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6 Tevet 5782

December 10, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

Today’s update is going out a little earlier than expected because I want to make sure that any student who is 16 years or old and wants to get the now fully approved booster has one final chance to send in the form. Here is the form. Please complete it, scan it and email it to our office ( before Shabbat!

This morning, I had the privilege of dropping in on a siyum made by Gideon Miller and Yaakov David. They had finished all of the Mishnayot in Seder Zeraim, and their classes were celebrating this accomplishment.

But what made it truly notable is that they did it on their own, one perek a day during free time at ICJA. I asked Yaakov what got him started, and he credited Rabbi Sprung, who is now the rabbi of UOS in Houston, but who was their teacher during 9th and 10th grade. He motivated them, and now they’re about to start Seder Moed. Kol hakavod to them and to Rabbi Stromer and Rabbi Rosenbaum for bringing their classes to celebrate with them.

Hot off the press – Senior Shabbaton will be the Shabbat after vacation, January 7th-8th. All of the details are being finalized, and sign-up should begin first thing on Monday.

Finally, on a more serious note, one more of our students, Moshe Weisenberg, has tested positive for COVID-19. B”H he is feeling fine, and we look forward to welcoming him back to school very soon.

While I know that the rise in cases is disconcerting, I’m also very proud of the safeguards we have in place, the twice-weekly testing of all athletes that has caught many of these cases, and the cooperation we have received from parents and students.

Unfortunately, we’ve not seen the end of this pandemic yet. But we have seen tremendous strides that have allowed us to move forward with in-person classes and events. 

This brings me to another final reminder, to the 10th graders and JV Boys’ Basketball parents. If you have not yet reserved your tickets for Monday’s game against RZ, please do so ASAP. And sophomores, please remember that after Shabbat, any remaining student tickets will be made available to the 9th-grade class.

Candle Lighting tonight is at 3:59 pm. 

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



Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 

5 Tevet 5782

December 9, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

I made a mistake this morning. I looked at my calendar and saw that, for the first time in a few weeks, I had several hours to catch up on work and visit classes. And so, on my daily call to my mother, I told her that today was going to be a quiet day. Oy! That was a mistake.

There was a last-minute teacher absence, a Hatzala call (B”H everyone is fine and will be in school tomorrow), some student challenges that had to be solved, and unexpected meetings about a whole host of programs and problems.  

But I did have a chance to visit Ms. Gleicher’s Biology class – and wow (!) it was amazing. The scenario they were studying was how scientists can help governments catch elephant poachers through DNA analysis. And the experiment they were conducting was using gel electrophoresis to separate and compare DNA samples. Eliana Levine was the first of your lab group to explain what they were doing, and then Dara Lennon helped out with some more information. Rounding out that lab team – who completely “into” the experiment were Ella Perlman and Simcha Seruya. Bio classes are certainly different than they were when I went to ICJA!

During today’s medical emergency, Ilan Blumenthal, Yitzchak Mishkin, and Noah Fensterheim of Hugo’s Heros, jumped into action.. For those of you new to the school, Hugo’s Heroes is a student club that teaches emergency first aid and has students “on-call” every day – to respond to crises while we wait for the arrival of medical professionals. And today, they were there to help out!

And now to some big news – as you may have read, the FDA has approved the COVID booster for 16-18-year-olds. While the CDC has yet to weigh in on this – we are arranging a booster clinic for our students this Monday, December 13, from 11:30 am -1:15 pm. (This is contingent on CDC approval which is expected to occur before Monday. If not, the clinic will be postponed to a later date.) To be eligible for the booster, please complete the attached form and scan it and email it to our office ( or bring it in TOMORROW.

Finally, as I wrote yesterday, Monday’s boy’s JV game against RZ will have limited attendance. This evening, 10th graders will be receiving a link to sign-up for tickets. If there are remaining tickets on Sunday, the 9th grade will receive an email to sign-up. Parents of the JV team should have already received an email – offering them up to two tickets per family (parents, grandparents, or siblings can use the two family tickets).

Stay safe, stay connected, and stay inspired!



Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 

4 Tevet 5782

December 8, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

Yesterday was a complicated day with new COVID cases at the school – the most we’ve encountered since the beginning of the pandemic. We wish Andrew Bersson, Dana Kalutsky, and Jordana Zwelling a refuah shalima, and we look forward to them returning to school very soon.

As is our policy with any “long-term illness,” these students can now attend school on zoom, and our teachers are doing everything possible to keep them up to date with their school work. I can’t thank our teachers enough for going above and beyond for our students once again!

I’ve received several questions from parents about any additional measures we may be taking at the school regarding regular school operations and extra-curricular activities. 

Thank G-d, our in-school protocols are successful and do not need to change. In fact, we are proud that by following the advice of our medical committee, we have distinguished ourselves not only as a safe school but also have not lost a single day of teaching Torah uMaddah. 

However, as everyone knows, we can’t control what families choose to do outside of school. We can advise, suggest, and recommend, but ultimately, we have to trust our families to make safe choices for themselves and everyone with whom they will be in contact.

Nevertheless, there are three items that people have asked us about:

1. School and Youth Group Shabbatonim, and 

2. Large Sports Events

3. Post Vacation


We will be having a Senior Shabbaton at a hotel in the suburbs in the coming weeks. All of our 12th-grade students are fully vaccinated, and our medical committee has reviewed our plans for the program. Students will be housed two per room at a hotel, and in the hotel’s public spaces, our students will have to be fully masked. However, our medical committee feels that when students are in meals and programming, it is a “low risk” activity, and masks will not be mandated.

The committee has also reviewed the COVID protocols for the upcoming Bnei Akiva Shabbaton. Bnei Akiva is requiring PCR testing within 48 hours before the trip, and on the bus, students will be masked and seated in their own rows. In addition, all Shabbaton participants are required to be fully vaccinated. After reviewing these protocols, our medical committee is not requiring any additional testing or interventions.

But we know that other organizations may have different protocols. Before attending a Shabbaton or Retreat, please let us know so that we can also review those protocols.


All athletes and fans must be masked throughout practices and games. The one exception is our wrestling team, and they are only allowed to wrestle against teams that are fully vaccinated. In addition, all of our indoor athletes are tested every Monday and Thursday. 

We will be limiting total attendance to 50% of the bleacher capacity for the upcoming RZ and Yeshiva games. As a result, parents of athletes will be allowed two seats per family, and only 40 ICJA students will be allowed to attend each game.

For the SV games, seniors will have first rights to a seat, and should extra tickets remain, juniors will be allowed to get a seat (on a first-come, first-serve basis). The same will be true of the JV games, with sophomores having first rights to the 40 tickets and freshman access to any remaining spots. In addition, there will be a break between games so that the fans for the JV game can exit the gym before the fans for the SV game are seated.

I know it sounds a bit complicated, but a sign-up form will be sent to students on Thursday.

Winter Vacation
Our medical committee recommends that we conduct an all-school COVID test following December vacation. As per their suggestion, this will take place on Wednesday or Thursday of the first week back.

Today’s Erika’s Lighthouse event, ‘Talking About Depression’, was a big success. Over 40 students participated in the program, which included a powerful presentation by Marc Fein. To watch his presentation and to see the slideshow presentation – click here. Special thanks to Audrey Perlman, Bella Schwartz, Gabi Rosenzweig, Ilan Blumenthal, Shuli Falk, Tali Weiss and Zack Miller for all of their work in making the program happen. And thank you to Mrs. Friedman for your work.

And finally, talmidim – we need your feedback. Please take a few moments to complete this survey about the seminars you attended this past week – here is the link

Stay safe, stay connected, and stay inspired!



Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 

3 Tevet 5782

December 7, 2021

Dear ICJA Family

Today was an exciting day at ICJA with the visit of German Ambassador Michaela Kuchler. Why did she come? Because Ambassador Kuchler had served as the chairperson of IHRA – the international body that created the most important definition of antisemitism driving legislation around the world, and her portfolio includes the responsibility to meet with Jewish communities around the world.

But before I go any further with that, I need to turn to our least favorite topic – COVID. Today, we became aware of four cases of COVID in our school. Earlier today, I wrote to you about one and three more students tested positive on our in-school COVID tests from yesterday. B”H all of the students are feeling relatively fine, and we wish them a refuah shlaima. But it is alarming to encounter so many cases at once.

