Sign In Forgot Password

CLARIFICATION: Come celebrate tomorrow at 9am!


With apologies for any confusion, children will be dismissed at our normal time - 12pm.  After our teachers' appreciation ceremony we'll be enjoying an indoor field day and other last day activities.

Parents, please join us on May 13th at 9am to celebrate our year and honor our teachers! Please plan on staying with us until 10am for Teacher Appreciation.  DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER we will not be holding the end-of-year BBQ and Lag B'Omer celebration. 

REMINDER: Come celebrate tomorrow at 9am!

May 13th - End-of-year Celebration!

Join us on May 13th at 9am to celebrate our year and honor our teachers! Please plan on staying with us until 10am for Teacher Appreciation.  DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER we will not be holding the end-of-year BBQ and Lag B'Omer celebration. 

BK Bet Midrash End of Year Celebration!

May 13th - End-of-year Celebration!

Join us on May 13th at 9am to celebrate our year and honor our teachers! Please plan on staying with us until 10am for Teacher Appreciation and then join us again at the end of the day for an end-of-year BBQ and Lag B'Omer celebration!

BK Bet Midrash News: Safety Improvements Update

Safety Improvements at Bnai Keshet

Dear Bet Midrash Families,


As you have likely noticed by now, we have been implementing some new security measures around the Bnai Keshet campus. These changes are not in response to any known dangers or threats, but are based on lengthy consultations with the Anti-Defamation League, the FBI, and the Montclair Police Department. In particular, the MPD spent a significant amount of time walking through our buildings as part of their assessment of our space and procedures and made recommendations based on that visit. Lisa Siegartel, our new PTA president, and Laura Gelman, incoming co-president of the BK Board, were tasked by our current co-presidents with overseeing and partnering with staff to review security at Bnai Keshet.


The most noticeable change is that the doors to Red Gables will be locked at all times, and the doors to the Main Building will be locked at all times except on Shabbat mornings or during congregational events and services. Doors can only be unlocked with the use of a code that will work at the keypads at each entry door during scheduled hours. As such, the code for Bet Midrash access will only work on Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays during the appropriate times. There are keypads at all entry doors to allow for access when they are scheduled to be "open.” Other groups who use our buildings will have their own codes which will work during the times they are scheduled to use the building.


We encourage you to learn how to use the keypad should you need it for picking up a child early or dropping off late. Next time you are at BK just ask a staff member, teacher, or madrikh/a to show you how to access Red Gables via the code, which will work during Bet Midrash hours.

There are several additional pieces to our security upgrades:

  • New and additional door buzzers/intercoms with integrated video monitors have been installed to provide better access control for people who need to be buzzed in.
  • We have collected information from national institutions on best staff response in the case of a bomb or other threat, and will be training all staff with the help of the Montclair Police Department on procedures specific to our campus. Our teaching faculty will be going through training to add lock down drills to their repertoire of responses.
  • We have increased the number of silent panic buttons available to staff throughout the buildings to use in emergencies.
  • Based on advice from MPD we have changed several inside door locks.
  • The MPD has recently stepped up its patrol of our campus, and will continue to do regular drive-throughs and park in our parking lot to maintain a visual presence on our property, especially during community events.

The experts consulted consistently repeated that everyday vigilance should be part of our culture. This includes not leaving doors to the buildings propped open, and not admitting people behind you into the building unless you recognize them as other parents or caretakers. To this end, we look forward to re-instituting a Greeter program on Shabbat and during other community events. A community Greeter will help guide guests and members to the appropriate places (i.e., the coat room, restrooms, adult ed classes, or Bnai Mitzvah services) and be able to alert staff or authorities quickly in case of emergency.


Along with the discussion of security, we want to remind families to be vigilant about traffic safety in our parking lot and on South Fullerton Avenue. Please review our traffic procedures as a reminder of safe practices in and around Bet Midrash:

  • Children should be walked into the Sanctuary on Shabbat mornings and parents should plan on remaining at least through morning blessings with their children.
  • On other days, children can be dropped off at the curb between the buildings or walked in. Please only drop off at the curb between the two buildings.
  • Children must be picked up from inside the buildings on all days unless they are walkers. Please do not ask your children to disobey this basic safety rule by meeting you or other caretakers outside.
  • At all times, do not pass other cars pulled up to the curb in the parking lot on the right side, as you risk hitting passengers exiting the car.
  • At all times, drive slowly through the parking lot, keeping alert for children and balls, and come to a complete stop in the blind curve between the two parking areas so that you can look for any hazards. Do not let children exit the car in the blind curve.
  • If the parking lot entrance is blocked, please do not enter through the exit of the parking lot. This is very dangerous as people walking through the parking lot will not expect cars from that direction.

Thank you so much for helping to keep our children safe and secure on our property, and supporting us in these institutional efforts. Please feel free to reach out to Stuart Brown ( or Rabbi Ariann Weitzman ( with any questions.


Annual Chametz Burn at BK, Wednesday, April 5th, 5:45pm

Annual Chametz Burn
Wednesday, April 5th, 5:45pm

Join us for our annual chametz burn!  Participate in the tradition of searching for and burning chametz (food that is not kosher for Passover) with our Bet Midrash students.  Children who are not regularly in Bet Midrash on Wednesdays are invited to join us with a parent starting at 5:30pm for a grand search of both buildings, then we will burn chametz at 5:45pm in the parking lot.  (Please plan to park on the street.)


