Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sandra Charlap – Combining Work Life with Pastime

Everyone hopes to enjoy his or her work life. But when one can turn a hobby into her job, that can be a dream come true.
When she was about 10 years old, Golda Och Academy Upper School art teacher Sandra Charlap discovered her passion for art, and it hasn’t stopped since.  In one form or another, Ms. Charlap has worked in the arts arena all her life.
After attending the Parsons School of Design in New York, Ms. Charlap worked as a ceramic artist selling her creations at high-end stores such as Barney’s and Neiman Marcus.
While her daughters were young, Ms. Charlap began painting murals and faux finishes, but said the work became too physically demanding. With her daughters now ages 12 and 14, Charlap has more time to devote to painting watercolors, abstracts, and pet illustrations.
The bubbly art teacher enjoys trying out different types of art as she combines her work life with her pastime. “When you’re so curious to see how something works,” she said. “If you can keep that curiosity well-tended, you’ll never tire of it. It requires a tremendous amount of time, but it’s so gratifying.”
In addition to teaching at Golda Och, Ms. Charlap gives private art lessons and has a side business painting pet portraits.
Her artwork has been exhibited in several galleries including the Gas Gallery in Maplewood and the Pierro Gallery in South Orange.
“Next thing I know, I’ve got 20 pieces and I’m doing a show,” she laughed. “My home is filled with art.”
And so is her classroom – filled with the artwork of her students, that is.
Students brightened the room with their most recent creation, hand-painted tallitot, or Jewish prayer shawls. The students used hot wax as a resist on the fabric before they painted, a look much like batik textiles.
As if she weren’t busy enough, Ms. Charlap also runs a Creativity Minyan for about 20 High School students.
“It’s about opening up your mind as we do when we pray,” she said. “I try to direct them to tapping that part of their mind.”
This year, Ms. Charlap received a new “toy” for her classroom – a fine art printing press. Printmaking, she said, is her favorite medium now.
“I love the richness and technical requirements of this particular medium,” she said excitingly.
Ms. Charlap began printmaking while working on her degree at Montclair State University where she was greatly inspired by her teacher.
“I hope in many ways that I can be like that,” she said. “As a teacher you hope to be able to influence someone that way.”
Ms. Charlap has certainly made her mark at Golda Och Academy. A former student sent a letter about his decision to minor in art at the University of Maryland after having taken one of her classes at Golda Och.
“He said he loved the class so much and that it changed his direction,” Ms. Charlap said proudly.
She also runs art clinics for Middle School and High Schools students during lunch and recess. Other students visit during breaks to work on a project or stop by just to say hello.
“Even kids who haven’t always had an interest in art usually come around to it,” she said. “You might surprise yourself. It’s all in your attitude. Do your best to keep an open mind and take chances. None of this is ever a failure.”
You can see Ms. Charlap’s pet illustrations at http://www.illustratedpet.com/.
GO Behind the Scenes is a new column on our blog, which will highlight a different faculty or staff member every two weeks. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured, please email DOshri@GoldaOchAcademy.org.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

GOA Students Help Rebuild in New Orleans

The following update from the 6th annual Katrina Relief Mission was written by Adam Shapiro, Dean of Students.

December 8, 2011

As our 6th mission comes to a close this evening, I just wanted to give a short update about this group, what they've seen and of course what they've been able to accomplish. 

As I have said to the students time and time again, the beauty of this experience for me is that I've been able to see each and every one of the groups and they have all truly been unique. Mission 6 is not an exception by any stretch of the imagination. They've now completed two incredibly hard days of work with Habitat for Humanity where they assisted with siding, staircases, porches and insulation - trust me, that house looked a lot different this afternoon than it did yesterday morning. Of course, I can't leave out the fact that they have done all this work in some fairly cool weather. While the sun did come out midday today and heated the area up, our group persevered and worked tirelessly to get their jobs done. The one word that came to my mind as we left the site today was 'pride' - because our group exhibited it at every step of the way. They didn't just want to get the job done, they wanted to do it right. 

