Jewish Heritage Month at Edmonton’s Talmud Torah School

Tha Talmud Torah Choir performed at several community events this past month - including Yom HaShoah and Yom Ha'atzamaut, as well as at the special school-wide assembly that included families and friends.

By Natalie Soroka

(Edmonton) – Students and staff participated in meaningful programs during the month of May this year, which was fitting since Yom HaShoah, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut all landed on the calendar during North America’s Jewish Heritage Month. To have all three commemorations occur during this significant time was especially relevant this year.

We are so proud of our grade 5/6 students and the TT choir, who were led by Moreh Ben Ragosin through masterful ukulele performances of Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, at Beth Israel Synagogue’s Yom HaShoah community event, and in the singing of Al Kol Ele and Chai at Beth Israel’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration.

The first of three assemblies during Jewish Heritage Month commemorated Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day. Our Grades 5 and 6 students not only led the entire assembly, but sang and beautifully performed “O Canada”, while also evoking chills when they concluded the assembly with their ukulele performance of Hatikvah. Next came the Yom HaZikaron assembly – Israeli Memorial Day. Wonderfully led by Grades 5 and 6 students, we remembered and honoured those who died in the War of Independence and other wars in Israel.

In the lead up to Yom Ha’atzmaut, Talmud Torah’s Early Learning Centre classrooms were busy with interactive activities, art and baking. The Jewish Together program, consisting of three and four-year-olds, prepared and ate falafel and pita, while learning that falafel and pita begin with the Hebrew letter pey. Kinderarts students also enjoyed celebrating Israel’s Independence Day by cooking and eating falafel, pita and Israeli salads. All classrooms celebrated Israel’s 76th birthday by dancing and waving homemade flags and parading around the school hallways with pride. During circle time they talked about the meaning behind Israel’s flag and its symbolism. Classes discussed how the colours represent the sky and purity, and that the Star of David represents the Jewish people. All classes made crafts that helped reinforce their understanding and appreciation of the Israeli flag.

Our Yom Ha’atzmaut assembly on May 14th, celebrating Israel’s 76th year of independence, was a highlight for students and staff alike. Walking through the hallways on their way to the gymnasium, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, were greeted by beautiful bulletin board displays of Israeli flags. More displays could be seen along the gymnasium walls and on the stage, decorated by Grades 5 and 6 students. Morah Shira Spring welcomed invitees Stacey Leavitt-Wright, CEO of Jewish Federation of Edmonton, and Jay Cairns, Executive Director of Jewish National Fund (Edmonton), who were thrilled to attend. There was a sea of blue and white clothing and Israeli flag face stickers as the assembly began.

The TT Choir, consisting of K-6 students, performed the melodic songs, Al Kol Eleh (Over all these, please watch over me my Lord) and Chai (The people of Israel live). Kindergarten sang and danced to the popular song by Benny Friedman – Yama, Kinderarts sang and danced to the fun song Yeladim Totzeret Yisrael, Grade 1 performed to the song Chai, Chai, Chai, and Grade 2 danced to Lo Tenazhu Oti. This was followed by Grade 3 singing and dancing to Od Neda Yamim Tovim Yoter, while Grade 4 performed a mashup of Shiri LaShalom with Get Back Up Again. Students, staff, families and guests who attended the school’s Yom Ha’atzmaut assembly experienced a real treat when Meirav Or, an Israeli circle dance instructor with the Aviv Israeli Folk Dance Association (AIFDA), invited everyone to participate in some fun Israeli dance choreography. It was a fun culmination to a very entertaining assembly!

Talmud Torah is known for its heartwarming and meaningful assemblies, and the ones during Jewish Heritage Month 2024 did not disappoint.

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