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23 Cheshvan 5782

October 29, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

This morning I had the pleasure of visiting Mrs. Aberman’s 9th-grade honors, Chumash class. It was such a pleasure! The discussion regarding the commentators was spirited, and so many girls joined in to take part. And Mrs. Aberman was guiding the class, acting more as a “conductor” than a lead player, which only raised the conversation level even higher.

A lot of girls were really engaged, and in the short time I was there I couldn’t keep track of everyone. But a special shout out to Ella Perlman, Hadar Simkovich, Allie Stein and Tali Weiss.

I even got to ask a question to the class – one that I’m still waiting to hear the answer: why did Rashi wait until the beginning of parshat Mishpatim to explain the difference between אלה and ואלה. Why didn’t he do this at the very beginning of the book – the first time ואלה appears? Talmidim – the first person to send me the correct answer, wins a cup of frozen yogurt from the ICJA cafeteria.

After second period the 9th graders were off for the first part of their “Friday-ton” to Ultimate Ninjas. They came back to school a little while ago and have been busy getting things set (as in setting tables for Shabbat dinner). They need to return ready for Shabbat at 5:15 pm and then get ready for a wonderful Friday night program!

(By the way, the ducks have returned to the retention pond, it’s really cute. But, the thought of walking home in the rain from tonight’s Friday-ton is not that cute. Let’s hope the rain will stop by the time we have to walk home from tonight’s Friday-ton!)

Motzaei Shabbat, Cross Country will be having their awards ceremony at Coach Ezra Jaffe’s house. 7:30-8:30 pm. Thank you, Coach Jaffe and Coach Hunter, for another great season!

Yesterday, I sent information regarding a flu vaccine clinic we are having at ICJA on November 9. 

Today, the big news is that we will also administer the COVID-19 booster at the same vaccination clinic. All of our teachers are eligible for this booster, as are others who may be immuno-compromised or working in an environment that presents a greater risk.

Parents and teachers can sign up for this clinic. If you are interested in one or both (the COVID and Flu Vaccine), CLICK HERE. (According to the CDC, both vaccines can be administered on the same day.) The clinic will be open from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. on November 9th.

Candle lighting tonight is at 5:28 pm.

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



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

22 Cheshvan 5782

October 28, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

Yesterday, I sent a different kind of update, focusing on just one theme – masking. And late last night, I was on a call with medical experts and heard about the rise in COVID cases in our community. Please let’s not take any chances, and make sure you are masked in school and whenever you are with groups of people who are not in your typical “pod.”

But yesterday, I also promised you a report on the Erika’s Lighthouse program at ICJA. It was great! Over forty students attend, including several faculty members and Alex Schreiber, Zack Miller, Gabi Rosenzweig, Audrey Perlman, and Ilan Blumenthal (that’s three shout-outs in a row for him!) to learn about the impact anxiety can have on a person’s life. They were great, and their presentation was compelling—Kol hakavod to them and faculty advisor, Mrs. Friedman.

Today, I had the opportunity to meet with the 9th-grade girls for their first Town Hall meeting. They had a lot of questions about the absence and attendance policies to if we can offer Spanish and volleyball (not together, but a Spanish class and a volleyball club team). We also reviewed the rules of service points (things students do in school, e.g., participate in clubs, sports, or student council) versus chesed (things you volunteer to do for others and are a graduation requirement).

I know they now understand, but I reinforced the message that ICJA has so many opportunities. Still, the only way to take advantage of those you want – is by making an effort and taking responsibility for your program.

One of the first questions to come up was about JV and Varsity girls basketball tryouts. They begin this Sunday, October 31, from 9-11 am and will continue Tuesday 5-7 pm and Thursday 5:45-7:45 pm. If girls have any questions, please email Coach Zach Appel (

During lunch, I met with our JUMP team (Audrey Perlman, Joshua Kupietzky, Joshua Felix, Andrew Bersson, Noah Fensterheim, Hersch Linzer, and Zachary Miller), who pitched their idea for a mentorship program for middle school students. It sounds like a great idea and an excellent opportunity for both the students and their mentors (ICJA students), and I look forward to sharing even more in the coming days and weeks.