While we were on the bus on Tuesday afternoon I reminded the group that one of the challenges we faced was that we wanted to 'see' and 'help' while the community here in New Orleans works hard every day to move forward and rebuild their lives with an eye to the future. This message was really brought home in our meeting with Robert Green and subsequent stop at Trinity Lutheran Church - a place of worship for the lower 9th ward that was decimated in the storm.  Robert couldn't say enough about how he felt about our group, he wanted them to understand one key thing - the young generation, the generation raised to help others, is the reason he has hope for the future. He has seen so much loss in his life, yet he still holds his head up and gets up every morning ready to move forward. 

When Robert took us to the church, we were then able to meet with Kathy, a woman who has been instrumental in the rebuilding of the church and surrounding area. Her message was so simple, yet so profound. She told the group how she has spent her life working and donating for 'them' yet after the storm destroyed her house, she realized that for the first time in her life she was 'them' and needed help. At that point, as she told our group, she understood that all of the work we do to make the world better is not for 'them,' rather it is all for 'us' - we cannot exclude ourselves from the world, rather we need to all work together for the greater good - an incredibly valuable lesson learned while sitting in what will be a beautiful place for communal gathering, worship and prayer. 

All in all, this has been a wonderful mission, we've worked hard and seen a lot and we are all excited for our last dinner tonight at the Tulane Hillel followed by a real southern experience - Zydeco music at Rock n Bowl. 

Before I close, I do have to take a moment to give special thanks to my two hard working and amazing chaperones. As I watched both Mrs. Udell and Mrs. Trinker hang from 24 foot ladders today and work with the students to help them every step of the way, I understood, once again, how lucky I am to work with such incredible teachers and role-models. Both of them have given so much more than their time to this mission and it is with the highest level of praise and respect that I say thank you to them - this mission absolutely would not have been as successful without them. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Roaring Sounds of Laughter After 5 p.m. in the Lower School

by Jul McCormick
GOA Fun Tracks/After Care Coordinator.

Last Monday was a usual day for Funtracks and Aftercare at Golda Och Academy. Funtracks is over at 4:15 p.m. and the Aftercare kids can be found in the classroom finishing their homework. On any given day, around 5:00 p.m. the building is quiet more often than not. The only children in the building at that time are the kids who stay in Aftercare. So when I heard yelling and screaming in the hallway I was a little concerned. You see, my desk is in the main office, which is almost the furthest point away from the Aftercare room on the first floor. I immediately picked up the phone and called down to the Aftercare room and spoke with Ms. Keisha, GOA’s new Aftercare teacher, to make sure everything was ok. Ms. Keisha was laughing, almost uncontrollably, when she answered the call.

She explained to me that everything was ok, and that they were having an Uno Tournament. I decided to walk down and have a look for myself. When I got down to the Aftercare room, the laughter and shenanigans were still in full swing. Four out of the five kids in aftercare had chosen to play in the game with Ms. Keisha. Miri told Ms. Keisha she was “bleeding”. To which Ms. Keisha replied, “Where? Tell me where I am bleeding!” Miri explained that “bleeding” in Uno meant that you were showing everyone your cards! There was a roar of laughter, which was riotous, from the kids over Ms. Keisha’s lack of understanding of “Uno terminology”.

The hootin' and hollerin' continued as Avraham threw down a draw four card to Ms. Keisha. Ms. Keisha groaned as she picked up her four extra cards and all of the children continued to laugh hysterically. Ms. Keisha asked, “Why do I have soooooooo many cards?” Theo, Avraham, Miri, Avi and Naomi found this statement to be hilarious. This seemed like the best game of UNO I had ever had the pleasure to witness.

