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ICJA welcomed several new teachers this year. Among them is Olivia Friedman, who brings today’s technology to enhance ancient texts.
Olivia Friedman is teaching Vayikra-Bamidbar and Melachim-Yirmiyahu and AJSP (Life Cycles & Ethical Dilemmas) this year. She joined the Academy after three years at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) in Rockville, MD, where she taught Tanach, Ethical Dilemmas and Evaded Issues (a course in contemporary Jewish issues she largely created). CESJDS embraced the acquisition of 21st century skills and transitioned to being a 1:1 BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) school during Olivia’s tenure. Due to this, Olivia is especially excited to help pilot the use of educational technology in her classes at the Academy.
ICJA generously sponsored the purchase of 10 Chromebooks, and these, along with Google Apps for Education, have been integrated throughout Olivia’s classes. Students are using cloud-based programs as diverse as Prezi, Piktochart, Trello and EduCanon to enhance their learning experience. This allows for more project-based learning, collaborative teaming and the ability to organize one’s work all in one place (such as Google Drive) without running the risk of losing it.
Olivia feels that both Tanach and AJSP are essential for a well-rounded Jewish person’s education. Tanckh allows students to access not only our shared Jewish history, but the personal experiences and colorful characters who comprise our tradition. It’s important to help students see that these characters are real and lived as passionately as we do today. AJSP helps demonstrate the ways in which halacha is still meaningful and important to us today. Olivia loves the “Aha!” moment a student experiences when they see how an ancient text can still be applied and hold meaning today.
Olivia is an avid reader and writer who is a particular fan of superheroes (both Marvel and DC), fantasy and YA fiction. When not in school, she enjoys watching her baby daughter, Rena, discover the world.


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