Talmud Torah Times March/April 2024 Newsletter


Purim Highlights

Notice of AGM

TT Alumna Rachel Mintz Class of ’91

Natalie Talmud Torah Society
JFE2022 Logo POWERED BY Horizontal REV Talmud Torah Society

A significant portion of the bursaries families receive are funded by the annual UJA campaign. Todah Rabah!


Dear Families, Alumni, Supporters and Friends,

Here we are into the first week of May, with Passover behind us. Time sure does fly! The month of March was all about Purim, while during April students learned about and prepared for Passover.

Please enjoy the TT Times.

Natalie Soroka, Executive Assistant, TT Society

Message from Noga Vaisblat

President, Talmud Torah Society

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Dear families,

I hope you have all had a peaceful and restful Passover break. I can’t believe we are back for the final stretch of the school year!

I am excited to share that plans for the Gr. 6 Shabbaton (June 7-9) are underway. This year, our students will spend the weekend at Camp BB together with Gr. 6 students from Calgary Jewish Academy. TT teacher Ari Sniderman and Rabbi Ilana Krygier Lapides of Calgary’s Beth Tzedec Synagogue will be running the weekend program titled “We are all Ruth and Boaz” and will spend time with our Bnei Mitzvah learning and thinking about ways we accept Judaism and celebrate it as part of our identities. We would like to thank Stacey Shaikin, the Executive Director of camp BB for his assistance, and give a big shout out to the Shabbaton committee: Michelle Huberman, Natalie Soroka, and Gaby Broitman-Levandovsky.

The Education committee, along with HLA and JS teachers, have been working tirelessly on updates to the Judaic Studies Locally Developed Course. Much of the focus has been on developing a scope and sequence for grammar concepts taught in grades 1 to 6. The committee has also been developing an assessment to determine student reading proficiencies.

The ELC’s Passover flower fundraiser in support of Judaic enrichment was a big success! Thank you to those who ordered and the TT community for stepping up to help with deliveries. 

I would also like to share that a delegation from CIJA (Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs) and SCN (Secure Community Network) visited the school at the beginning of the month. They reviewed our security arrangements in the building and all security protocols in both the school and the ELC. I am thrilled to share they were very impressed with everything we have in place, and did not suggest any additions or modifications. I hope this adds to your peace of mind, as it did for me, that our children are safe and protected during the day.

On that note, the Jewish Federation of Edmonton has shared with us that, together with CIJA, they are working on bringing the SNC program to Canada. This program is aimed to ensure the safety, security, and resiliency of Jewish communities across North America. They have many years of experience working with small and large communities and provide training to the entire population, in addition to facilities security management. I hope this initiative is successful in enhancing the resiliency of our community. We will share more updates as available.

Finally, I would like to remind everyone that the Society’s Annual General Meeting will be held June 18th. You can find the Notice of AGM within this newsletter. The board is looking to fill 5 positions this year. If you are interested in getting involved and having a voice on the future of our society, we welcome you to contact Natalie for more information.

As always, please keep your eyes open and if anything seems out of the ordinary, please report it ASAP. Stay safe

Noga Vaisblat, PhD.

Message from Darin Johnson

Principal, Talmud Torah School

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Dear TT community,

I am excited to connect with all of you again through this newsletter. Since the last edition we wrapped up our second learning term. We had a celebration of learning that filled the school with parents. Our students are very fortunate to have adults who support them. Another round of progress reports were provided to families. Reading each report allows me to see a picture of growth and alignment with what I observe in the classrooms. Talmud Torah students are meeting knowledge and, even more importantly, skill outcomes to a high standard. 

I am sure you have heard about the fun times we had while we celebrated Purim. Seeing the growth in our students during the assembly was a highlight for me. Each class had an important role to play.

April brought the start of Term 3. As a teacher it was my favourite term because I was able to build off the effort that was put in at the beginning of the year. At this point there is momentum because relationships and routines are well established and the class feels like a community. As a leader in the school it is exciting to see this in the classrooms I visit daily. Students are engaged in a variety of learning activities with adults who care about them. 

I would like to once again thank our TT Society volunteers, including Karen Hering and Michelle Huberman, who work tirelessly to maintain our school library. We have a rich collection of books that are intentionally chosen for our students. I see them working during the day, evenings and even on the weekend to keep the space vibrant. Our students would not have access to quality Hebrew and English books without this support. 

As a staff we are looking ahead to a very full May and June. There will only be 35 school days once we return from Passover. 

I hope you have a safe and meaningful holiday with your family.

Darin Johnson, M.Ed.

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Purim 2024 / 5784 at TT

By: Natalie Soroka

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Purim, a joyous Jewish festival commemorating the survival of the Jews who, in the 5th century BCE, were marked for death by their Persian rulers. The story is related in the biblical Book of Esther. (Encyclopedia Britannica)

The 22nd day of Adar 5784, more commonly known as March 22, 2024, was a festive one at Talmud Torah School! Each year, Jewish schools around the world spend the day celebrating the joyous holiday of Purim, something we needed very much, especially this year.