The volume of laughter from the kids and Ms. Keisha was a wonderful sound to hear. It made me stop and think for just a moment. It made me realize how grateful I am that Ms. Keisha has joined us this year. It made me thankful that she takes the time to sit down and play a game with the kids in Aftercare each and every day. The kids in Aftercare come in at 3:15 p.m. and get right to their homework. The children who have no homework get busy playing. Ms. Keisha and the children spend a portion of everyday out on the playground or so they have time to run and play in open space. I often peek in on Aftercare and I am always pleased to see the interaction between Ms. Keisha and the children. Ms. Keisha and the kids can be seen on any given day jumping rope, reading stories or building with blocks. Whatever the task, Ms. Keisha has shown that she is up for it!

If you are in the Lower School after 3:15 p.m., please take a moment to welcome Ms. Keisha to GOA. She is a wonderful addition to our afterschool team!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Golda Och Academy Students Attend AIPAC Summit

The following articles were written by Golda Och Academy students who attened the 2011 AIPAC Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit in Arlington, VA, Nov. 6-8. The event brought together 400 students from select Jewish day schools, synagogue youth groups, and teen leadership organizations nationwide who are committed to supporting the US-Israel relationship through involvement in the American political process. The goal of the Summit was to provide students with the most advanced political training available, so that they can be more effective activists for a strong US-Israel relationship. The GOA delegation met with Arthur Mandel, a West Orange resident and legislative assistant for Congressman Bill Pascrell. The Golda Och Academy delegation would like to thank Mrs. Karen Ulric for chaperoning.

By Kineret B.

On our second and longest day of the Schusterman AIPAC High School Summit, our delegation, along with the many other students, attended many sessions that specialized in many areas. A few of them focused on the reasons behind the different issues in the Middle East in which we learned that it is not as simple as “Arabs hate Israel,” but that there are many underlying problems that cause the uneasy relationships in the Middle East and around the world. Our other sessions were mainly focused on the importance of lobbying Congress members and how to do so effectively. We were familiarized on the positions that AIPAC takes on each issue and how to present it in a professional yet personal and conversational way to our political representatives.
Most of the day was filled with structural information, so it was nice to take a break from it all during lunch when we heard four inspirational speakers. The first speaker was an African American representative of North Carolina who spoke of his support for Israel even though he is not Jewish. The next speaker was a southern, Catholic woman who got involved with AIPAC and now works with college students to promote pro-Israel support, yet she is not Jewish. The third speaker was a Muslim who got involved in his on-campus Hillel in college and involved in AIPAC, and has become a strong Israel supporter. He also is not Jewish. The last speaker was a Hispanic college student who attended an AIPAC policy conference and has become a pro-Israel leader on campus, but to our surprise, she also is not Jewish. From these four speakers, it was clear to us that Israel is not alone, and the Jews are not alone. There are people that support Israel as an existing state, and it is not necessary to be Jewish to be passionate about it. There are so many ways to help support Israel, and if effort is put into it, Israel will continue to exist and strive as a Jewish State.

By Daniel S.

As the Schusterman AIPAC Summit comes to a close, our delegation can only look back in awe and appreciation for all the AIPAC personnel who led and inspired us on our journey to becoming pro-Israel lobbyists and activists. Throughout our three days in Arlington, Virginia, our group was immersed in learning about AIPAC’s different approaches and views on Israel’s current political situation. After this, we were introduced to various methods that we, both as individuals and as a school, can use to promote theses issues to our elected officials. Equipped with these tools, the group took to Capitol Hill where we were scheduled to lobby the administration of Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. Upon entering the office, we were greeted by Arthur Mandel, Rep. Pascrell’s legislative assistant. Mr. Mandel acts as the representative’s “decision maker” by recommending in which way Mr. Pascrell should vote. After discussing our stances on the issues with him, Mr. Mandel jubilantly explained that he, along with Congressman Pascrell, agreed with us on the majority of the issues and would sponsor legislation that has a positive effect on Israel in the future. Although our group was very glad about the reception we received from the Congressman’s staff, we realized that we must keep in contact with the staff for their voting record to stay this way. And so, we hope to raise awareness in our school about this new form of Israel advocacy and hope for it to bring much needed support for AIPAC and most importantly, Israel, in the future.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Israel Club Shows Support for Release of Gilad Shalit

The following article was written by Golda Och Academy High School Israel Club students after hearing the news of the release agreement for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. To show their support, students wore yellow today.

