Monthly Dateline Newsletter                                                                                                             February 2016
Columbus Torah Academy Monthly Dateline
Message from Head of School
by Rabbi Samuel J. Levine

I just returned from spending a week in Israel, meeting and interviewing potential teachers for the coming school year. Because, professionally trained Hebrew teachers are difficult to find locally, we have been forced to use distant learning methods to provide Hebrew language instruction for many of our students. We believe that the learning experience can be significantly improved for our students if their teachers are in the same room with them, hence, the need to enrich our faculty with staff from abroad. We are currently in negotiations with a number of teachers, and, with G-d's help, they will come to a successful conclusion. 
The atmosphere in Israel is surprisingly calm given the daily reports on the news.  Despite the horrific spate of terror attacks, Israelis go about their daily lives, building a country and society that truly fulfills the vision of being "a light unto the nations." The boom in building is evident as the ubiquitous presence of cranes dot the Jerusalem skyline and new super highways abound.  More importantly, a certain joie de vivre radiates from the people of Israel. This enthusiasm was most evident among the teachers and students that I observed during my weeklong stay. I visited schools and witnessed model lessons in Bet She'an, Modi'in and Jerusalem. Each school was filled with passionate teachers and avid students, all interested in sharing their ideas with their visitor from America.
My grandson is studying at Orayta, a yeshiva in the Old City. I spent Shabbat with him at the yeshiva and, again, was taken by the spirit of the students and their teachers. I was filled with gratitude as I watched my grandson participate in this banquet of Torah study, Zionism and wholesome teenage interaction. Also, of significant personal pride, was the fact that one of my grandson's classmates at Orayta is the son of a student of mine from Charleston, South Carolina.   His parents had come to join their son for a special Shabbat for parents hosted by the yeshiva. Spending Shabbat together at the yeshiva were three generations: teacher, student, "grand-student" and grandson. I thank G-d for the day school education we share that helped shape our lives and that brought us together for a blissful Shabbat.
The power of a Jewish day school education cannot be overstated in terms of building Jewish identity and fostering a commitment to Judaism, the Jewish people, and the State of Israel. This education can be immeasurably enriched for our children by adding Religious Zionist Israeli educators to our faculty.
Lower School Principal Hired for 2016-2017

Columbus Torah Academy recently announced the appointment of Debra Kira as CTA's next Lower School Principal. Debra will assume her position as Principal following the remarkable twenty-six year tenure of current Lower School Principal, Patty Sapp, who is retiring at the end of the school year. Debra's appointment will take effect July 1, 2016.

With the input of a parent advisory committee, we were able to identify the qualities we were seeking in our next Lower School Principal. At the core, we were certain that we sought an administrator who has the professional skills to deeply understand the unique nature of a Torah day school and the complex and challenging education such a school offers its students. The new principal would need to be a visionary who possesses a passion for helping our students succeed academically and in life.

In consultation with Yeshiva University Institute for University School Partnership and the assistance of Carney Sandoe & Associates, a Boston Massachusetts recruitment firm that serves independent schools nationwide, we have, for the past two academic years, conducted a nationwide search for someone who embodies these principles, and with the experience and credentials to succeed Patty. In Debra Kira, we believe that we have found that person. She exemplifies the personal and professional qualities that CTA leadership has set as priorities in its next leader of the Lower School.

Debra currently serves as Head of School of the UOS Goldberg Montessori School in Houston, Texas, where she has worked since 2010. The UOS Goldberg Montessori School is an early childhood and kindergarten school. Under Debra's leadership the school has grown from 90 to 160 students in just five years. It attracts students from a cross section of the Houston Jewish community, and is renowned for excellence in all of its programs. Debra also spent six years as the High School English Department and English Language Lead Teacher for the Robert M. Beren Academy, also in Houston. She holds a BA in English Literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Master of Education and Education Administration from Grand Canyon University.  Read More
Spotlight on Upper School Judaics

By Rabbi Weitz, US Judaic Studies Coordinator
It's Mench Season!

