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28 Cheshvan 5780
November 14, 2020

Dear ICJA Family,

I am writing to let you know that one of our students has tested positive for COVID 19. She developed symptoms Thursday morning and as per our protocol immediately went home. Thank G-d, her symptoms are mild and we wish her a Refuah Shlaima!

Because she was careful about being masked in school and maintained social distance in her classes, our Medical Committee has advised us that this situation does not pose any risk to our school community.

While this news is concerning, it also serves as as a reminder of the importance of strict compliance with all recommended COVID-related guidelines. Please stay home if you were in contact with a COVID positive individual or if you or a family member develop flu-like symptoms (see below for more details). Remember the best form of protection from COVID is the three W’s – WEAR a mask, WASH your hands, WATCH your distance.

As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have.


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

26 Cheshvan 5781
November 13, 2020

Dear ICJA Family:

It’s Friday and bli ayin ha’ra, the end of the 11th week of successful and safe in-person learning. Thanks to you and our outstanding ICJA faculty and staff, school is more “normal” than not. Masks are simply a “given,” and distancing something that our building facilitates so well.

But we are facing the second wave of COVID in all its fury. While Governor Pritzker’s and Mayor Lightfoot’s latest advisory do not directly impact our school and shuls, they do affect our daily lives. Please take their recommendations seriously. Except when daveing at shuls that take COVID precautions seriously, please avoid all gatherings of 10 people or more. Stay at home as much as possible, and please stay safe!

First-quarter report cards are now available for viewing on the parent portal. Just log into the portal and click on the report card tab. (If you have not yet to registered your parent portal account, please click here Follow the steps to register by entering your information and creating a username and password. Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive an email with a link to verify your account. Be sure to check your spam/junk folder. After you verify the account, you’ll be able to log in and view the report card.)

Shabbat is coming, so let me share just a few snippets from today.

First of all, congratulations to Benny Grey and Ronen Lavi for winning Rabbi Kurtz’s Hebrew 4A cholent competition. To qualify, all of the boys had to create their specialty recipes, assemble the ingredients and cook the cholent, all while speaking Hebrew. It sounds like a lot of fun and a great way to practice conversational Hebrew. (In fact, the only problem was that no one saved me any samples – but I’ll speak with Rabbi Kurtz about that!)

I also had a chance this afternoon to watch two English classes in action. Mrs. Kahan’s 10th-grade class was learning about current events. Students had to find interesting stories and present them to the class. At the same time, Mrs. Goldstein’s 12th-grade class was studying Hamlet. Both classes were engaging and the students’ comments, questions, and observations were outstanding. It was great to see great teaching and learning in action!

This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevarchim of Kislev (yes! Chanukah is coming), and candle lighting is at 4:11 pm.

If you have time, I invite you to listen to my dvar Torah which this week include some reflections on the passing of Rabbi Sacks and Rabbi Feinstein, זכרונם לברכה – click here.

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

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

25 Cheshvan 5781
November 12, 2020

Dear ICJA Family:

Being a high school student is not easy. There are tests and homework and eight hours of classes. And there is the challenge of navigating relationships, trying to chart a future path, and making sure to have fun as well.
It’s not easy – but I am in awe of our students and all of the amazing things they manage to do.

Here’s just a shortlist from today (in addition to all of the classes):

At lunchtime, Gideon Miller kicked off the first session of the ICJA Jewish Philosophy club with a summary of Rav Lichtenstein’s “Being Frum and Being Good” – an essay on the interplay of religion and ethics. And then Adina Margolin led a discussion about some of the points he raised. 

About an hour earlier, Shira David and Dahlia Matanky sent out the first call for poetry, prose, photos, and painting for the next edition of our award-winning literary journal, “Charlotte’s Web.” 

And lest you think we are all about the humanities, Ben Boyarskiy is going full steam ahead with our Investment Club. This morning he asked me to remind everyone that this coming Monday, at 7 pm in Mr. Cooper’s zoom room, ICJA parent and board member Mr. Max Wasserman will speak to the club.

Add to this the sports program that is gearing up for their conditioning routine, student council that is meeting, ICGC that is planning for their next event, AND an extraordinary Rosh Chodesh evening program that is being planned by our Mechanchim and Mechanchot, and you begin to get the flavor of a “regular day” at ICJA!

Tomorrow, report cards will be out, and school will be dismissed at 1:58. We will skip 4th period and period 7, 8, and 9 meet.

Finally, and before I sign off, please don’t forget that next Wednesday, November 18, at @7:30pm, is our New Student Open House. It’s going to be a great event and if you know of people who have eighth-graders who should be coming to our school – please encourage them to register and attend!

Stay safe, stay connected, and be inspired!

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

23 Cheshvan 5781
November 10, 2020

Dear ICJA Family:

Since my last update, so much has happened in the world around us that it’s hard to imagine that school is “happening” as usual. Our community has suffered the passing of two giants, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, זצ״ל – men who led our world with dignity, humility, and great wisdom. 

Rabbi Sacks’ passing was especially painful because five years ago we were privileged to host Rabbi Sacks at ICJA, and over the years, I met with him on numerous occasions and my wife and I hosted him and his wife at our home. 

Both he and Rabbi Feinstein’s wisdom will live on in their writings and through their students. But our Jewish community is poorer for their absence. Rabbi Warren Goldstein, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, hosted two memorials in memory of these two giants. I urge you to take some time and watch these events – Memorial | Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks ztl and Memorial | HaRav Dovid Feinstein ztl. May their memories continue to inspire.

Speaking of inspiration, this week, our former director of admissions, Rivkah Rabin, and her husband, ICJA alum, Rabbi Ira Rabin, are fulfilling a life-long dream and going on aliyah. We wish them the best, and we thank Rivkah for all that she did to make ICJA the school for so many students!

Sunday’s Parent-Teacher conferences were, despite a few technology glitches, a big success. I thank all of the teachers for making it happen and Rabbi Segal for preparing the zoom rooms for this event. 

This afternoon, I had an opportunity to walk around the school and ask some students to share something good that happened today. A couple of students mentioned their success on their Constitution test, another a 100% on a Hebrew test, and one said that lunch was very good (he had a grilled chicken salad from our caterer). And then Isaac Geifman told me that his good moment was when Rabbi Myers taught them the difference between exegesis and homiletics via divrei Torah from Rav Soloveitchik, ztz”l. (Exegesis is when you interpret a verse, while homiletics is when you use a verse to support a thesis/message). Wow!

This Thursday is the launch of a new club at ICJA – the Philosophy Club with Rabbi Sprung! Clubs like this don’t just happen – instead, they are the result of inspired students who want something special, sometimes political, sometimes social action, sometimes sports, and this time Philosophy. Kudos to Adina Margolin, Gideon Miller, and Michal Bechhofer, and thank you, Rabbi Sprung. See the attached flyer for more information.

Finally, today we had a quick but very successful fire drill at ICJA. We evacuated the school and accounted for all of the students in under 5 minutes (actually, it was more like 4 minutes!). 

Tomorrow is another early dismissal day – ׳e skip 11th period, and dismissal is at 4:58 pm.

Stay safe, stay connected, and be inspired!

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

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