Friday, December 2, 2016

Sefaria- the digital revolution in Jewish learning.

When I was growing up I often heard the term “The Jewish Book Case." What do you imagine when you read the words: “The Jewish Book case?"
I imagine shelves upon shelves of books with dark covers and shining engraved letters. I imagine books, old and new, that an educated Jew ought to read and own.Knowing how to use these books was an esteemed and special kind of mastery in previous generations. Knowledge was in books and books were interconnected using footnotes. If you wanted to find something in a book you had to use the index or  table of contents.
Then came the search engine and sefaria and that changed everything. Sefaria is described on its website as: A living library of Jewish texts. It invites the reader to explore 3000 years of Jewish texts in Hebrew and English.The digital version of texts is not merely an alternative way of presenting the words. The bigger revolution is the fact that the texts are digitally interconnected.You can click on a verse in Torah and see where it appears in Rabbinic literature. You can click the Rabbinic text and see where it is quoted in Halachik (legal) literature or Jewish philosophy, or Midrash and on and on. The possibilities are endless. Finding connections which use to take reading the footnotes, getting up, pulling another book off the shelf, flipping through the pages…. Now is available with a click...Teaching Jewish texts to students today comes with new opportunities and new challenges. How are we going to use the time to make new connections? How are we going to make new kinds of connections between the texts and between the texts and our students so they become meaningful and useful for them? I invite you all to visit sefaria. Put any word into a search and discover the world of Jewish text in the digital reality.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A View from the History Department

Throughout the last few weeks in history, we have covered a variety of topics ranging from the Renaissance and the Reformation to the Civil War and Reconstruction. Throughout these topics, students have been able to explore "change" in history. Through the Renaissance and Reformation, the world began to focus on human achievement and potential, weakening the power of the Catholic Church in Europe and allowing people to think for themselves, without the impact of the church. In the Civil War, students learn about what caused the country to fracture into two separate entities. After the war, the country adopted a wide spread abolition policy, shaking the foundation of the country to its core. Leaders like Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant, needed to figure out ways to implement changes that would allow the country to rebuild and move forward. Both of these periods of time drastically shaped the course of history and put the world on a much needed path of acceptance and tolerance for all. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Senior Interview Program

On Sunday, November 20th, a number of seniors participated in the Interview Preparation Program, designed specifically to prepare seniors for competitive college interviews, as well as employment and internship interviews.

Participants gained beneficial skills and experience; they learned how to effectively talk about themselves, how to prepare for some of the most common interview questions, and what questions to ask the interviewer. These seniors took part in an introductory program earlier in the week to learn about the different types of interviews before moving ahead with Sunday’s session, which focused on interview preparation and strategies for the different types of interviews (college, internships and employment), as well as opportunities to practice the interview skills. 

I facilitated the program along with highly experienced community volunteers; together we have conducted hundreds (if not thousands) of interviews from the perspective of employer, university alumni interviewer as well as admission officer interviewer. After a seminar-style discussion of interview questions and answers (with the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’), the seniors worked in teams, interviewing each other and providing feedback while under observation by a facilitator who also provided feedback.  Each student then experienced a ‘one on one’ mock interview from A to Z, with specific feedback.  

Student response was incredibly positive and one participant even went on to ace his competitive college interview on Sunday afternoon!  The next Interview Preparation Workshop will be held on Sunday, December 4th for the remaining seniors who are interested in gaining (or polishing) their interview skills. Seniors who did not yet register for the program, they can still do so at

For any questions about this or other college counseling programs, please feel free to contact Jackie Rockman at

Friday, November 18, 2016

  This fall has been the best showing for the Claire and Emanuel G. Rosenblatt High School athletic program in school history!

    The Lady Eagles Varsity Volleyball Team started practice August 15th and each and every day one could see this team come together. Their only regular season losses were to schools from the larger schools in 5A and 3A districts, both in 5 long games. The team finished undefeated in the district winning all 6 matches and then winning both playoff matches for the schools first ever district championship in any sport.  The Lady Eagles then went on to win a Regional Semi Final game against Miami Christian School and then defeat Grandview Prep to win the South Region Championship and be the first team in school history to go to the FHSAA State Semi Finals.  The home crowds and school spirit got bigger and bigger as the team kept winning.  The Lady Eagles showcased their talents in the state semi finals, losing a four set match to The Geneva School of Winter Park finishing their season at 14 - 3.  

