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The TASA Times
February 28, 2019                    Parshat Vayakhel                  23 Adar I  5779

TASA Does the Rodeo

On Thursday, February 14th, kindergarten, first, and second graders enjoyed a day at the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo. They enjoyed a day packed full of exploration with fun, hands-on, educational experiences.

Two high school seniors served as tour guides. First stop was to learn about Daisy, the dairy cow. Our students learned all about her life and why dairy products are important for our bodies. They learned new vocabulary words such as homogenized and pasteurized. We then visited an adjacent  area that featured many types of animals at different stages of their life cycles. The students learned to differentiate between beef and dairy cows. They also examined sheep, goats, pigs, horses,and chickens of many developmental stages. Our students really enjoyed learning about the different breeds of animals while noting the similarities and differences between them.

The rodeo also features a petting zoo, where we were able to walk among and touch the furry goats, sheep, ducks, llamas, and alpacas (no, the ducks were not furry). After the petting zoo we went to a “hands-on fun station”, where we were able to dress up as cowboys and cowgirls, milk a cow, and saddle a horse. We even learned how to pan for gold.

The grand finale included comical pig races. Everyone enjoyed dancing before the races and cheering for their team’s pig. The pigs had the most creative names and wore cute little uniforms.

We are so grateful that the rodeo comes to our city and offers educational experiences for schools!

Please scroll down to the our photo gallery
at the end of this issue
to see more great pictures from our Rodeo field trip!

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Student Voices

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Student Voices - Parshat Ki Tisa

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D'var Torah

Towards a Deeper Understanding of the Sin of the Golden Calf

by: Rabbi Dov Nimchinsky

What if the most life altering event that you, or anyone you know experienced, took place 40 days ago? Would you remember? Would it still have an impact on you and those around you?

Of course it would!

So how could nearly the entire Jewish people seemingly "forget" the events of Yetziat Mitzrayim and build a golden calf a mere 40 days later?

To put an even finer point on it, let us examine some of what the Jews had experienced over the previous several months.

  • They witnessed the strongest nation on earth (politically, militarily, and economically) reduced to near rubble and on the verge of starvation by ten plagues.
  • Those same ten plagues left the Jews and their families largely unscathed.
  • Their Egyptian taskmasters capitulated and emptied their treasuries and gave them to the Jewish people.
  • They witnessed the mighty Pharaoh desperately beg Moshe to leave with the entire nation.
  • The next morning the entire Jewish nation of nearly three million people left, unchallenged in broad daylight, quashing any hopes of rebuilding the slavery-based Egyptian economy.
  • When caught at the shores of the Red Sea between the water and the might of the Egyptian army, they walked through the split sea on dry land.
  • Even the most humble Jewish servant girl experienced levels of prophecy and spiritual enlightenment while crossing the Yam Suf that challenged the sublime prophecies of Yechezkel.
  • They saw the waters close on the Egyptians assuring them that there would be no further pursuit or recriminations from the Egyptians.
  • The Jews received water from a miraculous traveling well.
  • They received supernatural food, manna from heaven, that sustained them in the harsh desert wilderness.
  • They camped at Sinai and experienced a once-in-history moment of national unity.
  • They saw the clouds and flame covering the mountain.
  • They saw sound.
  • Every man, woman, and child heard the Almighty speak and announce his unity to the world.  The single most mind shattering event in all of human history.

And a mere 40 days later those very same people are constructing a golden calf.

Even if one experienced only a fraction of that, it is hard to imagine that nearly three million people could "forget" and lose the impact of their collective experiences.  

As a child I thought that this was the most irrational thing anyone could have done.

While many explanations are given as to what the Jews actually did and did not do, and what their motivations were, I would like to overlay them with one basic point.

Fear is not rational.

The Jews at that time were on an incredibly high spiritual level. They were on a level that their connection with the Almighty was as critical as the air they breathed. They mistakenly viewed their connection to the Almighty as being embodied in Moshe. They viewed him as their sole connection to G-d. When Moshe did not return when expected, they thought their connection to G-d was lost.

Panic set in.

The voice of reason, as embodied by Aharon and Chur, could not be heard. Fear and panic took over.

We have all experienced moments of fear and flashes of panic. We understand how powerful an experience it can be.

It silenced reason. It quashed their memories. It totally distorted their perception of reality, and they failed their first test as a nation.  

On one level, one must marvel at how they were expected to overcome their fear and pass this test. It would certainly require a near superhuman level of awareness and strength of will.  

The sin of the golden calf was a national failure, but the crime was not an irrational one. It was the all-too-human reaction of succumbing to fear. While this was the first time we failed that test, it was not the last. It is in many ways parallel to the sin of the Jew's panicked weeping upon hearing the report of the spies.

There too, the test was to have faith and reason overcome fear and panic.

There too, we failed.

If G-d tests us, it means that we have it within ourselves to pass that test.

Our collective experiences of Yetziat Mitzraim prepared us as a nation to pass the enormous test of faith and reason, versus fear.

We failed.

But as we learn from Sefer Mishlei, perek 24 passuk 16, “the righteous man will fall seven times and get up again”. Failure must be viewed as an opportunity to grow and get up again. Hashem did not reject us when we failed the test on Mount Sinai. He also did not reject us when we failed the same test again with the spies. As long as we are willing to get up, dust ourselves off and sincerely try again, we have not truly failed.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Dov Nimchinsky
Head of School

TASA Open Enrollment for 2019-2020 Academic Year

Early Bird Applications for TASA Enrollment


for the 2019-2020 Academic Year

ends March 15, 2019.

