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28 Tishrei 5780
October 16, 2020

Dear ICJA Family:

Yesterday, we launched our band class. How can we have a band in a pandemic? It’s simple, via zoom!

Our new music teacher, Mr. Veronesi, met with our band students last night on zoom. He explained how they would play their instruments online (our band includes drums, keyboards, guitars, and violin). In addition to perfecting their skills, the students will also learn to mix their music with an online collaborative digital audio workstation. The band class will be every Thursday evening, 6:45-8:00 pm, and there is still room for other students to join. For more information, contact Dr. Green (

We are in the final stages of selecting senior students for induction into the National Honor Society. To be eligible, students need to have a 3.75 GPA, have earned at least 20 Service Points and 60 Chesed Points, and exhibited leadership either in or out of school. On Tuesday, we will release the list of seniors who will be honored. Seniors who may be eligible need to make sure to submit all of the necessary documentation to Mr. Zbaraz ( by Monday morning. 

Monday is Rosh Chodesh, and the optional minyan at ICJA will begin 5 minutes earlier (8:00 am). Following davening, we will be having a special donut and hot chocolate treat for all who attend.

Monday is also the beginning of in-school mincha. Mincha will be immediately after 6th period, and the following are the davening locations:

BOYS (last names starting with)GIRLS(last names starting with)
GymA – KlA – K
CafeteriaKo – ML – R
Beit MidrashN – Ri
313Ro – SS – V
401T – ZW – Z

Candle Lighting this ever Shabbat is at 5:47 pm, and I invite you to listen to my Dvar Torah on this week’s parsha – click here.

Have a wonderful Shabbat, stay safe, stay connected, and be inspired – and ICJA girls, don’t forget – this Saturday night Zumba 8:15pm at ICJA!

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

27 Tishrei 5780
October 15, 2020

Dear ICJA Family:

Yesterday, I paid a condolence call to a former classmate and her sister, Deana Simon (’76), and Michelle Bromberg (’79). Unfortunately, their mother, Mrs. Blanche Simon, a”h, had passed away. 

When I got there, I was privileged to hear wonderful stories about their mom. But then they told me their Academy story. They grew up in Rolling Meadows (a pretty far distance from 2828 Pratt), but their mom wanted to make sure that Deana, who is hearing impaired, had a chance for a quality education. Somehow she learned about ICJA and decided to send her children to the school – even though they were not observant.

ICJA transformed their lives and the trajectory of their families. Today, two great-grandchildren are third generation ICJA students, and eleven grandchildren graduated from our school. As they said, were it not for the education they received at ICJA, it would be hard to imagine that they would be so connected Jewishly and so prepared for higher education and professional lives.

I share this story with you, not to brag, but because it isn’t the first time that I’ve been stopped at events, both happy and sad, and told how vital ICJA was in individuals’ lives. Yesterday was just the most recent reminder of why our work and your support is so essential! 

Tonight will be President Trump’s and Vice President Biden’s Town Hall meetings. But we already had our first in a series of Town Hall meetings earlier today – as I met with the senior boys (Monday I’ll meet with the girls). Over the next few weeks, I will meet with all of the students, not about politics, but about updates, concerns, and answering their questions. It is a great opportunity for me to have a direct conversation with our students, and from these meetings, we have gathered ideas of how we can better serve our students’ needs and interests.  

As I already announced, Monday, we will begin to daven Mincha at school. While I already sent out the new schedule, today, we tinkered with it a bit and moved Mincha to an earlier time. This move doesn’t impact dismissal times, but there are advantages to the change – attached is the updated schedule.

Tomorrow, we begin “Short Fridays” – dismissal will be at 1:58 pm. We will skip 1st period in the morning, and in the afternoon, periods 7, 8 & 9 will meet.

Stay safe, stay connected, and be inspired!

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

26 Tishrei 5780
October 14, 2020

Dear ICJA Family:

It’s already mid-week, and thank G-d, our return from Sukkot break has been safe and healthy. This morning we welcomed back to in-person teaching Mrs. Wainkrantz (- it’s great to have her back and know that her husband is home from rehab!). And during the day, you should have received emails from Mr. Harris (with the schedule of 1st quarter tests) and Mr. Olson (with info about school pictures).

