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 Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio
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The TASA Times
May 24, 2019                              Parshat Behar                              19 Iyar 5779
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2019 Casino Night

A Huge Success!

On Sunday, May 19th, the Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio, TASA, celebrated its annual Casino Night fundraiser honoring Dr. Joseph & Susan Furman. More than 250 people from throughout the community came to celebrate the completion of the 6th year of studies and join in support of Jewish Day School education, while honoring the Furman family. The event was a wonderful success and raised much needed funds for the school. The decor, food, tribute video, and amazing prizes laid the groundwork for a lively and enjoyable evening. The silent and live auctions, conducted by Howie Nestel, added to the evening’s excitement. Guests enjoyed a wonderful evening of casino games, music and drinks. The grand prize, an all-inclusive trip to Israel, was won by Gil & Ann Atzmon, long-time supporters of TASA.

"We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude- Hakarat Hatov to all of the people who made this such a fabulous event" said Howard Feinberg, TASA board president. This event was made possible as a result of the tireless efforts of TASA’s 2019 event co-chairs, Mrs. Brach Gluck and Mrs. Shoshana Abraham. The successful ad-book was co-chaired by Mrs. Malkie Marrus and Mrs. Martha Hendler. The exciting silent & live auction co-chairs were Mrs. Jessica Diric and Mrs. Loraleigha Glassburner. Raffle sales, headed by Mrs. Sharon Kluger, were made possible by the many parent volunteers who worked diligently to make this event a success.

TASA parents and staff came together in support of the school to sell raffle tickets, spread the word, solicit items for the auctions, and more. "We are blessed that TASA is truly one family, and we come together to do what is needed for the children and the future of our school" said Rabbi Yossi Marrus, Dean of Students and Director of Judaic Studies. "With this successful fundraiser behind us, we are now poised to close out the year on a high-note, and look forward to an exciting and successful 2019-2020" said Mrs. Jessica Diric, Director of General Studies.

If you wish to enroll your child for an exemplary Jewish Day School education at the Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio for the 2019-2020 school year, please click here, or call the school office at 210-607-7261 for more information.

Student Voices

Please click on the image below to launch the video
Student D'var Torah on Parshat Behar 

D'var Torah

In this week's Parsha, Parshat Behar, the Torah discusses the prohibition of Ribit, the prohibition of charging interest to a fellow Jew. Immediately after mentioning this prohibition, the Torah makes two comments. In Leviticus ch.25 v.36, the Passuk says, "do not collect interest or usury and you should fear your G-d", and in the next two pesukim (Lev.25 v.37-38) it says, "Do not give your money in order to collect interest..... for I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of Egypt".

What is the meaning of these two comments and why are they mentioned in the context of the prohibition of charging interest?

Rashi explains the first comment as follows.

There are many ways that a person can violate the laws of interest while outwardly appearing to be in compliance with Torah law. The Torah reminds us "and you should fear your G-d". Even though you might be able to fool everyone else, you must still fear G-d who knows your thoughts and what you are really doing.

Rashi explains the connection between Hashem taking us out of Egypt and the prohibition of charging interest.

Rashi points out (as he does elsewhere ) that on our last night in Egypt, Hashem discerned between the first born and the rest of the Egyptians. This divine level of discernment happened on a cellular level, as the difference between a first-born and a non-first-born could well depend on determining which cell was fertilized before another. The implication here is that just like G-d could discern between the first born and the rest on a cellular level, so too the Almighty can discern between loans where the laws of interest are being observed, verses loans where they are not.

Why are these two reminders of G-d's awareness mentioned in connection with charging interest? There are many prohibitions in the Torah, why mention them here?

Rashi explains that people are naturally driven to keep their money and to make more money in almost any way possible. This drive is so powerful that people will come up with all sorts of rationales when it comes to money. Not charging interest is particularly problematic for many people, as it is a special consideration we have for our fellow Jews, and is actually counterintuitive. Had you purchased anything of value with your money, you could charge rent on that item - but you may still not charge "rent" on the money itself. Because not charging interest is subject to rationalization, the Torah has to give two reminders that you can fool everybody else, but G-d knows what you are really doing. 

