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24 Sivan 5781

June 4, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

Today is the last day of instruction at ICJA, and looking back over the past year, it is incredible how far we have come this year. Not only have we been open every day since August, but we have found ways to celebrate and learn despite the restrictions of COVID.

ICJA is an amazing community, and you have helped make a most challenging year not only bearable but meaningful as we continue to fulfill our mission to inspire bnei and bnot Torah to thrive in the modern world.

To get a sense of how much we have accomplished, you can visit our website, where all of my daily updates since Governor Pritzker closed Illinois schools are archived. Believe it or not, today is my 237th update, and looking back, I am in awe of our faculty, parents, and students for all they have endured and accomplished! Kol hakavod to every one of you – you have kept us safe and inspired!

This morning we started where we had wanted to start back in August (but couldn’t due to COVID), with an ice cream truck sponsored by the Academy Associates. There were a lot of smiling students as they enjoyed the morning treat. Among them was Noah Fensterheim, who reminded me that when we didn’t have the ice cream truck on our first day of school, I had assured him that before the end of the year we would, and we did!

The rest of the day was a typical end-of-the-year day, with classes celebrating the year, reviewing materials for the finals, and a few tests as well. The mood was upbeat, and some of the seniors even made a surprise appearance – some for ice cream (Pelah Cohen, Ayelet Dallal, and Moshe Lodkin) and some to return books (Ezra Landman-Feigelson and a few others who I missed seeing). 

And then there was the end of the day water ballon fight. I’m not sure why Mrs. Pederson’s BC Calculus decided to have a water balloon fight – apparently it was Phil Maiman’s idea – but they did. And Mrs. Pederson invited me to participate. After listening to Gideon Miller explain why if I threw a balloon, halachically he would be able to throw one back – I threw the first balloon. Fortunately, I didn’t get as wet as at Senior Retreat (despite Hershel Thomas’ herculean efforts!) but it was a lot of fun, and a great way to celebrate the end of the year.

Sunday is the 75th annual ICJA graduation! The program begins at 1:00 pm and will be live-streamed at (Parents – you do not need to “do” Facebook to watch this event.) 

Monday, we begin finals. Davening is at 8:20 am, and all students who have a morning final are expected to be at minyan on time (for those who “time challenged” – you can pretend minyan starts at the regular time of 8:05!). An updated schedule of the finals is attached with times (note that Thursday because it Rosh Chodesh tests will begin a bit later) and locations.

Also on Monday, our mechanchim and mechanchot are sponsoring a “Stress-Free Zone” for all our students. It will be in the commons from 10:30-11:30 am, and there will be coffee, hot chocolate, and muffins for everyone! (see the attached flyer)

During finals, breakfast will be served – but lunch will not. So please bring your lunches or plan to go out for lunch.

Candle lighting tonight is at 8:01. 

Shabbat Shalom, stay safe, stay connected, and be inspired!


Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy

23 Sivan 5781

June 3, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

Today has been an exciting day – with so many of our underclassmen receiving their 2nd vaccine, the 9th grade class picture, and the Aces Baseball team headed to the second round of the state tournament. And it’s also exciting because graduation planning is in full swing (to watch online – here is the link and summer vacation is literally just around the corner.

But before we get there, don’t forget about finals, which start on Monday and continue until Thursday. The schedule is once again attached, and please make sure to make it on time to minyan each morning – 8:20 am each day! 

Today we received the great news that David Holman and Noah Brody’s STEM project won first place in a national STEM competition. As you may recall form an earlier update, they created a pod into which a plant can be placed, and the pod will automatically measure the moisture of the soul adding water as needed, and also provide artificial sunlight as needed. Kol hakavod to them, and to Mr. Keller who taught this course!

Also today I participated in an online ceremony for the winners of the Letters about Literature competition. This is a program sponsored by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, and we have participated for many years. But this year, Sarah Friedman came in 1st place for high school students! Sarah read her entry, and Mrs. Kahan had a chance to speak as did Sarah’s mom. Kol haKavod to all of them.

Tomorrow, we will start our morning with a special treat at breakfast time, sponsored by the Academy Associates. I’m not telling what it is – but this is the first time we are doing it on the last day of school instead of the first day… hint, hint!

Also tomorrow after school our new Senior Varsity Coach, Dr. Jonathan Rich is meeting with all boys interested in next year’s basketball program. The meeting will be at 3:45 pm.

Tomorrow, periods 7, 8 and 9 are meeting.

Stay safe, stay connected, and be inspired!


Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy

22 Sivan 5781

June 2, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

Last night, our Aces Baseball Varsity team defeated Horizon Science Academy in the first round of the State championships. The game wasn’t even close (16-5), and tomorrow our boys are headed off to play the second round against Grant Park. B’hatzlacha!

A little while ago, I was walking down the hall and noticed a scooter parked along the side. Typically, the combination of scooters and the end of the year are not a great thing. So I looked around to find out what was going on and stepped into Mrs. Kahan’s 11th grade English class. Ari Baral, Yonatan Chavel, and Herschel Thomas were in the middle of making a presentation about the Great Gatsby. Their task was to describe archetypical characters in the book, and they did so via a skit, some slides, and “audience participation.”

And then came Hannah Rothner, Hannah Stein, and Sarah Friedman – who were the owners of the scooter and using it as part of their skit, together with a special edition newspaper they created – all to illustrate a historical side of the book. Kol hakavod to them!

Tonight is the panel discussion for the Student to Student program featuring Dr. Deborah Lipstadt and Dr. Malka Simkovich. I hope you can join. It starts at 7:30, and here is the link

Tomorrow morning is the second dose COVID vaccine clinic at school. Once again, we thank Refuah311 for making this possible!

Also, tomorrow at 1:10 pm will be the 9th-grade class picture outside on the menorah. Because it is outside, brief, and more than 80% of the 9th graders are four weeks past their 1st dose – the doctors’ committee has agreed that it is safe to take the picture without masks! 

One final note – over the past couple of months, a committee of girls has been meeting with our mechanchot, Mrs. Kraft and Mrs. Gold, to revamp the girls’ uniform. Yesterday they polled all of the girls (9th – 11th grades) to get their input, and hopefully, before the end of finals, the new options will be available. Yesterday, I met with the committee to answer some of their questions, and I look forward to their final decisions. 

Tomorrow is our final full day of the school year! And what a school year it has been!

Stay safe, stay connected, and be inspired!


Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy

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