At TT, the day kicked off with a costume parade, with students and staff filling the hallway. Our Early Learning Centre children lined the hallway in their costumes and watched in awe as the students and staff circled the school. Everyone then transitioned into the gym for the Purim assembly, where K-6 classes performed in front of their peers.

One of the enriching and wonderful outcomes of learning at a Jewish day school is student growth in public speaking. Throughout the school year, most of the Jewish holidays are acknowledged with a school assembly. TT assemblies are always student led and designed so that each class has a chance to perform. Many TT alumni will recall with great nostalgia when they were finally old enough to have the honour of leading the TT Purim assembly.  This year, grades 5 and 6 took on the role with great enthusiasm, inviting each class to come up and perform their song and leading the students in gragger shaking and booing when Haman’s name was mentioned.   

We were thrilled and excited to welcome the Early Learning Centre students to the assembly. It won’t be long until they enter kindergarten and perform their own Purim songs. For now, they were content to take in the sights and sounds of the older kids, starting with the kindergarteners singing Leitzan Katan, and Kinderarts (TT Society’s afternoon program) proudly performing Ani Purim.  The grade 1 class started with a reading of the Megillah, followed by the song LaYehudim Hayta Ora V’Simcha. Next came grade 2 students with the tune Mishenichnas Adar, after which grade 4 students treated the audience to a funny video “Why the Zebra Wears Pyjamas”.

The song Chag Purim was performed exquisitely by our grade 3 students on their recorders, joined by grades 5 and 6 students on their ukuleles and guitars. Of course, it would not be a Purim assembly without games, including; Find the Queen, Musical Chairs, Knock Knock, Who’s There, and Purim Headbandz/Guess the character. Dancing followed with Tzigale Boom, Kiss, Kiss, Turkish Kiss, and Lasha Tumbai.

The fun didn’t end there, though! Following lunch, the afternoon was all about the Purim carnival. Grades 5 and 6 students spent time leading up to Purim brainstorming and organizing Purim activity centers, including the haunted house, trivia, sports in the gym, face painting, snack and movie, ball and bean bag toss and “guess what’s in the jar”. They were hands-on throughout the carnival as leaders at each of the centers. This involved a lot of teamwork, and the students really came through! They were organized, focused and responsible. Well done grades 5 and 6. Yasher Koach!

There were some special guests who attended the carnival too! Several TT alumni who graduated from grade 6 last year were on spring break, and decided that they had to visit their former stomping grounds. It warmed our hearts! One former graduate could be seen in the gym playing an intense basketball game against their former Gr. 6 math teacher! Our other special guest was the always popular Ari the lion cub mascot, who joined in the fun wearing a King Achashverosh crown. Ari was eager to take pictures with teachers and students, and play hockey and ball toss with the students. Ari got a big high-five from teacher Ben Ragosin when the ball was tossed right into the cup! Children big and small were thrilled to hang out with Ari during the carnival. Ari has been attending TT now for just over a year, and the TT family always looks forward to visits at many school events throughout the year.

While our littlest students in the Early Learning Centre took part in the carnival atmosphere, participating where they could, our K-4 students hung out in friend groups as they travelled from activity to activity. The haunted house is always a fan favourite, with lineups extending through the library. Face painting was a big hit, as was the snack and movie centre. After two hours of activities and snacks, another successful carnival wrapped.

Following the carnival, some grade 5 and 6 student leaders were interviewed and had this to say: “The carnival was so much fun!”; “It was a great experience and super exciting”; “I think we did a great job, and all the kids had a lot fun”; “It was awesome to be with the other kids in the school and as a community”; “There were a lot of kids and it was a great experience”; “It was a lot of fun connecting with all the kids”; “The haunted house was pretty chaotic, and the trivia and scavenger hunt were great”; “It was fun to talk to kids and meet people”.

Purim at TT was a resounding success!

Shabbat at TT

TT families and the community support our Shabbat program in different ways, such as sponsoring weekly challah, or volunteering to pick up our weekly challah order from Bliss Baked Goods and delivering to the school. Todah Rabah!

We would like to thank the following individuals and supporters who sponsored challah so our K-6 classes can celebrate Shabbat together:

The Coppens/Muscat Family; Michael Schayer (“thoughts are with the hostages that need to be returned home”); Natalie and Ken Soroka (“Mazel Tov to Jessica Holtzman and Josh Miller, Hunter and Brooks on the birth of Tatum Amira Miller, a soon-to-be ELC student!”); The Aziza family (“thank you to the Edmonton Jewish community and Talmud Torah for the wonderful years we spent here!”)

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Gr. 3 classmates

alumni highlight

Rachel Mintz, TT Class of ’91

Growing up a Jewish athlete

I had the pleasure of cheering on my daughter, Neve, in the Talmud Torah Running Team as she participated in the Running Room Games this year. This brought back many memories for me as my first exposure to track and field was through Talmud Torah School’s participation in the same track meet. We had Mrs. Asquith as our physical education teacher, and I remember very well wearing my blue and white Talmud Torah t-shirt and running the relay “shuttle style”. These early experiences showed me that I am capable and that I really enjoy the energy output of running and sprinting. Watching my own child do the same was very exciting. The big smile Neve had on her face after running her relay and competing in long jump was wonderful to see. The fabulous work that Ms. Kovacs and Moreh Ari did to prepare the Talmud Torah kids to run was also very impressive.