On Tuesday, as we were walking to our last class of the day, we were stopped by Mr. Shapiro, Dean of Students at GOA. "Did you hear my announcement?" he asked, "Netanyahu announced a huge advancement in the Gilad Shalit compromise; he could be home within days." Rarely have we heard the name Gilad in a sentence so close to the phrase "home within days."

Ever since the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in 2006, Golda Och Academy students have not gone without recognizing and discussing the story. The issue of whether or not Gilad should be returned was constantly debated. We could never reach an agreement; is it fair to put millions of Israelis in danger for one man? Some of us said yes; Israel has the responsibility of returning every soldier, dead or alive, back to Israel. We also learn in our Tanach and Rabbinics classes that saving one life is like saving the world. However, others said no; regardless of whatever responsibilities Israel has towards its soldiers, putting millions in danger for one person is too risky. We started with weekly updates to the middle school and high school Israel Clubs, leading up to the distribution of yellow ribbons, which adorn most students' backpacks and lockers, and amounting to students visiting the actual Gilad Shalit tent in Jerusalem, while on Na'ale or Neshama. Our 9th graders wrote letters to Gilad’s parents expressing our love and concern for Gilad. We have also had an ongoing count of Gilad's days in captivity on our daily slideshow, and have handed out numerous "גילעד עדיין חי", "Gilad is still alive" stickers.

The students at our school have created such a strong relationship with the whole crisis and feel personally connected to Gilad. Not only have we created a personal association with Gilad, but also with his parents and fellow supporters. As a club, we've read Aviva and Noam Shalit's cries for help, and have shared similar stories of other captives and soldiers with the rest of the High School. We also took the time to read through Gilad’s children’s book, “The Shark and the Fish”, and a song composed by Camp Masad in Gilad's honor. Danielle R., a senior and co-president of the High School Israel Club, noted that the Gilad bumper sticker earned a prestigious spot on her wall of photos next to her bed at camp. Others have also decorated their water bottles or lunch bags with the sticker, serving as a constant reminder of the ordeal.

To be honest, some of us at Golda Och have recently lost hope in the homecoming of Gilad. After being gone for more than five years, we could no longer imagine the day when this character, Gilad Shalit, would become a real person in our Jewish American eyes. Our hearts, as well as our Facebook news feeds, have graciously been filled with new-found hope and curiosity.

Whatever way the story ends, this whole journey has been remarkable. Through the kidnapping of one Israeli soldier, thousands of Jewish communities around the world have come together and established an unmatchable international coalition in support of Gilad and Israel. GOA junior Rafaella S. mentioned how the constant presence of the story has served as a major focal point for Israel supporters everywhere, and the impending arrival of Gilad positively portrays Israel's commitment and close relationships to all of its citizens. We know the fight is far from over, and continue to pray in the hopes of Gilad's return. Carmelle B., a junior and secretary of the High School Israel Club says, “We have worked nonstop over the past five years spreading awareness and gaining support for his release. It is truly amazing to see this dream come true.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Science, Nature and Judaism

Our 6th graders participated in a two night trip to an environmental camp on Sept. 12-14. The trip, which complements the 6th graders’ curriculum in both secular and Judaic studies, took place at the Frost Valley YMCA in Clarysville, New York. Students learned about science and nature – incorporating Jewish content – through creative writing, art, hikes and other challenging activities. The trip was also designed to encourage social interactions and to help create a cohesive class. Facilitating cooperation and caring are important components as students shared responsibilities, lived together and learned together.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rocketeers in Our Midst!

