Kitah Chet: Letters to Parents

December 11, 2018

Dear Kitah Chet Parents,

I am writing to let you know about a program your students participated
this month. On Sunday 12/9, the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse’s
(JCADA) dating violence prevention initiative, AWARE®, ran their It’s Not Love®
workshop for the students of Kitah Chet and Kitah Zayin. Our goal for the
program was to educate our students about healthy relationships and the topic
was chosen based on a popular vote on social justice topics to discuss that
occurred in November in Kitah Chet’s classroom.

The workshop was a choose-your-own-path style workshop and every student assumed the role of a character who was in an abusive relationship or was friends with someone in an abusive relationship. Students engaged in small group discussions in order to identify characteristics of both a healthy and unhealthy relationship.

Engaging in a dialogue with your child about the program and healthy
relationships will help ensure this program has a lasting impact. For more
information about healthy relationships, warning signs of dating abuse, and how
to talk to your teen, we encourage you to visit www.awarenow.org. If you
have any questions about this program, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Julie Margolies

February 4, 2019

Hi. I’m Laura Kumin. Daniel Ben-Chitrit and I are your daughter/son’s Religious School teachers in KItah Chet at Etz Hayim. Our module, Dishing the Diaspora, meets roughly every other Sunday for 8 sessions. (We would have had 9, but our first session, on January 13th, was snowed out.) Our goal is to provide students with a sense of how the diaspora has resulted in a wide variety of foods, particularly as those foods relate to Jewish holidays. Each class will have a theme or themes relating to the overall topic of the module. We’ll be cooking in most sessions and eating in all, so we hope to keep the students’ attention and interest up, as we cook and eat our way through this program.

Our first session included: 
  • an introduction to the module; 
  • an examination of what diaspora means, literally and also in the context of the dispersal of Jews throughout the world, facts about where Jews live today; and 
  • finally a discussion of Tu B’shevat, ending with a Tu B’shevat ice cream seder. 

The introduction included students answering questions about themselves, who they admire and why, what they like to eat, and what Jewish food traditions they have observed and participated in at home. In the second part we talked about the number of Jews worldwide at various points in history, where they lived and why they left certain countries or areas of the world. Our Tu B’shevat discussion centered on the food traditions for the holiday, including the sheva minim or 7 species of sacred grains and fruits, what carob and etrog are, and where the students might find them today. If you are interested in the Tu B’shevat seder, I’ve attached a copy to this note. 

 
Our next session is this coming Sunday and we’ll be talking about Purim. We will also make hamantaschen using fillings that the students named as their favorites. 
 
Feel free to email me if you have any questions or want any additional information about the class. I enjoyed our first session and look forward to teaching, talking, and cooking with your daughters and sons. 
 
Best regards, Laura Kumin

February 11, 2019

Hi. Laura Kumin here. 

Purim is not for another several weeks. (It begins on Wednesday March 20th.) However, because of our class schedule, we celebrated it a bit early by making hamantaschen yesterday. Class began with a quick overview of health and safety in the kitchen. Then we got to the fun stuff – making and eating hamantaschen. 
 
When I asked the students at our last session about their favorite hamantaschen flavors, not surprisingly, chocolate was the heavy favorite. Therefore, we made chocolate dough and a decadently rich chocolate filling. We also made a “plain,”  more traditional dough. Beyond chocolate, the students mentioned apricot and strawberry, so we had fillings with both of those flavors: one made primarily from canned apricots, cooked with a kiwi to help the apricots gel, and a quick-and-easy strawberry filling that was simply strawberry jam. 
 
The students divided into two groups to make the doughs and fillings. Daniel led one group in making the chocolate dough and apricot filling, while I led the other in making the more traditional dough and the chocolate filling. Once we had prepared the doughs and fillings, the students worked in 3 groups to mix-and-match doughs and fillings, create, and bake the hamantaschen. Of course the final part of the class was spent eating and critiquing the various combinations. 
 
As the students measured, mixed, rolled and baked, we talked about several techniques important in baking. They included the proper way to measure (scooping and leveling), why we use parchment paper on baking sheets (to keep the hamantaschen from sticking), and even how to modify a recipe when it turned out that we did not have as much unsweetened baking chocolate as the recipe called for (we added more chocolate chips and lowered the amount of sugar we used.) 
 
The recipes we used are attached to this email. Although I had planned to discuss more about other Purim food traditions besides hamantaschen, we did not get the chance to do that. We’ll have a brief discussion on that subject on March 24th, along with conversation about shabbat.  (Kitah Chet did not have class last week during the school-wide shabbat session https://etzhayim.net/2019/02/all-shul-learning-shabbat-recap/, so we will catch up on that in our own fashion next month.) 
 
Daniel will lead the next session, on March 10th, on Kashrut. 
 
Best regards,
Laura K.