Page 1



March—Adar 2011


Purim, celebrated on the 14th of Adar, is the most fun and action-packed holiday on the Jewish calendar. Many years ago, in the days of Ahashverosh, King of Persia, the wicked Prime Minister Haman planned to hang Mordechai for his disobedience and have all the Jews in the kingdom killed on the 14th of Adar. Mordechai‘s cousin, Esther, who was the queen at the time, lobbied the king to spare her people. Ahashverosh acceded to the request, ordered Haman to be hung on the gallows that Haman had built for Mordechai, Mordechai became the Prime Minister and a new order was issued allowing the Jews to fight back when attacked.

PARENTING IN THE TORAH: QUOTE OF THE MONTH "He who guides his sons and daughters in the right way... to him does the verse apply: 'And you shall know that there is peace in your tent'." (Talmud, Yevamot 62b)


PAGE4: Irene’s March Picks Weekend Activities for the Family

PAGE5: Recipes PAGE6-7: Happy Purim! Ways to Celebrate Purim + Purim Homemade Costume Ideas

PAGE8: Parent Interview PAGE9: PA—Yeladim Play Yard Project Update

PAGE10: Teacher Interview This Month: Nechama Dena Bergstein

Editorial Team: Anna Ashurov Irene Gabo Chani Okonov Alla Vasserman

PAGE2: Help! How do I raise a happy

This Month: Vitaly Ganopolsky

Because the Jews were saved, the 14th of Adar became a day of celebration. Parties were held, baskets of food were sent to friends, and poor people received gifts. Esther and Mordechai became famous and named this holiday Purim, which we celebrate to this day! These days, we read the Purim story from the Megillah, have parties, dress up in costumes, give Mishloach Manot and extra Tzedaka. Purim is a great holiday to have fun and at the same time educate our kids about the values of life and generosity. This issue is filled with love and happy thoughts to celebrate and treasure this special time of the year for Jewish people!


Center Pull-out Section To Raise a Jewish Child By: Rabbi Hayim Halevy

MARCH CALENDAR Sunday, March 20—Purim Party Purim in the 60’s! F.R.E.E. of Brighton Beach invites you to a Purim party you won‘t forget: Purim in the 60's! See page 4 for more details. Wednesday, March 30—Parenting Discussion Group Meeting for Moms & Dads. This month‘s topic: ―How Can We Develop Good Character in our Children?‖ See page 4 for more details.



MODERN PARENTING Help! How do I raise a happy child? I want my daughter to be happy, enjoy life and feel good about herself. On the other hand, sometimes I avoid disciplining her because I don’t want to see her unhappy. I am afraid that if I keep this up, I will end up spoiling her. Chani: Let‘s first try to understand what exactly a ―happy child‖ is. If we were to poll parents and ask: ―what do you want for your child‖, the most common response would certainly be ―to be happy‖. If we were to poll those very same parents and ask: ―what do you want for your self‖, we‘d probably get the same response. The question becomes: what defines ―being happy‖? In Western culture, being happy comes with beauty, fame, great food, a fabulous home, car, possessions & of course, the ―pictureperfect family‖. It‘s all about what you have, gratifying your needs/wants, and maintaining a certain ―image‖. In contrast, Judaism describes happiness very differently. Happiness, called simcha in Hebrew, is cultivated by thinking about others, by being less self-centered, by being appreciative of others & of G-d. There is a type of happiness called simcha shel mitzvah, the happiness of doing a good deed. What a difference! Truth be told, we all know that in real life, the Jewish version of happiness is more sustainable than the ―fame and fortune‖ one.

by Chani Okonov their parent is so valuable. Your happiness will provide a strong sense of security and belonging so that your child will want to be around you and will feel good in your presence. Think happy thoughts out loud. In education, there is a technique called ―think-aloud‖. It involves the teacher articulating verbally her thoughts to the students in order to demonstrate the thinking process required for a specific task. When parenting, we can also use ―think-alouds‖ in order to teach a particular way of thinking. For instance, when our children hear us thinking out loud happy thoughts, they learn that happiness is a state of mind. Here are some examples: ―I am so happy with everything that Hashem gave me: my family, my job, you!‖… ―I felt so happy cooking dinner/helping you/making you happy.‖… ―I decided that I want to feel happy, so I thought a happy thought and I feel much better.‖ Talk about finding happiness in simple things, being happy with what you have, making a choice to be happy, feeling happy after helping others, and so on… Be confident to discipline. Being given boundaries and expectations gives a child security, which in turn, allows them to develop a sense of happiness. Insecurity breeds unhappiness. In order for discipline to be effective in this way and create solid boundaries, the child needs to see that you as a parent are secure in following through with it, and are confident.