Our sixth-graders launched their very own rockets today! The activity, which is part of the new sixth-grade science curriculum, was geared toward designing a controlled experiment in a hands-on and fun setting.

Each group of students spent three to four hours building a rocket and then collected qualitative data during the launch to study which variables affected the experiment. The launch and data collection ended with a discussion about ways to improve the students' rocket designs.

Check out our videos and pictures!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Merit of Scholarship

On June 2, we proudly awarded our first merit scholarships to incoming ninth-grader Yael C. and current students Noa S. and Jacob C.

Our Scholars: Noa, Yael (center), and Jacob
Yael, a Golda Och Academy Scholar will receive annual awards equivalent to full tuition, and Schechter Scholars Jacob and Noa will receive annual stipends. The scholarships will be awarded annually to highly motivated students who embody the values and the ideals of the Golda Och Academy mission. Current eighth-grade students and new students were eligible for the scholarships.

“Today is a wonderful first for our school – we are truly blessed to be recognizing our first Golda Och and Schechter Scholars,” said Upper School Principal Nancy Leaderman. She added, “In creating these scholarships, our Board and administration have taken the core values of our school – academic excellence, commitment to Jewish study and tradition and the nurturance of the next generation of leaders in our Jewish community and world – and sought to embody those values in students who show remarkable promise and achievement.”

For more photos, please visit GOA's Flickr!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Scholarship Dinner Success!

More than 400 school parents, grandparents, alumni parents, alumni and friends joined us last evening to honor school leaders Jane and Mark Wilf and Mark Lederman at the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel. It was a wonderful evening of celebration where more than $270,000 was raised to support scholarships at our school, pay tribute to our honorees and recognize the top Jewish day school education that is provided at our school.

Many thanks to everyone who attended, participated and supported Golda Och Academy students! The Virtual Journal can be viewed online at www.GoldaOchAcademy.org/Dinner.

Our Children, Our Future
Here's our dinner video, which spotlights our Lower School and upcoming renovation project.

Many thanks to the volunteer leadership team who made the evening such a success including: Sheryl Pearlstein and Shelley Paradis, Board Development Co-Chairs; Evie Posner and Gayle Wieseneck, Dinner Chairs; Alan & Elisa Pines, Zygi and Audrey Wilf, Journal Chairs; Shelley Paradis and Joanne Bramnick, Journal Coordinators; and Michele Landau and Shari Broder, Silent Auction Chairs!

Special thanks to all the school staff and administrators whose significant support ensured the event's success!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Diversity Day Hebrew Reading

Golda Och Academy's own Yaffa Malashock, one of our Upper School teachers, will be representing our school at the West Orange Diversity Day this Sunday, May 22.

Morah Malashock will be reading stories in Hebrew -- including some Dr. Seuss favorites -- at the festival, which will be held at the Pleasantdale School in West Orange.

The event is 2 to 5 p.m., and Morah Malashock will be reading around 4:15 p.m. We hope you'll be there!

From the West Orange Diversity Day website: In West Orange we have more than 50 different languages and countries represented. What a diversity and what a strength! Having a diverse population is an asset to any town and having multilingual individuals adds a lot of different dynamics. A lot of the multilingual and multicultural families in West Orange have moved here from their native countries. They have first hand knowledge of the world. What an asset! Let us take advantage of what they can offer our town and let's celebrate! The event is FREE to visit.

Sixth Graders Battle on Books!

We want to say "Congratulations!" to our sixth-grade Battle of the Books Competition team, which brought home the First Place trophy with a perfect score at the Essex & Union County Battle of the Books at Chatham Middle School on Thursday. The winning team included Lindsay B., Emma M., Kimberly R., Josh S., Nava W. and Isabel Y.

Battle of the Books is a literary quiz competition. Over the course of the year, students read from a list of 15 books selected by a committee of teachers and librarians. They then participated in battles, answering very specific questions about the plots, characters and themes of the books. Battle of the Books began in 1982 and was created by a librarian from Urbana, IL, and it has since spread across the country.