Come learn about this special tradition and leave with information to search and burn chametz at home.   


Come or send your child in with one piece of chametz to burn (bread, pasta, cereal, etc.).  Let's see what burns the best!

REMINDER: Bet Midrash ReImagining Meeting this Wednesday, 7:30pm

Bet Midrash Meeting Reminder
Wednesday, March 22, 7:30pm

Join us on Wednesday night to gather information and vision together a new model of a Build-Your-Own-Bet-Midrash.  Come and hear what's in the works for next year and add your thoughts to the process. 

Bet Midrash March Newsletter

Bet Midrash March Newsletter

Big News in the Bet Midrash

A message from Rabbi Ariann


Over the last month we've held four living room meetings to discuss and solicit feedback on a new organizational and curricular approach to Bet Midrash, to debut next year. 


Our goal in re-imagining the possibilities of Bet Midrash arises out of a deep appreciation for all of the things this community is: energetic, engaged in its Judaism, committed to wrestling with Jewish practice, musical and artistic, curious about the possibilities of what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century.  These qualities characterize both our children and their parents, who are uniquely committed to the project of reconstructing Judaism for our community and for the future. 


In the same way that adults express their deep attachment to Jewish life in a variety of ways, our children also need many paths to expressing their spirituality, curiosity, impulse to justice, and love of their fellow human beings, Jews, and Israel.  For this reason, we are throwing out the rule book on Jewish education, and inviting families to be much more engaged in choosing their children's Jewish curriculum.  Our new vision will allow both more Torah study and more Gaga, more engagement with Israel and more gardening, more spoken Hebrew and more drama, more LEGO building and more learning about keeping kosher, training to be social justice activists alongside becoming experts in holiday baking.  These, and more, are the many ways into developing our Jewish selves. 


I'd like to invite you to an information session highlighting plans for next year, an opportunity to give feedback on these plans and help us gear up for next year. 


This information session will be on Wednesday, March 22nd at 7:30pm.


Please read to the end of this newsletter for some updates on Bet Midrash security.

Hay (5th grade)

Kitah Hay is learning about the political system in Israel and how different it is from the American one. For example: elections in Israel are a public holiday! Another difference is that Israeli government is made out of one big party and small parties – a coalition.


The children made up parties – they wrote a political platform, made posters, and gave speeches to the whole Bet Midrash, trying to get the other children’s votes.

At Bnai Keshet’s first ever general elections, which was an amazing afternoon, we had 7 parties and the children voted, Israeli style, putting a slip of paper in an envelope.

Here are the results:

Party Party – 25%

Women’s Rights Party – 19.3%

Unicorn Party 16%

Peace Party– 9.6%

Israelite Party 9.6%

No Hunger Party– 9.6%

Sports Party 9.6%


Since no one won half of the votes the children started to think of how to form a coalition.  Rabbi Ariann talked with the kids about issues that are important to them and here are some of their ideas: More Gaga time. More free time. Fifth grade class monitors to help younger classes. More snack choices and many more great ideas.


Please stop by to see their amazing posters and platforms by the Bet Midrash office.


Dalet (4th grade) celebrating Tu Bishvat

"What does a good conversation look like?" Some responses from our older teens at a recent program with Rabbi Ariann

Dalet (4th Grade)


We’ve had a full month of celebration in Kitah Dalet.  As part of celebrating Tu Bishvat, we learned about the life cycle of plants and compared it to the life cycle of humans.  We sang Tu Bishvat songs and read the story of Honi Hama’agal (Honi the circle-maker).  We also enjoyed a wonderful Tu Bishvat seder. 


The Dalet class enjoyed making hamentashen to include in the official Bnai Keshet shelah manot baskets (see picture above).  We will be learning about the four commandments of Purim: hear the megillah; celebrate; send portions of food (shelah manot);  giving matanot l’evyonim-(gifts to the poor).  We are looking forward to the Purimshpiel and the carnival.  As we do every year we will recount the story of Esther and discuss how as Jews we take responsibility for each other.  We will learn about another Jewish artist: Amodeo Modigliani. This Italian Jewish artist’s work is highlighted by his elongated faces in most of his portraits. The class will make Purim masks reflecting this style. Be happy.  It’s Adar!

-Ann Krauser and Zohar Katzav


Vav (6th grade) and Zayin (7th grade)


Kitah Vav has been hard at work preparing for their service coming up on April 8. Even in the cold days of winter, there is so much warmth and joy in the classrooms where we spend time growing as a community. They have made great progress in learning the Torah Service. They are learning how to read and chant the given prayers and also have been learning the meaning behind them. They are excited to share with the community how much they have learned. We hope you can all join us on April 8.

-Guy Ratki


Kitah Zayin recently broke into groups, creating and performing their own instructive plays to illustrate Jewish teachings! From a skit
about the trials and tribulations of learning to tie one's shoes, one group illustrated King Solomon's teaching, "A righteous person falls
down seven times and gets up."  Another group went to current politics with "Do not be a bystander," and though they felt passionately, they chose humor in their play.  Other students set up a classroom scenario with the temptation of cheating on a test, and a knowing bystander
must decide what to do.  With puppets and dance and song, we had a great time, and the children's talents and brilliance illuminated the evening.

-Karen Eilenberg and Guy Ratki




Gan/Alef (K/1) created some beautiful family trees.

Kitah Bet (2nd grade) got creative with Purim masks and crowns.

