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February 1, 2019                  Parshat Mishpatim                 26 Shevat 5779

Tu B’Shvat on the Food Bank Farm

On Thursday, January 17th, TASA got into the Chessed and Tu B’Shvat frame of mind as students and teachers spent the morning working at the San Antonio Food Bank Farm. The volunteer project was sponsored by TASA’s National Junior Honor Society, and engaged the entire school.

Since it was neither the time to plant or harvest, TASA was given the task of taking care of some field maintenance between crops. TASA students and teachers (as well as some parent volunteers)  pulled up and put away hundreds of yards of drip irrigation tubing so the fields could be tilled before the next crops can be planted. The fields TASA worked in will soon be planted with watermelon, cantaloupe and strawberry patches!

After spending over 90 minutes in the dirt and mud, TASA students visited the Food Bank’s greenhouse and learned about their hydroponics growing systems. As a special treat, the Food Bank Guide took us to see their goats and we even got to hold their chickens! Food bank chickens provide thousands of fresh organic eggs to San Antonio’s needy residents.

Learning and being a part of the agricultural cycle, while giving back to our community, are all part of the TASA way of learning by doing.

Please scroll to the end of this issue for more great photos from our Food Bank Farm Day...

TASA’s Mrs. Endzweig brings
San Antonio Flair to the Western Galilee

TASA K-2 teacher Mrs. Sarah Endzweig recently participated in the Partnership2Gether program. The Partnership2Gether program, or P2G, is a joint program of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Agency.  The program’s objective is to “create meaningful relationships between global Jewish communities and communities in Israel.”  

Locally, P2G is coordinated by JFSA’s Lauren Abraham.  Mrs. Endzweig was part of a group of eleven San Antonio educators who, together with educators from Budapest, Hungary visited with a number of partner schools in the Western Galilee region. The members of the delegation were taken on a tour of the region which included notable locations like Rosh HaNikra, Acco, Tzfat, and Naharia.

Among the schools they visited were a naval preparatory High School, several elementary schools, and a school for children with profound emotional needs. The schools shared several common denominators that made a significant impression on Mrs Endzweig.

The first was music.  All of the schools have an emphasis on music and music education. Their involvement with music created a palpable energy and excitement in the schools she visited.

The second was agriculture. All of the schools had school wide programs that involved agriculture, some even had school gardens or fields. Their involvement with agriculture helped emphasize a connection to the land and the growing world around us.

Lastly, all the schools were involved with problem solving activities and projects that focused on solving real world problems and making things better for others in the society around them. Mrs. Endzweig commented that she believes that the reason why there are so many startups in Israel is because their education system encourages students to come up with out-of-the-box solutions for the purpose of benefiting others.

Mrs. Endzweig will be working to further the relationships she forged with the schools in Israel and bridge the gap between San Antonio and students in the Western Galilee partnership region. Mrs Endzweig is already developing plans on how to implement what she learned and was inspired by on her trip.  She hopes to share these dividends with the students at TASA and the greater San Antonio Jewish community.

Student Voices

Please click on the image below to launch the video
TASA Student Voices - Parshat Yitro
Please click on the image below to launch the video
TASA Student Voices - Parshat Mishpatim.

Fifth and Sixth Grade Siyum
on Parshat Beshalach

Rabbi Marrus’ 5/6 Chumash class recently celebrated a Siyim in honor of the completion of the entire Torah portion of Beshalach. Since the beginning of this school year, the students have been studying the Torah portion along with Rashi’s commentary. They worked on deciphering the prefixes, suffixes, shorashim (root words) and structure of the verses. They also focused on understanding the meaning and context of the words, along with many Midrashim. Many lessons are learned from this exciting portion of the Torah. Additionally some of the most interesting events in Jewish history (including the exodus from Egypt, splitting of the sea and the subsequent song of the sea, the manna falling from heaven, and the war with Amalek) happen in this parsha.

When the students completed the Parsha they celebrated with a Siyum that included some nosh, acting out a skit about one of the stories from Parshat Beshalach, and watching an animated film about the life of Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki-Rashi, the 11th century sage and most well known commentator on the Torah.

We wish Rabbi Marrus and the 5/6 Chumash class a hearty Mazal Tov as they continue their studies with Parshat Yitro.

TASA and USMC Recognize War Hero

On January 23rd TASA students had the honor and privilege of witnessing Mr. Raul Lozano, a two tour Vietnam Veteran, receive a plaque recognizing his service as the Marine Squadron Leader of the 3rd Platoon, India Company, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines. Mr. Lozano, who is the grandfather of two of our TASA students, was honored for his exemplary leadership in combat. Mr. Lozano credits his faith in Hashem for his strength and courage during times of war and peace.

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D'var Torah

Once upon a time, Yiddish speaking Jews coined the phrase luftmentsh to describe that incurable dreamer type who is always building castles in the sky. Luft means air and someone who lives in the air with pie-in-the-sky fantasies qualifies for this title of dubious distinction. "If only this deal comes off, I'll be set for life!" "When I win the lottery..." etc., etc. The money has been spent before he has even bought the ticket. He's always anticipating the big breakthrough and then, in the end, explaining why it didn't quite happen. This is the life story of our luftmentsh.