Golda Och Academy has been competing in the Essex & Union Interscholastic Battle of the Books for more than a decade.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Letters to Sala at Golda Och

Each year in observance of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Golda Och Academy hosts a lecture sponsored by Judy and Steve Elbaum. This year, the annual Elbaum Lecture featured author Ann Kirschner whose book Letters to Sala tells the story of her mother’s survival during the Holocaust. In addition to publishing a book, the New York Public Library created an exhibit of the letters and  memorabilia that tell Kirschner’s mother’s story. Both Ann Kirschner and the NY Public Library’s curator of the Letters to Sala exhibit, Jill Vexler spoke to GOA students as part of the school’s Yom Hashoah observance.

Judy Elbaum, author Ann Kirschner, and curator Jill Vexler.

Kirschner shared with Golda Och Academy students the story of growing up with the knowledge that
her mother was a Holocaust survivor, but not knowing any details about her mother’s experiences during
the war. Sala Garncarz Kirschner ended her silence when, in preparation for triple by-pass surgery in
1991, she handed her daughter, Ann, a wallet full of letters. Sala Garncarz Kirschner, (who turned 87
in March 2011), survived the surgery and – finally - revealed her wartime experiences to her family.

Sala was taken from her home when she was 16 and survived five years in seven different Nazi forced-labor camps. Saving the letters she eventually passed on to her daughter Ann became inextricably
linked with saving her life. The letters were not mere pieces of paper: they were the people she loved,
friends and family waiting for her return. She risked her life to preserve the letters always managing
somehow to take them with her from camp to camp.

Sixth-graders Samuel Z. of Montclair and Joshua S. of West Orange peruse the Letters to Sala exhibit. 
Liberated in 1945, Sala came to the United States as a war bride, and hid her papers in a closet. Five
years of her life were also hidden until the day she revealed the existence of more than 300 letters,
photographs, and documents.

Sala’s story is, above all, a story of life and one young woman’s way of seeing beyond years of horror.
From her letters, we learn about friendship and love, Jewish life in occupied Poland, Nazi labor camps,
the intensely human need to rebuild life after the catastrophe of war, and the ability of words to give and
sustain life.

Through the Elbaum’s generosity, the exhibit, Letters to Sala, is on display in the lobby of Golda Och
Academy, (1418 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange), through Friday, May 27. Exhibit hours are
Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30 pm. To arrange for visits to the exhibition, please contact
Abby Finkel at afinkel@goldaochacademy.com or 973-602-3798. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tapping Into Environmental Good

Sixth graders in Mrs. Lowenthal's and Ms. Himmelstien's classes wrote their own lyrics for a water-conscious entry for a contest hosted by the New Jersey American Water and Scholastic. The "Tap for Tap" Song and Dance Contest seeks to encourage students to help the environment by opting for tap water. The lyrics also were written as part of National Poetry Month (April) activities and the Solomon Schechter Day School Association's Mekor Hayim project.

Three winning classrooms will receive a fun-filled Field Day from New Jersey American Water, brand-new Scholastic books, and a pizza party. We think our sixth graders did an amazing job, and we wish them bucket-loads of luck!

Monday, April 11, 2011

National Poetry Month Rocks GOA!

Contributed by English Department Chair Jane Freeman.

It was the first love poem the fire hose had ever received … not the first for the clock, however -- there were no fewer than seven love poems dedicated to the third-floor timepiece. The gym reveled in the newly found ardor of its four admirers as well, while the stone floor in the vestibule shyly reflected her single sonnet. What was going on? To honor National Poetry Month, students and faculty had written poems in honor of their most beloved Golda Och Academy feature, and on April 1 had plastered the objects of their love in appropriate places (one entire class of students had poems pinned to their shirts!).