Furthermore, in Judaism, happiness is a state of being that a person can consciously choose to put his or her self in. For example, it is said that when the Hebrew month of Adar begins, one should increase in joy (in anticipation of Purim). In other words, in a particular month, the Torah believes that one can make a conscious effort to be in a ------------------------------------happier mood than usual. Similarly, Ethics of our Fathers (Pirkei Avot) states: ―Who is rich? He who is This leads to an overarching question about ...when the He- how to discipline firmly enough to provide happy with what he has?‖ Again, the point is the same; happiness is an attitude. Happiness boundaries, while also not too harshly as to afbrew month of is making the choice to be happy. fect the child‘s self-image and happiness.

Adar begins, one should increase in joy (in anticipation of Purim).

I believe that the message for us as parents is that just as a ―happy person‖ is not someone with many ―things‖, we need to re-think what a ―happy child‖ is – and it is certainly not a child who is over-indulged. In fact, my experience has been that those children are often the most unhappy. So how does one raise an authentically happy child?

The first step is to be a happy parent! When we exude a positive attitude toward parenting and toward our children, they feed off our happiness. Sometimes, this requires making a conscious choice to get into an upbeat mind frame, but it will transform the way you feel and the way you see your child(ren). As modern parents, juggling multiple roles and pressures, it isn‘t always easy to remember to just enjoy our children. Taking those moments to laugh with them, enjoy being with them and to be happy being

At our recent parenting group discussion this issue arose in conversation among parents. Shortly after our meeting, I read the much debated book by Amy Chua, ―Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother‖. In the book, Amy, an AsianAmerican mom describes how she raised her two daughters to be accomplished musicians and successful A students. The underlying premise of her parenting approach is that she, as a parent, knows what is in the best interest of her children (very Jewish approach!), and is responsible to train them along the correct path even if they don‘t like it (also Jewish approach). She believes in focusing more on helping her children achieve rather than on ―protecting‖ their self-esteem, since self-esteem is nurtured through our accomplishments (a reasonable point). However, the techniques she employs to motivate them usually involve lots of yelling, pressure, name-calling and punishment. She pays very little attention to her children‘s feelings. She describes her home environment pretty much as a battle-



MODERN PARENTING field with her children. She feels that all this is necessary in order to help her children achieve, and that she is ―sacrificing‖ for their success. This seemed to be producing brilliant results in her first daughter, who truly gives the impression of a remarkable young girl. Her second daughter, on the other hand, is a child who values her independence and free-spirit. Strong-willed, she fights her mother even as she goes along with her demands until she eventually rebels when she reaches her pre-teenage years. In the end, Amy makes a choice to work on herself to give her daughter more space, allow her to make more independent choices, and be a less ―intense‖ mother, though she ends the book with some ambiguity as to what parenting approach she believes is truly better. Reading this book make me reflect on my own beliefs as a parent and an educator, & particularly to ask ―what does Judaism believe to be true‖. My conclusion was that having high expectations of our children is important, so long as we are ready & willing to support them in meeting those expectations in positive and happy ways.

by Chani Okonov you shall teach them [the Mitzvot] diligently to your children, & you shall speak of them when you sit at home, & when you walk along the way, & when you lie down & when you rise up.‖ In this way, the Torah takes a very positive approach to parenting. From the moment of birth, a child is raised in an environment that focuses on preparing them for their future life, through parental involvement & interest to their everyday lives, through ongoing dialogue, encouragement & coaching. Each of the customs associated around holidays focuses on the children, & engages their interest to participate and understand their meaning and relevance (thereby deriving important lessons for life). Every milestone and achievement is celebrated from 3 years old to 13 years old and beyond. It is a cheerful, positive and supportive approach.

From the moment of birth, a child is raised in an environment that focuses on preparing them for their future life, through parental involvement and interest to their everyday lives, through ongoing dialogue, encouragement and coaching.

In Judaism, educating our children along the correct path is the greatest responsibility of parenthood. From the point-of-view of the Torah, when asked ―what do you want for your child?‖, a parent‘s response should first be ―to know right from wrong‖ or ―to be a good person‖. Yet a forceful approach is not the way to achieve this. In Jewish history, there are two times when the Jewish people as a whole made a commitment to Judaism & to G-d. The first was at Mt. Sinai, which did not last very long, since only 40 days later the Jewish people began to worship the Golden Calf idol. The second was during the Purim story, when, rather than denouncing their Jewish identity (and sparing themselves from Haman‘s evil plans), they pulled together as a community and reaffirmed their commitment to Hashem. The difference given between the two situations is that at Mt. Sinai, the Jews did not feel a true sense of choice as to whether or not to accept the Torah. The awesome revelations of G-d and the overall Mt. Sinai experience (picture G-d‘s booming voice, thunder, lightening…) was so overwhelming that they were compelled to go along with it. This is viewed as a ―forceful‖ top-down approach. As a result, it did not take deep root in the Jews‘ hearts. By contrast, in the Purim story, the Jews could‘ve easily chosen to disassociate from Judaism. Instead, they made a conscious, independent decision to express Jewish pride. This is viewed as a ―self-motivated‖ bottom-up approach –which was much more lasting. Similarly, as Amy Chua experienced, with our children, force does not achieve long-term results.