      The Flag Football Team took to the field this fall and dominated from the start.  The second year program had a bunch of returning players that were determined to win a title.  The Eagles had a west coast style offense and a different unit for defense that allowed the Eagles to stay fresh and win the close games.  The Eagles ran the table and were undefeated in the regular season at 6 - 0.  In the semi finals they dominated FAU High School.  In the championship game under the lights here on campus, the Eagles went toe to toe with Hebrew Academy (RASG) of North Miami Beach winning the championship on a last second interception in the end zone to take home the trophy.

     The boys and girl golf team finished the season at 3 - 4 and sent five players to the district playoffs while having two of them qualify for the Regional tournaments at Osprey Point and The Bear Club in West Palm Beach.
     The boys and girls cross country teams worked hard throughout the heat of the fall and it showed in the meets.  Eight Boys and Six girls qualified for the district races at Quiet Waters Park in late October.  Two runners just missed the qualifying times to make it to Regionals.

Coach Trell


Justin Goodis
The AIPAC Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit, is an annual event hosted in Washington D.C.. Each year, AIPAC brings around 500 high school student leaders to Washington, D.C. from across the country for high-level Israel advocacy and political activism training. Students come from all over the country, whether it be from schools, synagogues, youth groups, or teen leadership organizations. This year, Ben Grabelsky, Justin Goodis, Andrew Behmoiras, and Josh Hodes were selected from Donna Klein Jewish academy to attend the conference along with chaperone, Rabbi Plotkin.
AIPAC is an organization that works to promote the ideal that cooperation between the US and Israel is advantageous for both nations. As America's bipartisan pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC tries to ensure that all members of Congress will be supporting Israel through foreign aid, government partnerships, joint anti-terrorism efforts and the promotion of a negotiated two-state solution, to maintain the Jewish state of Israel, and to demilitarize the Palestinian state.
At the high school summit, we were educated on how we can contribute to helping and advocating for Israel at home. We were provided with the knowledge on combating anti-Israel organizations such as BDS (Boycott Divest and Sanctions). We were also taught how to lobby with congressman and discuss with them the different acts and sanctions that need to be put in place in order to protect the US - Israel relationship. It was definitely a great and educative experience and I encourage future Juniors to join the I-team fellowship and sign up for summit next year!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Rabin's Song for Peace

On November 4, 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (z”l) was assassinated, and in that moment, Israeli society was forever changed. As music is a window into society, the way in which music swirled around the life and untimely death of Yitzhak Rabin – one of Israel’s first sabra (צבר, native born) leaders – provides interesting portals into Israeli society.

The song Shir LaShalom – words by Yaakov Rotblit and composed by Yair Rosenblum, written in 1969 – became the song of a generation. The song urges to “bring the day” that peace will come. Some feel that the song echoes Rabin’s famous speech at Hebrew University on June 28, 1967, in which he praises the sacrifice of the soldiers of the IDF and starkly reminds the country of the harsh casualty of war.
Originally performed by the Infantry Ensemble (Lehakat Hanachal) of the Israeli Defense Forces, its reception among the military leadership – of which Rabin had been a part – was controversial. Army officials such as Rehavam Ze’vi ("Gandhi") and Ariel Sharon forbade it from being performed in their areas of command, and as such, the song became representative of left-wing peace-oriented politics. Ultimately, it became an official campaign song for the left-wing Meretz party in the 1996 election.
It was with that association that Rabin – former Chief of Staff of the IDF and Commander during the Six Day War – took out a lyric sheet and the words of Shir LaSalom, alongside Shimon Peres, rock star Aviv Gefen, and tens of thousands attending a the peace rally in "Kings of Israel Square" (now "Rabin Square") in Tel Aviv.

Shir LaShalom (שיר לשלום, Song for Peace)

Aviv Geffen, son of Israeli poet and songwriter Yonatan Geffen, was just emerging on the music scene when Rabin became Prime Minister for the second time in 1992. By the time of the peace rally on that fateful night in 1995, Geffen was the rock star and symbol of young Israelis, and he and Rabin were close acquaintances.

Prior to the assassination, Aviv Geffen had written Livkot Lechah (To Cry For You) in memory of a friend who had been killed in a car crash. After the tragedy of Rabin's assassination, this song – performed at the memorial in Rabin Square just one week after Rabin's death – took on a new national meaning.

Livkot Lechah became a song of the “candle generation,” the mostly young mourners who came to light a memorial candle for their fallen leader. The square was covered with candles and melted wax.

Discussion Questions
  • What songs in your memory transport you to a specific time and place?
  • What songs or lyrics connect you with Israel?