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12 Tishrei 5780
September 30, 2020

Dear ICJA Family:

Over the past few days, we have received several questions regarding our COVID safety measures in light of the feared uptick in cases following Sukkot. 

As some of you may have heard, some schools are considering spending a period of time after Sukkot on zoom, and others (particularly those with dorms) are instituting full-school testing before resuming in-person classes.

The following was the response of our medical committee to these queries:

For ICJA at this time, there is limited benefit in testing right after students return from vacation, as it may be too early to detect COVID. What is protecting our students is the masking and social distancing guidelines already in place.

As already established, anyone traveling to a high-risk state or high-risk Jewish community cannot return to school until they complete a 14-day quarantine. Likewise, anyone who has out of town guests who meet the same risk criteria will need a 14-day quarantineTesting will not shorten this quarantine. Exceptions can be made on a case by case basis for those who take their COVID precautions very seriously, but only after a review by our medical committee.

If G-d forbid, there is a significant uptick in COVID cases in our community over Sukkot, testing the whole school would be a logical next step.

This recommendation’s premise is that in general, our community has been more compliant with CDC guidelines, and our school allows for greater distancing and is vigilant in enforcing the rules of masks and social distancing. 

But I cannot emphasize enough how important the choices that families make when not in school are to our community’s overall health and the ability for ICJA to stay open. Please, continue to partner with us, not only in your child’s education but in the safety of our school!

Just a few more items – 

Last night, I began my update with a description of Mrs. Kahan’s classes’ preparation for the debate, the rubric they were to use, and the lessons she hoped they would learn. Today I dropped in to see the outcome – and you would be proud of our students’ analysis of the debate and their shared disappointment in the tone and the opportunities lost. While avoiding the politics of the evening, they were able to take away valuable lessons from a complicated event.

Rabbi Oren’s 12th grade Navi class was also a joy, as he engaged the students in a lively discussion about Sefer Melachim. But the highlight was when he brought the lesson home – and told them that what they are learning is not just about what happened in the past, but about them as well. “You are leaders in the school,” he told them, and therefore, they have a responsibility to make choices that will move others forward in positive ways.

Over Yom Tov, our Student to Student program will be meeting with students from St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights. Two hundred fifty-five students will hear the presentation from our team of students!

Tomorrow, dismissal is at 5:29 pm, and then vacation begins!

Please enjoy your family time, relax, and make time for learning and the special mitzvot of the chag!

Stay safe, stay connected, and be inspired!

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

11 Tishrei 5780
September 29, 2020

Dear ICJA Family:

Tonight is the first presidential debate of 2020, an event that promises to be exciting – to say the least. Yet, I don’t know how many high school students are planning on tuning in. But Mrs. Kahan’s AP English Language and Composition students will be watching. Because today their class dealt with the use of political rhetoric and how to evaluate a good presentation and a successful debate. Before they left class, each student received a rubric to assess the candidates’ presentations, and tomorrow there will be a follow-up. To see a copy of the rubric they will be using, click here. Kol Hakavod to Mrs. Kahan and her students!

Today unfortunately, a couple of our teachers were unable to be in-person because of COVID related issues. Thank G-d, they are fine, and we had TA’s staffing their classes. But what was so very impressive was how quickly our students could pivot to having their teachers teach remotely. I walked into a couple of classes to check-in, and the students were on task, engaged, and learning. I know I’ve said it before, but I can’t say it enough – our teachers are the best, and our students absolutely amazing!

Tomorrow, dismissal is at 4:47 pm, and we skip 12th period. And while I’m on the subject of dismissal, a week or two after Sukkot, as sunset gets closer to dismissal, we will need to add mincha back into our schedule. The logistics of having davening reintroduced are relatively easy. Still, it will mean that we will be returning to our “old dismissal times” of 5:39 (Monday and Thursday) and 4:57 (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Finally, one more reminder about students and staff, who, because of COVID related concerns, have had to zoom into school. Before you return on campus, we must have the necessary notes from your doctor (either a negative PCR COVID test or an alternative diagnosis AND no fever for 24 hours and improved respiratory symptoms). If you have any questions, please be touch with me or Dr. Green (

Stay safe, stay connected, and be inspired!

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

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