Light, love and latkes at Talmud Torah

Lighting the Chanukah candles at Talmud Torah School in Edmonton.

By Natalie Soroka

(Edmonton) – Hanukkah is always an exciting and delicious time at TT! The week leading up to Hanukkah began with the smells of sufganyiot and latkes wafting through the hallways, thanks to our children and educators in the Talmud Torah Early Learning Centre (ELC). They couldn’t wait to dive into the glow of the holiday, using all their senses to embrace Hanukkah in all its glory!

The school’s mascot puts a smile on everyone’s face!

Our brand new ELC Ivrit b’Yachad program – Hebrew Together, targeting our three and four-year-olds, saw the educators focusing on many different activities for Hanukkah. The children participated in an ELC-wide initiative to create a single, massive dreidel, they learned how to pronounce the letter chet, and they focused on words related to Hanukkah, such as sufganiyah – doughnut, sevivon – dreidel, and cad schumann – oil jug. The children delighted in prepared foods related to Hanukkah, including dreidel-shaped cookies, doughnuts, and levivot -latkes. They were very excited to understand that the Hebrew words they were learning related to their classroom activities.

All ELC rooms, from 12 months to 5 years, engaged in a variety of activities. The children learned the story of Hanukkah, the traditions and foods that make it special, and sang songs like I Have a Little Dreidel. They learned that the helper candle, the shamash, lights all the other candles, and they explored a variety of Hanukkiah, pretending to light each candle. There were discussions on the importance of oil in the story of Hanukkah, that latkes are cooked in oil, and how a small amount of oil miraculously lasted eight days and nights.

Students in the Out of School Care (OSC) program (K-6) loved practicing their Hanukkah songs and dances that they performed with everyone at the “Latkes and Laughter” ELC and OSC Hanukkah Party. They made their own hanukkiahs using wood and bolts, and Magen Davids -Shields of David – using popsicle sticks, paint, glitter and glue. Our youngest students had the opportunity to explore a wooden Hanukkah playset, including gelt – toy money and a dreidel. The children were very curious about all the different pieces and enjoyed moving the items around and trying to fit them together.

Of course, our K-6 students were just as excited to participate in Hanukkah learning and activities. Grade 4 students crafted magnificent stained-glass menorahs, while grade one students created whimsical dancing dreidels that lined the hallways. The ever-popular, giant blow-up Hanukkah bear in the front foyer was a big hit, and many children and their parents could be seen taking pictures with it. The school office and hallways were decked out with Hanukkah banners and Hanukkiahs, while the school’s very large, electric menorah was prominently displayed in the library. Each morning, the whole school, ages 12 months to 12 years, along with staff, teachers and educators, gathered around the library, while different grades “lit” the menorah. Songs of Hanukkah filled the air, and our TT family glowed bright with Jewish pride.

Our TT student choir was once again invited to Chabad of Edmonton’s Hanukkah lighting at the Alberta legislature, where TT’s own Ben Ragosin led them in a performance of Hanukkah songs for everyone in attendance, including politicians, family and friends.

Back at school, Ari the lion, Talmud Torah Society’s mascot, went class to class greeting students, and distributing chocolate gelt, dreidel cookies (courtesy of Bliss Baked Goods) and dreidels! Ari the mascot was very excited to see students’ smiling faces and to receive hugs and high fives. Ari was designed and created by Edmonton-based International Mascot, and was generously donated by Mike Schayer (TT class of ’91) and Ken Soroka (TT class of ’69).

The “Latkes and Laughter” ELC & OSC Hanukkah Party was a big hit! The school kitchen worked overtime as latkes, pasta dishes and salads were prepared throughout the day. Accompanied by doughnuts and from Bliss Baked Goods, the food was enjoyed by all! To keep the children busy, a baby play area with balls and an activity centre were available, along with a blocks/manipulative table, photo booth, face painting and tattoo stations, and an arts and craft area. The children and families got a real chuckle out of the video that included songs and dances performed by each ELC and OSC class. Ari the mascot made an appearance, to the delight of many, and enjoyed having pictures taken with kids and parents alike!

A school-wide (K-6) assembly rounded out the eight days of Hanukkah. Grade 4 students took the lead starting with a land acknowledgement, and invited all to rise for the singing of Canada’s national anthem. Grade 4 students lit the Hanukkiah at the front of the gym, while the entire school recited the brachot – blessings. With all eight candles shining bright, it was a magical moment of love and light.

The next part of the assembly was very powerful. Five grade 4 students spoke about how Hanukkah this year has been “hard to celebrate”, as there has been much darkness in Israel and around the world. But with all this darkness, they stated, we will rise and “bring the light”. Students then sang a beautiful Hebrew song titled Katan Aleinu, with their teacher Moreh Ari on guitar. Kindergarteners sang, Sevivon Sov Sov Sov, as well as La Bambanukah with their grade 6 buddies.

The classic, Imi Natna Leviva Li and Eight Days of Hanukkah-Eight Happy Nights, were sung proudly by our grade 1 students, while grade 2 sang Omer Toledano. The grade 5/6 class delivered a stellar performance of Ha Nerot Ha Lalu on their ukuleles, and our grade 3 students sang Yesh Bi Ahava. To round out the assembly, our very own TT choir sang several Hanukkah songs and lead the entire school in the meaningful singing of HaTikvah, Israel’s national anthem.


Be the first to comment on "Light, love and latkes at Talmud Torah"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.