Heading Into Winter Break

With the milestone of Winter Break approaching us, here are three questions:

  • What has been the highlight of the school year thus far?
  • What new friendships have you and your child made?
  • Who would you like to introduce to the “SHA Experience”?

As we head into the re-enrollment season we are turning up our recruitment efforts. We invite you to partner with us in broadening the SHA reach. Please consider which families that you know that might be a good match for SHA. Consider touring SHA with them, helping us to be in touch with them or inviting them to an SHA upcoming event.

Let’s do this – it’s THE SHA WAY!

Chanukah Note

I love that the root of the Hebrew word Chanukah shares a root with the Hebrew word for education as well, Chinuch. The shared root casts light upon our understandings of each word. The celebration of Chanukah, so named on account of the re-dedication, L’chanech means to initiate. The Maccabees were able to miraculously re-dedicate the Temple, the Beit Ha’Mikdash in 165 BCE after it had been desecrated by the Greeks in 167 BCE.

There is much initiating in education, in chinuch!

There are always new things in the works at SHA. This year we are deeply engaged in our NWAIS Self-Study for re-accreditation, our new student assessment tool, Star 360, our Samis Partnership – “Measuring Middot” directed at our desire to understand the impact of our Social and Emotional Curriculum, Project SHAlom and our newly articulated “Portrait of an SHA Student” see below.

In addition, here are some other projects that are new this year at SHA:

In EC: Eagles Art, Chalav U’Dvash, Project Based Learning approach to the Playground in Robins.

In LS: Math Focus Problem Solving, piloting Interactive Social Studies “Storypath” units, Common Core Aligned Writers Workshop, Intensified Conversational Hebrew, Class Meetings and Community Service in 5th Grade.

In MS: Rocketry in Physics Class, expanded dissections in Biology, Engineering Elective, Community Service Elective, Algebra II, Tech Smart – plus Advisory, Student Council and Class Meetings.

Coming soon…the SHA Maker Space!

Next time someone asks you what’s new at SHA, you know what to say!

Note from December 3

Let’s start with a poem by Shmuel HaNagid (993 – 1056)

Soar, don’t settle for earth

               And sky – soar to Orion;

And be strong, but not like an ox or mule

               That’s driven – strong like a lion.

I love this poem. I connect it to everything we do at SHA. Our goal is to have all of our students soar! It was my pleasure this week to again have the experience of touring a number of people though our school. It is always a delight; the building, our students’ work on the walls but mostly our classes and the teacher and students in them. I am officially issuing an invitation to each of you to bring friends and family to visit our school.

Thanksgiving Note

I was surprised to see this definition on Dictionary.com;

thanksgiving: [thangks-giv-ing] the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.

It seems that the offering of thanks and the offering of thanksgiving are slightly nuanced, with thanksgiving connoting something of a religious overtone. I am in total agreement. I deeply believe that gratitude is a religious practice and that we offer gratitude as part of our Tefilah form the minute we awake and till the moment we go to sleep. I often add a personal prayer at the end of the day thanking the Almighty for my safe sheltered home and pillow. We have so much to be grateful for and this week SHA has so much to be grateful for, as well.

Here is a start:

  • Generosity of our community
  • A memorable evening celebrating THE SHA WAY
  • Elegant leadership and inspiring words from our Gala Chair, Sandi Kaplan
  • Moving and meaningful words from our honorees, Jacob and Benjamina
  • A most, most entertaining and clever MC, Simon Amiel! Never better.

As we approach the holiday of Thanksgiving I encourage you to share your Thanksgiving Gratitude List!

Measuring Middot!

This week we began working on our Samis Partnership Framework Project, “Measuring Middot.”  Some quick FAQ’s to help you understand this project.


  1. What is the Samis Partnership Framework with SHA?
  2. The Samis Foundation provides generously for Jewish Day School education in Seattle as part of its mission to support “Intensive, Immersive K -12 Jewish Education, Formal and Informal.”


  1. Why “Partnership”?
  2. Samis sees Jewish Day Schools as its partners in fulfilling its mission and students and families as its beneficiaries.


