Yom Ha’Atzmaut Goosechase Activity

Yom Ha’Atzmaut Goosechase Activity

Designed for grades 4 and older

Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, is celebrated this year on April 14th – 15th. Our ShalomLearning team created this fun Yom Ha’Atzmaut GooseChase scavenger hunt activity for teachers to use with their classes. It is filled with interactive and engaging Israel-themed classroom challenges that can be used both in a virtual classroom and in-person.


Creating Student Engagement, One Spin At A Time

Creating Student Engagement, One Spin At A Time

ShalomLearning partner school, Congregation Shearith Israel, located in Atlanta, GA, is implementing a new solution to a common dilemma: motivating students to complete independent work. Several schools choose, as a policy, not to assign students activities to complete outside of class. There are many reasons for such an approach and many advantages to giving out of class activities, including:
  • Assignments allow students independent practice and self-assessment;
  • Families have insight into students’ classroom learning with at-home activities;
  • Activities provide teachers a tool to informally assess students to identify needs for individualized student instruction.
However, not all students are intrinsically motivated to complete assignments. Many teachers and schools are looking for creative ways to incentivize students. Shearith Israel created a fun tool to help mitigate this obstacle: HaGalgal (The Wheel), an incentive program for Hebrew work at home. The program is simple:
  • Teachers assign work for their students to complete between Hebrew classes.
  • Each student who logs into my.ShalomLearning.org and submits the assignment gets an entry into the class drawing.
  • Each class, the teacher draws a name, and that student gets to spin HaGalgal.
  • Each month the class with the highest percentage of students with submitted assignments spins the wheel for the whole school to see.
  • At the end of the year, the student who has submitted the most assignments will win a special prize sporting the school logo.
Using Jewish Values to Respond to This Moment

Using Jewish Values to Respond to This Moment

Today, as we process the shock of the events at our nation’s capital, we struggle to find a message to share with our community. ShalomLearning’s Jewish values curriculum makes Judaism relevant to the lives of our students. It gives them texts and sources to draw from when making real-life decisions. But which of our seven values speaks the loudest at this moment?  Which one will best guide us to move forward?

Teshuvah (Repentance), can we reflect on what occurred and turn it around?  B’tzelem Elohim (Created in the Image of God), aren’t we all deserving of respect?  Achrayut (Responsibility), it’s our responsibility to respect government law and civil authority.   The values of Hakarat Hatov (Recognizing the Good), Koach Haddibur (Power of Words), and Shalom (Peace) can each guide our behavior in peaceful and challenging situations. However, it was the Gevurah (Strength) unit that resonated with us today as it teaches us how to use our inner strength.

Our fifth grade Gevurah unit teaches students about the role of courage in processing an argument, the art of compromise, practical ways for standing up for rights and points of view, and the skill of consensus building. All skills needed at this moment of history.

Therefore, we are sharing two activities from this unit that help students practice conflict resolution wrapped in our Jewish teaching. May these teachings guide us as we teach our children that we have the power to express our will within a democratic process with Jewish values to guide us.


Activity 1: Arguing the Right Way/Conflict Resolution

15 Minutes In-Person or Virtual

Tell students: Today, we will explore how to compromise, argue, and stand up for your ideas. We will look at some scenarios and find the piece of truth that each side possesses.

Discussion Questions

  •       When you argue with someone, do you usually feel that you are right and they are wrong? Do you ever feel like they could have a legitimate point of view too?
  •       The Hebrew word for argument is machloket מַחֲלוֹקֶת. But the root of the Hebrew word is chelek חֵלֶק, or part. Why do you think the root of the word machloket מַחֲלוֹקֶת is chelek חֵלֶק, part?
  •       Do you think that in an argument each person may have part of the truth?
  •       When you disagree with someone else, but you acknowledge that they have a chelek חֵלֶק of the truth as well, how does that change things?
  •       Sometimes when you acknowledge other people’s chelek חֵלֶק of the truth, the result is compromise, pesharah פְּשָׁרָה. Do you view compromise as a good result?



Activity 2: What Would You do? Machloket מַחֲלוֹקֶת Scenario

15 Minutes In-Person or Virtual

Role Play Fishbowl: You may use the following scenario or choose a scenario that you know the students are confronting or that is in the news. If you have never led a fishbowl before, see this site for a helpful description. https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/teaching-strategies/fishbowl (5.3.4 Fishbowl Strategy)


It is the first day of school. Elaina has been away the whole summer and is looking forward to seeing her best friend Jessica. When Elaina gets to school, she looks all over for Jessica and finally finds her talking to a new kid. Instead of running over to greet Elaina, Jessica keeps talking to the new kid for ten minutes before she finally goes over to greet Elaina. Elaina is mad. How could Jessica keep her waiting for so long when they haven’t seen each other for two whole months? She tells her friend Andrea that Jessica has really changed and Andrea should not be friends with her. Jessica finds out and gets angry with Elaina.


