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9 Cheshvan 5782

October 15, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

This morning, as Dr. Brown and I were outside greeting the students as they came to school, I also asked my regular Erev Shabbat questions: “What is the week’s parsha?” and “What time is licht bentsching?”

The parsha question the kids were ready for – and quickly they responded “Lech Lecha.” But the candle lighting question not only stumped most of them but also surprised them when they heard “4:58 pm.” As one student said, “How did Shabbat get so early?” 

But it is early, and we are only a few hours away – so I’m going to keep this update brief.

1. Attached is a flyer announcing a kick-off event from NCSY. Why do I include it? Because this year, the entire NCSY Board is made up of ICJA students! What nachas! And kol hakavod to Ilan Blumenthal, Nava Cohen, Gavriel Engel, David Gaffen, Amitai Kakon, Liba Mott, Adiel Seruya and Kenny Shapiro.

2. Today, Mrs. Yitzchak’s sophomore girls’ class was working in the art room on a mural that will depict the ways that Shabbat enhances our lives and brings us closer to G-d. Mr. Harris was there and came back to me all excited about this project. He told me about Shuli Falk and Maayan Dallal’s artwork – the connection between fire and Shabbat. Later, Aviva Dallal gave me some additional background on the project and what she was working on. Yaasher koach to the entire class and especially to Mrs. Yitzchak for finding creative ways to express the beauty of Shabbat – the “zachor,” and not just the “shamor.”

3. Today, one of our alumni, Daniel Otani (’17), visited. He recently finished serving in the Israeli Army – in the Givati Brigade – and studying in Machon Meir in Yerushalayim. And he came to visit to express his hakarat hatov (gratitude) to his teachers at ICJA. Seeing him was great – and he spoke to some of our seniors about his experiences. But even more, it was one of those moments that reminded us of the opportunities we have to shape the lives of young men and women and the nachat we get from what they do after they leave our school.

4. Last night, our Cross Country team competed in the Chicago Prep Conference Championship. The results were outstanding both individually and as a team. The Girls’ team finished in 2nd place, and the Boys’ squad finished 3rd. Aces medalists included: rookie sensation Ella Kakon (3rd), Emma Felix (5th), Eliezer Zagorin (7th) and Ami Czako (8th), and 15 runners set their personal records in the race: Leah Rina Brochin, Yonatan Chavel, Ami Czako, Yaakov David, Haley Goltz, Ella Kakon, Dana Kalutsky, Gideon Miller, Hersh Linzer, Joey Levy, Aliza Shyovitz, Noah Strahlberg, Ami Weiss, Moshe Wiesenberg, and Eliezer Zagorin.

Finally, don’t forget, this Monday night, October 18th at 7:30 pm is the Simulated School Night when parents spend the evening meeting the teachers and hearing about class methods and goals. Parents move through the building following their child’s class schedule. Masks will be required for all in attendance. During the day, all classes will meet, but the afternoon classes will be abbreviated and dismissal on Monday will be at 4:25 p.m.

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

B’vracha,

LAM

Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 


8 Cheshvan 5782

October 14, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

This morning we had our first lock-down drill of the year. While a few items still need to be addressed (e.g., what should a student do if in the washroom – stay there, and how to turn off the alarms more quickly – it’s been solved) overall, the police were very pleased with our response times. 

We are very fortunate to have had the wisdom of the Homeland Security Department as part of our building design process, and we thank the Skokie Police Department for their continued assistance in all security matters.

After the drill, things went back to normal, which, as I mentioned yesterday, means that things were happening at their normal frenetic pace. Classes, clubs, programs, speakers all are part of our typical day.

But what still is not normal are the added precautions we are taking regarding COVID. And we need your support – not only because there are village, county, and state mandates, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Today, I spoke with the students who need to participate in our twice-weekly PCR tests (those not fully vaccinated and the indoor sports participants). Most of them are great; they come to the gym at the beginning of their 5th or 6th-period lunch, take the test and then move on. But some of the students do not come, and we need to track them down. Starting this Monday, we will no longer be trying to track down those who should be coming. Instead, if an athlete is in school and does not come, they will be removed from the team/program until the following testing day (i.e., if they missed a Monday test, they will not be able to play until after being tested on Thursday). Those who are not fully vaccinated will be asked to leave school and get a negative PCR test result before returning to school.

We are taking this stand because of the safety needs of our community, and we know that our students will do the right thing – just sometimes, they may need a little more motivation.

Next week, on Tuesday, is the Ann Rita Schwartz, z”l Chesed Day (flyer attached), and Wednesday will be picture day for all underclassmen. Today, all 9th,10th, and 11th graders received the order form for their pictures. The pictures will once again be taken outside and take just a few minutes to complete. 

Tomorrow is a short Friday, and dismissal is at 1:58 pm. In the morning, we will skip period 3, and periods 7, 8, and 9 will meet in the afternoon. Also tomorrow, our Kollel will be offering a special parshat hashuva program during breakfast – Donuts and Divrei Torah in the tents outside.

One last thing – a couple of days ago, Rabbi Gutstein’s 9th-grade girls used a combination of Halacha, mathematics, and astronomy to learn the workings of the Jewish calendar. Some new realizations dawned upon them, and the girls were real stars (sorry for the Rabbi Gutstein humor). A special shout out to Rachel Freed and Simcha Seruya, who came up with quick answers for mathematical computations.