There were stranger things going on: Mr. Londino was discovered reading a poem in an English class. Poems protruded from every pocket. Seussical verses and hats on cats were flying through the halls. Perhaps most amazing, however, were the visits from the Urban Word NYC prize-winning Spoken Word Poets. English classes reverberated with the stampede of magical zebras, garbage cans bulging with undelivered love letters and dreams of awakening in a new world … all nudged with the panache only a New York City Urban Word Poet can bring (“The sign on this door says AMAZING!”).

April has just begun … what could possibly happen in the coming weeks? Stay tuned … (Wait—was that Brutus running through the BK in a toga? Chasing Puck?)

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Model Experience at Model UN

From March 13-15, 28 Golda Och Academy students spent three days at the 10th annual Jewish-Canadian Youth Model United Nations. This year we were among more than 160 delegates from nine schools from across the United States and Canada.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

The group received an extraordinary number of awards, including gavels for best delegate on four out of seven committees, which were awarded to Oren Fliegelman, Adam Langenbucher, Jared Fineberg and Sam Rubinstein. Honorable Mention awards were given to Anna Brooks, Matthew Davis, Ben Hersch and Josh Pearlstein. In all, we received eight out of a possible 21 awards!

The recognition accorded our delegation is particularly impressive when we realize that most of the schools either have classes dedicated to preparation for the Model UN or coaches who come into school to prepare the students for debate. Our success is a credit to the caliber of the students and to everyone who helps prepare them for these kinds of activities every day.

The entire delegation was commended by the committee chairs for their research, position papers and ability to stay focused as they stayed in character while articulating their thoughts on a wide range of topics. We were continuously impressed by the manner in which our students conducted themselves, both in committee session and during free time when they had a chance to mingle with the students from other day schools! They are confident, poised and always respectful.

As a special bonus we were treated to a lesson on how to tie a turban from Jason Roth during the no-talent talent show. Guess what? He won!

Many thanks to Eleanor Brooks and Michael Monson for their dedication to our Model UN students.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Insightful Interviews with Holocaust Survivors

Once a year, Golda Och Academy invites participants of Café Europa -- an informal group where Holocaust survivors can engage in conversation, participate in social and educational activities, and develop supportive relationships --  to visit the school.

Our eighth graders learn interviewing skills and then meet with a Holocaust survivor to practice those skills. The students write up the interviews as a way to learn more about the survivors and their Holocaust experiences. The student write-ups will be collated into a booklet, and the students will present those booklets to the survivors at the annual Café Europa Yom Hasho'ah program in May.

Lore Ross Café Europa is a project of the Jewish Family Service of MetroWest.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Art of Tallit

Our sixth graders are working with art teacher Sandra Charlap and guest artist/teacher Kristen Lauler in art class to make their own tallitot, or prayer shawls. The project began with the students choosing quotes for their atarot, which are the decorative linings on the collar of the tallitot, in their Judaic Studies classes. Ms. Lauler is teaching the art of batik, which is wax-resist dyeing technique.

In May, at the culmination of the tallit project, there will be a presentation, which celebrates the completion of the tallitot and includes a student-led learning and breakfast program with the students' families. The goal of the project is for each student to have a beautiful tallit that will reflect his or her own personality and style!

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jumping Rope for the Heart!

Last year's Jump Rope for Heart was a true success!
Last Tuesday, Golda Och Academy's Lower School enthusiastically kicked off another one of our successful Tikkun Olam Programs, the "Jump Rope for Heart" campaign, thanks to Marci Robinson, a former Golda Och parent, who once again introduced the program.

The actual event will happen on March 1, and we will be asking all of our students and faculty to wear something red on that day. The money we raise for the American Heart Association will help to support vital research and help our children understand the importance of community service and physical activity. We think it's a true win-win situation!

Donations can be made by visiting our Team Page, where you'll find student pages made by our second through fifth graders in computer class. Our pre-K through first grade students also have the chance to make a page at home with parental guidance.

