur ceremony of Tashlich at Gold Bar Park. After students completed the Terry Fox Run, they walked to the Ainsworth Dyer footbridge that spans the North Saskatchewan River. Morah Shira led the Tashlich blessings, and teachers handed out small pieces of challah from Bliss Bakery. Students were instructed to reflect on behaviour and words that may have been unkind over the year, and to symbolically cast them away by tossing their breadcrumbs into the river. It was lovely to see some students closing their eyes and being so thoughtful. The scene of students and staff outdoors, in such a beautiful setting, sharing this experience together, was truly uplifting.

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“Having a pluralistic non-denominational school that ensures immersion in Jewish education and Judaic values is fundamental to the future of our community. Talmud Torah has been a pillar of our community for over 100 years. The Society ensures that the foundations of a strong Jewish identity and involvement in the greater Jewish community are in place."
-Stacey Leavitt-Wright, 
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