Gan/Alef (K/1)

In honor of Tu Bishvat, the birthday of the trees, Kitah Aleph/Gan focused on family trees and what makes a family. We created family trees using photos of our families and we introduced our classmates to our families. We also learned a lot about trees and why they are important. We learned about several special trees in Israel, including one tree that was grown from ancient seeds found on Masada.

-Pia Kutten


Kitah Bet (2nd grade)

We’ve read the Megillah – the story of Purim.  We’ve learned all about making masks and crowns.  And now we can’t stop ourselves!  So many creative costumes! 



We are so excited to be sharing in the mitzvah of giving gifts of food and gifts to the poor with Kitah Vav (6th grade) next week.  We will bring Purim in in style as we travel to Toni’s Kitchen to deliver our gifts. 

– Ellen Goldsmith


Voting in the Bnai Keshet general election

More masks from Kitah Bet!

An update on Security

Bnai Keshet has taken several steps over the past few years to upgrade our security equipment and procedures.  We are currently investigating new ideas to further improve our security, in conversation with the ADL, the Montclair Police Department, the Federation of Greater Metrowest, and a committee of parents and other congregational leaders.  This is an ongoing process.  Our staff, including teaching staff, will also be getting additional training in emergency procedures.  The Montclair Police Department's community policing unit already pays close attention to the Bnai Keshet campus, and is often present or does drive throughs during Bet Midrash hours.  


At minimum, students will likely have an unannounced evacuation drill before the end of the year.  Our experience of these drills from past years is that our students and teachers are well-practiced in evacuating a building, and we can efficiently evacuate both buildings of students in less than a minute after an alarm is sounded.  We will make sure parents are updated as any security measures are implemented. 


Important Upcoming Dates

March 3 - Kitah Dalet (4th grade) Class Dinner

March 3 - Soulful Shabbat Services, 7:30pm - Bring a dessert to share for oneg!

March 4 - Chanting with Melissa Schaffer, 9am

March 4 - D'var Torah by Member Suzy Keller

March 4 - Congregational Dinners - 7pm

March 9 - Tikkun Olam Meeting, 7:30pm

March 11 - Rabbinic Intern Sarah Barasch-Hagans teaches "The Wise Fools of Chelm," 9am

March 11 - Bar Mitzvah Celebration of Noam Levi

March 11 - Purimshpiel!!!! starring the kids of Bet Midrash, megillah reading, and ADULTS ONLY afterparty

March 12 - Purim Carnival, 11-2pm Sign up to volunteer for a shift.

March 18 - Bat Mitzvah Celebration of Millie Zasloff Thomas

March 18 - Pre-K Workshop and Tot Shabbat 9-10:45am

March 24 - Kinder Keshet, 5:30-7pm

March 25 - Reconstructionism: Constantly Evolving with Rabbi Ariann, 9am

March 25 - Bar Mitzvah Celebration of Samuel Myerowitz

March 26 - Full Day Workshop: What White People Can Do About Racism, 9am-4pm.  Click here to register.

Bet Midrash February Newsletter

Bet Midrash February Newsletter

What have we been learning?

A message from Rabbi Ariann

According to Jewish tradition, there are two primary concerns when it comes to the way we pray: keva and kavanahKeva means "fixed," and it's the idea that each person should have an established and fixed prayer schedule which follows rabbinic guidelines, and should include fixed language in their prayers.  Kavanah means "intention," and it's the idea that prayer is much better when it's motivated by sincere feeling.  When a person lacks one of these, our tradition teaches that keva is better - even if you can't always have the right intention, it's best to stick to your prayer routine.  If you wait for the right feeling to come, it may never come, or you may miss moments when it comes upon you suddenly when you're already in the middle of prayer.  Every teacher I've had who has tried to convince me to take on a new habit has drilled down the importance of keva, from meditation to running, from journaling to learning a new language, you're unlikely to find inspiration in your work without regular practice.


Just as prayer holds these two, sometimes conflicting, areas of concern, so too does teaching.  How much of your classroom experience should be organized around keva: routines, predictability, norms, standard processes, written curriculum.  And how much should be based on the kavanah of the moment: responding to the news, leaving for trips or new settings, following a tangent of conversation into a whole new area of inquiry.  We've been asking these questions over the past month in particular, attempting to balance our regular learning with a necessary response to the moment we are living in and the reactions of our students to this moment.  As always, the best of our responses have drawn from the beauty of our tradition, and the Jewish values which animate each of us to work on making the world the place it should be.

I am hoping many of you will join me in discussing a vision for infusing evermore kavanah into the life of the Bet Midrash.  We will be having a series of living room meetings for these conversations, and you can RSVP to one of those meetings here.


Gimmel (3rd grade)

January was an exciting month for Kitah Gimmel. We completed volume one in "Time To Read Hebrew." Our class was excited to work with Morah Sara, our Hebrew immersion teacher, again. We also studied the story of Abraham and Sarah and enjoyed a variety of activities to help us relate the story of the first Jewish people to our world today. The words of Lech Lecha inspired us to draw our own footprints only to move forward with what inspires us. We spoke of the importance of taking action as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel did in support of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. Izzy, our talented madricha, taught us the song of Lechi Lach by Debbie Friedman. We concluded the month by making posters to speak up for what we believe is right! – Dina Bernheim


Dalet (4th grade) Chagall Paintings

Tamar Arieh and Sarah O'Leary carried Kitah Hay's posters all the way to Washington, DC!