Tuesday was the big day - IronMench 5776 was officially announced! This year, to add to the excitement, we are combining the IronMench competition with the year-long Amazing Race competition. With a more robust list of Yidiot Klaliot (general Jewish knowledge facts) and an 8 week preseason, this year's IronMench will be better than ever.
IronMench is a program created by our Upper School Judaic Studies Department in efforts to facilitate meaningful review and mastery of the year's learning in a fun and effective fashion. Come check out the big game on April 1st (details pending).   Please enjoy the break-out video: 

Ironmench 5776 Promo Video

News from Lower School Judaic Studies Department
Dror Karavani, LS Judaic Studies Coordinator

Tu B'Shevat
One of the central missions of the school is to strengthen the connections between our students and the State of Israel.  Tu B'Shevat is a great opportunity to emphasize this. Each class had its own "seder" with discussions, activities and games, and most of all, the students enjoyed the various fruits from the Shivat Haminim (the Seven Species of Israel). The students collected money and our friends in Kfar Saba used the money to plant trees for us.  During art, each class designed a canvas of one of the shivat haminim which will be displayed in the school hallways.  The third to sixth grades explored different aspects of the holiday such as recycling, botany, and nutrition, through different activity stations. 

What's the Blessing on a Pill? What Do We Do Before We Enjoy Ice Cream Cake?
In addition to learning the order of the different brachot (blessings) and as part of the Blessing Unit in third Grade, the students also were challenged into discussing and learning about unique situations and the bracha made in those cases. They designed their poster "hamagaesh" (the order of the blessings before and after eating different foods).  You will be able to see the posters at the Achievement Fair.
Kindergarten Chumash Bereishit Siyum
After weeks of learning the parshiot stories and the values of the various characters in the Chumash, the Kindergartners finished Bereishit and celebrated with a siyum on Thursday. Wearing crowns and performing a play with songs reflecting the main idea of each parsha, the students put on a beautiful presentation.  Each student received a special medal and certificate marking the occasion. At the end of the program, everyone watched a creative power point presentation of the students dressed up and acting out the scenes which they learned. The students decorated a tzedakah box that was sent to them by their friends in Rakefet School in Israel as a gift for this event.  Each student received an album as a memento and concluded the party with a yummy treat. Kudos to Morah Jamie for all her hard work and dedication in preparing the students for this occasion and the daily help from Morah Naomi. This is just a small picture of what occurs in and out of their classroom on a regular basis.  Yasher Koach. Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazayk! May we go from strength to strength!  To watch the performance, click below:

Kindergarten Breishit Siyum
Kindergarten Bereishit Siyum

Coming Events
On Monday, February 8th, the second graders will celebrate Chag HaChumash and on Tuesday, February 9 we will welcome Rosh Chodesh Adar I with  "Silly Hat Day".  All of the students should come with their unique hats to begin the happiness of the Purim season.
Hebrew Department Happenings

Kelly Adar, Hebrew and Israel Culture Coordinator
The Hebrew Department has been working diligently on Hebrew words and spoken Hebrew in all classes and grades.  It is impressive to see the progress of the language in the various age groups and to realize what amazing work everyone is doing in order to encourage the students to speak and participate in Hebrew.
In kindergarten, Morah Jamie speaks with the students in Hebrew every afternoon. On a recent visit to their class, the students excitedly showed me how well they know their colors and shapes in a Bingo game. The "adom", "yarok and Kachol" together with Meshulash-triangle, Ribuah-Square and Igul-circle, sound so cute when the kindergarteners use it.

In first grade, Morah Irit took her kids outside to build a snowman. The reason was because the kids were busy learning a story called "
איזה יופי קר?" which means "it's so great it's cold" about a snowman who lost some body parts and when it got warmer he had to run and find his legs so he wouldn't melt away. He finally found a cold place and said "it's so great it's cold." The great thing about the story is that the kids learned so much about body parts in a fun way.

Second graders with Mor
ah Dina, in addition to drawing their own types of trees from "Ice Cream Trees" to "Lego 
Trees", learned a beautiful song for Tu B'shvat about a tree. Click below to hear them sing the song for you!! 

