Lessons from Passover

Last week, I challenged everyone to take a moment and clean out some of the cobwebs, find ways to release from some of the trappings of life. I hope you all have been able to do that in some way.

I recently read an article called 6 Passover Lessons to Impart to your Children by Sara Debbie Gutfreund. You can read the entire article here. In short, the six lessons she speaks of are 1. Learn how to ask; 2. Responsibility for each other; 3. Embrace challenges; 4. Take action; 5. Practice Jewish gratitude; and 6. The meaning of freedom. She makes good points in her article with regard to all six of the lessons. But, I want to just touch on number 1.

One of the best things we can do as parents and as educators is to teach our children how to ask questions. And, not just to ask questions, but where to seek out the answers to those questions. Our children need to know how important it is to question. Of course they need to know when it is appropriate to question and when it is not (for example, when your parent tells you not to put your hand on a hot stove, it’s best to just obey). But in general, we need them to know that it is through questioning that you gain deeper understanding of ideas and situations. It is through questioning that we start to see patterns and can make decisions with the additional information that we may gain. It is through questions that we stop making assumptions about people, places, and things, and start seeing the world through a lens that is clearer.

Your children are working on learning (or refreshing their memory on) the Four Questions for the Passover Seder. When they recite them this year, use that time as a moment to discuss the importance of questions. Kids can be very intuitive. You may be surprised at their responses when you dig a little deeper.

Have a wonderful week!

+++++++++ Announcements +++++++++

Wednesday, April 6 – 6:30pm – Hebrew School, Madrichim Training, Confirmation Class

There is no formal 2/3 grade parent education this month. Instead, we encourage you to bring your whole family to the Passover Faire this Sunday. Also, plan to stay on April 17th to participate in the class Seder celebrations.

Our last Family Shabbat for the year will take place on May 6th. This will be Teacher Appreciation Shabbat and I hope you will all mark your calendars and plan to be here to celebrate our incredible teachers.

Passover at TOR

April 10 from 12pm to 2:30pm – Passover Faire (formerly the Chicken Soup Cookoff). This event starts right at the end of religious school. Join us for a chicken soup lunch and stay to sample different varieties of charoset and Passover desserts, create a fun craft for your Passover Seder table, and have a great time with your TOR community. Cost is $18 per adult, kids are free. Please call the temple today to reserve your spot.

April 17 – School-wide Passover Celebration – Each class will participate in their own Seder during religious school. Look for an email from your child’s teacher regarding items needed for the Seders.

April 23 at 6:30pm- Second Night Passover Seder at the Sacramento Marriott in Rancho Cordova. Call the temple office for details. (916)988-4100

Join a family for Passover – if your family doesn’t already have plans to participate in a Passover Seder this year, please let me know. Additionally, if you have room at your Seder table for a family to join you, please contact me. We want everyone to have the opportunity to celebrate this wonderful holiday of freedom and redemption!

+++++++++ Religious School Update +++++++++


As will be the theme with all classes this week, the PreK/Kinder class learned about the Passover story. They discussed who the main characters were and why they were trying to leave Egypt. The class sang the four questions during music time with Carol, and made a matzah cover for their family Seder.

First Grade

Our first grade class also spent time learning about Passover. They learned how Moses was adopted by Pharoah’s daughter as he floated in a basket down the river. They made a neat paper craft to go with that story. The class also enjoyed music time with Carol. In addition, they made a Seder plate and Kiddush Cup to use at their class Seder on April 17th.

Second and Third Grade

Erica’s class learned about the importance of the Moses and Aaron’s relationship. They learned how essential Aaron was in helping Moses to communicate G-d’s wishes to the Israelites. They also studied the story of the staff turning into a snake and made their own cardboard versions.

Ask your student about Moses and Aaron. Could Moses have accomplished all that G-d wanted if he hadn’t had Aaron to help him? How might history have been different if Aaron had not be there for Moses?

Fourth and Fifth Grade

Eden spent this Sunday with our Fourth and Fifth grade students. They began to look at the elements of the Passover Seder. The class divided up and worked one finding a new and fun way to explain each element to the rest of the group. One group made a great little rap about karpas. This class also helped the Mitzvah committee this week by making Passover cards for our congregational care packages.

Sixth Grade

Our sixth grade class covered a lot of ground again this week (as they always do!). They looked at the meaning of the prayer the Yotzeir Or that is said as part of the weekday tefillah. They discussed the ritual of the mikvah and that of circumcision. They began to learn about the different elements of the Passover Seder, and they read more from Elie Weisel’s book, Night. Below you will find a few questions to ask your sixth grade to extend the learning this week.

  • In the upcoming Torah portion Tazria for April 9, why did G-d command the Jewish people to circumcise the males? (Answer: It is a contract between G-d and the Jewish people to survive from generation to generation and obey all the Jewish laws)
  • In the true story Night, where did the train filled with Jews finally arrive? (Answer: Buchenwald, one of the largest concentration camps in Germany.)
  • What does the word Afikoman actually mean? (Answer: Afikoman stems from a Greek word meaning “that which comes after” or a dessert)

Seventh Grade

We are a little more than half way through our Bar/Bat mitzvah schedule for the year. All of the students have done a truly phenomenal job. They also did a great job last week in presenting their personal feelings about prayer and being a part of the TOR congregation. Thanks to all who attended our Family Shabbat service on Friday.

You all have received email correspondence from Paul regarding the upcoming field trip to San Francisco. It will be happening on April 24th. If you have any questions or concerns, or you have a large vehicle and wouldn’t mind driving carpool, please let Paul know.