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6 Elul 5780
August 26, 2020

Dear ICJA Family:

When COVID-19 first struck, our Av Beit Din, Rabbi Yona Reiss, shlit”a noted that we are so very fortunate to live a time when the internet allows us to continue to interact, to learn and to communicate freely. Were it not for this technology, it would be nearly impossible to have accomplished all we have and all that we hope to do during the pandemic.

Over the summer and in anticipation of our students’ and teachers’ increased technology needs, we reconfigured our networks, significantly increased the bandwidth within our building, and tested and retested all of the equipment – from access points to ipads, webcams and projection devices. Thankfully, things are much improved, but there are still some challenges that could only be discovered once school was back in session. Hopefully, in the coming days, we will have resolved all of those issues, and both teachers and students who are remote will have full and seamless access to classes.

But even when all of the technology is in place, sometimes it still requires a bit ingenuity and teamwork to make things work. For example, if students need to maintain social distance – how can they learn b’chevruta (in pairs)? One idea was to use zoom and headsets (we bought 200 just in case) and have students telecommunicate in the same room! Unfortunately today, in Mrs. Pogonitz’s Tanach class, it wasn’t working as anticipated. But sophomore Carmel Schreiber came to the rescue and suggested using Facetime instead – and it worked! But even more, after class, Mrs. Pogonitz wrote an email to ICJA Faculty and shared this new idea with everyone. This is just one more example of how our ICJA Family is so special – as students and teachers use their creativity to solve problems and colleagues share ideas that work!

Tomorrow is a regular day, and all classes will meet. Dismissal will be at 5:28 pm.

Friday, all of the morning classes will meet, but in the afternoon – on periods 7, 8, and 9 will meet, and school will be dismissed at 3:30 pm.

Before I close, I want to remind you that even though minyan at ICJA is optional until Sukkot, we strongly urge students to join us at our minyan or to attend a minyan at their local shuls. As I explained in an earlier email, we made the difficult decision not to have mandatory minyan at ICJA at the beginning of this year because of all of the logistical challenges we faced (We are working to solve them.) But please remember, that not only is tefilla – the direct, daily conversation with G-d – core to our identity as Jews but in this time of COVID-19, tefilla is ever more critical. Please make sure to start every day with davening, and whenever possible, tefilla with a minyan!

Stay safe, stay connected, and please be inspired!


Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.
Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 

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