In fourth grade, Morah Yona has worked on a story called "חברות טובות". All the students, without exception, spoke about what it means to have a good friend. They used the appropriate vocabulary and expressed themselves clearly.
In 5th and 6th grade, Morah Betty uses the
games Bananagrams in Hebrew to make learning fun and exciting. All of her students, through junior high, enjoy searching for their own vocabulary words.
In Upper School, students are getting acquainted with Israel's literary masterpieces. In 9th-10th grade the students are all invested in the beautiful story, " הבכור לבית אבי." This is the story of Eliezer Ben Yehudah, the revival of the Hebrew language and his struggle to maintain one unanimous language to be taught in Eretz Israel at the end of the last century. His struggle is being taught to help students appreciate the reality of which we are able to take advantage.

4th Grade Happenings from Mrs. Wagner's Class

In Mrs. Wagner's 4th grade class, students wrote and performed a newscast on current events occurring during the American Revolution such as Paul Revere's famous ride, the Boston Tea Party and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

Fourth grade also conducted a gumdrop structure challenge lab. Their challenge was to build a structure that can hold the weight of a book. In small groups, students had to figure out which shape would best hold the weight.

Tzedakah Box Turn In
If you have a CTA Tzedakah Box, don't forget to fill it and empty it often.  You can choose to send in a check with the amount of the contents or put the change and cash into an envelope or baggie and send in with your child.  Amounts are counted towards your Give and Get and are a great addition to the donations the school receives.  If you need a new or more Tzedakah boxes, contact Shari.
Drum Circle Time in Music

Music with Morah Cheri was enhanced the last couple of weeks with the addition of a Drum Circle.  Led by former student, Jordan Hoffman (a current OSU student) with Morah Cheri's help the drum circle inspires rhythm and tone and helps students learn to appreciate their fellow performers and keep in time with their beat.

Students Appreciate Vision with RealEyes

Lower School students in grades K-6 were visited and taught by instructors from Realeyes, a classroom vision, health and safety education program created by the Ohio Optometric Association. Realeyes includes four standardized, interactive, age-appropriate curricula that are presented free of charge by Ohio optometrists in the community. Topics covered included eye anatomy, eye safety and eye disorders. 

STEM Updates in Grades 1, 2, 3

In STEM, unit 8 is "Invention Convention". We have researched and studied famous inventors and life changing inventions, reviewed the engineering design process, discussed Thomas Edison's Six Rules of Inventing, brainstormed new and creative uses for common objects (for example - a paper clip can be a bookmark, an earring, or be used to make bracelets and necklaces). The first graders made pop-up books about Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin. The second graders made pop-up books about Alexander Graham Bell, Garret Morgan, and the Wright Brothers. The third graders researched Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Benjamin Franklin and discussed the 10 most important inventions in human history.

Each grade has an invention design challenge. The first grade are solving this problem: They must make a snow boot for dogs that will be soft, comfortable, protect the dogs' paws from cold, snow, and ice, and stay on the dogs feet. They sketched designs; we made patterns and are hand-sewing the boots! The first graders are doing an amazing job with the designing and sewing!! We are eager to test these boots on Sadie the Schnauzer (my dog).

The second grade had to solve this problem: Design and build a game or toy that will make indoor recess more fun. The students each have designed and are building amazing things: a Shabbat-themed card matching game, a playhouse for toys, a toy ice cream shop, a dry- erase write your own story book are just a few of the amazing creations!

The third graders had a design challenge: to design and build water filters that would be able to remove dirt and debris from water. We researched and discussed how polluted water affects people and the environment. The students built a design, tested it, made revisions, and built and tested the revised design. 

The second graders have been working on a BIG integrated project with the Intensive Language class. We are making topographic maps of Israel. The students are using salt dough to build all the land forms and bodies of water. We are building mishkans and labeling key places on the maps. We are including a compass rose to indicate the cardinal directions.