In truth, there are a myriad of ways that we can rationalize our desired course of behavior and delude ourselves into thinking that we are acting correctly. Only by reminding ourselves over and over that our thoughts and machinations are an open book to G-d, can we hope to overcome and see through our delusions. The clearer we understand this concept, the sooner we will be able to reach our true potential.

Wishing you a most wonderful Shabbos,
Rabbi Dov Nimchinsky
Head of School

Teacher Feature:
Mrs. Erika Henderson

Howdy Mrs. Henderson!

We are so excited to have you as TASA's Specialty teacher this year.  

Thank you for taking the time for this interview so that we can get to know you better.

Let's get started!

Q: You were hired to be an art teacher, but this year you have also been teaching PE.  How is your teaching experience with both subjects different?

I enjoy teaching both Art and PE because the children really look forward to these particular classes. PE is fun because it is primarily outdoors. When it is really hot outside I have to make sure the students are taking water breaks in the shade, and I wear a big hat! The main difference teaching these two subjects is that PE students are opinionated about what games they want to play, whereas they are very excited and open to the Art projects I plan for them.

Q: We heard that you are continuing with your education and are pursuing a Masters Degree in Social Work. Can you tell us more about it?  How will this affect what you are doing at TASA next year?

I have always wanted to use art as a therapy to help people get through a variety of problems. I am so thankful that Hashem brought me the opportunity to get a graduate degree in social work.  I am learning new ways I can impact the local community and larger world. The research I did my first semester has inspired me in countless ways. I wrote papers on the reintegration of prisoners in society, and conducted interviews and introspection about issues throughout the lifespan of people as infants, young children, middle-agers and the elderly. My first semester got me excited for what is to come – and I received grades of A in both of the night classes that I took. I feel very blessed that TASA wants me to continue to teach Art part-time next year, while I am both taking graduate classes and doing a twenty hour per week internship at a senior care center. It is very important to me to remain connected to my TASA “family” of students and faculty.

Q: You are obviously very passionate about Art.  Which artists have made the greatest impression on you, and how?

One of the artists that have made the greatest impression on me is Georgia O’Keeffe. I appreciate her self-expression, use of color, and love for nature. I’m also a big fan of Wassily Kandinsky, he was the “pioneer of abstract art”. I admire art that is very unique, colorful, and brings many aspects together whether its painting, collage, mixed media etc. My mother is not a professional artist, but she inspired me tremendously with the process of art making as a child.

Q: Van Gogh (
    or Nachshon ( ? 

I think they are both extremely talented!

Q: What do you hope your students will gain from your art classes?

I hope students learn new skills in art, express themselves, gain more respect for artists, and enjoy art. I hope students gain confidence in their art through self-progression and are open to constructive criticism.

Q: We have already met your husband the architect as one of our Tasa Changemakers. Have you and your husband ever collaborated on a joint art / architecture project, and if yes, can you tell us about it?

A: My husband and I have collaborated on a few artistic endeavors. Mark and I took a ceramic class together, which we really enjoyed. When my husband was finishing his Master’s program he had to build many detailed architectural models. Once he designed the building online, he would use a laser cutter to cut hundreds to thousands pieces out of wood or cardboard. I would help him arrange and glue down the pieces to form a solid structure. I often attended his critiques because I found the professors feedback fascinating. Lately, Mark and I have been landscaping the front yard of the home we bought downtown last summer. We have taken out our grass lawn and planted a low-water garden. We plan to paint a mural on our exterior fence and one of our indoor walls in our home as well.

Q:  You have shown us a beautiful painting made by your great-great grandfather, a Jewish artist.  What was his name and how has his work influenced you? If you could meet with him today, what advice would you ask for?