Dalet (4th Grade)


The Dalet class finished their Chagall projects. What a fantastic display of ideas! This month we will learn about the artist Yaacov Agam, one of Israel’s most famous artists. He is best known for his early pioneering of ‘kinetic’ art. He worked in many other genres as well. We will be focusing on his “Star of Peace” for Ben Gurion University. The subtitle of the work is dated March 26, 1979 - the day Israel and Egypt signed their historic peace treaty ending three decades of hostilities between both countries. It depicts the six pointed Star of David and the five pointed Star of Islam. They are the same size. From one angle we see the Magen David and from another angle we see the Star of Islam. When looking directly at them they appear to be fused. More than ever symbols of peace give us hope. We will be celebrating the holiday of Tu Bishvat-the ‘birthday’ of the trees. The class will have a seder to enjoy the seven species associated with Tu Bishvat and write poems - odes to trees. We will continue reading Bible stories learning about the early kings of Israel. – Ann Krauser


Hay (5th grade)

This month in Kitah Hay was all about civil rights. Honoring MLK we looked closely at a picture with MLK marching together with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath (who was holding the Torah) from Selma to Montgomery. We talked about how important and inspiring the Jewish support of the civil rights movement was and also talked about Rabbi Heschel's famous quote - "I felt I was praying with my feet." We also talked about the importance of music in the civil right movements and listened to a few songs while dancing - "Down by the Riverside" and "We Shall Overcome." Rabbi Ariann visited the class to talk about the Women’s March and what it means to stand up for people who may be vulnerable or marginalized (we learned some new vocabulary!). The 5th graders were quick to realize that the voice of children is also often overlooked! To turn words into action the students made amazing posters for the Women’s March that were used in the march in DC by BK members.

- Tamar Arieh


Gan/Alef (K/1) and some enthusiastic teenagers create magic with black art paper.

Kitah Bet (2nd grade) holds teeny, tiny future parsley plants.

Gan/Alef (K/1)

In Gan/Alef we have been exploring light and darkness and what's Jewish about colors. We've examined stories from the Torah looking for examples of how colors are used. We've also explored different artists' work and created our own colorful masterpieces. We absolutely loved scratching our black art paper to reveal vivid colors underneath – even the madrichim loved this project! Currently we are using our Torah stories to help learn about what makes a family. We will be working on our own family trees in honor of Tu Bishvat- the “birthday” of the trees. – Pia Kutten


Kitah Bet (2nd grade)

Bet class has been busy getting ready for Tu Bishvat, the New Year of the Trees, which occurs on the 15th day of the month of Shevat (February 10-11th). This holiday helps us learn the Jewish commandment of Bal Tashchit, do not destroy the earth. students thought of many ways we can help protect the earth and our environment. In Israel it is almost springtime and traditionally trees begin to bloom and new ones are planted. In this spirit we decorated clay pots and planted parsley, which can be used at the Passover seder. We will also have a Tu Bishevat seder, where the seven species of the land of Israel, mentioned in the Torah, are eaten. – Ellen Goldsmith


Be verrrrry careful!

Kitah Zayin (7th grade) performs a parsha play for Kitah Dalet (4th grade)

A Word about Tikkun Olam

Those of you who were present last Shabbat at 9am heard Rabbi Elliott's clear statement of our values at Bnai Keshet: we are committed to the wellbeing of our Muslim neighbors, friends, and family; we are committed to supporting refugees and other immigrants hoping to make a new life in this country.  Our vision of the world as it should be is expansive and inclusive. 


Last Monday, our 6th graders and their parents joined for a Family Education session on Tikkun Olam where we studied the origins of the phrase tikkun olam from the Mishnah (a 3rd century rabbinic legal text).  We learned that although our vision of repairing the world is messianic in scale, the actual work is sometimes small, nuanced, inch-by-inch, legalistic, and doesn't do the job all the way in one step. 


The number of things we can do to work toward the perfection of the world are uncountable, and many of them will feel very small.  As our year continues, will be calling on you to help us do a little bit of this work by supporting Kitah Vav (6th grade) families and Kitah Zayin (7th grade) students in their tikkun olam projects, as well as projects that involve the entire Bet Midrash.  We're looking forward to your enthusiastic participation! 


Below is the first of these requests:. Please feel free to bring your used crayons to Bnai Keshet and drop them in the Crayon Initiative Box in Red Gables.  This will support Jessica Kunkin and family in their 6th grade Tikkun Olam project. 

Important Upcoming Dates

February 3 - Soulful Shabbat Dinner and Services, 6:30pm

February 4 - Bar Mitzvah Celebration of Ian Harris

February 4 - Going to College with Strong Convictions and an Open Mind 10th-12th graders, 7pm

February 5 - Gimmel (3rd grade) Family Education, 9:30am

February 18-20 - No Bet Midrash, Presidents' Day Weekend

February 18 - Bar Mitzvah Celebration of Ian Mayoff

February 20 - B'nai Mitzvah Celebration of Eilat and Liyam Herman

February 24 - Kinder Keshet, 5:30-7pm

February 25 - Reconstructionism: Constantly Evolving with Rabbi Ariann, 9am

February 25 - Bat Mitzvah Celebration of Anna Kupferman

February 25 - Bet (2nd grade) Havdalah, 5-7:30pm

February 26 - The Jewish Call to Social Justice: Interfaith Community Organizing in Ferguson, MO, with Rabbinic Intern Sarah Barasch-Hagans, 11am

Purim Shpiel Auditions Reminder: This Shabbat!


