Author: Debi Himelfarb

Hakarat Hatov

Our students in grades 3-7 are starting their fifth unit, Hakarat Hatov which is translated as gratitude; recognition of the good; appreciation.

Having an attitude of gratitude may not be a natural state for all of us. Developing a sense of appreciation is a learned behavior – a habit of noticing everything from the gift of life to physical things. We can begin to develop this practice through direct instruction, storytelling, modeled behavior, and experiences that reinforce the habit of Hakarat Hatov.

Judaism refers to the Biblical creation story as a confirmation that the entire world really belongs to God. We are but caretakers of all we possess, including our bodies and souls. That understanding should free us from jealousy and avarice and should empower us to share what we have with those in need and encourage us to use our resources to continue the creation.

Conversation Starters:

How do blessings show gratitude? Make up your own blessing for something in your family.

Gratitude is a good stress reliever. Next time you or your child feel stressed, recall three things you are thankful for.

ShalomLearning in My House

ShalomLearning in My House

Not only am I the Chief Operating Officer at ShalomLearning, I am also the parent of a 4th grade ShalomLearning student, which think it has helped be better in both of these roles.

Being very familiar with our content I definitely have an advantage when my son asks me questions at the dinner table Sunday night. “Oh, you want to talk about how people can see two different things in the same picture?

Sure, I know exactly why you’re bringing that up and how it relates to this month’s value of B’tzelem Elohim (honoring the image of God in ourselves) because I also thought that was a cool part of the curriculum.” Ok, that’s not exactly what I say, but you get the idea.

And on the rare occasion (he’s a bit of a thinker and a talker) he doesn’t bring it up, I have some topics up my sleeve to get him chatting more about what they discussed in class that morning. And let’s face it, my husband and younger child are also benefiting. Not only because they get to hear this highly stimulating conversation about why people might see the same thing differently, and how we should always look for the best in others since we are all made in God’s image (B’tzelem Elohim), we all start to actually practice these values.

So when the cup gets knocked over, and the 5-year old complains because we are “having chicken again,” I use my gevurah (using one’s inner and outer strength) to keep my cool just a little bit longer so I can remember we are B’tzelem Elohim, and if I do lose it, I can do teshuvah (taking responsibility for my actions) and get it right the next time.

So, yes, my knowledge of the curriculum gives me an edge over most Hebrew school parents, but it doesn’t solve everything. I still have many of the same issues – especially that over-scheduled life one. We are constantly multi-tasking/dropping balls.

This means I’ve forgotten about class until 5 minutes after it started (luckily the computer is just seconds away), each week I am searching for a time my son can login to do the homework, and I hear the groans from my kid when the lesson may have “missed the mark” (to borrow a term from teshuvah) and didn’t resonate with him.

When these things happen, it’s both terrible and terrific because as a member of the ShalomLearning team, I can think about how we make it better. I love hearing from all of our families and educators about all the little and not-so-little things we can do to improve our programming.

This past year alone we added a 7th grade curriculum, an online only Hebrew program, made updates to our 3rd-6th curriculum, and upgraded our learning management system to make it easier for students and teachers to find and complete assignments. There is so much more to come including a second grade curriculum and new approaches to learning Hebrew and the prayers.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your ideas. You never know how it could grow and help so many others.