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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.

Thu, April 19 2018 4 Iyar 5778