Why I’m Spending Shabbat in Poland

Teacher Debbie at the Frajda preschool, Krakow JCC
Teacher Debbie at the Frajda preschool, Krakow JCC

The OFJCC Leslie Family Preschool’s beloved Teacher Debbie traveled to Poland this week to spend time volunteering and sharing educational insights with the Krakow JCC.

I’ve spent the past four days at the Krakow JCC, mainly in their preschool called “Frajda,” which means joy.

This school is merely a year old and has 15 students and three teachers. It has a loving, family-like atmosphere and everyone there seems very happy.IMG_0673

Along with my two colleagues from SOS International, Mara Bier and Fran Pfeffer, we were able to observe, share our experiences and offer ways to enhance their Jewish classroom environment. The children of Frajda are Jewish; however, the teachers are not. Our intention was to present them with basic Jewish values such as caring for the earth and how to welcome guests.

Prior to this trip to Krakow, I collected nearly $300 from our tzedakah boxes and used that to purchase classroom materials for them. Both the children and teachers were excited to use them and very thankful.

Thursday was a particularly special day as the children made challah from scratch for the first time. Even though they celebrate Shabbat in class every Friday, this was a totally new experience. Today, I’ll be able to enjoy Shabbat with them.

When I leave Krakow this weekend, I’ll take with me many memories of the happy children of Frajda: of how the older children serve breakfast to the younger students, the way they run onto the playground, hearing English sprinkled in with their Polish, their imaginative play with boxes, their delight at baking their own challah and so much more.

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Debbie Togliatti

Written by Debbie Togliatti

Debbie Togliatti has been a preschool teacher at the OFJCC for 30 years. A former classroom teacher, Debbie recently left the confines of the classroom to become the Garden Pedagogista. All children, from 18 months to 5 years old, get to experience the wonders of the garden with Debbie’s guidance. She serves as a caretaker on a small farm in Los Altos Hills with 16 chickens, two goats and one rabbit and organically grows fruits and vegetables. In 2013, Debbie self-published her book, Growing Jewish Values: Cultivating Your Jewish Roots in Your Own Backyard.

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