Mystery box from Israel provides a sweet lesson for Cohen School students


EAST GREENWICH, R.I. –  What’s more exciting than getting a surprise package in the mail? Getting it from Israel!

To strengthen our students’ connection to Israel, The Cohen School at Torat Yisrael participated in an interactive “What’s in the Box” Israeli program.

At my request, Providence native Rabbi Elan Adler, who now lives in Ma’ale Adumim, Israel, was sent on a mission, with school funds, to shop for Israeli treats and trinkets to mail to the school children. Adler purchased different kinds of Israeli candy and snacks, and Jerusalem-decorated pens. All of the wrappers and pens had Hebrew lettering and the box even had current Israeli newspapers that were used as packing material.

When the large box was shown to the students one Sunday School morning, they excitedly guessed its contents and where it came from. They were all smart investigators and quickly determined from the Hebrew words that the box was from Israel.

The students eagerly searched the newspapers for pictures. A student in the kindergarten/first grade class found a photo of an Israeli soccer player wearing a kippah! Then, they found the items hidden in the newspapers and practiced reading Hebrew as they examined the packaging and treats.

The students received more than just candy and pens from this project – opening the box together enriched their understanding of Israel and gave them an opportunity to be menschen by sharing with one another. They also practiced their patience skills while their peers explored the contents, and, encouraged by their teachers, used what they have learned about Israel to imagine what was in the box.  One student wondered if it held water from the Dead Sea!

And there was an extra-sweet surprise for the school – in addition to filling the box, Rabbi Adler performed a mitzvah by donating the box and all its contents in memory of Wendy B. Adler, a Sunday School teacher, and his sister-in-law, who passed away in 1997.

DORI ADLER is education director at Torat Yisrael’s Cohen School, in East Greenwich.