"Auditions" this Shabbat during Kiddush
4th graders (Dalet) may audition
this Shabbat or Wednesday during Bet Midrash

Calling all actors 18 and under

We are thrilled to announce that this year's Purim shpiel will be a musical YOUTH production. 


Auditions: January 28th during Kiddush (12:30ish)

in the Smartboard Room




We are also looking for:

One more parent volunteer to join Jessica Brater, Nadine Bernard, and Rabbi Ariann in producing and directing

Adult and teen musicians, keyboardist/pianist especially needed


Rehearsals will be held on:
February 4th
February 25th
March 4th

And songs will be rehearsed during Bet Midrash


Performance one night only: March 11th


Do you have an Esther in you?

The Best BK Purim Shpiel Yet - You Could Be The Star!


BK Youth Presents: The Best Purim Ever

Calling all actors 18 and under

We are thrilled to announce that this year's Purim shpiel will be a musical YOUTH production. 


Auditions: January 28th during Kiddush (12:30ish)

in the Smartboard Room




We are also looking for:

Two more parent volunteers to join Jessica Brater and Rabbi Ariann in producing and directing

Adult and teen musicians, keyboardist/pianist especially needed


Rehearsals will be held on:
February 4th
February 25th
March 4th

And songs will be rehearsed during Bet Midrash


Performance one night only: March 11th


Do you have an Esther in you?

Bet Midrash January Newsletter

Bet Midrash January Newsletter

What have we been learning?

A message from Rabbi Ariann

Between winter vacations and a snow day, December was a short month in the Bet Midrash.  Nevertheless, there was energy to spare and so much learning!  Why does Chanukah ignite and motivate our children so much?  There might be many cynical answers - the lust for presents, the competitive and commercial nature of Christmas.  But it seems to me that Chanukah excites children so much because their parents put time and energy into it.  How many times a year does a Jewish home feature beautiful daily ritual acts?  There is something magical about a family commitment to lighting candles for eight days and all of the attendant celebratory possibilities: the food, the gelt, the tzedakah giving, and yes, for many families, the gifts.  As we trudge through winter and look forward to a spring of many celebrations, let's think of ways to similarly dedicate our homes to the celebration of Tu Bishvat, Purim, Passover, and beyond. 

This past month also included some particularly special re-dedications.  Our Gimmel (3rd grade) class received their very own Kol Haneshamah siddurim, which they will sew beautiful covers for in the spring.  (See the Gimmel class in the picture below - they are hard at work mastering Hebrew decoding!)  We are so proud of what they've accomplished on their Jewish learning so far!  Our Zayin (7th grade) class led a remarkable class service.  You can read their collaborative d'var Torah here.


Gan, Alef, Bet (Kindergarten - Second Grade)

Creative design challenges dominated the Gan/Alef and Bet classes this past month.  The Gan/Alef class made a collaborative chanukiah (Chanukah menorah) out of Legos and individual clay dreidels.  The Bet class designed, drafted, discussed, and finally built their own Lego chanukiot.  Gan/Alef has focused their learning on light and darkness and sacred Jewish time. We've learned that Jewish days and holidays begin and end with the sun going down. We've smelled the Havdalah spices and talked about the separation between Shabbat and the rest of the week. We've also learned about hiddur mitzvah, the commandment to make our ritual objects beautiful, which we translated into our chanukiot and dreidels.   Kitah Bet learned about the heroism of the Maccabees.  As they designed their chanukiot they formulated 9 heroic and menschlikh acts to correspond to each candle.  - Pia Kutten and Ellen Goldsmith

Kitah Bet building chanukiot

Kitah Bet building chanukiot

Dalet (4th Grade)

I hope the New Year finds everyone with some sense of hope (hatikvah) and courage (ometz). Our class discussions have incorporated these values throughout the year especially when learning about Chanukah. We will need lots of both as we begin the new year. We began reading about prophets who gave the Israelites encouragement in the depths of despair. Your Chanukah lights are a source of hope and faith. This month we will pay homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of our most revered beacons of hope.


We will continue to read about brave prophets. The students are looking forward to debating issues that will come up in our studies. The real challenge will be putting on their thinking caps and switching sides to defend the opposite position! This seems to be a very “bring it on” group! Projects will include incorporating styles and ideas of some prominent Jewish artists who faced many challenges but continued to create in the face of adversity.


- Ann Krauser


Hay (5th grade)

Based on the Prayer Al Hanisim – On The Miracles – a blessing that is added during Chanukah to the Amidah and the text of 1 Maccabees 1:41-2:28, Kitah Hay put together and performed a musical version of the Chanukah Story.  Our planning for the play included text study, discussions about the conflict between different Jewish groups in the time of the Maccabees, and brushing up on a BK favorite: Ocho Kandelikas.  We loved performing in front of other classes and parents, and we worked especially hard on developing skills of team work and flexibility.  A special thanks goes to Lincoln, who helped us learn the songs and made this experience even more fun. - Tamar Arieh


A candid shot of Dalet (4th grade) cooking.

Come on, let's eat!

An Evening of Fun with Kitah Vav (6th grade)!

