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8 Nisan 5780

April 2, 2020



Dear ICJA Family

Last night, nearly 100 students participated in our “Virtual Let’s Make a Deal.” It was a lot of fun, and it was great seeing some of the creative costumes worn by our students. But even more, it was great seeing all of the smiles on the faces – which was such a welcome distraction!

Today, classes met as always, and students continue to rise to the challenge and learn. The new normal is, in many ways, becoming normal, and I thank everyone who has made these past few weeks a success. Our faculty is the best, and our students an inspiration. 


This was also evident today in our first virtual “Student to Student” program with three Loyola Academy Comparative Religions classes. In addition to discussing topics such as the Jewish life cycle, beliefs, Shabbat, Holocaust, Israel, and kashrut, the Loyola students were particularly interested in how Jewish teens and communities have been coping with the limitations on communal activities and rituals imposed by the stay-at-home order. 

Our ICJA Student to Student presenters did a great job conveying what they find meaningful and inspiring in their Judaism and celebrating their Jewish identities. The Loyola Academy teacher was so impressed by the success of the virtual presentations today that he plans to reach out to his colleagues to encourage them to schedule Student to Student presentations in their virtual classrooms as well!

Tomorrow is our final day before Pesach break. Over the break, I hope that everyone will have a chance to discover ways to make this complicated season more meaningful. Please sing the seder songs with more gusto, share divrei Torah – and because our Sedarim will be smaller, use the opportunity to learn together during the seder. In fact, Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky ztz”l wrote that when we “prepare” our students for the seder, we are actually doing them a disservice. Because a real seder should revolve around real questions, opportunities to try to figure things out, and even look things up!


In the coming days, the cRc and our YU Torah MiTzion Kollel will be producing a “Community Haggadah” with divrei Torah from the fellows, from local rabbis and from members of our community. I am sure it will be a great resource. If you are interested in contributing to that effort, see the attached flyer and click here!. We will e sure to forward the finished product before Pesach.


Finally, tomorrow we have two exceptional programs – Rabbi Brand will be giving a Haggadah mini-workshop, and Dr. Mark Behlke will be giving an update on COVID-19. Here are the links – students, parents, and teachers are invited to attend.

 – Haggadah Workshop with Rabbi Reuven Brand – “Einstein’s Seder” – 12-12:15

 – Coronavirus: The Pandemic – a presentation with Dr. Mark Behlke, Chief Scientific Officer, IDT –


Stay healthy and safe, and thank you for all of the support!


B’virkat HaTorah,


Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

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