  1. What is this “Framework”?
  2. It is a way for the Samis Foundation to link its vision and mission to specific educational outcomes in the day schools.


  1. What is the Partnership commitment?
  2. As Samis continues to provide SHA with generous support, SHA will identify and work to articulate specific Jewish educational outcomes and put ongoing assessments for that chosen area in place and of course evaluate and recalibrate as SHA learns.


  1. What has SHA chosen as its area?
  2. SHA has chosen the area expressed in our mission statement, We develop students of character and integrity.


  1. What will the work entail?
  2. SHA together with the Samis Foundation has enlisted the support of Rosov Consulting to help a group of educators of staff; Rabbi Rapoport, Julia Guard, Mrs. Sara Weiss, Mrs. Benjamina Menashe, Mrs. Rebecca Feuer, Ms. Minkin and myself to carefully consider SHA’s work in this area, defining educational outcomes and then formulate assessments in regard to our Social Emotional Curriculum, including our Project SHAlom, our Positive Discipline focus and our work with Middot and Mussar.


Stay tuned for more information in the upcoming months about our progress and the process of our work and why it is so critical to the learning of our students in all areas and subject matters.

Back to Normal -again!

Phew! It has been a wonderful High Holiday season; beautiful learning in our classrooms, terrific projects going home and a meaningful pre-Simchat Torah school-wide experience creating the SHA Illustrated Torah. Now let us together turn the page and welcome some consistency and routine.

This Shabbat we begin to read the Torah from the very beginning with Torah portions that are very accessible to our young ones. A terrific week to make sure that your Shabbat table is a table of Torah. I encourage you to print up the “SHAbbat Table in this enewsletter for that very purpose. Right after the initial hunger is staved off with a bit of food – pull out the sheet and open the discussion. You might begin by asking your children what their favorite part of the Parasha is or what questions they might have about the story. You can then move into a discussion that is presented in the SHAbbat Table pritno out.

Good luck – please let me know how it goes. Not only is it worthwhile to have Torah conversation at our tables it is also a wonderful way to connect and exchange ideas and get to know our children and our guests!

Speaking about how much we all love all things SHA…Jewish in Seattle magazine is conducting the annual Best of Jewish Washington survey. Here is the link: http://sagacitymedia.polldaddy.com/s/best-of-jewish-washington

Mazal Tov to Karen and David Naggar on Yaniv’s Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat!

SHAbbat SHAlom,


Enter the Crow

Highlight of my SHA week?
I try to walk around the whole SHA building at least once a day; walking into classrooms, the halls, the library – everywhere! My stroll on Wednesday took me into the Eagles classroom, where I took a few minutes to learn every Eagles name. Then I asked the students this question:
You are the Eagles, the Robins are the Robins, the Chickadees are the Chickadees, the Hummingbirds are the Hummingbirds, even the parents have a NEST now.
What about me?!
Am I an ostrich? I stood on one foot.
Am I a pigeon? I cooed.
Am I a chicken? I put on a little chicken dance.
What bird am I?
Without hesitation one little girl called out – A CROW!
Well thank you! That will teach me to ask…
Friends, let me know if you want to do a “Walk Through at SHA!” I will be happy to have you join me – you never know what you will learn!

Welcome to SHA!

First Day


I love the First Day of School. There is nothing quite like greeting all of our students back to the building. It is a day full of hopes and dreams.

At SHA we have spent the summer cleaning, organizing and paring down the materials that have been stashed and stored away in the building since before the beginning of time. We have been gearing up for our three new elements of Project Shalom; Compassion, Kindness and Community. These new three are truly the underpinnings of our three R’s; Ready, Respectful and Responsible.

Looking forward to a wonderful year ahead!

A Prayer for the First Day…

Let kindness drizzle down with the blessed rain today upon our precious ones, as they return to SHA.

Let their hearts be open to Torah, to friendship and to knowledge.

May their eyes light up with inspiration.

May they be awake and have their lunch with them! 



Graduation 2015 !