Motivate through a positive environment. In the Shema prayer, the most central prayer of Judaism, we state: ―And

Very often parents confuse discipline with negativity and conflict. This should not be the case. Discipline is a way of learning what is or is not appropriate. A parent is responsible to be a child‘s guide in navigating this learning process, not a child‘s military commander. The Torah refers to this parenting process as chinuch (loosely translated as ―upbringing‖), which connotes ‗education‘ more than anything else.

The same results can almost always be achieved by using calm and encouraging reminders, clarifying our expectations so that the child knows what we want, giving the child independence and through upbeat, positive motivation. Even on the occasions when it is time to be firm, we don‘t need to be harsh or over-emotional. The key is to be as business-like as possible, almost ―detached‖, when assigning consequences. At that moment, you do not pay attention to the child‘s unhappiness with being given a consequence. You are doing what needs to be done in order to help your child learn an important lesson for their future. Of course, the child should also hear empathy from you. As a parent, you communicate that you understand the challenges they sometimes face in making the right choice. Dialoguing with the child afterward, to discuss how they can achieve better next time is another important component that helps the child take ownership of their own learning process. This approach emphasizes to the child that when they make a mistake, it is their action that you do not approve of, rather than the child themselves and that you are their coach and supporter who will help them achieve success. Parenting is by definition a balancing act. Knowing exactly how much to give in and how much to be firm is a constant question we must ask ourselves as a parent, hoping and praying all the while that we find just the right balance. May Hashem give each of us the wisdom to make the right choices in our children‘s chinuch, and the strength to choose to be happy as we do it.




Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY Educational Program For Children 4 to 7: Arty Facts, Sundays, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. For children ages four to seven and their adult friends. Explore the galleries, enjoy a family activity, and make your own art in each ninety-minute class. Arty Facts offers a different program each day. March: From the Tipi to the Dutch colonial homes of the Schencks, to the interiors of NYC apartments, discover how people turn a house into a home. A Child Grows in Brooklyn Expo Daily 03/13/11, at Toren Condo, 150 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 718.596.9113, Time: 11am-4pm, Cost: $35; $60/2 tickets in advance; $45 at the door A Child Grows in Brooklyn presents an expo that showcases top resources for Brooklyn parents and provides a space where they can interact with other parents and children, exhibitors, and experts. Holiday Seasonal: Hamantaschen Hip Hop with the Mama Doni Band 03/20/11, Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, NYC, 646.437.4202,, Ages: 3-10, Time: 3:30pm; Craft Activities 1:30pm Cost: Adults $10; Children (10 & under) $7; Members $7/$5 Mama Doni and her band perform a funky Purim rock concert featuring a costume parade and songs such as "The Kooky Cookie," "Costume Conundrum," and "Hey, Man! You're Acting Like Haman!" Purim Carnival 03/20/11, 14th Street Y, 344 E. 14th Street, New York, NY 212.780.0800; Ages: All Ages, Time: 12-2pm, Cost: $5/person; $20/family The 14th Street Y celebrates Purim with live music, arts &

crafts, delicious Purim snacks (including Hamantashen, the classic Purim cookie), and more! Kids can also try their hand at making mishloach manot bags, a great Purim tradition. Little Club Heads, 80s party Daily 03/27/11 , Broad Street Ballroom, 41 Broad Street, NYC, 917.327.3268;, Ages: 8 & under, Time: 12n-3pm Cost: $15 at the door; Non-walking babies, free A special dance party for kids, ages six months to eight years, and their parents/caregivers, includes top DJs spinning classics, hip hop, reggae, R&B, and old school in a club setting. Luria Lions Baseball Spring Training Begins!! for boys and girls ages 4 though 10 with no Friday or Saturday practices or games. First practice, Sunday, March 13, 12:30pm. Hannah Senesh Gym; 342 Smith Street, Brooklyn. For questions, contact Michelle (347) 245-0602) or visit


.R.E.E. of Brighton Beach invites you to Purim in the 60's! (think hippies, flowerpower, peace, and groovy!) Sunday, March 20, Starting time: 3:00pm Megillah Reading: 4:00pm Open Bar, Music and Dancing, Hot Buffet, Masquerade $10 child / $18 adult

Compiled by Irene Gabo

Mazel Day School's monthly Parenting Discussion Group is for moms and dads. Gleaning insights from Judaism's wisdoms, each month we will explore different topics that relate to modern-day parenting. Join us for our THIRD session: "How Can We Develop Good Character in our Children?". We all hope that our child will grow up to be "a good person". The question is how do we help them get there. At what age can you start to develop good character? What are appropriate expectations of children in terms of character? How do you cultivate traits such as kindness, responsibility, honesty, generosity...? Let's talk, share experiences, and gain inspiration! Looking forward to seeing you there. Bring a friend along! Please Note: This event is open to the general community.