Freshmen Learn About the 4th Amendment...Bust Teachers Anyway
A tongue-in-cheek submission by Tim Pray, Upper School Teacher

The freshman US Government class started the new semester with the initial lessons focused on the structure of government, and the Bill of Rights.  Present in the unique character of those first ten amendments to the Constitution, is the idea that laws could limit governmental power, not just the actions of the citizen.  In a simulated exercise as part of this unit, students role-played as FBI agents and executed federal warrants in order to find and confiscate evidence of wrong-doing by certain "nefarious" members of the CTA faculty.  The freshmen conducted real-world searches, in accordance with the directions of their search warrants, while being mindful to guard the right of every American to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures".  These freshmen "Feds" could be forgiven for the fervor with which they pursued the accused: Rabbi Zecharia "Z-Dealer" Weitz, Dianne "The Diva" Schwendenman, and Timothy "P-Diddy" Pray (pictured here as students collect "evidence").  Mr. Pray, (ironically the person instructing them as to how to conduct legal searches) teaches freshmen American government and was the originator of this now inconvenient lesson.  Although the students seem to have a very solid grasp of the balance between empowering and restricting the actions of law enforcement, Rabbi Weitz indicated that this unfortunate series of events raises the disturbing possibility that these freshmen may not bring home the kind of grades that would seem to go with their "smug" attitudes.  Mr. Pray seemed to be reiterating Weitz's less-than-subtle warning, saying, "I'm sure we'll all look back and laugh at this... in summer school."  

Classroom Sites Linked to Parent Page
From Dianne Schwendenman, Technology Integration Specialist

The K-6th grade classroom websites are now linked to the Parent Page of our website. These classroom websites are being used by 2nd through 6th grade general studies students in the computer lab and the classroom for the last two years. It is through these sites that students browse links assigned and approved by their teacher. With these links, students conduct online research and work on online projects related to what they are studying in class.

Students can now visit these sites from home and explore class topics in more depth and at their own pace. Parents can view subject links to learn about the current and past online content covered by their child's class.

We are currently in the process of linking all teacher blogs and newsletters into these sites. Further development of the sites will continue as other K - 6th grade teachers begin to use the class websites.

In other news, Ms. Tannenbaum's first grade students have been working on their penmanship in a very high-tech way. With iPads and an app from Zaner-Bloser called Handwriting, students trace the shape of letters and numbers on an iPad screen using a stylus. The app shows students the correct shape of letters and even has short videos showing the proper method of writing each letter and number. Students receive immediate feedback each time they trace or practice making a letter. This feature helps students avoid developing bad writing habits.
New State of the Art Camera System Installed

The camera system at CTA has been replaced to enhance security and safety monitoring both inside and outside the walls of our building. Evaluation of our old system showed a 15 to 20 year old system with mostly analog cameras. Only 10 out of the 30 cameras were operational and the recording features were basically not usable.

Working with Vector Security we have now installed a state of the art system with 32 new cameras both inside and out, new wiring throughout the building, on-time recording capabilities, and large screen in house monitors, remote monitoring for designated personell and G-d forbid, the Columbus SWAT team.

This system stores up to 30 days of recordings for each camera, allowing us to keep a close eye for security as well as safety for the students, staff, and parents. So smile - you are on CTA cameras!
Student Initiates Support for Magen David Adom

CTA 9th grader, Aviga'yil Levi, is spearheading a fundraiser for Magen David Adom (MDA). MDA
is Israel's first responder service that provides ambulances, blood, and disaster relief. MDA is the only organization in Israel that is officially given this role by the Israeli government, but it is not a government agency; therefore, it relies on donations to fund it.

During the relentless terror attacks that have been occurring almost daily in Israel these last four months, MDA has provided its services to all of the victims. Their supplies are in need of replenishment!

Representatives from MDA came to speak with the students and gave each student a tzedakah box and armed them with information about this important organization.

Explained student leader, Aviga'yil Levi, "This fundraiser is rallying Columbus Jewish community together to do a mitzvah of raising funds to purchase "Red Bags" - the paramedic first response bags - for MDA. Each one of these "Red Bags" costs $1,000...let's see how many bags we can buy for the first responders that are saving lives in Israel!"

To participate in this mitzvah, please give your donations to Aviga'yil Levi or send them directly to American Friends of Magen David Adom, 23215 Commerce Park Road #306, Beachwood, OH 44122 with checks marked to the Columbus MDA Teen Red Bag:

If you have any questions, please speak with Aviga'yil or contact the MDA Midwest Regional Director, Cari Immerman at (216) 342-4032 or (877) 405-3913.