Thoughts @ SHA Graduation 2015

First, let us drink in this moment. So much has been invested in bringing us to this day – learning, hours of planning, teaching, meetings, days and days of car pools! Homework! Conferences! Tests! Fundraising! Studying. Devotion and dedication.

Thank you friends and thank you parents – our collective efforts have been heroic. Everyone in this room has sacrificed to provide our graduates with a Jewish Day School education.

Years before the giving of the Torah and even years after – other nations depicted their gods in human forms, statues, idols; Zeus was sculpted into shape of a man, as was Apollo, Ares. The Egyptian goddess of war was depicted as a woman, as was Athena – Aphrodite, and so on.

In contrast the Torah describes the creation of human beings…

וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ, בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתוֹ:

And God created adam in His own image, in the image of God He created him;

Now here is a novel twist – in place of humans fashioning gods in their image –Torah teaches that God Almighty created humans in the image of God.

What does this idea mean to us? What is to be the impact of this noble notion, that we are created in the very image of God?

To me this means, much is expected of us. In fact the imperative of וְהָלַכְתָּ בִּדְרָכָיו

“And you shall go in His ways…” imitatio Dei , to be like God  suggests that just as God

is merciful, so must we be merciful; just as He bestows kindness, so must we bestow

kindness. This is not easy. We are commanded to embody the characteristics of

God and to see ourselves as creators, thinkers, and innovators.

Many people run away from this lofty ideal,  as fast as they can – the flail they flounder – they will do anything but succeed – it is too scary – failure is way more comfortable.  It is success that we fear.

One thinker puts it this way…

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?

Your playing small does not serve the world.

The Alter of Slabodka, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, lived over a hundred years ago. His motto was summed up simply as Gadlus HaAdam

“The Greatness of a Human”.

Human beings are so remarkable, so astounding – created in the very image of God – how could anyone ever, ever come to do something inappropriate? – That was his holy approach – Gadlus HaAdam

The Alter of Slabodka urged his students to polish their character traits so that they would aspire to become gedolim – “great ones” — in all areas of both scholarship, and personal ethics.

SHA aspires to the same ideal – we want our students to be Gedolim – young people who will grow to be leaders, innovators and peacemakers – GREATS!

Class of 2015 – we’ve been together since back in K and even EC – you have grown into fine young Jewish adults. SHA is very proud of you.

Students, we expect a lot from you. Go forth and conquer.

Standing Again @ Sinai — With Our Guarantors!


I love this Midrash from Shir HaShirim Rabbah:

Rabbi Meir said: When the Jews stood before Sinai to receive the Torah, G‑d said to them: “I swear, I will not give you the Torah unless you provide worthy guarantors who will assure that you will observe its laws.”

The Jews responded, “Master of the world, our forefathers will be our guarantors!”

“Your guarantors themselves require guarantors!” was G‑d’s reply.

“Master of the world,” the Jews exclaimed, “our prophets will guarantee our observance of the Torah.”

“I have grievances against them, too.’The shepherds have rebelled against Me’ (Jeremiah 2:8),” G‑d replied.

“Bring proper guarantors and only then will I give you the Torah.”

As a last resort, the Jews declared, “our children will serve as our guarantors!”

“They truly are worthy guarantors,” G‑d replied. “Because of them I will give the Torah.”

As they say  – “all the rest is commentary.”  All we have is our children. They are the only “guarantee” that even G’ Almighty is ready to accept. Not our past, but rather our future. Everything we do is for them. And more than anything else, what we do is the Torah education that we give our children – it is our best bet on our shared Jewish future.

Last week, the Samis Foundation arranged an opportunity for all the Heads of Jewish Day Schools to have the opportunity to talk with the experts at the Cohen Center who conducted the recent Jewish Community Study of Seattle. Here is what we learned:

Jewish Day School attendees are the most connected, engaged, religious, synagogue-affiliated and active members of the Jewish community. Day school attendees have the edge over all others when it comes to the highest quality of Jewish life.

Preaching to the choir!

Here is what I would add — there just is nothing like the devotion and dedication of Jewish day school parents. Your commitment truly makes a difference in the world. That, I deeply believe.