An AWESOME Start to an AWESOME Year

Wow! It was so much fun to see all of your smiling faces on Sunday! A huge welcome to all of the new families who are joining us this year. I hope that everyone met someone new and that you all felt the wonderful kehillah that we have here at Temple Or Rishon.

16-17-goalsI wanted to take a couple of lines to speak a little more about our goals for this year. The teachers and I have been discussing the core values that we have personally, and also what we think are the core values of our school. This is a conversation that I’d like to extend to all of you. We  narrowed down a very long list to the following core values:

  1. Community – feeling a part of the greater community of Jews, the building of kehilla that we have been working toward this past year and will continue to work toward in the future.
  2. Relating to God and Israel – our children need a framework to explore their relationship to God and their beliefs about God. In addition, we all need to understand and relate to our shared connection to the land a people of Israel. We are all Israel.
  3. Service – this goes hand in hand with the values of support, helpfulness, leadership, responsibility.
  4. Righteousness – as I said on Sunday, this can be a loaded word. The dictionary defines it as morally good: following religious or moral laws. Another definition I read refers to leading a life that is pleasing to God. We want to be good people. We want our children to grow up to be good people. This also encompasses the values of compassion, empathy, respect. (This is where the AWESOME JEWS part comes in.)
  5. Jewish Pride and Connection – in addition to feeling a part of the Jewish community, we want to grow a feeling of connectedness to the traditions, rituals, and beliefs of our Jewish Heritage. We want our kids (and adults) to be proud to be Jews and to have the tools to effectively express that pride.
  6. Fun – this ties together many other values that we have as teachers, parents, and people. We want all of this learning and experiencing to be fun, engaging, impactful. Without that, it is hard to make some of the other things happen.

I/We want to know what you think. Would you add to this list? Would you take any of them away? How would you enhance our descriptions? What is your take on Jewish education? Please comment, email me, call me, stop me in the hall on Sunday morning. Share your story with  me. I want to know your story. All of our stories melded and sewn and mixed together is what makes TOR such a great place to learn, grow, and fellowship.

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

Emergency Texting Service – For those of you who were not here on Sunday, or who received an error message when you tried to sign up for our text service, please try the following. Text @437ef to (916)256-4530. That should sign you up on our list. Again, this will only be used in emergency situations. Please let me know if you have any trouble signing up.

Emergency Contact Sheets – Thank you to everyone who stopped by to sign and update your emergency contact sheets. If you did not do this on Sunday, please do so the coming week. It is extremely important that we have your signed release as we care for your children each Sunday morning.

Volunteer Slots – I didn’t really get a chance to direct everyone to the signup sheets this past Sunday. So I have put all of our signups online. Please follow this link: to sign up for a wide variety of volunteer positions. In addition, we need parents who are willing to sit in the office and answer the phone if it rings on Sunday morning. I’ll have a signup in the office this Sunday for that job. The phone rarely rings, but we want people to be able to get a hold of us if they need to on school days.

Wednesday, September 14th – First Day of Hebrew School. The teachers and I are looking forward to welcoming all 4th – 7th graders for Hebrew School this Wednesday. As we have in the past, we will have pizza available for the kids starting at around 6:05. Class starts at 6:30. We are asking that families prepay for the weekly pizza. We will try to order a little extra for those who might only want it occasionally, but we cannot guarantee that extra pizza will be available every week. Please click this link for the  pizza-order-form.

Friday, September 16th – Tot Shabbat at 6pm. If you have a child under the age of 5, you really should join us for Tot Shabbat. It’s a wonderful service just for our youngest kiddos with a special Oneg just for them at the end. If you have older kids along with your young ones, bring them too!

TASTY Lock-in – Saturday, September 17-Sunday, September 18th. Grades 8-12. Join us for a fun TASTY kick-off event. Spend the night at the temple with your TASTY friends. Bring a snack to share with everyone. RSVP via the Evite you received in the email or directly to

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


We had a special guest teacher, Stacy Price, this week as Miss Laurie is out of town. The kids read a wonderfully silly book called Do Hens Give Milk and made a fun little chicken to remind them of the story. They had music with Carol and began to learn some fun holiday songs. Then they talked about the first day of school from the perspective of Sammy Spider and Avi the Ambulance. Finally, they learned what Tzedakkah is.

Ask your little one about their first day of school. Was it fun? What did they learn?

1st and 2nd Grade

Miss Efrat’s class is large this year, with many new faces. This past Sunday, they began to learn about the class and a little about each other. We have two wonderful madrichim in that class, helping Efrat teach Sunday morning. Efrat’s class always incorporates music and movement. The children will be learning the alef-bet and the colors in Hebrew. They will learn many stories from the Torah and will have opportunities to practice being the Awesome Jews that we want them to be! We encourage our children to bring tzedakkah each week (any amount is fine), as we teach them value of giving to others. This year, the children have chosen to give their tzedakkah to Loaves and Fishes in Sacramento. Your assistance in helping them to remember will make this a great success!

3rd Grade

Miss Erica’s class started out the year getting to know each other. There are three new members to the class and everyone worked on learning each other’s names and learning more about Miss Erica and their madrichim. Miss Erica will be teaching the students using a wonderful research based program called Hebrew Through Movement. In this program, Erica will use Hebrew commands (such as sit down, stand up, walk, touch, etc) demonstrating the meaning as she says the word. The students are then also encouraged to perform the action when they hear the Hebrew command. Research has show that when students are exposed to Hebrew in this way, through Total Physical Response, they have an easier time understanding the language and learning it. This program will prime the students for their eventual work in the computer lab, learning to read the language in 5th grade.

4th and 5th Grade

Morah Sara’s class learned a lot in the short time they were together on Sunday. They learned some facts about the IDF (Israeli Army) and Sara shared about her time in the Air Force. They discovered how to spell words like Shalom and Bruchim Habaim and started practicing their Hebrew letters in their workbooks. They also talked about mitzvot and brainstormed many different things that are mitzvot. Sara was delighted with the range of answers that she received.

This week, ask your student about what they learned in class. Why are mitzvot important? Help them to come up with a couple of mitzvot that they can work toward achieving. Also, ask them what they learned about the Army. If you or a family member served in the military, compare what they learned to that experience. What is the same? What is different?

If the students brought their workbook or composition notebook home this week, please make sure they bring it with them on Wednesday.

6th Grade

As the first day of school, Barry’s class spent time learning more about each other and about what the year will hold for them. 6th grade is a year where students learn a lot about the Jewish calendar and the rhythm of the Jewish year. They explore the meaning of many of the prayers and also learn about famous Jewish people and get an introduction to the Holocaust.

7th Grade

Our 7th grade class has grown this year! We are welcoming at least 3 new members! The students and their parents got to meet our 7th grade team: Avi, Paul, and Art. They learned about what this year will be like for them as they prepare for their bar/bat mitzvah. Rachel Silber was also here to introduce the wimple project to the class. Over the next couple of Sundays, students will design their quilt block for the class wimple. They hold up the wimple at all of the bar/bat mitzvahs throughout the year. So, be thinking about what you want on your block!