Kitah Vav students joined up with Doni and Eric of Nefesh Mountain on December 19th and together strummed, sang, and delighted the residents of the Atria Assisted Living in Roseland with an upbeat musical Chanukah celebration.  During the presentation, students and seniors clapped, snapped their fingers, sang, and spoke about dreidel-making, gelt-making fun in classes and other reasons for loving Chanukah.  Among the highlights of the evening, Warren Roth prepared and successfully led the group on his guitar to sing Bob Dylan's "Forever Young." Another gift for the seniors included Guthrie Siwinski on his guitar presenting a song with Alisha Davis and Rainen Solomon - a surprise they prepared outside the classroom!  At the end of the evening, students munched on brownies and cookies thoughtfully baked and brought by two students while Xander Zasloff-Thomas softly played his guitar to "Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah" for a cherished Atria resident member of his family.  While this Monday evening was icy cold outside, our Vav students brought light, warmth, and treasured youthful joy to the seniors in the Atria, as they turned their learning into action and community joy. - Karen Eilenberg and Guy Ratki

Kitah Vav works on a song at their visit to Atria Roseland

Kitah Hay (5th grade) performing.

Important Upcoming Dates

January 6 - Hay Class Dinner, 6:30pm

January 6 - Kabbalat Keshet musical service, 7:30pm

January 7 - Bar Mitzvah of Max Ferrante

January 20 - Kinder Keshet 5:30-7pm

January 22 - Hay Family Education 9:30am

January 22 - BK Teens: Cooking and Discussing the Inauguration

January 27 - Navigating Mitzrayim: "Being Jewish and White" with Bonnie Cushing 8pm

January 28 - Adult Bet Midrash - Reconstructionism: Constantly Evolving with Rabbi Ariann 9am

January 29 - Dalet Family Education 9:30am

January 30 - Vav Family Education  6-8pm

February 1 - Tikkun Olam Visioning/Strategy Meeting 7:30pm

Bet Midrash December Newsletter

Bet Midrash December Newsletter

What have we been learning about?

A message from Rabbi Ariann

Tikkun Olam has been very much on our minds this past month.  In ways big and small, our learning community is figuring out how to make their Jewish values come to life.  We learned in a recent Family Education session with sixth grade families that "Tikkun Olam" can actually refer to all of the ways we observe Jewish practices in order to make the world a better place.  That means all of the things we usually think of as helping to repair the world: feeding the hungry, clothing drives, protecting the environment, working with the Interfaith Hospitality Network, etc.  But it also means praying, meditation, showing gratitude, working on sh'lom bayit (harmony at home), and more.  The name of the holiday we are about to celebrate, Hanukkah, literally means "dedication," referring to the dedication of the Temple after its desecration.  How might we dedicate ourselves to repairing the world this month?

Kitah Bet (2nd Grade)

What's Jewish about Thanksgiving?  The Bet class learned that the Pilgrims took the idea of a Thanksgiving harvest feast from the Jewish celebration of Sukkot.   Giving thanks to God for bread (the Motzi) and welcoming guests (hakhnasat orchim) are other Jewish values.  The children made personalized placemats for our guests to use; much thanks to our madrikha, Danielle, whose creativity and patience are invaluable!  We also want to give a shout-out to our sixth-grade buddies, who escorted us to Ton's Kitchen for another mitzvah  project and were great role models! - Ellen Goldsmith

Kitah Dalet agrees: Gaga is fun!  Also a great way to practice good sportsmanship and refocus our energies.

Learning to pray with a little extra spirit, Nefesh Mountain-style.

Dalet (4th Grade)

The events of November have afforded our class many opportunities to focus on the many middot-values and ideals that the Jewish people uphold. 

We’ve talked about:

Emunah – faith, what we believe in.

L’shon hara - an evil tongue.  We have heard so much of that over the past year.  Aside from the national climate, the students thought of many instances that have invoked l’shon hara.  We are sure to revisit this value often.  Certainly we are all careful about what we say around our children and how we say it. 

Vikuah -argument is always present.  Not always a bad thing.  The children are exploring ways for heathy argument – how can we respect another’s point of view even though we disagree?

Kavod - respect is what we continually work on. Time and again we hear the word hate arbitrarily tossed around without thought. 

Sinat chanim - baseless hatred pervades our society.  We read the story of Joshua and Caleb and saw that the other scouts that were sent out to the land of Canaan assumed the worst of the people of Jericho just by looking at them and their surroundings.  Hopefully our class discussions will help the children become more aware of their feelings and find ways to express them. 


One thing we all agree on: playing GaGa is fun, and it’s a good opportunity to show their sportsmanship. - Ann Krauser


Gan/Alef (K/1)

We’ve been studying the stories of Genesis, beginning of course with Creation.  Now we are following Abraham and Sarah’s journey and taking our own journeys, too.  We talked about having faith in ourselves, our families, God, and more.  We took some journeys of “blind faith” – first literally blindfolded, and then with our sight.  Along the way we noticed Abraham and Sarah’s names were changed from Abram and Sarai.  We shared the origin of our own names and read a book about names.  We also talked about the idea of Abraham as the “father of many,” and the biblical promise that he would have as many descendants as stars in the sky.  We made our own beautiful stars using popsicle sticks and tissue paper.  And finally, we learned a special song by Debbie Friedman, “Lechi Lach” (which means Go! Take yourself! – the command that God gave Abraham and Sarah). - Pia Kutten


A Zayin student learns with one of our trope tutors.

Zayin students invent a dance to remember trope symbols and melodies!