A: My maternal great-great grandfather, Maurice Cohen, has influenced me primarily because he pursued his passion for art later in life. He was having art shows in his 90s. It inspired me to not feel rushed to become an accomplished artist; it may just happen naturally over time. Although I never got to meet him, my mother did spend time with him as a young child; she said he was nice, proper, and a little intimidating. She has correspondence with him that explains how he wanted to be a Rabbi but he became a photo engraver instead. The painting of his that I shared hung in my dining room as a child. We always had family meals together, and I would often look at the painting and think about how my ancestors probably shared similar experiences eating meals with their families. If I could meet Maurice Cohen today, I would ask him about how he grew up, and what inspired him to begin painting.

Q: When you are not at TASA or working on your art, what do you enjoy doing during your spare time?

I enjoy traveling, hiking, biking, disc golf, attending art shows and galleries, spending time with friends, visiting family, and doing photography. We were a host family for exchange students when I was a child, and over spring break Mark and I visited my exchange sister in Belgium.

Q: How would you weigh an elephant without a scale?

A:   I would have the elephant get into a very large pool and measure how much the water rises and then put a 100 pound object into the pool and measure how much the water rises, and compare my findings to determine the elephants weight.

Q: If you won $100,000,000 in the lottery, what would you do / what would you do with the money?

If I won $100,000,000 in the lottery I would be in shock! I don’t usually have that type of luck. I would be so happy! I would use the money to pay for my graduate degree (right now I have to take $30,000-40,000 in loans), travel internationally, buy a vacation home in another country near the water, buy a small boat, buy more animals, buy a convertible so I can feel the wind in my hair, and of course help out my family financially. I would invest money into finding a cure for my nephew’s auto immune disorder, help my sister buy a house, and make sure my mother and stepfather are set up financially for retirement. I would set up a family vacation immediately!  

Q:  If I looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?

A: If you looked in my refrigerator right now you would find milk, orange juice, apple juice, sweet tea, lettuce, ranch dressing, strawberries, carrots, mushrooms, shredded cheese, block cheese, chicken, salmon, leftover pasta and pizza, wine, and beer. In the freezer you would find ice cream and frozen pizza!

Q: What is the funniest joke you have heard lately?

The best joke I have heard lately is: Why was the tomato blushing? Because it saw salad "dressing". 

Please click on the image below to launch the video
Student D'var Torah on Parshat Emor

Yom HaAtzmaut Celebrations at TASA

TASA Students Celebrated Yom HaAtzmaut with delicious Israeli food, and spirited activities. Special thanks to Rabbi & Mrs. Grossbaum for coordinating all of the activities of the day, and also for preparing the delicious falafel lunch which was enjoyed by students and teachers.

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Student D'var Torah on Parshat Kedoshim

Changemaker: Ginny Wind

On May 17th TASA students welcomed Ginny Wind as our Changemaker guest.

Ginny is the daughter of a Holocaust Survivor. She feels strongly that it is important to educate public school students about the Holocaust. She wants it to become part of the mandatory curriculum in all states so that the world will not forget the atrocities of the Holocaust. She spoke to TASA students about how she is trying to make this happen in Texas.

Ginny, joined by two friends, approached a Texas state senator and asked him to introduce a bill to the state senate requiring the teaching of the Holocaust in Texas public schools. The state senator flatly turned them down.  

The trio reached out to Lisa Berry, an award winning San Antonio public school teacher, known for teaching her students about the Holocaust, to assist them in petitioning local representatives to support a Holocaust education bill.

It didn’t take long before these women were nicknamed the "Four  Ladies In The Car". They drove around meeting with state and local representatives to try to convince them to sponsor and support the Holocaust education bill.  