Have two students play the roles of Elaina and Jessica. First, have them role play an argument where they are not interested in seeing the other person’s chelek חֵלֶק of truth and care only about the truth of their position.

Choose two other students to role-play the same argument. This time, they must acknowledge the chelek חֵלֶק of truth in the other person’s position.

Discussion Questions

  •       Who made choices in this story?
  •       How could you defend Elaina’s choices?
  •       How could you defend Jessica’s choices?
  •       What other choices could they have made that may have avoided a fight?
  •       Was there a chelek חֵלֶק of truth for each side of this story?
  •       What would happen if Elaina and Jessica took the time and effort to understand the chelek חֵלֶק of truth in the other person’s argument? What would be the consequences of the argument? 
  •       What would have happened to the friendship if they talked out why they were each upset?
  •       How can respecting another person’s point of view and trying to see their chelek חֵלֶק of truth help you in other arguments and situations?


The Miracle Grows Stronger Every Day

The Miracle Grows Stronger Every Day

Behind the candles, dreidels, the latkes, the doughnuts, my rising triglycerides (from all the oil), I find that  the most inspiring tradition of Chanukah is our search for the light and the way that we are instructed to share the light (don’t forget to “publicize the miracle” by putting your menorahs in a window if you can). Our people overcame great odds more than 2,000 years ago, and unlike other Jewish holidays, there is indisputable, historical evidence that this military victory of the Maccabean army did indeed happen.

Today, Jewish education is in a battle right now as well. This time, however, the victory isn’t only marked by a re- “dedication” (that is what Hanukkah means) of a physical holy temple in Jerusalem. This time, the victory is our collective view of the future, when our children can see themselves as successful Jewish learners and feel a strong sense of community and agency. They pass the torch yet again to another generation. The light we share as a people must shine on to the world.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced the world’s students and teachers into online classrooms, many Hebrew schools were left unprepared to make the transition. This meant that the demand for ShalomLearning’s work more than doubled! In addition to our regular teacher training and innovative curricula designs, we provide scholarship funds to our synagogue partners that enable their families to participate.

With your continued support we will continue to provide these tools to students, teachers, and families across North America at no additional cost to them. 

In recognition of the demand, a generous donor has pledged to match every gift made before December 31, 2020 up to $50,000. Please help us meet this match and provide uninterrupted Jewish education throughout the COVID-19 crisis and beyond by clicking here.

Thank you so much for making this miracle of Jewish education possible.

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy and joyous Chanukah!

Chag Sa’ma’ach!


Joshua Troderman



Lag B’Omer in 2020

Lag B’Omer in 2020

Shalom Chaverim,

“There is nothing more whole than a broken heart,” said Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (1787–1859), also known as the Kotzker Rebbe. Tonight the Jewish people welcome a lesser known, somewhat mystical, Jewish holiday, Lag B’Omer. MyJewishLearning summarizes it’s key elements in this great article.

As a child, I remember this fun holiday featuring BBQs, bonfires, and whiffle ball games with friends and family. Most of that is not possible right now.

It is fascinating that tonight we are instructed to take a break from this “period of semi-mourning,” as we arrive at the 33rd day of our count off from Passover to Shavuot (Sferat Ha’Omer). A popular notion is that on this day the mysterious plague which killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students suddenly ended. This very well might have been Akiva’s students’ death count in the Bar Kochba rebellion (132 C.E.) against the Romans, and the rabbis needed to choose their language carefully for the political ramifications. But I find it a little strange that of all things, it is a plague that is the chosen description for this massive loss.

Most of us have never experienced a pandemic. It is hard reading the daily news, let alone juggling all of the challenges that this intense disruption of our normal lives has created. But I would like to remind us all that spiritual highs in life are almost always preceded by lows.  Perhaps you can think of bending an elastic band back to give it the maximum thrust forward. That might be where we are at right now. If you feel that you are experiencing a low point in your life, this might be a perfect time for you to recognize that you are generating spiritual energy that will bring you to a higher consciousness. Whenever we are going through hard times, there is an opening to your heart. You become more compassionate, more thoughtful, more soft and loving. These spiritual qualities will lead you to a better destiny.

I hope that this newsletter finds you and your loved ones healthy. And I pray that our own mysterious plague will end soon. But  in the meantime, happy Lag B’Omer, and I hope that you can recognize when your spiritual energy is building despite any low points you encounter.

Gratefully yours,