Parents & Students Get Ready for Junior High

Even at CTA, the transition from Lower School to Junior High is a big one. Having spent the year as "king of the castle" when they were 6th graders, the move to the Upper School wing with new expectations is exciting.

Fifth and 6th grade parents recently joined together at the home of Gary and Lara Blumberg for a presentation by Eliza Delman, Upper School Principal and Rabbi Drandoff, Judaic Studies Principal explaining some of the core changes and welcoming parents to come visit and find out more.

Sixth graders had the chance to come up with their teachers and their class to spend some time in the Upper School and meet Rabbi Weitz and Dr. Kennedy who will be two of their teachers next year.

While one school, the divisions between Upper and Lower School are apparent and CTA relishes the opportunity to transition students through the grades. Having a strong foundation prepares the students for the new rigors and responsibilities of Junior High.
Volunteer Opportunities Abound for CBI

The 2016 Columbus Baseball Invitational is set for May 19-22 and a variety of volunteer opportunities, all eligible for Give and Get, are available. To volunteer, contact

Jobs range from Concession Stand (Griller, Clerks), to Food Servers and Monitors, and Drivers and help with Shabbat Activities and Meals. As the events are over a Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there will be much needed help all days.

47th Shakespeare Production A Success

Time, Tradition, Shakespeare was the title of the 7th grade production of Shakespeare, a performance culminating the annual Shakespeare Festival which is a highlight of the 7th grade curriculum. Directed by artist in residence, Angela Barch with the assistance of Dr. Echevarria-Morales and Norma Whitmyre, the students had a great experience learning about theater and Shakespeare as well as creating lifelong memories. To see a complete recording of the show, click below:

Turtle Club Fundraiser Set for Feb. 4

Turtle Club will host a fundraiser on Thursday, February 4 during the Varsity HOME basketball games.  The Turtle Club was founded by 5th grade student, Becca Hoffman who initiated this student-led organization to educate others about the plight of the sea turtles and to raise funds to save, rescue, and restore sea turtle populations. The Turtle Club members have learned that all 7 species of sea turtles have been on the critically endangered list for over 20 years. The club is raising money to donate to the sea turtle hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. To date, Turtle Club has raised more than $90. We have created an educational ad campaign and have many other fundraising and educational projects in the works. The Turtle Club is dedicated and hard-working and doing their part to repair the world!

Enrollment Agreements Ready for 2016-2017
It is time to re-enroll for the 2016-2017 school year.  Enrollment Agreements are being sent home with the youngest child in your family during the week of January 11.  Agreements are due back to school, signed with a deposit by February 18, 2016.  Please note that CTA is using new vendors for tuition management and tuition assistance processing called Smart Tuition and Smart Aid, respectively.  If you need another packet or have any questions, please contact Norm or Shari.
Financial Assistance forms are due by March 18, 2016 and you will need copies of 2015 W2's, 1099s and tax returns.
Condolences To:
Terri Barnett and family on the passing of brother, Robert Asch
Mazel Tov To:
Sara (Cole) Pearlman (class of 2000) on the birth of a daughter and to grandparents, Stuart and Marilyn Cole

Mazel Tov to Jenny (Shindel) Sinowitz (8th grade class of 1993) upon the Bar Mitzvah of her son and to grandparents Harold and Elaine Shindel

Michael Cassell (class of 2007) upon the birth of a daughter and to grandparents Jonathon Cassell and Michele Cassell

Anne (Calabrese) Wolf (class of 2004) upon the birth of a daughter and to grandparents Joe and Monica Calabrese

