Founded in 2006, the mission of Ayeka: The Center for Soulful Education is to provide teachers and individuals with tools to breathe life into Jewish text study and enable a personally relevant, meaningful, and life-impacting experience. Awarded a two-year grant to partner with Jewish day schools in North America, Ayeka recently announced that it selected Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital — along with Atlanta Jewish Academy, Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit, and Netivot HaTorah Day School in Toronto — to participate in a cohort funded jointly by the AVI CHAI, Kohelet, and Mayberg foundations.
The first Immersive Learning Week for middle school students at Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital (MILTON) had sixth graders doing deep dives into digital game design, the law, and biblical art. Immersive Learning Week is a program between trimesters during which students, guided by instructors and working in small groups, engage in concentrated experiential learning about topics of study shaped by their interests. The week includes field trips, guest speakers, creative exploration and design, and more.
On our first day of senior year, we walked into our AP Calculus class [at Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, Maryland] and saw that we were the only girls taking the advanced course. We weren’t surprised — during junior year, there were only three girls in a class of 12 — but it struck us as incongruous that there are a number of intelligent, capable girls in our grade, yet hardly any choose to take the advanced math and science classes offered in school. This problem is not confined only to the Class of 2018 — for instance, Ilana Bauman (‘14) was the only girl in her AP Calculus class as well.
You are not alone.
This is the message Rabbi Greg Harris of Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Maryland, believes everyone should hear, especially after the recent suicides of two local teens. Family and friends may never know what led Jordana “JoJo” Greenberg and Thomas “Tommy” Silva to take their own lives, but the deaths of these two 16-year-olds touched the lives of many: from loved ones, to classmates who didn’t know them, to parents who wonder whether their own child might be grappling with the same dark thoughts.
Thanks to local teen Ariel Troy, the Greater Washington Jewish community will be one of three pilot regions for expanding the Student to Student program, an innovative initiative to reverse prejudice and reduce stereotypes. Created by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of St. Louis, the program aims to combat bigotry and hate by putting a “human face” to Judaism.
I have gained so much this year from the engaging and creative teaching style of Mrs. Riesel’s Chumash class at the Berman Hebrew Academy. We recently learned about korbanot (sacrifices or offerings) in the book of Vayikra through the different views of the mefarshim (commentators). In order to test our knowledge, Mrs. Riesel had the exciting idea of holding a mock court case.
The third annual Fanaroff Hanukkah Musical, “Macca Wish Upon a Star,” drew more than a thousand people over two performances.
During Rabbi Matthew Bellas’s first year at Vancouver Talmud Torah, he was asked to take their traditional Chanukah concert up a few notches and cater to the increasingly diverse community school’s audience. Rabbi Bellas, working in conjunction with the school’s drama and music specialist, created the wildly successful annual show “Macca Bia.”
High school students at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School in Baltimore received some special illumination over Chanukah during classroom visits by Dr. Dan Scheffer and Dr. Philip Keehn.
“Don’t get swallowed up by the past; live your life in the present and look forward to the future.” This was one of the most important lessons Dalia Golda’s grandparents, Herscu and Mina Butnariv, learned during the Holocaust and imparted to their granddaughter. Growing up in the once-thriving Jewish community in Bucharest, Romania, Golda didn’t have access to a Jewish school so she learned about Judaism from her family. She developed a love for her religion and the Jewish people, coupled with a belief in the future and a desire to give back.
On Nov. 29, Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital (MILTON) marked the 70th anniversary of the United Nations (U.N.) Partition Vote recommending an independent Jewish State in part of the ancient land of Israel with a special reenactment of that historic event. Every student in grades two through six was assigned to a delegation representing one of the 56 countries that were members of the U.N. at that time. Moetzet talmidim (student council) officers sat in the U.N. Secretary General’s seat and conducted the roll call.
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS) seniors Alex Arking and Natalie Granader recently ended their high school sports careers at with a bang as recipients of the Hyman M. and Phillip D. Perlo High School Athlete Award. The award honors outstanding 12th grade scholar-athletes who attend school in the Greater Washington, D.C., area. It was presented to them at the Bender JCC’s Dinner of Champions, which supports Camp JCC’s nationally recognized inclusion program for children, teens, and young adults with special needs. Arking was honored for track and field, and Granader for swimming.
Arking, a CESJDS student since first grade, won first place in the triple jump at both the PVAC and Montgomery County Championships and currently holds CESJDS’s record in the event. Arking also broke the previous school record and placed second in the 1600 meter, and placed third in the 3200 meter during the 2017 track season. He earned multiple All-PVAC honors for top finishes in both cross country and track & field, and this fall he helped the cross country team win the PVAC championship for the fourth consecutive year.
In addition to running for CESJDS, Arking also ran the 2017 Miami Half Marathon through Friendship Circle, did an Olympic-length triathlon, and participated in the Maccabi Games. He was flattered to have received the Perlo Award, and said he is looking forward to culminating his academic career at CESJDS and heading to Israel and Eastern Europe on the Irene and Daniel Simpkins Senior Capstone Israel Trip in February.
“I have a few months left to figure out how I’m going to run while doing all of our scheduled activities,” said Arking. He hopes to attend the University of Maryland next fall, where he will join the running or triathlon club.
Granader transferred to CESJDS from another local private school at the beginning of high school. Throughout her three and a half years CESJDS, she said she gained a genuine appreciation for the welcoming and warm community, especially the teachers who have always looked out for her best interests. Granader began swimming when she was 8 years old through All-Star Aquatics and has been swimming with the club ever since. She loves swimming because “it is my time to be alone in the water, focus on the finish line, and get a ton of energy out!” she said.
Granader will head to Tulane University next fall, and is both excited and nervous for the next step in her life. She was so happy to receive the Perlo Award, and was thrilled to be a part of such a special evening that raises money for an incredible cause.
At the Dinner of Champions, CESJDS Alumni Parent Dr. Amy Subar was inducted into the Greater Washington Jewish Sports Hall of Fame as a triathlete. Her three children attended CESJDS: Zach ‘04, Micah ‘07, and Ayal ‘14.
By Laurie Ehrlich
Laurie Ehrlich is the communications director at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CESJDS).
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