Freshmen, don’t forget to sign up for the upcoming Fridayton – the cost is $40 (checks should be made out to ICJA), and the flyer is attached.

Stay safe, stay connected, and stay inspired!

B’vracha,

LAM

Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 


7 Cheshvan 5782

October 13, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

Last night at our ICJA Board Meeting, Hadassah Bernstein gave a wonderful and insightful dvar Torah, and Mrs. Pederson reported on the math department. One of Mrs. Pederson’s points was how our math teachers bring their passions and talents to teaching math – from technology, test prep, and math history. It’s a great synergy of talents.

It was a little quieter this morning at school because the entire junior class was taking the PSAT. As a result, the music between periods was suspended, and we just had a calming 3-second tone to indicate the end of the period. By midday, most of the juniors were done, and things were back normal! 

What’s normal at ICJA? It’s 20-25 classes meeting simultaneously. And it’s students studying and hanging out in the commons areas. (I discovered today that the Humanities Commons is the favorite place for 9th graders studying Wast Civ.) It’s the mathletes meeting in the Science commons and the earth club meeting in the fishbowl. And today, it was a videographer filming students and parents in preparation for our upcoming Open House for prospective students (November 17th).

And, it’s a guest speaker presenting to one of our classes. Today, it was Rabbi Phil Karesh (husband of Rachie Karesh, class of ’99), one of the leading mohelim in Chicago. Rabbi Karesh spoke to Mrs. Friedman’s 12th-grade class outside in the tents. Riva Weiss, who is in the class, reported, “I was amazed by how Rabbi Karesh decided to go into Jewish education and become a mohel after his experience teaching at Moshava Wild Rose. As a teen who was also inspired through Moshava, I can relate.”

Ever since COVID struck, I’ve been doing a weekly online interview with interesting people from the Jewish world. It’s broadcast on Facebook live and is a podcast and is called “Daytime Dialogues.” I haven’t mentioned it before because it’s not really related to ICJA, but today while interviewing Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of the UK, he talked about his visit to ICJA a few years ago. If you’re interested, the link is https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/congregation-kins-presents-daytime-dialogues/id1524029091?i=1000538487860 – and the part about the ICJA is at minute 23:47.

During 8th period, Mrs. Arons invited me to her sophomore honors class to watch some of her students act out parts of Antigone. I was only able to be there for a brief period of time, but I did get to see two groups, Jed Marcus, Sammy Polster, and Gabe Klein, and then Rena Neiger, Noa Gavant, Jordana Zwelling, and Ayelet Appel, act brief sections of the play. They were good, but they will be better – especially with the stage direction and coaching of Mrs. Arons.

Finally, a save the date – for Erika’s Lighthouse Mental Health Awareness Club’s event “Talking About Anxiety: What It Is & How to Manage It” during lunch on Wednesday, October 27th. Hear junior Ilan Blumenthal share his personal story of living with anxiety. Other EL board members will present on typical vs. clinical anxiety, strategies for dealing with it, and how to support a friend who lives with anxiety. Please sign up using this Google Form linkSUSHI will be served! 

Freshmen, don’t forget to sign up for the upcoming Fridayton – the cost is $40 (checks should be made out to ICJA), and the flyer is attached.

Stay safe, stay connected, and stay inspired!

B’vracha,

LAM

Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 


5 Cheshvan 5782

October 11, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

Tomorrow, the entire ICJA family (students, parents, alumni, supporters, etc.) will receive a link to a great new video we produced of our recent all-school retreat. But you get a first peek at it! Here is the link https://vimeo.com/625213199/780d70b1f9. Enjoy the video!

Today, during Rabbi Rosenbaum’s 11th grade Talmud class, Aiden Novick made a siyum on mesechet Kiddushin. We are very proud of him and thrilled that he joined our school community this year. Yaasher koach Aiden, and what a great way to start a second morning in a row – with a siyum!

Today the 9th graders also had the opportunity to participate in a unique “digital citizenship” lesson. In the past, this presentation has been part of Freshman Orientation, but this year we decided to expand it. Dr. Green, Mr. Zbaraz, and Ms. Avner discussed the responsibilities everyone has to be intelligent and caring users of technology. And together, they spoke with the students about the challenges of social media, texting, and even the nature of electronic communications and how it can hurt others. As Dr. Green reminded them via one of her favorite philosophers (i.e., Spiderman), “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Tomorrow during lunch, all Freshmen and Sophomores are invited to participate in a practice math test as part of the Mathletes program! (Juniors and Seniors are invited for Thursday). Mathletes is a great club that competes against other schools and proves that ICJA students are the best! For more information, speak to Mrs. Pederson or captains Gideon Miller (gideon.miller@icja.org) and Hershel Thomas (hershel.thomas@icja.org).

Tomorrow after school (5:00 pm) will be the first meeting of our new Drama Club!
(See the attached flyer). Kudos to Shayna Weinstein and Aviva Dallal for making this happen!

By the way, some of you may have noticed that more lighting was added to our driveway over the past couple of weeks. The lighted bollards project, which will be completed tomorrow, is part of the special Homeland Security Grant ICJA received and just one more way that we are working to ensure everyone’s safety.

Tomorrow is the PSAT for 11th graders – Juniors, please remember to do your best!

And tomorrow is an early dismissal day (4:58 pm) – we will be skipping the 10th period. 

Stay safe, stay connected, and stay inspired!

B’vracha,

LAM

Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 



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