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 Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio
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The TASA Times
April 12, 2019         Parshat Metzora / Shabbat HaGadol         7 Nisan  5779
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Kindergarten Bug Detectives:

 Pesach Edition

As part of their lessons on Parshat Shemini and Pesach, the Kindergarten enjoyed learning about how we can avoid violating the prohibition of eating insects. Lettuce and strawberries are frequently infested with small insects. The students learned how to check and clean those vegetables. Since romaine lettuce is used at the Seder for Maror or Chazeret, the students practiced checking romaine leaves for thrips and other insects.

The students enjoyed  getting soapy with the bug-wash solution, and using their magnifying glasses to find the little insects. They couldn't believe how many bugs showed up in the rinse water.

They also spotted a number of tiny insects on the stalks of lettuce. Some were black and brown, while others were green. This led to a tangential science lesson on six legged insects!

Once again, science and Torah go hand in hand at TASA!

TASA Annual Model Seder

Tuesday, April 16 at 2:00-3:30 PM

Parents, friends, etc. are welcome to attend. 

NO RSVP needed!

Our annual Model Seder will be run by our middle school. The 7th and 8th grade students will lead the Seder, and the 5th and 6th grade students will be sharing Divrei Torah. All grades will participate with songs, skits and more. The students have worked very hard with their Hebrew & Judaic Studies teachers, and can't wait to show off everything they have learned and prepared.

Student Voices

Please click on the image below to launch the video
Dvar Torah on Parshat Metzorah

D'var Torah

Bringing Spirituality and Positivity into your life

1. Kadesh - Sanctify the Holiday with Kiddush: Bring "sanctity" into your life, one step at a time.

2. Urchatz - Washing of the Hands: "Wash" away negativity and uncleanliness.

3. Karpas - Dip the Vegetable: "Immerse" yourself in your present and positive experiences.

4. Yachatz - Break the Middle Matzah: "Break" away from your bad habits.

5. Maggid - Telling of the Passover story: Don't be afraid to "communicate" your feelings.

6. Rachtza -  Washing of the Hands:  "Wash" away pessimism and indifference.

7. Motzie-Matzah - Eating the Matzah: Matzah is the food of faith. Take pride in your "faith".

8. Marror-Eating of the Bitter Herbs:  Understand that "challenges" are in actuality stepping stones for growth.

9. Korech- Eating the Sandwich of Hillel: "Sandwich" yourself around good and upbeat people.

10. Shulchan Orech - Eating the holiday meal: Shulchan Orech literally means a set table. "Set" you mind for growth and success.

11. Tzafun - Eat the hidden piece of Matzah (afikoman): Be "humble", do things without fanfare.

12. Barech - Recite the Birkat Hamazon, blessing after the meal: "Bless" G-d often, and thank Him for your blessings.

13. Hallel - Singing the Verses of Praise: "Sing" a joyous song every single day, be grateful.

14. Nirtzah - We conclude the Seder with certainty that Hashem has accepted our service: "Accept" others and don't be judgmental.

May we find success in ridding ourselves of all our spiritual Chametz, and bring growth and spirituality into our lives.

Chag Pesach Kosher V'sameach!  
Rabbi Yossi Marrus
Dean of Students
Director of Judaic Studies

Only 5 weeks left
until the raffle drawing at Casino Night.

See details below.

Teacher Feature:

Moreh Ephraim Barker


Shalom Moreh Ephraim!  

We are so excited that you are teaching Ivrit at TASA this year.  

Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview so that we can get to know you better.

Let's get started!

Q: How did you learn to speak Hebrew?

A: I started learning Hebrew at a JCC after-school program for 3rd graders.  
However my Hebrew improved when I went to Israel and studied at Machon Meir Yeshiva in Yerushalaim.  While there, I was enrolled in an Ulpan program which engages the student rigorously in the Hebrew language and promotes the student to only speak Hebrew.

Q: What is some advice you can give a student who is struggling with learning Hebrew?

A: A person who struggles in Hebrew should follow this motto and say to him/herself: “I am not afraid to speak in Hebrew and make mistakes.”   My practical advice is to record yourself speaking Hebrew - this way you can improve enunciation and diction.  Most importantly, don’t give up!