BOOK FAIR—THANK YOU Dear Parents! In celebration of the literacy month at Mazel Day School, the PTA organized a book fair. Thank you all for your participation ! This year the book sale sold just under $3,200 worth of books. Some of that money will be going toward our playground; plus about $350 to spend in Scholastic. In addition, parents‘ contributions purchased close to 60 books for the classrooms from the wish lists. Thank you to all the parents who participated and to the PTA for all the hard work they put in!




Jewish Hamantaschen cookies are shaped like a three-cornered hat representative of Haman's hat and eaten for the Purim holiday. They're usually filled with apricot, prune or poppyseed filling and, these days, even chocolate and other fruit fillings. This recipe makes at least 2 dozen Jewish Hamantaschen Cookies. Ingredients: 1 cup sugar 1 1/3 cups (2 sticks + 5 1/3 tablespoons) margarine 2 large eggs 6 tablespoons water 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 4 cups all-purpose flour Fillings of choice Directions: 1. Cream together sugar and margarine. Add eggs and cream until smooth. Stir in water and vanilla. Add flour, mixing until dough forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate a few hours. 2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Pinch off walnut-size pieces of dough and roll into a ball. Press ball between two pieces of waxed paper. Place about 1 teaspoon of filling in center of circle of dough. Pinch to form three-cornered hat. 3. Bake about 15 minutes or until just starting to brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.



Jewish Hamantaschen Cookies

Compiled by Alla Vasserman

Apple Cartwheels Nutrition Facts: 1 apple ring equals 50 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 13 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein Ingredients: 1/4 cup peanut butter 1-1/2 teaspoons honey 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips 2 tablespoons raisins 4 medium unpeeled Red Delicious apples, cored Directions: 1. In a small bowl, combine peanut butter and honey; fold in chocolate chips and raisins. 2. Fill centers of apples with peanut butter mixture. 3. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cut into 1/4-in. rings. Yield: about 2 dozen. Tips: **Dip the apple slices in a citrus soda like Sprite or 7-Up and they won't turn brown. **Try them using Nutella instead of the peanut butter.



WAYS TO CELEBRATE Listen Up! Head to your synagogue and get the whole Megillah. The Megillah, a.k.a. "The Book of Esther," is the scroll that tells the Purim story. Listen to the public reading twice: once Purim Night and again on Purim Day. This year, that's Saturday night, March 19, and Purim day, March 20, 2011. Pay attention—it is crucial to hear every word. When Haman's name is mentioned in the reading, children twirl graggers (noisemakers) and adults stamp their feet to eradicate his evil name. Tell your kids that Purim is the only time when it's a mitzvah to make noise! Show Some Care One of Purim's primary themes is Jewish unity. Haman tried to kill us all, we were all in danger together, so we celebrate together, too. Hence, on Purim day we place special emphasis on caring for the less fortunate. Give money or food, "matanot la'evyonim," to at least two needy people during the daylight hours of Purim. In case you can't find any needy people, your synagogue will likely be collecting money for this purpose. At least, place two coins in a charity box earmarked for the poor. On Purim we give a donation to whoever asks; we don't first ask to check the person's bank statement. As with the other mitzvot of Purim, even small children should fulfill this mitzvah. Say It with Food Giving Mishloach Manot On Purim we emphasize the importance of friendship and community by sending gifts of food, mishloach manot, to friends. Send a package containing at least two different ready-to-eat food items and/or beverages (e.g., pastry, fruit, beverage), to at least one Jewish acquaintance during the daylight hours of Purim. Men send to men and women to women.

Compiled by Anna Ashurov It is preferable that the gifts are delivered via a third party. Children, in addition to sending their own gifts of food to their friends, make enthusiastic messengers. Feast! Last but certainly not least, during the course of Purim day, gather your family, maybe invite a guest or two, and celebrate with a festive Purim meal. Traditionally, this meal begins before sundown and lasts well into the evening. The table should be festively bedecked with nice tablecloth and candles. Wash for bread or challah, and enjoy a meal featuring meat, wine, and plenty of Jewish songs, words of Torah, and joyous Purim spirit. Sing, laugh, have fun together. Be Grateful On Purim, we include the brief V'al Hanissim section in all the day's prayers, as well as in the day's Grace after Meals. This prayer describes the Purim story and thanks G‑d for the "miracles, redemptions, mighty deeds, saving acts and wonders" that He wrought for our ancestors on this day many years ago. In the morning service there is a special Torah reading (Exodus 17:8-16), describing the battle Joshua waged against Amalek – Haman's ancestral nation – almost one thousand years before the Purim events unfolded. Masquerade On Purim, children, and some adventurous adults, too, traditionally masquerade—an allusion to G‑d's hand in the Purim miracle, which was disguised by natural events. Make sure your children dress up as good, cheerful characters, such as Mordechai and Esther. Dress up your kids before taking them to the synagogue for the Megillah reading. Many synagogues have a masquerade party along with prizes for the children during or after the Megillah reading.

