Making Passover More Meaningful

Making Passover More Meaningful

Many of you may still be clearing away snow, but Passover is just around the corner. Here are some ideas to make your holiday more meaningful.

Do the kids get fidgety during the seder? Try putting these fun props on the table. And for fidgety grownups, consider using this humorous haggadah: “For This We Left Egypt?”

Is your family is more traditional? Author Jonathan Safran Foer has compiled a haggadah with traditional text accompanied by essays written by other modern Jewish writers.

Do you buy a roasted shank bone for your seder plate? Ready to try roasting one of your own? Here’s how you can do it yourself. Also, you shouldn’t have to go a week without brownies, so here is a kosher for Passover (and gluten free) brownie recipe.

And just when you think you have learned everything you need to know, here are 9 things you didn’t know about Passover from MyJewishLearning.

CEO Letter: Hakarat Hatov

CEO Letter: Hakarat Hatov

Dear Friends,

Hakarat Hatov literally translates to “recognizing the good,” but as we do with all of the values at ShalomLearning, we ask our students to take the meaning one step further and dig a little deeper. This is when our students begin to realize the profound importance and even holiness in a Jew’s obligation of “seeking joy and being grateful.”

Personally and professionally, I have so much for which I am grateful. Last week, while in Florida producing a video with our partners at the CJE of the Palm Beaches, I arose early to do a sunrise run on the beach (something I never get to do at home). I searched for “best sunrises,” in the area, and found mine here.  At 6:30 am the breathtaking beauty of God’s work had me on my knees in tears. I was in awe. My attempted run soon turned into a much more important morning prayer of deep gratitude to our Creator with a supplication for healing and guidance amidst the horror of the events for our children and families in Broward County. “There is nothing more whole than a broken heart,” the Kotzker Rebbi used to say.

There are no words I can say in response to the horrors we witnessed and heartache we felt after the tragedy in Parkland, FL the other week. For now, I can only say I am so grateful to all of the teens who are speaking out and leading what perhaps could be a revolution for a safer world.

I also want to use this opportunity to express my gratitude toward each of our 37 supporters for the William and Audrey Farber Family Foundation’s 2017 $500,000 matching Challenge. I have listed each of you below in recognition of your support that enables ShalomLearning to bring new advancements in education technology, innovative curriculum design, and professional development to the Jewish learning community. ShalomLearning is empowering Jewish children, families, and teachers all over North America to ignite a new passion for Jewish education. I am so very grateful for you and all of our past supporters. Thank you for helping us do the holy work that we do.

And may you have a Chag Purim Sameach!

Gratefully Yours,


ShalomLearning 2017 Supporters

ShalomLearning is grateful to everyone who contributed to our organization in 2017 and helped us meet the $500,000 match challenge set by the William and Audrey Farber Family Foundation. Here is a list of contributors (in alphabetical order):

Carol Auerbach
Adam Bernstein
Jodi Blecker
Terrie and Bradley Bloom
Michael Bohnen
Barry Borenstein
Jennifer Byrne
Larry Chafetz
Fred Claar
Vicki E. Fishman
Bram Frankel
The Lorraine and Jack N. Friedman Commission for Jewish Education
Linda and Michael Frieze
Neil Glickfield
Jefferey Grinspoon and Jon Foley
Peter Genes
The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation
Steve Harris
Debi and Evan Himelfarb
Zev Lanton
Mark Levitt
Anne and Yehuda Neurenberger
The New Kalman Sunshine Fund
William Passer
Erica Reder
Stacy and Andrew Rosen
Sarah and Devin Schain
Susan and Lewis Schoenberg
David Silver
Ricky Schechtel
The Scherr Family Foundation
Stacy Schusterman
Jane Slotin
Sarah Steinberg
Diane Troderman
Joshua Troderman
Stefanie Pessis Weil


Celebrating Purim

Celebrating Purim

The holiday of Purim begins at sundown on Wednesday February, 28th.   Although the kids always look forward to the carnivals held in many communities, there are lots of fun ways for the whole family to observe the holiday.

If you have ever wondered why it is customary to dress up in costume, Chabad has some answers for you. It is also traditional to send baskets of goodies called Mishloach Manot.   And if you are ready to try making your own hamantaschen, here is a simple recipe from Bon Appetit.

If you can’t make it to synagogue to hear the whole magillah you can do so here, or maybe you prefer just the basic plot and themes.

And in this age of #MeToo, maybe it is time to give the character of Vashti a rethink.

However you celebrate, we wish you a Chag Purim Sameach, Happy Purim.

Sweet Responsibility

Sweet Responsibility

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! It’s here! Yes, the chai secular year of the century: 2018! We love the numerical equivalent of life and how sweet it is that this month’s unit is Achrayut, which literally means responsibility.

In between your dozens of appointments and zipping your children around from one frenzy of activity to another, you might be wondering, “What’s so sweet about responsibility?  It’s important to keep commitments, yes, but sweet?”

Well, at ShalomLearning we strive for our children to become mensches IN ACTION; thus, we define our values with a bit of a drash (interpretation) for their central role in the ongoing Jewish tradition of living a purpose driven life. Achrayut charges us to be responsible and to “leave the world a better place.” It is no accident that this value times in alignment with the upcoming (January 30th)  Tu B’shvat holiday.

Tu B’shvat, also called Rosh Hashanah La’ilanot, is the new year (birthday) of trees. This holiday  grows more important every year. These days, we are subjected to the highest levels of corporate greed and grossly funded agendas to convince people that they are part of a system that they can not change.

That is not the Jewish way. We are the original activists. We strive to make the world better, our relationships stronger, and our spirits unbreakable in our connection to the sacred. We have a holiness code, and love is at the center of it. (That is another article, but check it out in Leviticus 19:18). Love is the ultimate value, and yes, we take one day a year to officially hug some trees, and if you have a sedar, it  always opens deep conversations.

James Cameron is releasing a new film this week:, “The Game Changers.” It exposes the horrendous exploitation of the agribusiness and environmental impact of meat production, but more importantly it offers a profound solution for both our bodies and the environment by switching to a plant based protein diet.

It’s a great example of the social consciousness of the next generation and reminds us all to keep a lookout for things that this wonderful generation will be leading the charge, as we break away from the grip of the dark side of the status quo.

Many are taking action to improve the way we grow and consume food recognizing that we are the caregivers for the planet and stewards of the environment. I hope you have a chance to host or attend a Tu Bishvat seder with your family and friends. Look for links and resources in this issue. Chag Sa’ma’ach!


Gratefully Yours,


Joshua Troderman

ShalomLearning CEO

Simple Ways to Celebrate Tu B’Shvat

Simple Ways to Celebrate Tu B’Shvat

Happy New Year! Did you know that there were actually four different New Year’s days in the Jewish Calendar? One of them, Tu B’Shvat, sometimes called the Birthday of the Trees, begins on Tue. Jan 30st.   You can find out about the other 3 at MyJewishLearning.

In many parts of the country it is still too cold to be outside enjoying trees, but you can always plant a tree in Israel.   Or, PJ Library has 9 other ways you can celebrate Tu B’Shevat.

It is also a custom in many communities to hold a Tu B’Shvat Seder. Each of the four cups of wine represents a different season, and the seder plate represents different types of foods.   You can read more about that and even download some examples from, or if you prefer, here is one from Hazon.

If a whole Seder is too much for you, the Joy of Kosher has some recipes that incorporate the seven species of foods that are represented in a Tu B’Shvat Seder.