In Our Virtual Mishkan, preschool

Holy Blossom Temple Early Childhood Centre Memories

Wonderful colleagues, friends, parents, amazingly bright children and warm smiles–this is what I will miss most.  I have been at the Holy Blossom Temple Early Childhood Centre for 24 years.  This school became my home away from home.  It was my happy space, my safe place.  MY PROFESSIONAL ULTIMATE GOALS WERE MANY:  to instil in the children how to be mensches through maturity and blossoming with time; treating one another with respect and honour; to focus on “tikkun olam” becoming responsible human beings to help repair and improve the world; to follow the 10 Commandments in the Torah, one of which is giving Tzedakah (charity) which is an act of kindness; to implant in the children a love for learning with enthusiasm; to create and produce a happy, fun, safe classroom and playground environment with lots of laughter; to keep the children engaged so that they ‘want’ to learn and ask questions; to visit the gorgeous Sanctuary and discuss more ‘rules’ in the Torahs housed in the Aron Kodesh (Ark) dressed in their beautiful coats from which we taught Hebrew prayers for Shabbat and Havdallah and learned much Jewishness about each Jewish Holiday.

Lorraine Sandler was my first Principal at the HBECC. She was a very strong believer in “tikkun olam” and consistently ingrained this in her staff.

Next in line, Pam Hamovitch became the Director of the HBECC, who taught her staff to believe in themselves.  She was very supportive, always having an open door policy.

Lastly, Wendy Himmel, who was my Director last school year was very flexible, helpful and friendly.


One year, while the teacher’s professional staff photos were about to be taken, my colleagues realized I was not present and finally found me in my classroom still diligently setting up for the next day. They escorted me, arm in arm, to the photographer and we all had a good laugh; our visits to the Temple Succah, taking turns shaking the lulav and etrog, singing and snacking; marching in the Sanctuary with our classroom-made flags on Simchat Torah; Every Purim, for 24 years, I was given the honorary title and role of  “the king’s fine pony”, wearing my special pony costume and wig during our carnival and galloping around the Palace, led by Haman, during our staff Shpiel; One Shabbat/Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel’s Birthday) celebration which was a school-wide get together, we had all eaten blue/white cupcakes. I told a story along with my co-teacher to the children and staff.  My colleagues began to roar with laughter. Why? I was talking with my lips and teeth stained with blue icing. It was all in fun; My staff bestowed upon me the nickname of “visual prop queen”, as my teaching circles were always very detailed with numerous props for my stories and songs; I quite liked this title; For my 70th Birthday, the staff made me a wonderful, memorable home dinner party. I was thrilled that my three amazing daughters were included; every one, in turn, roasted me; it was most entertaining and enjoyable. I have my keepsake “Memory Box” of poems and special messages.  That school year was also my choice to retire, which involved another evening of celebration. (June 2017) However, it was short-lived, as Pam asked me to return to teach one year later, which placed me into semi-retirement.  I happily spent an additional two years teaching in the HBECC.

My journey at Holy Blossom has really come to another end.  They say when one door closes, another opens.  I cannot wait to see what comes next year for me!  I am not always one for tearful goodbyes, so I will just say:  “See you later” (Lehitraot).

Barbara (Barbie) Cohen
Registered Early Childhood Educator

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