Hamakor- the Source Friday, May 8, 2020/14 Iyar 5780

hillel celebrates a unique teacher appreciation week

A truly great teacher is hard to find but our PTO members located all our wonderful teachers this week, driving across metro Detroit to deliver gifts to their homes during Teacher Appreciation Week.

“Our teachers are always an inspiration to us and their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed,” said parent Lisa Keller, who serves on the Teacher Appreciation Week committee along with parents Lindsay Mall and Nicole Matsamakis. “It’s even more amazing that during this unprecedented time, they are keeping their connections with each child. They’re leaving an imprint on our children, and I was honored to be able to drop off something special for our teachers at this time.”

In addition to treats and T-shirts for our teachers, all week long students showed their gratitude in messages and videos delivered electronically to their classroom and specialty teachers.

PTO President Amy Sapeika will speak on behalf of parents at tonight’s Teacher Celebration Shabbat Candle Lighting at 7:00 p.m. We invite you to attend using this link.

ECC teachers wear their special t-shirts this morning at ECC Shabbat.

Authentic Writing Unit Now “In the Books”

Our first graders have a lot to be proud of this week - they published lengthy non-fiction books about the animal of their choice after weeks of tireless research and planning. The final products were shared with an authentic audience on Flipgrid, where teachers and classmates could listen and comment on the work.

Max Goodman wrote about German Shepherds, a breed that is “loosely shaped” like his family’s mutt Schemy (named for beloved University of Michigan head football coach "Bo" Schembechler).

“I loved how you made reference to German Shepherd Rin Tin Tin, the famous movie and television star,” said learning specialist Carol Fridson in response to Max’s story. “He was my favorite growing up!”

“It was such a nice way for the students and teachers who haven’t seen each other in so many weeks to connect,” said Sherri Goodman, Max’s mother.

It was even nicer, she added, that the project, which at first seemed daunting to Max, became a source of excitement as it neared completion.

“You tell a kid he has to write a book, and it can be a battle,” she said. “As a parent overseeing the work at home, you want to do things like correct spelling, but you have to hold back because the teacher needs to see the authentic work.”

By the end, Max was happy to hold a book in his hand, and he learned a valuable lesson, his mom said. “The value of sticking with a huge project, and how great you feel when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, and you arrive at your destination.”

going above & Beyond to teach, and connect, with students

With remote learning now in its second month, our teachers are going above and beyond just as they do at school. This week saw ECC "drive-bys" and teachers dropping off (sanitized) Mother’s Day projects for students to complete, and the resumption of teacher Betsy Wolf’s Friday morning Ivrit book club for third graders.

“We’re reading The Cat in the Hat Comes Back in Hebrew” using booklets made at school before the mid-March closure, Morah Wolf said. She even hand-delivered the booklets to students’ porches, along with mini muffins, in advance of the first Zoom meeting.

The book club adds to Morah Wolf’s other supplementary offerings. While the third grade Ivrit curriculum of Hebrew writing, Torah, chagim, and reading is delivered via SeeSaw Monday through Thursday, she and her counterparts, Hadass Zaid and Morah Niva Amiel-Wilner, are also holding an optional live Torah class on Wednesday afternoons.

“As we are teaching them new material remotely, we want to give them every opportunity to ask questions and discuss more in depth these new Torah portions. We don’t want them to miss out on any of the learning that would be happening in the classroom. It is also purely selfish on our part," she said. "We all miss our students and any chance to see them and talk to them, even if it is just via Zoom, brings us joy!”


Our ECC teachers are relentless in their drive to deliver as much engaging content to their students as is possible to fit into a week of learning! Copious amounts of developmentally-appropriate handwriting, reading, math, science and art projects are delivered daily, along with Ivrit, and our teachers don't stop there.

They're driving by with handmade signs, dropping off projects, and scheduling individual FaceTime chats with little ones, especially before bedtime.

Here's Morah Etti teaching Hebrew vocabulary related to family just in time for Mother's Day, with a little help from her own daughter. Enjoy!

twice as nice: geometry at home

First graders are studying Geometry, including 3-D shapes and their attributes. By working at home they have been able to see shapes within their environment such as canned food for cylinders, a party hat for a cone, and rectangular prisms everywhere!

The lessons are taking root. Now, even when they aren't doing their school work, twins Brendyn and Emma Tischler are often pointing out different shapes, saying, "Look it's a ____," said mother Elissa Tischler, a Hillel kindergarten teacher. The observations lead to discussions asking “how they know that,” she said.

The twins have not been together in class since they were ECC students, but they’re fortunate to have each other now as classmates, Mrs. Tischler said. “They really are lucky to have each other during this time.”

world history: circling the globe from home

They’ve studied ancient civilizations and the Renaissance, the history of Israel and the South Pacific, and now our eighth graders are “returning” to the present just in time for final assignments in their World History course. The course, designed by Dr. Josh Cutler, is fashioned thematically around history vs. geography, exploration and exploitation, and conflict and resolution. The students examine each region of the world through these lenses to understand that history laid the groundwork for modernity, that our past informs our future. Along the way, they have reflected on the rise of nationalism, the treatment of indiginous people under colonialism, and how American actions influenced outcomes, such as during the Vietnam War.