Hay (5th grade)

We've been studying Jewish diversity and the Jewish immigrant experience.  As part of our learning we read a few lines from "The New Colossus," a sonnet by Emma Lazarus that was engraved on the lower pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903 (the sonnet was written in 1883). Inspired by this sonnet, the children wrote poems to welcome new immigrants.  They decorated posters to be hung up in international airports - you can see their wonderful ideas, warms, caring hanging in the hall, by the office (and at the top of this newsletter)  - Tamar Arieh


Zayin (7th grade)

Zayin students have been hard at work, preparing both for their class Shabbat on December 10th and their own b'nai mitzvah, the first of which will be in January! 


Our trope learning takes many forms - one-on-ones, listening, singing as a group, dancing, singing on top of tables (okay, maybe that was just one time)....   The pictures above are shared from Marilyn Okoshi's trope team.  Lots of energy! 





Kitah Vav works on learning a song for their visit to Atria Roseland

Zayin students writing letters to Governor Christie about a bill in the NJ Assembly. 

Gimmel (3rd grade)

Kitah Gimmel has been very excited about preparing for their Siddur Shabbat.  We spoke about the importance of Shabbat in our community and how it connects us to the Jewish community at large.  We are comparing the varied preparations for Shabbat at different times and places by examination of the cultures of Jews of Syria, Morocco, Spanish and Ashkenazi Jews, a story about a family living on the Lower East Side and looking forward to seeing a segment of "Fiddler on the Roof."
One of the connective threads throughout Jewish traditions is the Shabbat candles.  The students made their own and they will light it with their families at Siddur Shabbat on Friday, December 2nd.


  - Dina Bernheim


Vav (6th grade)

Kitah Vav students have been busily preparing two Hanukkah parties!  The first party, they chose to have with Kitah Bet on Shabbat, December 17th.  They will teach them how to play dreidl, read Hanukkah stories and enjoy the festival as big brothers and sisters to the younger children.  The second party is scheduled at Atria Roseland, an assisted living home, on December 19th at 7:00 PM where they will play dreidl, entertain with magic tricks, and sing songs.  We will be joined by Doni Zasloff and Eric Lindberg (Nefesh Mountain), who graciously agreed to party with us!  One of our students, Warren Roth, has been bringing his guitar and leading Kitah Vav children in their practice of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young"   Another student, Ben Aronson, will be bringing his magic tricks to entertain and amaze. 
We are hoping to bring the young and old of the Jewish community together through this project in two experiences of joy. - Karen Eilenberg and Guy Ratki


                   A special note from "Rabbi Sarah," our rabbinic intern

During my first few visits at Bnai Keshet, I have spent quite a bit of time with the middle school age youth, particularly Kitah Zayin (7th grade), as we prepare for their service on Dec. 10 and begin to think like Torah scholars in preparation for their b'nai mitzvah. It has been such a wonderful introduction to the community to meet so many entire families at Family Education and then to join the students in their classrooms and run into parents around the rest of the synagogue. I am really looking forward to this year of learning, listening, and joyous wrestling with Torah and Jewish living with all of you. 

              - Sarah Barasch-Hagans, RRC Student, Rabbinic Intern

Important Upcoming Dates

December 9 - Kabbalat Shabbat Yisraelit, 7pm

December 10 - Gimmel Parents' Learning 9am-10am

December 10 - Zayin Class Service

December 11 - BK Teens Go see "Jerusalem"

December 17 - BK Date Night: Thread of Blue and Djangle Box Project Concert

December 24 - January 2 - Bet Midrash Winter Break

January 6 - Hay Class Dinner, 6:30pm

January 6 - Kabbalat Keshet musical service, 7:30pm

Bet Midrash November Newsletter

Bet Midrash November Newsletter

What have we been learning about?

A message from Rabbi Ariann

The year is now fully underway and we're ready to enjoy the beautiful fall weather after so many holiday celebrations.  We hope to bring you some highlights from our learning each month, please enjoy this first offering!  Please check the bottom of this e-mail for important upcoming dates!  And if you're enjoying the cover image of this e-mail, you can get your own Hebrew moods poster (with transliteration and translation!) here.

Kitah Dalet (4th Grade)

We opened the year with so many Jewish holidays!  We baked honey cake for Rosh Hashanah and sent greeting cards of Shanah Tovah to friends and family.  We learned about the ten days of repetenance as a connection to Yom Kippur.  On Sukkot, we had an amazing lesson in the sukkah, singing songs with Lincoln, shaking the arba’at haminim (four species – palm, myrtle, willow, and etrog/citron) with Rabbi Ariann which was so fun!  We ended the cycle of holidays celebrating Simchat Torah.  It’s not too late to make some honey cake!   - Zohar Katzav

Kitah Dalet's Honey Cake

Dalet Taking Down Sukkah Decorations

Gan/Alef (K/1)

We are fortunate to have three extremely creative and fun madrichot in Gan/Alef. Yes, Tal, Toni and Maya assist with tasks like pouring grape juice and distributing challah, but they also have been helping to plan parts of our lessons. Recently they created a sukkah in our classroom and led our class in a series of games. Everyone had a blast dancing and pretending to be different animals. Maya studied and prepared a lesson on how to shake the lulav and etrog. Toni read a book about sukkot to our class. I look forward to the three helpers continuing to lead our class a little each week. I think they have much to contribute and serve as awesome examples for our students.  - Pia Kutten

A message from Sara Hoizner, K/1/2/3 modern Hebrew teacher:

This year we were able to celebrate the high holidays in our Hebrew conversational class "Chalav U D'vash.”  The highlight was during Sukkot when we learned the names of the four species in Hebrew, followed by an Israeli game called "Piccolo" which helped memorize Sukkot vocabulary in Hebrew. The grand finale was singing "In My Sukkah" accompanied with my accordion.