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My track and field experience did not end with my Talmud Torah years. After retiring from competitive gymnastics in 1996, I fell back on those early running experiences and continued to dabble in running races. I married my husband, Cory, a long standing pole vault coach (and former National stream pole vault athlete). In fact, sometime in 2008 after getting injured from running, I decided to take a break from the wear and tear and see if the former gymnast in me could pole vault. At some point an idea formed: could I qualify for the Maccabiah Games in Israel in pole vault? I did have arguably the best pole vault coach in Canada! As luck would have it, I indeed did qualify and off we went, Cory and I to Israel in 2013 as a coach-athlete combo.

I walked away with a gold in pole vault from the Maccabiah Games, and a month later I was pregnant with my daughter, Neve.

Naturally, we wonder where her dabbling in track and field will take her. Cory and I talk about how we don’t care what activity Neve chooses, but that we hope she finds joy and pride in her dedication to whatever she loves to do.

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Joni Talmud Torah Society

Our second daughter, Joni, is already planning to try out for the Talmud Torah Running Team when she gets to Grade 4. Both girls are making plans on their various endeavours in the back seat of the car as we drive to school each morning. They are already intertwining their Jewish identities into their athletic pursuits as they ask me many questions about the Maccabiah Games. 

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Rachel and Cory at the Maccabiah Games in Israel – 2013

No matter where all of this goes, you can guarantee Cory and I will be on the sidelines cheering as loud as we can!

Our alumni are very important to us!

Please reach out to tell us your TT memories, and what you have been up to since attending TT.

Bulletin Board Showcase

Our bulletin boards showcased Passover enriched learning.

  1. ELC Room 4 – students “crossing the Red Sea”, as brightly coloured fish swim by.
  2. Grade 5/6 – students learned about the role that Hashem played in the Megillah. Though not mentioned by name, the students picked out and illustrated the miracles that He performed which gave away His presence and saved the Jewish people.
  3. Grade 4 – students experimented with graphic design and made movie posters highlighting knowledge of the Purim story and traditions.
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ELC Room 4
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Grade 5/6 Judaic Studies
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Grade 4 Judaic Studies

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Talmud Torah Early Learning Centre

Our little center was busy preparing and learning the story of Passover.

If you walked these hallways you would hear the sounds of children singing Dayenu and Mah Nishtana. You would see children enjoying the homemade Matzah they made in the Jewish Together program and classes busy making afikomen bags, matzah covers and their very own Seder plates.

We ended our week with each classroom having a Seder and and then Kabbalat Shabbat with the school.

Chag Pesach kasher vesame’ach!


Baby Nolan Sprecher Talmud Torah Society

We love new babies!

This little guy is looking to join our Early Learning Centre, along with his older brother in our K-6 school program!

Our ELC program is popular and oftentimes we have a waitlist. It doesn’t hurt to register for a space, even a year or two before you might want one. Questions? Please contact Sacha Brodie, Director, at 780-483-0170 or sachabrodie@talmudtorahsociety.com

tt school council

School Council (SC) enriches student life by organizing and funding programs such as cooking club, pizza lunch, school agendas, etc. This year, the cooking club has been supporting the Gr. 3 social studies curriculum. Parent volunteers cook foods specific to countries students are studying. Recently, students have been learning about food, culture, traditions, goods, services, landforms and leadership in Tunisia. They tried chakchouka (different than the Hebrew spelling Shakshuka) chickpea stew, and couscous. Each student used the senses of taste, sight and smell to record their impressions of the foods. They really embraced this interactive assignment! Thank you to Sian and Cara for preparing the delicious meals!

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Cara & Sian Prepare Tunisian Foods
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A grade 3 student samples foods
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This grade 3 student looks to be enjoying!

Physical education and recess equipment is another initiative supported by SC. Together with an SC parent volunteer, teacher Ms. Kovacs, and student input, the SC purchased equipment from SportFactor Inc, including basketballs, softball items, sand toys and official 4-square balls!

Students are looking forward with great anticipation to the return of pizza lunch Wednesdays, hopefully starting up as of May 1st. Pizzas will be cooked in the newly renovated Beth Israel Synagogue kosher kitchen.

Cara Greenspan & Ken Lister, Co-Chairs

spotlight on current tt society offers and fundraisers

Talmud Torah Society invites families, friends and supporters to GIVE THE GIFT OF READING – provide new books for students to read and borrow from the Talmud Torah School library, while honouring/celebrating loved ones.

Email Natalie today!

Donate a book in honour of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah child, someone’s wedding, in memory of a loved one, a graduation, or just because.

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Your gift will ensure Talmud Torah students stay safe and protected.

Our families are very important to us!

We know looking for a space to
hold your child’s birthday party or other special event can be challenging.

We are here for you!

TTS Facility Rentals 1 Talmud Torah Society
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