There is a line in the beginning of this week's parshah concerning the Jewish slave which sums up this phenomenon. Im b'gapo yavo, b'gapo yeitzei – if he came in alone, he goes out alone. Simply speaking, this tells us that if he entered his period of service unmarried, he must leave unmarried and his master may not exploit him to father children who would be born into servitude. But this Torah phrase has become a traditional way of expressing one of life's basic home truths, i.e. no deposit, no return. No effort, no reward. No risk, no profit.

Whether in business, relationships, the social intercourse of communities and nations, or in raising our children, the principle holds true. "The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary." Or, in the words of the Psalmist, "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy."

There is the old story told of Shmerel, a poor man who once walked by the home of the richest man in the shtetl. There was an aroma wafting out of the dining room where the wealthy man was enjoying his favorite dish, cheese blintzes. Shmerel took one whiff and was overcome with temptation. He just had to taste those blintzes. As soon as he comes home, he begs his good wife, Chasha, to make him some of those blintzes. Chasha says, "I'd love to make you blintzes, Shmerel, but I have no cheese." "Nu, my dear, so make it without the cheese." "But we’ve got no eggs either." "Chasha," says Shmerel, "you are a woman of great ingenuity. I'm sure you can make a plan." So Chasha sets out to do the very best she can under the circumstances. Her work done, she sets the plate of blintzes in front of her dear husband. Shmerel takes one taste, crooks his nose and says, "You know Chasha, for the life of me, I cannot understand what those rich people see in blintzes."

Clearly, you cannot make good blintzes without using the right ingredients. Just as clearly, we cannot have nachas from our children without putting in the necessary ingredients of a good Jewish education, a solid upbringing at home, quality family time, and above all, by setting a good example.

Too many parents assume that nachas is a democratic right, almost a genetic certainty. If parents are good, successful people and committed Jews, then surely their children will turn out the same. But there are no such guarantees. Especially in today's complex, confusing and very troubled society.

A hundred years ago Rabbi Sholom Ber said, "Just as it is a Biblical commandment to put on tefillin every day, so is it obligatory to spend a half hour daily thinking about our children and to do whatever possible to ensure that they follow the path in which they are being guided."

So don't be a luftmentsh. Put in the effort, and please G‑d, you will see the rewards. Whether it’s our work or our children, may we enjoy the fruit of our labors.

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Levi Grossbaum
Judaic Studies Teacher Grades 1-4

Changemaker: Mr. Mark Henderson

Licensed architect, Mr. Mark Henderson, was our Changemaker on Friday, January 18th. He shared an interesting presentation with TASA students, and brought along several architectural laser cut models that he built for the students to view. As a young boy Mr. Henderson loved building with Lego, loved activities that involved problem solving, and also loved activities where he could use his hands to shape materials. He also enjoyed math. He chose to become an architect because he wanted to utilize his talents and interests in making a "lasting change" in the community.

Although he was not always good at drawing, he got better over time. Mr. Henderson works for a firm that specializes in assisting companies communicate more effectively between their departments, so major projects can be completed across state lines.

As a side note, Mr. Henderson is also the husband to TASA’s art teacher, Mrs. Henderson. Thank you Mr. Henderson for helping us to learn about your occupation!

Changemaker: Partnership Delegates

Hedi Pusztai, Istvan Barsony, and Idan Zaccai joined TASA on January 25th as part of our Changemakers Program. They are in San Antonio as part of Partnership2Gether.  

Hedi, who is from Budapest, Hungary is the Partnership coordinator in Budapest.  She told the students how she reconnected with her Judaism after a Birthright trip to Israel.  She lived in Israel for three years before returning to Hungary to work with the Partnership organization. She is also a Hebrew teacher and the Educational Director at the Hebrew Language Center.

Istvan Barsony of Budapest, Hungary is an architectural engineer and lecturer for Corvinus Business University. Istvan shared how he began exploring his Jewish roots and collecting stories about his grandmother and father, who were Holocaust survivors.

Idan Zaccai shared how he grew up on a kibbutz in Rosh Hanikrah, Israel. Idan still lives in Israel and works as a guide for the Ghetto Fighters House Holocaust Museum. He  also guides tours at the Rosh Hanikrah Grotto. He is a member of the Western Galilee Young Adult Forum.

We are grateful to Partnership2Gether for bringing these amazing delegates to TASA to share their stories with us.

TASA’s Changmaker program is designed to expose our students to a variety of people of note, in order to broaden their understanding of the individuals who contribute positively to our community and the world around us.

HEB Spring "Bonus Box Tops" Campaign

  • Purchasing 10 items with Box Tops will get you an 80 Bonus Box Top Receipt (worth $8 for the school) at the checkout.
  • Please help TASA by sending in your Bonus Box Tops along with your regular Box Tops.
  • Click here for more information on the current promotion.
  • This special Bonus promotion at HEB ends in just a few short days -- on Tuesday, February 5th. 

Thank you for your support!

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Upcoming Events and Programs

  • Tuesday, February 12: Faculty meeting: No after school clubs
  • Monday, February 18: No School - Presidents Day
  • Monday, March 11: No classes - Professional Development Day
  • Wednesday, March 20: Fast of Esther - 2:00 dismissal
  • Thursday, March 21: Purim - noon dismissal
  • Friday, March 29: End of third quarter

From The TASA Photo Gallery

More great photos from our Tu B'shvat Food Bank Volunteer Effort!

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Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio
The TASA Times is produced by Rabbi Dov & Mrs. Rivkey Nimchinsky
Copyright © 2019 The Starr Family Jewish Day School, All rights reserved.

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Shabbat Shalom y'all!