Information is reprinted from and its Purim holiday wizard.



HOMEMADE COSTUME IDEAS Here are some inexpensive and simple no-sew Purim costumes that anyone can make with the supplies you probably have lying around your house already. It's easy and it's fun - and no matter how it turns out, you can be proud of your efforts! Flower Garden: Cut out large flower petals from different colored sheets of posterboard. Using a hot glue gun, attach them to a dime store headband. Then cut out large leaves from green posterboard. Pin them to your child's clothing - preferably green leggings and a green turtleneck. You can dress up all your children as different flowers, and then you or your spouse can go as their gardener. Just don some gardening gloves and work clothes, and carry a watering can. What a cute way to watch your garden grow! Ladybug: Dress your child in a black turtleneck and leggings. Cut wing shapes out of red posterboard and then cut small circles (try tracing a glass for the right size) from black posterboard, which you glue onto the wings. Punch two holes at the top of each wing and thread some black twine through them, knotting them over your child's shoulders, backpack style. Then use two black pipe cleaners to make antennae. Either twirl the ends or attach a black or red pom pom to the end. Wrap the unadorned end of the pipe cleaner around a dime store headband and place on your child's head. What a happy little bug! Oreo Cookie: Using black posterboard, cut out two circles large enough to cover the area from your child's shoulders to his or her knees. Dress your child in all white, to represent the filling. Then attach the circles to your child backpack style, with ribbon, twine or lanyard. If you want to dress up your whole family in this theme, try making one a chocolate chip cookie, one a snickerdoodle, etc. Just use different colored paper, glitter, markers, paint or felt to create the decorations. You can even go dressed as their baker, just slip on an apron and a chef's hat, and carry a wooden spoon. What a yummy family!

By Irene Gabo

Paradox a.k.a Pair of docs This is a great ironic idea for two of your older kids. Suggest that they dress in scrubs, which you can usually borrow if you don't already have at home. Make them a little stethoscope out of pipe cleaners - or raid your younger children's toy box. Just be sure that they stick together as a pair, so when people ask them what they are dressed as, they can answer, in unison: "A Paradox [Pair a docs]!" Here are some Purim Costumes You Can Make out of a Cardboard Box (taken from Start by cutting a hole in the box for your child‘s head. Or, if the box is smaller, then you‘ll attach straps to the edges of the box when the costume is completed (like suspenders) and fit them over your child‘s shoulders. Also, cut armholes if you aren‘t doing the suspender method. Then you‘re ready to get started. All of these outfits fit perfectly over leggings and a longsleeved shirt (or jacket). Tzedakah (Charity) Box—Cut holes in the box for the child‘s arms and head. Wrap the entire box in silver wrapping paper. Write ―Tzedakah‖ on the front in English or Hebrew with a Sharpie marker. Make ―coins‖ out of gold paper and glue them on the front for extra emphasis. Box of Cereal—Does your child have a favorite cereal? Fruit Loops, Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs? Any box of cereal can be painted onto a cardboard box and turned into a costume. Computer Monitor—Spray-paint the box gray. After it dries, paint a white screen on the front of the monitor. Of course, you can have fun decorating the screen with your favorite website, or print a screen from your favorite website and glue it onto the box for a more realistic look. Robot—Spray-paint the box gray or silver. Then, after the paint dries, find a mish-mash of nuts and bolts and glue them to the box. You may also create attachments from aluminum foil, dryer vents, duct tape, or whatever you have lying around the house. A Wrapped Gift—Wrap the entire box in gift wrap (whatever kind you like the best) and stick a bow on your child‘s head. We hope you find these useful. Most importantly, do not forget to have fun with it! Happy Purim!



