While we are in the midst of the cold winter here in America, in Eretz Yisrael they are getting ready for the spring. Before vacation, the children of HAFTR’s Early Childhood learned about Tu B’Shevat, the birthday of the trees. It’s a special time to plant trees in Israel and marks the blossoming of many of Israel’s most beautiful trees—the olive, date, fig, and of course the shkediyah or almond tree. They made their own spectacular shkediyah trees to decorate their homes.

The Pre-K students had a seder led by the Chalav U’dvash teacher, Morah Yael. It featured foods to help taste the seven minim. The yeladim can name all seven in Hebrew and English: wheat, barley, grape, olive, pomegranate, date, and fig.

In conjunction with the holiday, the children learned about the parts of the tree, how trees help us, and how they grow. The classes compared the parts of the tree to people. Roots=feet, trunk=body, branches=arms, and leaves and flowers=head. They spoke about how we start with a seed and end with the plant and learned words like sprout, bud, blossom, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. They discussed all of the essential items we get from trees such as food, paper, shade, and wood! Their favorite fun fact is knowing how to find out how old the tree is, by counting the number of rings on a tree stump!

The children also enjoyed reading Tap the Magic Tree by Christine Matheson and predicting what action would come next. After, they created their own “magic tree” designs using brown construction paper strips, leaves, and pink tissue paper puffs.

Lastly, no birthday goes without cake, even the trees’ birthday! Each class enjoyed baking a birthday cake for the trees and decorating as a tree with green, white, and pink frosting. 

Math Moments At HAFTR Lower School

Division, denominators, decimals, digits… and dreidels! The month of December gave HAFTR Lower School students the perfect opportunity to apply their mathematical thinking to Chanukah. Students and their families stepped up to the challenge by creating Math Moments. Students created budgets for making latkes, used mathematical tools for measuring ingredients, doubled recipes, and divided their latkes evenly among their family. Others played dreidel, assigning different amounts to each of the letters and adding their total winnings at the end of the game. A popular activity was figuring out the total number of hours the candles or oil burned each night and then over eight nights in total. All participants proudly shared their Math Moment with their classmates and picked up some math themed prizes for their efforts. Stay tuned for making more family moments. 

Jason Gelman

HAFTR Teacher Selected For Abraham Lincoln Teachers Fellowship

Mr. Jason Gelman, chairman of Humanities at HAFTR High School, has been selected to participate in an exciting new initiative, the Abraham Lincoln Teachers Fellowship, an advanced seminar on American history and civilization created by the Tikvah Fund. The Abraham Lincoln Teachers Fellowship is aimed at creating a community of exceptional Jewish day school and yeshiva educators interested in strengthening how we teach American civilization. A selected group of teachers of American history and related disciplines will spend time in intensive study together with their peers and with world-renowned guest speakers—reading about and discussing the great themes of American history, with a special emphasis on Jewish themes, taught with imagination and spirit.

The program began this month and runs through May 2021, with advanced seminars every other week on Zoom and guided independent study on subjects of special interest to each individual teacher. The process was a competitive one, with 200 applicants competing for 36 spots. The fellowship culminates with a research paper where participants work closely with a faculty advisor.

Mr. Gelman, a highly respected department chair and revered social studies teacher, is excited to participate in the Fellowship. “I spend my days teaching history and loving every minute of it,” said Mr. Gelman. “It is not a job but a way of life, one that brings me a great amount of happiness and fulfillment. I’m truly grateful to work with smart and insightful students who help me create an environment where ideas and intellectual curiosity are celebrated.” He looks forward to sharing what he learns with teachers and students at HAFTR High School. 

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