This news brings me to two critical items to keeping everyone safe and our school open.

1. Please wear your masks religiously! Masks must cover the nose and mouth and should be in place at all times (except when eating). 

2. When eating in the building, please maintain at least 3 feet of distance between other unmasked students. If we cannot maintain this standard, we may need to revert to a system of assigned eating locations for each student (as we had last year).

These two things have made a difference and can make a difference, but only if we are careful and follow them faithfully. Talmidim – please, we have come so far. Let’s make it through this next, and please G-d final phase. And parents – please reinforce this message with your children, our students.

But one more thing, please be careful when you are out of school. If possible, mask whenever you are with groups of people, and if you are going to place with many unmasked people, think twice.

Which brings me back to this morning and the presentation by the Ambassador. It was fascinating. First, she spoke with the history teachers about the Jewish community in Germany today (primarily immigrants from the former Soviet Union) and antisemitism in Germany today (about 25% of the population harbor antisemitic beliefs). Next, she spoke with a group of 20 seniors and juniors. She shared some of the same information but then spoke about her own background – her father’s father was Jewish and was imprisoned in Theresienstadt and Bergen Belsen during the war. And she took questions from the students about Holocaust education in Germany Ethan Comrov), anti-Israel views as antisemitism, what motivated her (Carmel Schreiber), and so much more!

In fact, on the way out of ICJA, she made two comments – the first was that she noticed how our students stood when a teacher entered the room (what great derech eretz!), and second that the students were so well informed, insightful and respectful. Kol haKavod to our teachers and students.

This motzaei Shabbat was supposed to be the first of our Yeshiva-ICJA basketball games. Because a conflict with our facility we tried to find a new venue. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful. As a result, we have tentatively rescheduled the games to December 18th.

The games will be broadcast on the “Zaidy Robert Berezin Court Cam” (thank you, Schwartz family) –

The number of fans will be limited to no more than 50% capacity in the bleachers. We will communicate exact details in the coming days, parents of athletes will be able to attend in addition to a limited number of students.

We are sorry that more people can’t attend this game, but we need to do our best to maintain safety – and crowding people into the gym is a risk we can’t take at this time. 

Tomorrow is an early dismissal day and we skip 12th period.

And finally, talmidim – we need your feedback. Please take a few moments to complete this survey about the seminars you attended this past week – here is the link

Stay safe, stay connected, and stay inspired!



Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 

2 Tevet 5782

December 6, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

Chanukah is now over, but it’s been a great week (+1) at ICJA.

We had fun, special learning, treats, and opportunities to bond with teachers and students. Special thanks to Dr. Brown for coordinating all of the unique Jewish Thought Seminars and Rabbi Fox and Mrs. Zeffren for the fun programming. 

But talmidim – we need your feedback. Please take a few moments to complete this survey about the seminars you attended – here is the link

Today was Chanukah sweater day – part of Spirit Week at ICJA (see attached), and tomorrow will be “Dress Nice Day.” What is “Dress Nice Day”? It’s exactly as you think – Shabbat type of clothing. For those dressed like that, ICJA uniform apparel is waived for the day – but the dress code is not. So please make sure that whatever students wear is appropriate (girls: sleeves to the elbow, skirts/dresses that cover the knee and crew neck tops; and boys: collared shirts and appropriate slacks).

By the way, the senior class will be using tomorrow to take their class picture. Seniors, please be on time and make sure you are ready to take a picture at the menorah during breakfast!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the upcoming Yeshiva-ICJA basketball game. At this point, we are still trying to find a large venue to allow for more fans. However, we have been unsuccessful so far. But time is running out, so by tomorrow, we will have answers to where the game will be, what time it will start, and who will be permitted to attend. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow, Shaalavim for Women will be coming to ICJA to interview prospective students. This is the first of the interviews for seminaries – and there are many more to come. Senior girls – don’t forget your applications for seminaries are due December 9 (that’s this Thursday). If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Mrs. Kraft or me.

Today was the last day of the alumni campaign – “Spread the Light.” If you haven’t had a chance to contribute, please take a moment and click here

Stay safe, stay connected, and stay inspired!



Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 

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