Finally, ICJA has made arrangements with CareOne Pharmacy for flu shots for our faculty and staff. And if parents want to get flu shots for their child/our student, we can make arrangements. But I need to know who is interested. The flu shot cost is $25, but most non-HMO insurance plans cover it.

Parents, if you want to sign up for a flu shot for your child(ren) at ICJA, please click here. We will be in touch with a permission slip and other information once you reply.

Tomorrow is the Freshman Fridayton, and for the rest of the school, we will skip 5th period in the morning, and the afternoon periods 7, 8, and 9 will meet.

Stay safe, stay connected, and stay inspired!



Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 

21 Cheshvan 5782

October 27, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

Today’s update will be much shorter than most. Not because today was any less exciting than most – because I have yet to encounter a “less exciting day” at ICJA – rather, because there are two important items I want to share that I don’t want to get lost in a longer email.

The first is regarding our continued efforts to keep our school safe and healthy during a pandemic. 

We have done a fantastic job – all of us, parents, students, faculty, and staff at keeping ICJA open and avoiding any spread of COVID in our school.

But COVID is still out there. And while our community has had access to excellent medical resources and therefore suffered much less than other communities, we must continue to be vigilant. And we need to be better – specifically when it comes to our students being fully masked while indoors.

When the pandemic was in full force, we had a “one and done” policy. If a mask was off, the student was immediately sent home. But we’ve grown a bit more lax, and we’ve seen students not wearing their masks over both their mouth and nose or not placing them back on their faces after they have eaten.

PLEASE wear your masks in the building! Just today, more than a dozen warnings were sent to students who seem to be less vigilant and who, if they are seen not wearing their masks properly, will be sent home. Parents – please remind your children that no matter their vaccination status, masks are still mandated and the best way to keep the school open.

And students, if you are not masked, you run the risk of, G-d forbid, spreading a disease and possibly closing down a class, a sports team, a club, or so many other things. Please be responsible – wear a mask and wear it correctly!

The second item is for our seniors who are getting closer to their November 1 early decision deadline for college applications. 

Seniors, we have asked all of your teachers not to assign any homework or tests for the rest of this week. But that’s just one part of what we can do. If you need any last-minute help – please reach out to us. Rabbi Fliegelman has been working to help you meet this important college application deadline, and he and the rest of the administrative team will do whatever we can. 

Tomorrow, I will report on the program that Erika’s Lighthouse sponsored and Ilan Blumenthal’s presentation (Ilan that’s a new record for shout-outs – two days in a row!). And I will also tell you about the plans that the JUMP team has for improving our school.

But for now, that’s it. As I said – this is a short update. 

Oh, by the way, we will start to have our 5:00 pm maariv minyan at school next week. Parents are invited to join us in the Beit Midrash!

Stay safe, stay connected, and stay inspired!



Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 

20 Cheshvan 5782

October 26, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

More often than not, my mornings are pretty booked. Emails, subs, fundraising, building issues – those are just some of the things that need to be resolved in the morning. And I also get to teach every morning – which often is the highlight of my day but does consume a large chunk of the morning.

But for some reason, this morning was different. My calendar was relatively open, and I had a chance to visit classes first thing in the morning.

And the first class I visited, I found hard to leave – because it was masterful. I’m talking about Rabbi Myers’ 10th-grade girls Navi class. In the course of the 20 minutes I was there, Rabbi Myers guided the girls through an understanding of the difference between deism, paganism, and Judaism. He taught them some Hebrew grammar that was necessary to understand the text but did so in a way that was easy to grasp. And he even used an example of kindergarten teacher speaking to a student to explain the phrase “מגביהי לשבת, המשפילי לראות” – who is enthroned on high, lowers Himself to see.”

What a great class! And kol hakavod to the girls, including Ayelet Appel, Leeya Starck, Danielle Zaretsky, and Leah Zelden, for their participation in this magnificent shiur!

I also had a chance to visit Rabbi Menachem Rosenbaum’s Junior Talmud class. The level of discourse was fantastic, and the boys were so engaged in a three-way machloket between Tosafot, Rashi, and the R”i that when the music began playing at the end of the period, Ilan Blumenthal asked if we could rearrange the day so that they could continue learning. And he wasn’t alone in wanting the class to go longer!

