Rav Ovadia Yosef was niftar this past Monday. I spoke to my class today about him as our first biography of the year. It is hard to capture the greatness of a man who was one of the biggest geonim of the generation but was also the greatest civil Rights leader of Israel who tranformed the lives of 50% of the Israeli population who faced discrimination, poverty, hopelessness and spiritual ignorance. Zechuso Yagen Aleinu. Some videos & Links of Interest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3l-D0yuMV8 Rav Lau (who visited Rochester last year with Rav Ovadia) 4 minutes in the day of rav Ovadia http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnEiRlxzjKg CNN reports on his funeral – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCr525VBpD8 picturesRead More →

6 months ago, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, zt”l became critically ill. I wanted my class to understand for whom they were davening.   I also wanted to understand for whom I was davening. What I knew of Rav Elyashiv from news reports was sometimes bizarre. His name was quoted frequently, but often incorrectly. I knew there must be a reason that when someone mentioned the name Rav Elyashiv, the Torah world paid attention. Who was Rav Elyashiv? Here is the biography I wrote six months ago. It was written for third graders so it as rather simple vocabulary. I have updated it to make it timely.Read More →

This week we have been finishing Vayeitzei, our ivrit curriculum and independent yedios klalios study. But since it is Thursday here is our weekly biography.  Today it is for  Reb Shraga Feivel. I want my students to really appreciate the education they have and the effort spent to allow them to sit in a classroom with their peers. Reb Shraga FeivelRead More →

Here are some of the things we did today: Tefillah: for the new tefillah, one student was the chazzan. He read each phrase, stopping at the comma or the period, then the class repeated it after him. This method really helps with fluency for each new tefilla. Improve fluency, and have students assume responsibility for tefillah Chumash: פרק לא: כה-ל   First, the  students filled out the Shorashim and Pronoun column for new pesukim in their linear translation. Goal: word attack skills, pre teaching knowledge that will stop comprehension the 1st time. Vayitzei Perek 31b Linear Then we read the pesukim כד & כה whereRead More →

What a busy day.   Today, we learned about צדיק ה בכל דרכיו. We were learning about the life of the 4th Belzer Rebbe later in the day, so I took the opportunity to connect the pasuk to how the Belzer Rebbe responded to the Holocaust after his wife, children and grandchildren were killed.  There were also a lot of questions. One child asked, “How come we say tehillim if everything Hashem does is right?” Each student shared a personal story, a mashal they had heard, or a story they had read. I let them share because I could see they were connecting and processing a veryRead More →

Tefillah: We discussed how ה’ is טוב לכל – to all and is good to ALL of his creations. We talked about not hurting animals unnecessarily  I even mentioned how Rav Yaakov Yosef Herman would even feed cats in Yerushalayim because he was טוב to all of Hashem’s creations. Chumash – We reviewed a bit and did one more pasuk. The students were a little hyper because they had COLOR WAR. (My kids were on different teams. When they got off the bus today, my first grader had on this huge grin. I had assumed that he had won. No, he lost – he just hadRead More →

List of Biographies Why teach Gedolim? Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel Rav Aharon Kotler Rav Henoch Leibowitz Chofetz Chaim The Rambam R’ Irving Bunim Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv The Ramban Rav Moshe Feinstein Baal HaTurim Rav Ovadiah Yosef Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg Sarah Schnerir Rav Chaim Soloveitchik Chazon IshRead More →

It will be a busy day Intro: let the kids know the modified schedule. Tefillah: We went straight into davening Chumash:  Review:  Shorashim – kids act out shorashim Game – Prep: Filled a bag with yellow, orange and green papers. Put kids in two lines in front of the felt boards for two teams Round 1: Each kid put their hand in a bag and picked out a colored paper. They had to choose a flashcard from the felt board and translate. They had to identify the names (in orange). For the Imahos, they had to list their sons. For the Shevatim, they had to list theRead More →

  PDF of biography Rav Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz (Chazon Ish) (1878 -1953) Rav Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz was born in Kosava, Lithuania to Rav Shmaryahu Yosef and Rasha Leah Karelitz. His parents had 6 children who died. His mother davened that she should have a son who would be a great tzaddik. He also had a brother Rav Meir Karelitz and a sister, Miriam. His sister married Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, the Steipler Gaon. His nephew is y”blc Rav Chaim Kanievsky. He did not have any children Rav Avraham Yeshaya was remarkable because he was able to learn for many hours at a time. He learnedRead More →

I hope to write a complete, well documented post about how and why I present the biography of a great Torah leader to the class. Until I have the chance to research and write the post, I’d like to mention how transformative teaching about gedolim to young children can be. Every week, we read a biography of a gadol that I have written and edited. Most of the information, I am sad to say, is from wikipedia or other online sources but you use the tools you have to do what you can. Gedolim time provides an opportunity to teach character building in a holistic way.Read More →

  Rav Chaim Soloveitchik (1853-July 30, 1918) PDF of biography Rav Chaim Soloveitchik was born in Volozhin to his father Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, the Beis HaLevi, who taught in the famous Volozhin Yeshiva. When he was a few years old, his fathhr became Rav in Slutzk. Rav Chaim quickly became known for his brilliance and remarkable understanding. When Rav Chaim was 20, he married Lipsha, the daughter of Rav Raphael Shapiro, and the granddaughter of the Netziv who was the Rosh Yeshiva of Volozhin. After Reb Raphael moved to become a Rav, Rav Chaim became a Rosh Yeshiva with the Netziv in the yeshiva.Read More →