Today, we finalized the logistics for in-school mincha that will begin next week. Our students will be divided alphabetically and daven in one of five different locations (Gym, Cafeteria, 313a/b, 401 a/b, and the Beit Midrash). As simple as this may sound, it took several iterations, administrative meetings, calls to the Skokie Board of Health (they approved everything), and moving some furniture. Students will be receiving their davening location assignments before Shabbat.

Today we also initiated a new lunch pick-up system in the gym to better ensure social distancing while students wait in line. This is also another opportunity to remind you that pre-ordering lunch items is the best way to make sure you will have the food you want for lunch. Here is the link, and beginning tomorrow, all ordered items will be available in the gym.

Tomorrow will be a regular day with dismissal at 5:29 (remember, starting Monday dismissal will return to pre-COVID times and be 10 minutes later). 

Finally, yesterday in the email, I mistakenly wrote that the IGCG Zumba event would be next week – it’s not! Instead, the ICGC event will be THIS Saturday night, October 17th, at 8:30 pm.

Stay safe, stay connected, and be inspired!

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

25 Tishrei 5780
October 13, 2020

Dear ICJA Family:

Today was a very busy day as we welcomed students and teachers back to school, including another one of our students who had been studying remotely and a new student who just transferred to ICJA.

Because it was a little colder than usual, we did move our optional ICJA shacharit minyan indoors, but tomorrow we plan to be davening outside again in the tents. Hopefully, this temporary situation will soon be ending, and we look forward to receiving clearance from our medical committee so that we will be able to return to a regular ICJA day with shacharit for all of our students right around November 1st. We’ll keep you posted.

Yesterday we had some great news about our Cross Country team. As you may recall, our team had received clearance to move from just conditioning to participating in meets. Yesterday was the Conference Championship, and both our boys and girls varsity teams came in 2nd place. Even more impressive was that 12th grader, Meira Linzer, came in 1st place overall for the girls, and Eliezer Zagorin came in 3rd place overall for the boys! Kol HaKavod to our student-athletes, and thank you to our coaches Ezra Jaffe and Dana Hunter.

Tomorrow we’ll be sending out information about school pictures. The photographers will be coming on October 29th, and all of the photographs will be taken outside. 

Thursday, we will return to our regular program of Town Hall meetings, beginning with the 12th boys. These meetings are important opportunities for us to get feedback and ideas from our students and answer questions they may have. The town hall meeting will be in the gym during 1st period, but instead of the traditional circle set-up, the students will be socially distanced. 
Next Monday, our schedule will change as we welcome mincha back into our schedule. Dismissal times will return to the pre-COVID schedule. See attached for the new daily schedule. Finally, don’t forget about our Interact Club’s food drive to benefit the Ark, and ICGC has rescheduled its Motzaei Shabbat Zumba program for October 24th. (Flyers about both of these programs are attached.)

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or even compliments, please be in touch.

Stay safe, stay connected, and be inspired!

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

24 Tishrei 5780
October 12, 2020

Dear ICJA Family:

I hope your Sukkot break was enjoyable, relaxing and safe!

Just some reminders as we head back to school:

1. Tomorrow is an early dismissal day, and we will be skipping 2nd period.

2. Since tomorrow’s weather report is predicting lower temperatures in the morning, Shacharit will be inside at the south end of the gym (the side closer to the soccer field). 

3. While the tents are still up and the weather is supposed to get warmer in the afternoon – it might be a good idea to reserve a free period space inside the building. The link for this week is

4. Don’t forget that everyday “grab and go” lunches are available from Tailgators/Starr Catering. But to make sure you have exactly what you want, please order in advance – click here 

5. Next week, in-school mincha for all students will resume and dismissal will move to their regular times (Monday/Thursday 5:39pm & Tuesday/Wednesday 4:57pm)

6. Finally, our Interact Club is extending their food drive on behalf of the Ark until the end of this week. Please bring cans/boxes of food or cash donations for the Ark Food Pantry! (see attached)

I look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow!

Stay safe, stay connected and be inspired!

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

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