“As students of history, I want them to leave Hillel understanding their responsibility now to make a difference for the future,” Dr. Cutler, who also teaches seventh grade American History, said.

The class has kept pace even with the move to the remote learning, he added. Whereas in school, students are notably mesmerized by Dr. Cutler’s 30-minute lectures, that format “doesn’t feel right over the computer,” he said. So he shortened his introductions, and gave students texts to read and reflect upon in writing, on such topics as France and Britain's appeasement of Hitler as he marched across Europe.

After two years together, “I’m proud of their efforts, and their ability to be disciplined self-starters,” Dr. Cutler said. “I feel like they’re in a strong place in terms of their knowledge, and ready to take their next steps.”

alumni news: Class of 2016 zooms in for a Reunion

Every spring we bring back to school our class of alumni who are now graduating high school. This year, school came to them in their living rooms and bedrooms and at their kitchen tables, as the Class of 2016 connected virtually with one another and with staff for a reunion.

“Hillel did a great job connecting us,” said Ben Goldstein, who will attend Michigan State University in the fall. “It was great to see everyone.”

Laela Saulson, who will also attend Michigan State University in the fall, agreed. “It was great to see my classmates and all of the staff, and to reminisce and catch up, and finding out what everyone is planning to do next year was fun.”

mazal tov!

What Day Is It? And More Questions Brought On By the Pandemic

As Hillel educators and parents, we model resilience and gratitude daily for our students, knowing that these virtues serve humanity well during times of struggle, including the uncertainty we are facing now. And yet, it’s not easy for anyone to maintain a positive mindset day in and day out, seven weeks into a lockdown on daily movement and interactions.

We’re all in this together, so we invite you to come together for a “Parenting In Isolation” Happy Hour for Hillel parents where we can vent our frustrations, find ways to navigate the stress brought on by the pandemic, and resolve to count our blessings. Use this link.

Our hosts, Kim Love, Director of Student Services, and parent Erika Bocknek, a licensed family therapist and professor of educational psychology, will help parents increase calm, and flex their perseverance muscles.

“One of the things we can do as parents is to make the best of the present by using language that avoids doomsday scenarios, especially for kids who are missing out on dance recitals, sports seasons, graduations, and camp,” Prof. Bocknek said. “Thank God, our children have a long life ahead of them and many memories to make. We have to hang tight now. It doesn’t take away the pain they’re feeling, but kids need us to steer the ship forward.”

Invite your friends by sharing the FB event information here.

advancement news

Annual fund update

Thank you to all who have recently given to the Annual Fund:

Help us to meet the needs of al Hillel students. Make your gift to the Annual Fund here.

sponsor a day of learning in 2020-2021

Thanks to your support, Hillel’s Days of Learning sponsorships for the 2019-20 school year are sold out! We encourage you to sponsor a Day of Learning now for the 2020-21 school year. Your gift of $180 helps to maintain our robust remote learning and assists those families who have been adversely affected financially by the coronavirus. Sponsorships are announced daily to our students and to our community. Please register here.

capture your child's beautiful smile & support hillel

Faces of Hillel are here! We invite you to purchase beautiful black & white portraits of Hillel students here. Each portrait is $75.00, and the proceeds benefit tuition assistance. The price includes the digital photograph (to be emailed to you after purchase) and an 8x10 matted print that can be picked up in the Advancement Office when we return to school. The portraits can be viewed here.

Grandparents Lunch & Learn

Following on the heels of Grandfriends Day on April 24, we invite Hillel grandparents to continue to be involved in our community albeit virtually by joining our next Grandparents Lunch & Learn on Wednesday, May 20 at 11:45 a.m. Always a hit at school, we hope that even more grandfriends will join Rabbi David Fain for lively conversation while having lunch at home.

Our topic is Standing At Sinai During A Pandemic: How to be Together While Physically Apart. “We will glean advice from the Torah about how to manage during a Pandemic from the Jewish people's historic journey in the desert and experience at Sinai receiving the Torah,” Rabbi Fain said. Here’s the Zoom link. "See" you then!

DVAR TORAH: Parashat emor

Why do we count the Omer between Pesach and Shavuot? Rabbi David Fain, Rav Beit Hasefer, offers an idea that we can all relate to on the importance seizing each day. Watch here:

recipe of the week: our students' favorite meal

Here it is - our famous salmon teriyaki recipe! Enjoy!

community opportunities

All parents are invited to register for the Worry Warrior training program on Thursday, May 14, at 8:00 p.m. via Zoom that gives parents powerful tools to help children overcome anxiety, develop coping skills, and improve stress tolerance. Click here to learn more and to register.

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Hillel Day School