PARENT INTERVIEW VITALY GANOPOLSKY is the father of two boys at Mazel and is the only father serving on the board of the school‘s PTA. He was born in Odessa, Ukraine and immigrated to the United States in 1992. He resides in Sheepshead Bay with his family: his wife Nelly, his daughter Elana (23), and sons, Daniel (10) and Ariel (7) – students at Mazel. Vitaly has a Civil Engineering degree from Odessa, as well as from PRATT Institute in New York. By profession he‘s an architect, but he also has a passion for various causes, mainly causes supporting Jewish culture and traditions. He is a member of the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst Synagogue and a board member of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Bensonhurst (COJO). We met with Vitaly to learn more about his background as well as his experience at Mazel and its PTA board. Let us begin with the discussions about PTA. It is not a secret that it is usually mothers who are involved in their kids’ education and fathers usually ―guide‖ and ―approve‖ – or in other words, nod in agreement. Why did you decide to get involved? It felt almost natural to be involved. I volunteer a lot, including some of my involvement with Jewish community organizations, and it goes without a question that spending time for the benefit of my children‘s friends and school community is time well spent. I joined with the hope to positively influence my children‘s educational experience. How is it being the only male on the PTA? Would you suggest fathers should get actively involved in school activities? I will be honest with you – it‘s tough! However, I wouldn‘t suggest that fathers should get involved, because I do not want to lose my ―unique‖ status. (Laugh…) That is fair. About Mazel – what do you value most about the school and its environment?

by Anna Ashurov Tell us a little more about yourself. Have you always dreamt of becoming an architect? I always wanted to be an architect. Being strong in math and having passion for graphic art did the trick. I can honestly say that I enjoy my profession. What do you do in your leisure time? I love reading. In my leisure time (as rare as it is), I read detective books. Tell us an interesting fact about you – something most of us don’t know? During my tenure with New York City Transit I was a member of the design team for Stillwell Avenue Terminal in Brooklyn, for which I received the Circle of Design Excellence Award in 2004. The cost for the project totaled two hundred and seventy five (275) million dollars and it took us about five years to finish the design and construction. It was an amazing experience.

PARENT SPOTLIGHT Every month we will publish business cards of the parents that wish to advertise their services. If you wish to advertise in the future issues, please do not hesitate to contact the Editorial Staff at This month we feature:  MILANA FELDMAN (Etelle and Dovid Moshe‘s mom) at Zori‘s Fashion women‘s wear  SHARONA SILVA (Daniella‘s mom), makeup artist and creator of highend skincare products

More liberal (in a good sense of the word) environment, educational flexibility, Russian Language. I also appreciate the fact that the school has small classes, with more attentive teachers that do not stretch themselves thin and are able to spend as much time as needed with children. Kids are also of similar backgrounds, which makes it easy to make friends.




―Yeladim Yard‖ project. Remember that all donations are tax deductible.

Dear Mazel Parents, Community Members and Friends,

The area is ready for the blacktop and we are only $5,000 short to get that phase of the project completed. We would like this work started as soon as possible and hope that we can at least raise that amount by the end of March so that our children can have a large open space to play in. Please spread the word to your friends, coworkers, neighbors and other community member so help make this happen!

We are very happy to share with you the new developments for our ―Yeladim Yard‖ project. You may have noticed that the old run-down house where the play yard used to be has been demolished and now we have a great big space for the new and improved ―Yeladim Yard.‖ We have the opportunity to make this new yard space beautiful, enjoyable and fun for our kids. The new ―Yeladim Yard‖ will feature play areas as well as a garden and rest area. It will be a special place for our children to discover and explore the natural world and experience through creative and imaginative play. So far we have received great support from Mazel Parents and their families and friends and raised around $32,000. The total project cost is $51,000. We have collected 63% to make the play yard for our children and this is a great accomplishment! Special thanks to all those who have contributed thus far. Below is the itemized list of expenses associated with the project:

The ―Yeladim Yard‖ project also provides a unique opportunity to permanently link a donor's family name, or honored name, with a worthy cause. The Campaign offers the following named gift opportunities ranging from a specific play area to entire play yard. Play Yard | $20,000 The Yeladim Play Yard will feature numerous outdoor activities for children. It will be a place where they can run, play, climb, jump and have fun! Garden | $5,000 The garden will provide for children their very own natural oasis right in the heart of Mazel Day School. Children will plant and care for the garden while learning and exploring their environment. This hands-on garden area will present a fun but educational approach to the natural world. Mural | $3,000 A wall mural will provide children with friendly and fun images of their favorite story-time heroes, animals and activities to stimulate their imagination and love for learning. Shade Tree | $2,000 A single tree trunk surrounded by seating will provide children with natural setting and allow for imaginative play, social gatherings, resting spot and many other wonderful activities.