Q: What are some ways you bring real life examples into the classroom?

A: I bring real life examples by reading Israeli newspapers to children or beginner language students. Another real life example is creating real life scenarios in the classroom - such as going to a restaurant where one has to order food.

Q: We heard that you also do Mashgiach work in San Antonio.  How is that similar to or different from teaching middle schoolers?

A: Mashgiach work has a commonality with teaching because one is also educating people on the kosher laws and halachot that pertain to kashrut. Most books I read on Halacha are in Hebrew. One needs to be knowledgeable in the Hebrew language and understand the different nuances depicted from the shorashim of the Hebrew words in order to properly interpret Halachot.

Q: Where is the most interesting place that you’ve travelled to, and why?

A: Israel is by far is the most interesting and beautiful place I have traveled to because the people of Israel come together and celebrate their country even when they come from different Jewish backgrounds. This can be found in many aspects of the Israeli cultural.  Some examples are the foods of Israel and also the different religious customs.

Q: We hear you are a wiz in the kitchen.  What is your signature dish?

A: I make killer Chicken wings!

Q: Would you rather work in an office or on a farm and why?

A: I would rather work in an office in Israel so I could improve my Hebrew skills even further.

Q: What is your favorite Jewish holiday, and why?

A: Pesach is my favorite Jewish holiday for two reasons.  First, because I was born on Shabbat HaGadol. Second, because we are celebrating spiritual freedom in precarious times - just like our ancestors did following their experiences in Mitzraim.

Q:  Marvel or DC?


Q:  Falafel or Tacos?

A: Tacos

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, which four items would you bring with you?

A: (1) My wife, (2) my Tefillin, (3) a set of Mikrot G’dolot Tanach, and  (4) Tacos!

Happy Birthday to:


Moreh Ephraim Barker, Middle School Ivrit teacher

Tolerance Building Bandage Project


Our Middle School students have asked the 3rd and 4th graders for assistance with the Bandage Project.  So far we have almost 5,000 bandages labeled with names. TASA students committed to writing the names of 10,000 child victims of the Holocaust for the "The Tolerance Kids" at Woodlake Elementary.

This year, which is the eleventh and final year of the project, The Tolerance Kids hope to complete the 1.5 million bandage collection. They aim to complete it by June 12, 2019 (which would have been Anne Frank's 90th birthday, had she survived the Holocaust.) When the project is complete,it will be displayed at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California.

Please continue to send in boxes of Bandages to help our students reach their goal!

TASA Middle School Enrichment @ The Witte

TASA's middle school students recently visited the Witte Museum. The Witte Museum is dedicated to telling the story of Texas, from ancient times to the present day. The permanent collection features historic artifacts and photographs, Texas art, dinosaur bones, and Texas wildlife dioramas. The exhibits the students viewed connected to a number of topics in the Middle School curriculum. The students greatly enjoyed this educational and enriching experience.

Changemaker: Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham

TASA students welcomed Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham of Congregation Agudas Achim as the Changemaker on March 29th.

Rabbi Abraham, who was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was one of only a few thousand Jews in the city. Although his family was committed to their Judaism, there was one incident he experienced as a teen that greatly impacted the direction he would eventually take in life. 

When he was in High School he was exposed to very anti Semitic hateful speech directed towards him.

In response, his History teacher, (whose parents had sheltered Jews during the Holocaust), gave him the opportunity to teach his classmates about Judaism. It was that experience that caused Rabbi Abraham to realize that his life's purpose was to teach others about Judaism. He makes it a point to reach out to the community and to educate non-Jews about what it means to be Jewish. Rabbi Abraham's dream is that by educating people about Judaism, we can end intolerance and antisemitism.

Thank you, Rabbi Abraham, for your insights.

Changemaker: Moreh Ephraim Barker

On Friday, April 5th, TASA Ivrit teacher, Moreh Ephraim Barker was our guest speaker for the Changemaker program. He spoke to the students about his other job as the mashgiach at the JCC.

Moreh Ephraim feels honored that the community's rabbis respect his knowledge in kashrut. He monitors all ingredients coming into the kitchen, and supervises everything that is being cooked.