While one of these four women was being interviewed on National Public Radio, Senator Jose Menedez of San Antonio heard her talking about their plan and he called in. Senator Menedez said he wanted to sponsor their bill. This was a tremendous breakthrough. Versions of the bill went to both the House of Representatives and the State Senate. Each legislative body voted on a version of the bill, although the bills that were approved were not identical. The next step in the legislative process is for each body to approve the other’s version of the bill, and the bill will become law. When that happens, the "Four Ladies" will go to a signing ceremony at the capitol!

Ginny said she learned some valuable lessons through this process. She learned a lot about politics and how the legislative process works. She also learned the value of compromise and how sometimes you must be willing to compromise in order to reach your goals. Most importantly, she learned that with hard work you can make your dreams a reality.

Changemaker: Mr. Ari Richtberg

On May 3rd TASA students were visited by Ari Richtberg, the son of everyone's favorite substitute teacher, Mrs. Richtberg. Ari Richtberg, an engineer by trade, came to talk with our students about the sport of fencing.

Mr. Richtberg’s fascination with fencing started when he was very young. He was at a local gym taking swim classes when he heard the sounds of a fencing match. He became very enamored with the sport, but because of age restrictions was unable to sign up for lessons until he was 14 years old. When he turned 14 he signed up for fencing and excelled in the sport.  He became so skilled that he was granted a fencing scholarship to Ohio State University, which covered much of his tuition. While he was a member of the Ohio State fencing team, they won the NCAA fencing tournament.

When showing off his school colors to our students, Mr. Richtberg also proudly displayed the Israeli flag on his uniform. Mr. Richtberg allowed the students to handle some protective fencing gear, as well as several training (safe) sabres and foils.

Although Mr. Richtberg is not currently fencing, it is a sport that he still follows and holds meaning for him.

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.
Please click on the image below to launch the video
Student D'var Torah on Parshat Tazria

TASA Gear Spotted Here!!

Sports Corner

Houston, TDS   vs.   San Antonio, TASA

On Wednesday, May 22nd, TASA students welcomed Rabbi Zally Lazarus and his 8th Grade boys from Torah Day School of Houston. The visiting team, who were in town for their graduation trip, visited our middle school boys and squared off for a high-intensity basketball game. The boys were evenly matched, and everyone really enjoyed the game.  In the end TASA came out ahead, with a close score of 80-76!!

Yasher Koach to everyone who participated!

Upcoming Graduations!

We are excited to announce commencement of our
8th Grade Graduating Class of 2019!  

Please join us on Thursday, May 30, 2019
for our 8th Grade Graduation!

Following the 5:30 ceremony, we will have a family dinner and reception for the girls.  
All TASA Families and friends of families are welcome to attend!
Please RSPV to Mrs. Diric by Friday May 24th.

We are excited to announce the commencement of our
Kindergarten Graduating Class of 2019!

 Please join us on Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 at 2:30 pm
for our Kindergarten Graduation! There will be light refreshments.

All families and friends of our kindergartners are welcome to attend!

Please RSVP to Mrs. Johnson at your earliest convenience.

Upcoming Events and Programs

  • Monday, May 27: No school, Memorial Day
  • Thursday, May 30: Eighth Grade Graduation
  • Wednesday, June 5: Kindergarten Graduation
  • Thursday, June 6: End of 4th quarter
  • Friday, June 7: Last day of school, noon dismissal
  • Wednesday, August 14: Staff setup
  • Monday, August 19: First day of school for faculty
  • Thursday, August 22: First day of school for students

Kindergarten Follow-up

Chrysalises to Butterfly

As we discussed in our previous issue of the TASA Times, our Kindergarten class has been learning about the life cycle of butterflies.  In our last issue we showed pictures of our kinders with their caterpillars and the chrysalises that they transformed into. More recently the chrysalises emerged into butterflies and our kindergartners enjoyed releasing them into the wild.

From The TASA Photo Gallery

Pictures from our “Alphabet Art/PE Spirit Days” that TASA students are enjoying every day until the end of the school year.

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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!