By Gerald L. Sorokin
(EJN) – How does a community Jewish day school recognize the end of another academic year? By celebrating the achievements of our students and teachers. And that’s exactly what’s been going on at Talmud Torah during the final month of school.
Talmud Torah children have graduated from preschool, kindergarten, Grade 6, and Grade 9. Our Grade 1 class showcased their learning at the Siddur Celebration and our Grade 2’s had their Torah Ora ceremony.
While it’s nice to acknowledge that our kids have passed another milestone, what’s really exciting about these celebrations is the meaningful learning that the children displayed.
The preschoolers sang songs and showed slides of their artwork and Shabbat and holiday activities. The kindergarteners shared Israeli dances and made Shabbat blessings over candles, challah, and grape juice. The Grade 1’s performed a play, sang in Hebrew, English and Yiddish, and recited prayers from the siddur. The Grade 2’s put on a Reader’s Theatre entitled “Quarreling Mountains” – and shared personal reflections on what they’ve learned (so far) in Judaic Studies.
Watching these groups of children show off what they know and interact with both adults and other children was a strong reminder of how valuable a Jewish education is. Not only are these kids comfortable in a Jewish environment, but they have built concrete skills that will stay with them for life.
In conjunction with their upcoming graduations, the Grade 6 and Grade 9 kids went on special trips. In the early spring, our Grade 6 class traveled to BC for a Shabbaton with counterparts from Vancouver, Richmond, and Seattle. They learned to juggle, sang new tunes for familiar prayers, and engaged in stimulating discussions with educators and other kids about living as young Jews. Starting during Pesach, our Grade 9’s joined a group of Calgary kids and spent three weeks in Israel. By traveling around the country and spending time with Israeli teens and their families, the Grade 9’s got a deep immersion into Israeli life – truly a trip they won’t ever forget.
Meanwhile, we surprised long-time teacher, Gaylene Soifer, with a retirement party. A Talmud Torah graduate herself, Gaylene spent the final 13 years of her 37-year teaching career at TT. She is an expert literacy teacher and worked with students and other staff members to improve the school’s reading program. Testimonials from former students, colleagues, and parents showed how Gaylene’s combination of dedication to children, talent in the classroom, and eagerness to share her expertise with others have made her a rare treasure in our community. While we will miss her day-to-day presence in the school, her impact will continue to be felt for many years.
Registration for 2017-18 is going well. The Early Learning Center has added a new class for one-year-olds. The response has been so positive that we’re already running a wait list for that room. The rest of the preschool (2, 3, and 4-year-olds) is almost full for next year, too. While we’re pleased with the enrollment levels in the K-9 school, there is still room for additional children in every grade.
Talmud Torah’s combination of small classes, talented and dedicated teachers, and a supportive, pluralistic Jewish environment should make it an attractive option for Jewish Edmontonians of all backgrounds and affiliations. It’s a special place that provides high-quality education in both secular and Jewish subjects. Our graduates continue to thrive in high school and beyond.
Questions? Please give me a call at 780-481-3377 or shoot me an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gerald Sorokin is Executive Director of the Talmud Torah Society in Edmonton.
Enjoy our year end photo gallery. Photos were supplied by Talmud Torah Society.