As you can see our estimated costs have increased by about $11,000. The increase is primarily due to increase in the amount of space that we will need to cover with the blacktop, initially we were only going to cover the area where the old house stood, however after the demolition we decided that it makes sense to cover the entire area with new blacktop. In addition we decided to add additional features such as picnic tables, shed for toys, basketball hoops and murals to name a few. We need everyone‘s help (without exception!) to cover $19,000 or 37% of the cost. Remember--- every dollar makes a difference - especially at this point, when we are so close to our goal. Whether you can contribute $25 or $20,000, we are counting on you for your support! For your convenience, you can donate online at . Don't forget to choose the

Ball Zone | $2,000 The ball is rarely seen on playgrounds anymore, yet is a tremendously positive developmental activity for children of many ages and stages of development; this is destined to be a popular location in the play ground. Toys and Toy Shed | $1,500 What‘s a play yard without toys? Put your family name on the shed that will hold the toys for all the children to enjoy. Hand Print | $500 What a great way to support the cause and memorialize your family name with a hand print the play yard wall. Thank You and Kind Regards, Mazel Parents Association



TEACHER INTERVIEW Interview with Nechama Dena Bergstein, Fourth/Fifth Grade Teacher (General Studies) Tell us a little bit about yourself: My name is Nechama Dena Bergstein, and this my econd year here at Mazel. I grew up in Farmington Hills, Michigan, a quiet suburb near Detroit. I began teaching when I was quite young, and still in High School, believe it or not. I taught a Kindergarten class every Sunday in my junior and senior years, which made an easy choice to then enroll in an intensive Teacher‘s Seminary in Israel after graduating. I attended Beth Chana Teacher‘s Seminary for two years in a track for Early Childhood and earned a Certificate for Teachers in the Diaspora. My diverse exposure to many types of classroom models - ranging from Traditional to ―Democratic‖, in religious as well as secular settings throughout Northern Israel - formed a unique foundation for my continuing education. I‘ve taught a variety of ages and subjects in Preschool, Primary, and Elementary School across the Judaic and Secular curriculums in both English and Yiddish. I‘ve taught in regular-education settings as well as in a Resource Room setting. I‘m a Touro College graduate with a dual major in Education and Psychology. I find these fields intertwined: understand your students better, and they will learn better! Aside from teaching, I love to read and draw. I‘ve illustrated a children‘s Yiddish book, as well as illustrated two covers of children‘s CDs. What are you currently reading and how do you select your books? I‘m currently reading a very moving book called Serena, about a Jewish girl who was abducted by nuns in the early 1900s in Krakow, Poland. It describes her family‘s fight to find her and return her to her Jewish faith. I‘ve been reading Decision Points by former President G.W. Bush which is fascinating to me; it gives a real behind-the -scenes on presidential decision making. My book selections usually involve a recommendation by friends or family, or a specific interest at the time. Sometimes after reading one book, it will lead to another by the same author, or a book that somehow connects to the other. For example, I was reading books about Yiddish Language, which inevitably led to Jewish Humor, which led to the Psychology behind the humor… and, of course, to Jewish Folk Tales, and then rabbinic stories from the Talmud. What is your favorite activity with the students in your class? I have a couple of favorite activities in class, so that‘s a

By Alla Vasserman tough question! One of my favorites is our Book Discussion Group. We are reading The Jacket by Andrew Clements and much like in an adult Book-Club we analyze and discuss our impressions of the book together. A major theme in this book is prejudice, and this has opened an interesting discussion in our classroom. Another favorite is our Friday Index Card activity: everyone chooses a random name of a classmate, and then writes a couple of compliments to their friend. That puts a smile on everyone‘s face! Fourth grade is the last one offered by the school so far. Keeping this in mind, what is your goal as a teacher at the moment? My goal remains the same whether the students stay on or move elsewhere for Middle School: to provide them with a sound, solid, and well-rounded education that will enable them to succeed wherever they choose to be. That includes strong reading, writing, math, and science concepts and skills. What is a basic structure of class preparations for the State exams? Preparation for State Exams is built in to the curriculum by looking at the concepts and skills that are expected for this age level and then including them in the teaching material; In other words, it affects the choices we make as to which chapters to concentrate on, which workbooks to use, and which skills to focus on. The test style is practiced using prep-books with tests from previous years. We will often use the questions as a means to review a specific subject-area. For example, after completing our Unit on the Water Cycle, we answered the corresponding questions in the State Science prep-books. As you know, some of your students’ parents choose public middle schools. How do you think they may keep and develop their children’s Judaic education? I believe the choice of sending a child to Mazel shows a parent‘s commitment to engraining his/her child with a strong Jewish identity, along with the desire for quality education. In Mazel we aim to build a foundation of Jewish awareness, tradition, and values. The culture and environment parents create at home, and the school choice and extracurricular choices they make in the future will inevitably direct the continued path of their



