The weekly printed newsletter of the Yeshiva of Central Queens (YCQ), The YCQ View, started an Elementary School sensation this past October, with the introduction of a worksheet column called “At the Shabbos Table by Rabbi Ribalt.”
The list of parshah questions originated as a quarter page of suggested conversation starters for discussion at the family Shabbos dinner table. The weekly newsletter column has evolved into a full page and will soon be available to YCQ Families to download before Shabbat.
A lot of work goes into creating each column. The questions must be appropriate for students in Grade 1 through Grade 5 and should facilitate intergenerational discussion. When asked how he develops the questions, Rabbi Michael Ribalt, YCQ Assistant Principal, Judaic Studies, Elementary Division,
replied, “I use a variety of resources. I look through the p’sukim and try to find the most important ideas from the parshah, and cross-reference them with the Judaic Studies Achievement Test (JSAT) Chumash Knowledge standards that are prepared by the Consortium of Jewish Day Schools. In addition, I search a variety of websites that highlight parshah ideas such as Aish.com and Ohr Somayach (ohr.edu).”
Rabbi Ribalt remarked, “The goal of the program is to give our students an opportunity to engage in conversation about the parshah with their families at the Shabbos table. The discussion allows the rest of the family, who have been busy throughout the week, to take a moment and delve into the beautiful ideas from the weekly parshah. Our families see how the students have learned the parshah, as well as get nachas from the family decision to send their children to YCQ.”
“Success of the program is measured by the number of conversations of Torah shared at the Shabbos table. The more the children are engaged in Torah learning, and therefore submit their answers to the questions, the more connected they are to Torah and Mitzvos,” continued Rabbi Ribalt.
Rabbi Ribalt observed, “I’m astonished by how many submissions we are receiving in the short period of time we have worked on this project. It’s so nice to see the number of submitted worksheets explode over the past few weeks, and im yirtzeh Hashem, we will have even more in the future. In addition, some students have started using the parshah mailbox outside my office to write in questions about Shabbos, whether halachic or hashkafic. It is such a pleasure to be able to respond to each of these questions and give our YCQ students the opportunity to be even more involved with the mitzvah of Shabbos.”