Also, this morning, our teachers dedicated time to remembering Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, z”l through his writings, lectures, and even his now-famous TED Talk. If you never saw the TED Talk – here is the link – it’s worth every minute!

Tomorrow, our Erika’s Lighthouse club will be hosting an event, “Talking About Anxiety: What It Is And How To Manage It.” It will be in the wrestling room, and sushi will be served – but you need to sign up. Here is the link:

And now for some sports! This Sunday, Girls JV and Varsity basketball tryouts begin. Stay tuned for tryout times. The fencing season begins Tuesday, November 2. More details to come later this week. And any boys interested in playing spring baseball should attend a quick meeting after school at 5:45 pm this Thursday in room 401A+B with Coach Steven Greenberg. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Coach Greenberg at

One more thing – an important uniform reminder. One of the options added this year is to wear a plain colored top (for boys over an ICJA shirt) and for girls (in place of or over an ICJA shirt). But plain colored does NOT mean tie-dyed, striped, patterned, or polka-dotted. Just one single simple color and nothing more! Please do not break the uniform rules, and if you have any questions, see your mechanchim – or click here

Tomorrow is an early dismissal day. School is over at 4:58 pm, and we will skip 12th period.

Stay safe, stay connected, and stay inspired!



Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 

19 Cheshvan 5782

October 25, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

We’ve been in our building for nearly six years (we moved in on December 22, 2015), but never have I seen the water retention pond in the front of the building so filled with water as today. There is so much water that a family of ducks has moved in and is having a great time swimming around!

But despite the rain, the puddles that Dr. Brown and I were directing students to walk around, today was a great day!

During 1st period, I had the chance to meet with the 9th-grade boys in their Town Hall meeting, and at the same time, Rabbi Yosef Berman, an alum of our Kollel, met with the senior boys and gave them a shiur.

(By the way, 9th-grade boys – the answers to the two questions you asked I had to check into are – 1. Drivers’ Ed will start in March and meets on Sunday mornings and after school on Wednesday; and 2. Your grades for your iPad course are not part of your GPA, and we will fix DDC to reflect that!)

Later, Touro college for Women met with our senior girls – as the deadline for early decision (November 1) rapidly approaches for all of our seniors. 

This afternoon in Mrs. Goldstein’s class, seniors Gabe Burstyn and Ethan Comrov creatively acted out key scenes in Act II of Hamlet —paying attention to the body language of a very distraught Hamlet. Was the acting worth a Tony? Maybe. Did it help the whole class understand the play’s complex dynamics? Absolutely! Seniors in both Mrs. Goldstein and Dr. Brown’s classes are well on their way through Shakespeare’s most famous (and lengthy) play as part of our commitment to studying great works of literature!

While all of this was happening, our JUMP team in New York received the “golden buzzer” at the JUMP (Jewish Unity Mentoring Program) conference. As a result, they were awarded $500 in seed money to launch their impact idea – “The Teen Mentoring Project” to train high school teens to provide meaningful mentoring relationships with 6th and 7th graders through one-on-one learning, small group discussions, and big events. Go team!

ICJA team member Noah Fensterheim gave an incredibly empowering Dvar Torah about Avraham, the parsha, and leadership, based on Rabbi Sacks’ lessons in leadership in honor of his upcoming yahrtzeit! 

Later today, I visited Mr. Sears’ AP Physics class where they studied vectors – a subject I still remember from (Mr. Mellinger’s class), but I did learn a new term. After Ben Boyaskiy demonstrated what would happen if two vectors were at 180 degrees, Mr. Sears asked the class – can we do a “fist to five” to see how well you understood. What’s a “fist to five” – it’s when students hold up their fingers to indicate whether they understood – five fingers = understood completely, a fist = didn’t understand at all. Ben, I give you a five!

Tomorrow, during 6th period, Rabbi Zvi Engel of Congregation Or Torah will be leading a “lunch and learn” under the tents. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Also, tomorrow, we skip 1st period, Yeshivat Reishit is presenting to senior boys during 6th period, and dismissal is at 4:58 pm.

Stay safe, stay connected, and stay inspired!



Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 

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