Quick Update

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I am finally back from Sweden and back to the Blogosphere (at least for now) after 10 wonderful days with our students who were extremely well-behaved. They were polite, punctual, interested, appreciative and curious. What more could we dream of?

They also took the time to express their gratefulness: some of them thanked us profusely before leaving the coach and one sent me an email via Facebook.

Our colleagues in Sweden were extremely helpful and welcoming. In fact they were both new to the exchange as one former colleague is now retired and the other one no longer wished to take part because of the work involved. Obviously there was apprehension on both sides as a minimum of common understanding and goals is necessary for such an exchange to go smoothly but it worked out really well.

One teacher is a woman from Argentina whose family comes from Spain and Italy who is married to another Argentinian of both French and German descent. She teaches both French and Spanish when she is not raising her five children. We were welcomed to their homes on a couple of occasions and were most happy to share their daughter’s cakes after a cold and wet outing at the weekend.

The other teacher is a divorced mother of two who teaches French, Swedish and Swedish for foreigners. She enjoys reading and going to the movie, which means she and I had long conversations on favorite books and films, as well as school politics, teaching and religion.

Both women are very different but complementary and we shared lovely moments with them with or without the students.

It is now time to catch up with work and High Holiday preparations. I still have not decided whether I want to bake a honey or an apple cake but salmon will definitely be on the menu.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Have Fun

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Being quite busy with the usual back-to-stuff work and the preparations for our departure for Sweden, I have little time for proper blogging. Instead I suggest you test yourself and try to answer the quiz about the USA my 12th graders will have to answer in teams this morning.

1. Who abolished slavery in 1865?
2. Who discovered America in 1492?
3. What is the Ivy League?
4. What characters did Mark Twain create?
5. What is the name of the president on the $1 banknote?
6. What is the capital city of the USA?
7. How many states are there?
8. What are the two states that are not on the mainland?
9. Who said “I want you” for the army?
10. Where were the first European immigrants disembarked before entering New York City?
11. What is the name of the war that took place between 1861 and 1865?
12. What is the most expensive shopping street in New York City?
13. What is the name of the most famous stock exchange?
14. What is the other name of San Francisco?
15. What is the most famous bridge on the West coast?
16. What holiday is celebrated every fourth Thursday of November?
17. On what boat did the Pilgrim Fathers sail to the USA in 1620?
18. What is the name of the flag?
19. What is celebrated every year on July 4th?
20. Who wrote “Of Mice and Men”?
21. Who created the first basketball shoe in 1917?
22. What animal symbolizes the USA?
23. What was destroyed by the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001?
24. How many stripes are there on the American flag?
25. What is the highest building in New York?
26. Who said “This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” in 1968?
27. Who is the King?
28. Who wrote “The Old Man and the Sea”?
29. What is the name of the space center in Florida?
30. When was J. F. Kennedy assassinated?
31. Who said the “I have a dream” speech in 1963?
32. Who refused to let her seat to a white passenger in 1955?
33. What did the USA buy from France in 1803?
34. Located in the Southern part of the San Francisco Bay area, what is the name of the place that is home to many of the world’s largest technology corporations?
35. Who said “Yes, we can.”?
36. What are the main two political parties?
37. Who directed “Whatever works”, “Match Point” and “Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona”?
38. When did the Wall Street crash take place in the early 20th century?
39. Who created the New Deal, a range of policies increasing government intervention in the economy in 1932?
40. What does the controversial National Rifle Association promote?
41. What is the name of the most popular championship game of the National American Football league?
42. Who created Microsoft in 1975 at the age of 20?
43. What did Mark Zuckerberg create in 2004?
44. 44. Who directed “E.T”, “Saving Private Ryan”, Jurassic Park” and “Schindler’s List”?
45. What city was badly damaged by hurricane Katrina in 2005?
46. What is the ceremony that is held in February or March every year on Hollywood Boulevard?
47. What is the name of the most popular soft drink that was introduced in 1886?
48. Who created the most famous clothing company in 1869 with denim overalls?
49. Who introduced the “Speedee Service System” in 1948, the first fast-food restaurant in 1948?
50. What is the name of the city in Los Angeles County that is home to Hollywood celebrities and numerous wealthy people?

A Book for Children

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Over the weekend I read two very different books that deal with WW2 and to a certain extent with the Holocaust. One is The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey by Louise Boden while the other one is The Pages In Between: A Holocaust Legacy of Two Families, One Home by Erin Horn.

The first book is aimed primarily at children but can be equally enjoyed by grown-ups. Hans Augusto “H.A”. Rey together with his wife Margret, were the authors and illustrators of children’s books and are particularly famous for their Curious George series. The two went to Brazil separately, married in 1935 and moved to Paris that same year. In 1940, Hans and Margret Rey fled the French capital as the German army was advancing. Hans assembled two bicycles and they rode down to the Spanish border where they bought train tickets to Lisbon. They managed to sail to Brazil and from then on to New York City.

The Journey That Saved Curious George by Louise Boden relates the Reys’ amazing journey through text as well as full-color illustrations, original photos and documents. The book is divided into two parts: the first provides background on the couple’s childhoods in Hamburg and early life together in Rio de Janeiro and then France; the second half deals with their escape from France when they realized that as German-born Jews they were no longer safe safe and had to leave without delay.

I found that The Journey That Saved Curious George is a great book to read with primary school children to give them insight into WW2 without scaring them. The watercolors by Allan Drummond and the numerous documents make the book look like a travel journal and encourage discussion. In the end, both child and adult will enjoy the captivating story, the richly-detailed illustrations and the attractive layout.

Book guide for The Journey that Saved Curious George