Looking forward for a great Hebrew learning year!


Bet (2nd grade)

The Bet class has been off to a great start exploring Jewish values through food. We got the new (Jewish) new year (Rosh Hashanah) off to a sweet start with the tradition of dipping apples in honey and for Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) we cut open a pomegranate (“rimon”) to try to count all 613 seeds, which represents the 613 commandments in the Torah.  For Sukkot we visited the pumpkin patch at St. Luke’s church.

               We made edible Torahs for Simchat Torah (literally Joy of Torah). We discussed why Halloween is not a Jewish holiday, but does have some Jewish values (hachnasat orchim – welcoming guests and showing hospitality). We read about the Golem – a Jewish folktale about a supernatural being made out of clay, to protect the Jewish people. We then each made a Golem out of play dough.

               We’re looking forward to a visit to Toni’s kitchen! - Ellen Goldsmith


Some of the Gan/Alef class enjoys a madrichot-made sukkah.

Bet class at the pumpkin patch!

Vav (6th grade)

We’re so proud of the Kitah Vav students who showed up on Halloween to bake cookies and prepare care packages for the guests of Toni's Soup Kitchen.  What a wonderful way to both give and take!  Last month, Morah Karen's and Moreh Guy's class toured Toni's Soup Kitchen with nutritious canned food in their hands.  Last Shabbat, we visited Kitah Bet to tell them about this wonderful place and let them know that they will act as "big brothers" and "big sisters" to the younger students, accompanying them to Toni's Soup Kitchen where they will all deliver toiletries and the snacks we baked Halloween and have a bit more of a tour. - Karen Eilenberg


Zayin (7th grade)

On this past Shabbat, our mindfulness lesson centered around test taking. When I did my weekly check in, a number of students mentioned having a mindful moment in relationship to testing. We had a rather lengthy conversation about the stress of test taking. One student mentioned at his old school, kids would get so stressed before a test, they would vomit.  This is a great(and sad) example of the mind-body connection. The kids seem to be really starting to understand the value of mindfulness and how using mindful tools like deep breathing can positively impact their lives and serve them everyday!  - Jen Levine


Our Zayin students share 6 b'nai mitzvah tutors on Monday evenings.  Cantor Ted Prosnitz had this to share about their learning:


“Let’s eat Grandma!” Our Zayin students are learning that proper chanting of Torah is not just about music but is based on a MAP of Meaning, Accentuation, and Punctuation.  Punctuation matters when reading Torah, and it matters to Grandma, too!


Gimmel Wimpel Making

Despite technical difficulties, the Hay class was riveted by the classic Israeli movie "Sallah Shabati" in preparation for family learning about Zionism.  A must see!

Gimmel (3rd grade)

The third grade had a great start of the year exploring their inner star by sharing their insights, knowledge, and friendships.  We have started to explore the Jewish Calendar, which is already providing us opportunities for self-exploration, ancient stories, and, hopefully, an understanding of our connection to our community and to the Jewish community in large.  On a large outline of individual figures, students expressed how they use parts of their body to do Mitzvot, such as using your hands to prepare meals for the poor, your mouth to praise and compliment, and feet for raising money through walkathons, and more!!!

In Hebrew we are learning how to recognize letters and vowels and how to decode familiar words such as Shabbat and Matza, and some new words such as Bayit and Yad. 

Our Torah learning is filled with lessons on our relationships with the world around us and weighing it all against the theme of B’tzelem Elohim – being made in God’s image.

  - Dina Bernheim


Hay (5th grade)

By far, our favorite holiday so far has been Sukkot. The Hay students loved smelling and feeling the four species used to celebrate the holiday and our classroom was fragrant with the fresh scent of the etrog, the citron. Each of our holiday studies has focused on the concept of “Midor L’dor” which translates to “from generation to generation.” Each of our holiday rituals represents a visit to our past, connecting us to the generations that preceded us. They are a statement of faith that we maintain the same ethical values and moral principles of Torah that have enabled us to be a beacon of justice and charity. As we continue our studies this year we will maintain our focus on “Midor L’dor” as we strive to emulate the best values of our tradition! – Shoshanna Hadef


                                       We're Always Singing!

Now that we are a couple of months into our Bet Midrash school year, the students in the Shabbat morning Tefillah services are very enthusiastically participating!  The kids have become very familiar with the melodies we use for the prayers and songs, and are singing along with great 'ruach!'  In each service several of the students take on leadership roles by coming up to the bima to help lead prayers like 'Esa Einai,' the 'Amidah,' and the 'Shema.'  And we're all very much looking forward to praying alongside Doni Zasloff and Eric Lindberg of Nefesh Mountain at the Friday night November 4th Shabbat service at Bnai Keshet.

Important Upcoming Dates

November 6, 9:30 Dalet Family Education, no Dalet class 11/5

November 12 - no Bet Midrash - Teachers' Convention Weekend

November 19-20 - Scholar-in-Residence Rabbi Laura Geller at BK

November 20 - BK Teens go to Skyzone

November 20, 9:30 - Vav Family Education, no Vav class 11/19

November 23, 26 -No Bet Midrash, Thanksgiving Weekend

December 2 - Gimmel Siddur Shabbat

December 10 - Zayin Class Service

Tue, June 19 2018 6 Tammuz 5778