Please click here and then scroll down for more information on enrolling your child.

Early Bird Discount Ends Soon!

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Two Important Notices From

Howard Feinberg, TASA Board President

The Jewish Federation of San Antonio has engaged David Phillips of Immersive 1st, a consulting firm in Florida that has done a great deal of work with Jewish Communal organizations, to survey our San Antonio community and conduct a broad needs assessment.  The goal of this needs assessment is to provide the Jewish Federation and the broader San Antonio Jewish community guidance and direction as to where the needs lie so that we can best ensure a vibrant Jewish community now and into the future.   

It is imperative that we, as people committed to maintaining a strong, vibrant Jewish Day School in San Antonio, participate in this needs assessment by completing the survey.

As you work through the survey, you will find that "Jewish Day School Education" is missing from the list of items where you are asked for your top three personal priorities and then your top three priorities for the community.

I used the places where you could actually write a message to note the absence of Jewish day school as a choice in the priorities sections and to identify it as a highest priority item.  If you feel as I do, you should use those spaces to express your opinions.

I hope you feel compelled to participate and thank you for adding your voice to the survey. Here is the survey link:

There will be a Town Hall meeting facilitated by Immersive 1st, the consulting firm engaged by the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, on March 6th at 6 pm in the Holzman Auditorium at The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Campus, 12500 NW Military Highway. Please try and attend. RSVPs are to be sent to Betul Ozmat at

Thanks again and warm personal regards.

Howard Feinberg, President
The Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio

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3rd & 4th Grade Sentence Surgeons

As a special addition to their English Language Arts studies, the 3rd and 4th grade students became “Sentence Surgeons” to demonstrate the mastery of their writing and grammar skills.  During the interactive activity, the students donned surgical robes and masks and performed a number of medical procedures on some critically ill sentences.

Each surgical team at the “TASA Memorial Sentence Hospital” was given a patient file which included five surgical tasks:  A “Coma (comma) Diagnosis”, providing a Conjunction Cure, extracting “Paragraph Parasites”, performing a “Revise and Edit Rescue” and lastly initiating a Punctuation Procedure.  When each surgical activity was completed, the “doctors” received an additional organ to add to their patient’s body.

Next time your paragraphs need perking up or your sentences are sick, make an appointment to visit TASA’s 3rd and 4th grade sentence surgeons.  

Changemaker: Aron Cagan

For the first time since we began our Changemaker Program, TASA students were privileged to have the same Changemaker speaker join us for two consecutive weeks.  Aron Cagan visited with TASA students on both February 15th and February 22nd. The first week he came wearing his firefighter “hat”, and the second week he came to discuss what it is like to be an EMT.

Mr. Cagan, who recently moved to San Antonio with his wife, was born and raised in Brooklyn. He can remember wanting to be a firefighter back when he was three or four years old. In his youth and into his teens, Mr. Cagan would ride his bike to the fire stations where he befriended a number of firefighters. He used to hang out and even celebrate with the men. By the time he was in his late teens, he began training hard, knowing that being part of NYFD was his goal.

Currently, Mr. Cagan is a volunteer firefighter and EMT in Leon Springs. It takes time to get certified as a firefighter in Texas. One must go to the Academy for 29 weeks and take many exams. This does not include the vigorous physical training such as racing up flights of stairs while carrying 50+ pounds of gear, as well as one or two hoses that also each weigh 50 pounds! Spending hours of training time in burning simulation rooms, called "smoke houses", is also important. Some buildings mimic laundromats, which would replicate a gas fire, others simulate apartment buildings or homes. In these smoke houses, trainees must learn how to get around in high heat and smoke by feeling around and assessing their surroundings. Mr. Cagan explained that some of the things they are trained to look for are the color of smoke, how fast or slow the smoke moves, and feeling for the temperature of walls and doors. Both men and women can become firefighters - they have the exact same standards.

Mr. Cagan did not want to be a firefighter so that he could be called a "hero".  He chose this path because he wanted to be a helper within the community. He knows that being a firefighter is risky, but there are risks with any job. Training hard and being smart are important for him to stay safe and help others to stay safe as well.

Mr. Cagan feels that some of the true heroes are the first responders who were in Manhattan during 9/11. He looks forward to honoring those men and women who died on 9/11 by climbing the stairs at the Tower of Americas, here in San Antonio this coming fall.

Thank you Mr. Cagan for visiting with us and inspiring us twice.  Also, thanks for letting us try on some of your firefighter gear! (The teachers had fun with that too!)

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.

Upcoming Events and Programs


  • Friday, March 1, 2:30 PM: NJHS Induction Ceremony
  • Tuesday, March 5, 8:30 AM-12:30 PM: Botanical Gardens field trip, grades K-4
  • Thursday, March 7: Witte Museum field trip, grades 5-8
  • Monday, March 11: No classes - Professional Development Day
  • Sunday, March 17, 1:00 PM: Middle School student, David Pearsall, to represent TASA at the SA Express News Regional Spelling Bee at the Buena vista Theatre, UTSA Downtown Campus.
  • Wednesday, March 20: Fast of Esther - 2:00 dismissal
  • Thursday, March 21: Masquerade and Purim Carnival
  • Thursday, March 21:  Purim  - noon dismissal
  • Friday, March 29: End of third quarter

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From The TASA Photo Gallery

...More great photos from our Rodeo Field Trip

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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!