Please share your special moments by submitting to Dateline at
Community & School Events
Feb 4 - Turtle Club Cupcake Fundraiser at Basketball Games - 5:30 pm at CTA
Feb 7 - PJ Library Community Day at COSI from 10 am - 12 noon
Feb 8 - 2nd Grade Chag HaChumash at 9 am at CTA
Feb 1-26 - Lone Soldier Toiletries Drive from Columbus Jewish Federation
Feb 12 - NO SCHOOL - Professional Development Day
Feb 12-15 - Varsity Boys' Basketball Tournament - Pittsburgh, PA
Feb 13 - Comedy Night at 8:30 pm at JCC
Feb 15 - NO SCHOOL - President's Day
Feb 15 - Gym Skills Program at Ahavas Sholom
Feb 17 - 21 - Varsity Girls' Basketball Tournament - Miami, FL
Feb 17 - Dr. Susanna Kokkonen at 7:30 pm at JCC - presented by Columbus Jewish Federation
Feb 18 - Deadline for 2016-2017 ENROLLMENT AGREEMENTS
Feb 21-23 - Yeshiva University Model United Nations Conference - Stamford, CT
Feb 21 - Neil Lazarus at 4 pm at JCC - presented by Columbus Jewish Federation
Feb 28 - Columbus Conference for Jewish Women - 9:30 - 2 pm - presented by Kollel
Mar 13 - Kosher Kolumbus Fest 11 am - 3 pm at Ahavas Sholom
It has been a time-honored Jewish tradition to give tzedakah in recognition of important events. Todah Rabah to the following for their donation:

To the Annual Giving Fund:To the Annual Giving Fund:
Jeff and Bethanne Tilson in memory of Irving Baker
Larry Glickler in memory of Murray Ebner
Gary Liebesman and Stacy Leeman in memory of Eddie Friedman's mother and Irving Baker
Dan and Leslie Chase in memory of Fred Salutsky's uncle, Naomi Myers' mother, Eddie Friedman's mother,Perry Vernikoff's father, Kim Geiger's sister, and in memory of Murray Ebner
Rachel Kravetz in memory of her grandmothers, Daisy Nemzer z'l and Candy Davidson z'l
Mike and Felice Shane in memory of Candy Davidson
Ellen Jackson in memory of Clara Davidson
Howard and Debbie Belford in memory of Irv Baker
Esther Bleiweiss in memory of Irving Baker
Randy and Rochelle Topolosky to Sara Pfaff in memory of beloved husband Frank Pfaff

To the Library Fund:
Cheryl Miller in memory of Michael Broidy's mother Rose Broidy

To the Scholarship Fund:
Alex and Susan Rosen in honor of Rabbi Henoch and Dr. Rochelle Millen, Karan Tanenbaum, Cheri Friedman, and Helen Miller
Daniel Levy in memory of Murray Vernikoff
Daniel Dershowitz and Debra Gross in honor of Rabbi Henoch and Dr. Rochelle Millen's award

To the March of the Living Fund:
Paul and Karan Tanenbaum in memory of Naomi Myers' mother, Candy Davidson, Irving Baker, Rose Broidy, Murray Ebner, Eddie Friedman's mother, Philip Gurwin, and Frank Pfaff
Give Today
Give & Get Info
More info can be found at here
Tribute Donation:  Contact Lesa, Shari or submit donation on line at for all in honor, in memory or milestone tributes to family and friends.

Kroger Rewards Card:  Go to and register your rewards card.  Kroger will donate up to 1% of your purchases from Kroger or Turkey Hill stores.
OFFICE MAX:  Max Perks card number is:  207285005

Target RED Card:  Go to to manage your red card and enroll your card in the Take Charge of Education program to choose CTA.  Target will donate up to 1% of your REDcard purchases at Target stores in the U.S and at

Amazon Smile:  Go to and register to benefit CTA.  When you make a purchase, CTA will receive 1% of that purchase as a donation to our school. 

iGive:  Register with iGive at and your Amazon purchases and online purchases at close to 1500 retailers will give a kickback to CTA.  To date we have raised over $1000. 

Apples for Students at Giant Eagle:  Go to to register for their donation program.  You will need your Giant Eagle Advantage Card number and the CTA School Code which is #4389.

Magazine Sales Help the 8th graders year round when you purchase magazines at using their code # 2522449.

Shoparoo Download the app to your smartphone and start earning points by snapping pictures of your receipts.

Columbus Torah Academy | 181 Noe Bixby Road | Columbus, OH 43213 
614-864-0299 |