By Natalie Soroka, TT Society
Tishrei, the first month of the Jewish year, is always filled with wonderful learning and celebrating the holidays at Talmud Torah, and this year was no different.
For Rosh Hashanah, our K-6 students went on their traditional field trip to participate in the annual Terry Fox Run and Tashlich ceremony. Due to Hawrelak Park’s three-year renovation closure, students and staff travelled by school bus to Gold Bar Park. After working up an appetite running around the park’s dry pond in honour of the Terry Fox Run event, and then eating their lunch, students walked to the Ainsworth Dyer Footbridge bridge, where prayers were said and crumbs of challah were tossed into the river. Students were asked to think about mistakes they have made, and then they tossed crumbs into the river. Some students took the ceremony very seriously, closing their eyes and thinking long and hard. Recess was spent at the park, with KG and Gr. 6 buddies working collaboratively on a treasure hunt, with all students taking in the fresh fall air while working off their energy before the 30-minute ride back to school.
In addition to individual classes learning about the chagim, creating meaningful art, and learning songs, all classes came together in an all-school Chagim Tishrei assembly. Families took in the sights and sounds of students singing, dancing and performing. Wearing very cool and colourful sunglasses, Kindergarten students were first up and sang a fun and bouncy Rosh Hashanah song, to the delight of those in attendance. Next came Grade 5 and 6 students reciting a Rosh Hashanah poem titled New Beginnings. They performed confidently and proudly.
Grade 2 performed an adorable Rosh Hashanah song in Hebrew about the months of the year, while Grade 3 students proudly performed a Tefilah dance in honour of Yom Kippur. Grade 3 followed with the song By the Waters of Babylon, while families and guests were encouraged to join along. It was captivating to both participate in and listen to!
A parade for Sukkot and the holidays was enthusiastically performed by Grade 2 students, while Grade 6 students narrated. Grade 5/6 students were involved in a fun step-by-step video of them building the sukkah, and it was fascinating to see how the sukkah came together. Separately, Grade 1 students performed the Simchat Torah song – Ani Sameach B’Simcha Torah, followed by Grade 4 singing Lesh Sameach B’Simcha Torah. To round out the assembly, Gr. 6 students performed the Israeli anthem Hatikvah on their ukuleles.
Our Early Learning Centre was buzzing with energy throughout the Chagim. During Rosh Hashanah, the 5-year-olds in Kinderarts learned the word for apple in Hebrew is tapuach, and talked about the different colours of apples. Students did an experiment using food colouring, eye droppers and coffee filters, and were excited to see all the colours that were created. During circle time they talked about honey, where it comes from and how bees make honey. It was exciting to see how creative they were while painting with beeswax. Of course, the students loved making honey cake and round challah.
In the 2-year-old room they read books, and sang songs about Shofars and honey pots. Bingo dabbers were used to decorate apples and honey pots. The children used popsicle sticks to glue short yellow strings and small yellow pieces of paper onto a blank honey jar. They also used stickers with different shapes and colors to make Shana Tova u Metuka collages. They gathered in the gym with other ELC classes to celebrate Shabbat, eat apples with honey, pomegranate seeds, honey cake, and challah.
For Sukkot, Kinderarts students enjoyed making a sukkah out of bread, using sesame seeds and food colouring to decorate them. Students worked together to create a number of paperchains to decorate the Sukkah outside that was built by students in Grades 5 and 6. During circle time, students were presented with a Lulav and Etrog to explore and each had a turn shaking the Lulav and Etrog. They were asked what they thought the Etrog smelled like. Some said it smelled like a lemon, one thought it smelled like nothing and one thought it smelled like the plastic it was wrapped in.
In the 2-year-old room students took turns shaking the Etrog and Lulav inside of the play Sukkah in their classroom. For a sensory experience, students got to smell and feel the Etrog. They participated in Sukkot plays, where the children developed literacy in English and Hebrew, social-emotional, fine and gross motor skills, while also learning about Jewish cultural heritage. In the 1-year-old-room, children the Sukkah tent provided the perfect backdrop for some dramatic play, games of hide and seek and peek-a-boo.
The children’s faces in the 3-year-old room lit up with joy and excitement with the celebration of Sukkot. They built and decorated the classroom sukkah and decorated the bulletin board in the hallways with their creative crafts. They learned about the holiday every morning at circle time. The sweet and citrus scent of the Etrog filled the air as the children eagerly leaned into smell it. They shook the Lulav while dancing to Sukkot music. They also decorated the school’s outdoor Sukkah with their own decorations, and listened and asked questions about a Sukkot story. Popsicle sticks, greenery and glue were given to the 4-year-olds to create a Sukkah on paper. They created a small Sukkah from plasticine, read a few books about Sukkot and mastered the song Patish, Masmer. We visited the Sukkah that was built by the school-aged children and made paper lanterns and paper chains to decorate the Sukkah.
For Simchat Torah all ELC rooms participated in a variety of ways to celebrate the holiday. There were Torah crafts, dancing, singing, some baking cookies in the shape of the Torah, while others made their very own Torahs. The Kinderarts children had a wonderful walking field trip to Beth Israel Synagogue. Rabbi Tal gave a tour of the Synagogue, ad children were allowed to touch and read from the Torah.
They wrapped up the holiday festivities with a vibrant Simchat Torah parade. ELC students, accompanied by music and instruments, paraded around the school, celebrating Simchat Torah with joyous songs and dance. Waving the Israeli flags, they had made themselves, they smiled and beamed with pride. The entire week was a heartwarming experience of holiday celebrations and fostering connections between our younger and older students.