Hamakor- the Source Friday, December 13, 2019/15 Kislev 5780

stories of the week:

students spread light at moonbeams for sweet dreams

As first graders continue to study family in social studies, conversation turned recently to the subject of traditions, and how all families have different traditions, especially during the holidays. The conversation also opened the door for students to learn about children and families who may not be able to celebrate the holidays in their own homes. The timing coincided with Beaumont Hospital’s Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams program, where throughout the month of December, the public shines flashlights into the windows of the children’s hospital to let patients know they are remembered as the holidays approach.

Teacher Elizabeth Emmer seized upon the idea to start a new tradition with our first grade families, to bring students to the hospital on a Sunday night. This past week, a majority of the grade, along with parents and teachers, arrived to join the crowd assembled in front of the building, waving glow sticks and flashlights.

“Attending Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams with the first graders and their families was a perfect way to spread joy to other families in our community," Mrs. Emmer said. "It was a meaningful experience that allowed our students to see and understand how their small act of kindness of shining their flashlights made other children and families that were on the other side of the hospital windows feel loved as they flashed their lights back at us.”

When they returned to school on Monday, students reflected on their night outside of the hospital during their morning meetings. All the teachers were amazed to hear all of the touching, heartfelt words students shared. Here are a few examples:

reading "a latte:" cafe visit launches non-fiction unit

Third graders were formally introduced to non-fiction texts in an informal book tasting this week. Teachers had creatively turned their kikar into a cafe where students could look at “a latte” books on animals, sports, and history, while sipping apple juice.

“Connecting to non-fiction doesn’t always come naturally for a student who may be used to an imaginary tale,” teacher Rachel Kellert explained. “By ‘pouring over’ all kinds of non-fiction books, they find a way into the genre,” she said with a wink.

Hayley Schostak eyed a book about gymnastics. “I like it because I take classes,” she explained.

The book tasting launched an informational writing unit, teacher Brittany Borsen said. “Students have picked a topic about which they feel they are expert, and will create ebooks” to share.

Students Maya Weingarden and Jillian Daitch deemed their time in the cafe a success. “We explored books we wouldn’t normally choose to read, and in the end, picked out ones to read.”

miracles and maccabees in the makerspace

As Jews, we always aim to increase our holiness, and perform more mitzvot, and our fifth graders are doing more in preparation for Chanukah, in addition to revisiting the associated rituals and retelling the story. This week they’ve spent time in the MakerSpace creating objects that remind them of Chanukah. Some are making shields that can also be used as a chanukiah; others are constructing a chanukiah that incorporates a helmet. Ammi Rotberg is making a holder for the shamash, which is used to light the other candles, in the shape of a sword. “It’s a two-in-one,” he said, referring to the oil that lasted eight nights, and the triumph of the Maccabees over the Greeks.

The hands-on project adds to the students’ knowledge in the way that adding a candle to the chanukiah each night adds to the holiness of the holiday. It could have gone the other way, Morah Chanale Stein explained; in an argument that found its way into the Talmud, Rabbi Shamai proposed lighting candles in descending order, beginning with eight on the first night, and ending with only one on the eighth night. “Rabbi Hillel, however, argued that Jews aim higher, and that as the holiday proceeds, we should bring more light by adding a candle to the chanukiah each evening,” she said.

So although we set up our chanukiot in ascending order, “we light them in descending order, beginning with the newest candle first each night,” she continued. “Kindling the newest candle first shows that the greatness of the miracle increased on each successive night.”

what's happening in shabbat mishpacha?

What’s been going on in our multi-grade Shabbat Mishpachot in December? Naturally, with Chanukah approaching, a lot of song (think Maoz Tzur), and dreidel tournaments!

And as always, each Friday morning gathering of students begins with a greeting and discussion starters to strengthen listening skills that prove helpful in games and challenges later in the hour.

Most activities run so that every student has an opportunity to lead, share, and communicate with peers.

“The goal is for students to befriend students in other learning communities,” Maayan Kaplan, a fifth grader, explained.

So far, it seems to be working. “In addition to welcoming Shabbat and learning about holidays together, students and teachers from across the school are creating friendships,” Rabbi David Fain, Rav Beit Hasefer, said.

ecc students make books to share their chanukah learning

ECC4 students are learning the story of Chanukah, masquerading as Maccabees, and making beautiful chanukiot to bring Hanukkah light into the world for all to see. Inspired by the classic story, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?,” students are also making their own “Jewish People, Jewish People, What Do You See?” books whose pages are filled with a narrative of the customs, traditions, and miracles of the holiday.

After talking about the miracle of the oil, students glued eight candles onto a page in ascending order, and then drew their own chanukiah with eight candles and a shamash. This activity provided a wonderful way to assess student’s number recognition skills in a fun, non-threatening way. “Every child tells their story through their work,” teacher Barbara Dworin said. “And with their Chanukah books, they’ll be able to go home and share what they’ve made and what they’ve learned with their loved ones.”

advancement news

your annual fund gift helps all our students soar

Thank you to everyone who made their Annual Fund gifts and attended Movie & Munchies, sponsored by Stingray Systems and Star Trax Event Productions. Approximately 300 people saw movies together, making it a great way to spend a Sunday morning! Check out the photo gallery here.

Mazal Tov to parents Binay and David Manchel, winners of this week's raffle, which is open to families who have given to the Annual Fund. Enjoy your parking spot for the month of May.

Congratulations to our second grade families who won our grade competition with 68.3% parent participation. We hope students enjoyed their popsicle party! Mazal tov also to parents Leah and Joseph Sanders for winning the Red Wings tickets. Remember, while the Parent Challenge may be over, the Annual Fund continues! Donations are welcome at any time, and in any amount; every dollar supports our tuition assistance program benefitting more than half of our students. Donate now, and ensure that all Jewish children who wish to attend our school can receive a Hillel education.

Second Grade Popsicle Party

Thank you to all those who have recently donated to the Annual Fund:

plum market cards available in the advancement office

Plum Market gift cards are available for purchase in the Advancement Office. $100 cards are $85; $50 cards are $42.50. That's a 15 percent saving! Payable by check only.

in other news...


Hebrew Language Day, celebrated every year on the 21st of Tevet, is the birthday of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the driving force behind the revival of Hebrew in the modern era. It is a day designated by the State of Israel to promote the status of the Hebrew language in Israel and worldwide, and is marked by activities and events throughout the country.

This year, 21 Tevet falls on Shabbat, so the celebratory day will be 19 Tevet, which corresponds to Thursday, January 16, 2020. At Hillel, we’re joining the celebration! More details are forthcoming, but to get started, please fill out this T-shirt form!


Hillel Day School is hiring! Take a look at career opportunities for teachers here.


The December lunch menu takes us through the end of 2019. Check it out here.

tech tip of the week

In our ongoing effort to help families manage the use of technology and social media apps at home, Marnie Diem, Coordinator of Technological Adventures, shares a resource that helps children balance their online and offline time. Check it out here.

pto minutes

Our December meeting had a jam-packed agenda (pun intended, in time for sufganiyot next week).

mazal tov!

got ya caught ya being a mensch!

Rachel Chynoweth, Talia Hortick, Bella Klemm, Talia Leiberman, Eden Liss, Stone Ritter, Lily Rosenstock, Jack Soble

DVAR TORAH: parashat vayishlach

upcoming events at school & around town

Before you go, check out pictures from our week!

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