Also, be sure to browse the American Heart Association website for heart healthy suggestions, to find information about nutrition, physical activity, healthier kids, weight and stress management, as well as games and health experiments to do with your children.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Musical Benefit

You might notice that we have a new feature on the right side of our blog, and if you haven't, we hope you'll take some time to listen to the beautiful sounds of our very own Upper School choir from their 2009 album, "Dripping in Your Ear."

We also hope you'll attend our Annual Choir Benefit Concert on February 15, 2011 at 7 p.m.* at the Maurice Levin Auditorium at the Leon & Toby Cooperman JCC in West Orange, NJ. The benefit concert will feature our Middle and High School choirs, as well as a guest performance by the men's barbershop chorus, Voices of Gotham. Our choir also will be releasing their newest album, Mashehu Matok.

Tickets can be purchased through February 8, by emailing Josh Ehrlich or speaking to one of our choir members. We can't wait to see you there!

*We are hoping there won't be snow, but if there is, February 16 is our scheduled snow date. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Melaveh Malka Milestone

Our Lower School, with grades pre-K through fifth, celebrates Jewish milestone events at every grade. The beauty of these milestones is that they include family education, which provides our students and parents with the joy of discovery!

On Saturday, our third graders and their families experienced the beauty of the havdallah ceremony, a ritual that symbolically marks the end of Shabbat and ushers in the new week. Families gathered for a student presentation and hands-on art projects, including the making of beautiful havdallah sets out of glass and beads, as well as a spice bag.

Our students were taught how to sign the havdallah blessings, and it was a moving experience to watch all of the students signing in unison. The evening then concluded with a festive and delicious Melaveh Malka.

We want to say Yashar Koach! to our students and offer many thanks to Carrie Zucker Siegel, Gena rosenberg, the entire third grade staff, and Morah Ruti for all of their hard work in creating such a beautiful Jewish milestone and for making great memories to add to our students' extensive treasury of positive Jewish experiences.

Stay tuned for more milestone events with our Lower School students!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Golda Och Academy Students Give Back

Yesterday was our high school's annual Community Service Day, and our students spent their morning working with seniors, adults with disabilities, children with Cerebral Palsy and preschoolers, as well as helping out at food pantries and Reeves Reed Arboretum in Summit -- a perfect project to honor Tu Bishvat, the New Year for Trees. Our high school students chose their top three locations and small groups were sent to each of the agencies.

Engaging with the residents at Canterbury Village.
Throughout the morning, Golda Och Academy students could be found at the ARC of Essex County -- Stepping Stones School, which is an innovative learning program for infants, preschoolers, and children up to age 9 who have developmental disabilities, while other students visited Canterbury Village of West Orange, which has been one of the most experienced Senior Assisted Living Residences in the area since 1921. Our students also were at the Horton School, one of the most densely populated schools in the North Ward in Newark, with grades K-8th, as well as at the more than 100-year-old Valley Region Settlement House Pre-School in West Orange.

Also, in an effort to fight hunger and poverty, our high schoolers volunteered at the Community FoodBank of NJ and the Emergency Food Pantry at The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Orange, New Jersey. 

A Golda Och Academy student (center) at the WAE Center. 
Some students volunteered at the Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey Adult Center in Irvington, as well as their Horizon Elementary School and Horizon High School and also at Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled of Metrowest WAE Center (Wellness, Arts and Enrichment), which offers opportunities for teens ages 16 and older, as well as adults.

To top off the day, the high school students were treated to a performance from Golda Och Academy's very own drama and multi-media instructor, Jordan Herskowitz, who performed his hilarious and heart-warming one-man show, "Growing up Jordy Pordy," about  life as a professional mascot. It was the perfect end to a great day of volunteerism and giving back by our high schoolers.

The one-man "Jordy Pordy" show.
Stay tuned for more of what our students are up to, and be sure to visit us on Twitter and Facebook