TEACHER INTERVIEW children‘s Jewish Education. Brooklyn (and the NYC area in general) has so many Jewish educational opportunities: Day Schools, after-school programs and clubs, Jewish summer camps, etc. What are the greatest challenges for 4th Graders and how can we as parents help them overcome? One of the greatest challenges for Fourth Graders is critical reading of non-fiction texts. A great way to exercise this is by reading to them as well as providing reading experiences in informal, relaxed ways. Showing that we adults are readers, too, can help cultivate a ―reading culture‖ at home. Value books and they will, too! We all read news articles, current events, interesting news tidbits that are worthy of sharing; Dinner time, car rides, walks to the bus, or whatever time works for you can become opportunities to discuss what you‘ve read. Use vocabulary words that will make them curious and ask questions! I‘ll never forget some great vocabulary words one of my favorite teachers used because we got such a thrill out of it! Take trips to the library to research an area that you notice interests your child; Modern inventions, space, cars, early inventors, and famous historical figures are often high-interest areas. Children naturally want information and if given the opportunity will readily absorb it. We need to take the stress out of non-fiction reading comprehension. These activities can become leisurely, everyday experiences. What is the most challenging part in the transitioning between new schools, between elementary and middle schools? Do you prepare your students for this transition and if yes, how? Transitioning to a new school is a critical time for children. I believe the challenge depends on the type of child; for some children the academics may be slightly different while for others it‘s the new environment that throws them off. Academically we are competitive and on-par with our counter-parts, so it would simply be a matter of getting used to. In regard to the social challenge: In Mazel we have a strong focus on social-emotional skills that explores appropriate behaviors and interactions. We also cultivate a warm and safe atmosphere where children learn to see themselves as team-players, and as active members of the class. Our class slogan is ―Good Friends Work Together to Be Great Students‖. It is with this foundation that we send them off to their next schooling stage, and hope that we‘ve given them the confidence and resiliency to make a smooth transition. What do you value most about Mazel?

by Alla Vassernan I value the positive working atmosphere and the balanced outlook on education; I think there is a healthy blend of traditional and progressive styles. The curriculum is current, and is constantly monitored and reevaluated for relevancy. There is also a low student-teacher ratio which really allows the teacher to discern individual learning styles and cater to their needs. What do you think might be challenging for your students in Yeshiva Schools? Most Yeshivas have separate boys and girls classes. What is your opinion about dividing classes by gender? As mentioned, we attempt to prepare Mazel Students to succeed in the school of their choice, which may include Yeshiva schools as well. Many traditional Yeshiva schools have separate boys and girls programs, while some do not; this obviously is a choice that can be made with your child‘s input. My personal feeling is that at the middle-school stage, separate classes is advantageous for both social-emotional and academic reasons. I believe separate classes can help maintain environments that are uniquely catered to gender-specific needs/styles. We‘ve been conditioned by modern culture to believe that ―separate but equal‖ is a bad thing. I say unique and equal is great! We can give girls and boys equal opportunities while developing their G-dgiven, distinctive makeup. Would you encourage parents to keep in touch with you after their children’s graduation from Mazel? Absolutely! I‘d love to hear how my students are doing in their new schools and be available to help if needed. My greatest ―nachas‖ is hearing from my old students! How do you motivate your students to read more? We have a year-long Official Book Challenge in our class, to read as many books as we can from our class library. The students are recognized for their achievements in our ―Reader‘s Hall of Fame‖ and earn great prizes along the way. Students who reach the 25-book mark will be rewarded and recognized with an personalized trophy. Readers write reviews on the books they‘ve read, and make recommendations to their classmates. This creates dialogue in the classroom, a ―reader‘s atmosphere‖ in which book choices, genres, and authors become an important topic of discussion between students. What do you wish for your graduates? I wish the graduates the best of continued success in all their future endeavors. I have great confidence in my students that they will achieve great things!





A special note of appreciation to those parents who made gift donations to school over the past month… The Greenwald family (PreNursery) donated a toy set to the class pretend kitchen area in honor of Yakira and Estee's birthday… the Gabo family donated books to the Nursery… the Goldsteyn family (Pre-K) donated an Alef Beis game in honor of Noson‘s birthday… the Tokarsky family (Pre-K) donated books… the Permyak family (First Grade) made a contribution for books in honor of Daniel's birthday… the Zarkh family (First Grade) donated toys and puzzles… the Oz family donated books to the Kindergarten, as well as, in honor of Shira‘s birthday, books to the Second Grade. In addition, lots and lots of books were donated to ALL CLASSES through the book sale! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Whether you want to give a gift to your child's class in honor of his/her birthday or just because... check out your class's online wish list of carefully selected items that will be greatly appreciated and used by your child's teachers.




From a Visiting Author to Trips to the Library… From buying our own books at the Book Fair to having our parents visit our class for read-aloud… in this month, we‘ve fallen in love with reading!

MAZEL DAY SCHOOL 2901 - 2915 Brighton 6th St Brooklyn, NY 11235 Phone: 718-368-4490 E-mail:



Parent Page March 2011: Happy Purim!  

Purim, celebrated on the 14th of Adar, is the most fun and action-packed holiday on the Jewish calendar. Many years ago, in the days of Ahas...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you