Moreh Ephraim also spoke about how his Aunt Lola helped guide him on his path to Judaism, and helped him explore his spiritual side. He studied in Yeshivat Machon Meir in Jerusalem, and also under the guidance of Rabbi Cohen, who had a Kollel here in San Antonio.

Our students were fascinated to hear about the journey of a Jewish soul from Kentucky!

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.

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TASA Gear Spotted Here!!

Please send your tasteful photos of

TASA Gear Spotted

in interesting places
(or on interesting people) to

to be featured in future issues
of the TASA Times!

Thank you!

Are you planning a fun trip over Break?  Send us your tasteful photos of TASA Gear Spotted in unexpected or interesting places, and we will feature your photo in a TASA Times before the end of the school year!!

Who can take the best TASA-Gear picture over break??  Challenge On!!

- Mazal Tov to Rabbi Tal & Hava Shaul and siblings Eliyahu, Chanie and Adel on the birth of their daughter/sister Chaya Mushka.
- Mazal Tov to Rabbi Dov & Rivkey Nimchinsky on the birth of a grandson to their children Rabbi Chayim & Chaya Miriam Gerson.

2019 Pesach Planner Available for Download Now!

The Young Israel of Houston Pesach Planner is a free resource made available to the community as a service from the Young Israel of Houston, Rabbi Yehoshua Wender, and Mrs. Rivkey Nimchinsky.  

Please click here to download this useful and informative resource

Upcoming Events and Programs

  • Tuesday, April 16 (2:00-3:30 PM): Model Seder
  • Thursday, April 18-Friday April 26: Pesach / Spring break - No school
  • Monday, April 29: School resumes
  • Thursday, May 2: Yom HaShoah - special programming
  • Wednesday, May 8: Yom HaZikaron - special programming
  • Thursday, May 9: Yom HaAtzma’ut - special programming
  • Tuesday, May 14: Faculty meeting, no clubs
  • Monday, May 27: No school, Memorial Day

Casino Night Raffle TIckes

TASA parents are selling raffle tickets as a fundraiser.

Tickets are only $25 each.

There are three fabulous prizes and the drawing will be held at the Casino Night on May 19th.  

  • 1st Prize - All Inclusive Trip to Israel for 2 or 4 (flights, accommodations, spending money, see details online)
  • 2nd Prize - Beautiful Custom 14K African Garnet Jewelry Set
  • 3rd Prize - Microsoft Surface Pro Computer

Payments can be made online. Please click here for more information. 

Only 5 weeks left until the raffle drawing at Casino Night.

Kudos to the following families for selling tickets:
Altman; Diric; Endzweig; Glassburner; Gluck; Grossbaum; Kron; Marrus; Miller; Pearsall; Schwartz; Shaul; Teldon.

If you have any questions about the raffle do not hesitate to contact Sharon Kluger or Mrs. Diric.

Thank YOU!!

(See flyer below.)

Digitized April Jewish Journal Available

San Antonio's unabridged version of the Jewish Journal is now online. You can access the Jewish Journal at: .
For a direct link to a PDF of the April 2019 Jewish Journal, please click here.
For a direct link to a FLIPSNACK version of the April 2019 Jewish Journal, please click here.
...then turn to page 15 to read the article about TASA's participation in the "Tolerace Building Bandage Project"!

From The TASA Photo Gallery

More Dividends from Mrs. Endzweig's Partnership2Gether Trip

Report from Mrs. Endzweig

Middle School Poetry & Art Collaboration
After my recent trip to Israel, I wanted to apply a unique project that I saw in a high school in Carmiel. These high school students at Humanity, Society, and Nature High School, did not fit into a regular high school for various reasons and were successful in this program which had a big focus on collaboration and student-centered learning. 

The 12th graders at this high school write an introspective poem and draw a canvas about their poem. Their poems are then printed onto canvases and displayed in the hallways of the school. They would remain there for a year after graduation. When the year was up, they were able to retrieve their canvases.

Together with Mrs. Henderson, we sat down with our Middle School back in February and told them about this project that we would like to start at our school. Of course they were a little skeptical about the poetry writing, but after I shared poems in Hebrew that were written in Carmiel and published in a book that I showed them, they began to brainstorm different topics to write about, and it took off from there! The excitement grew as they realized that their poems were really well written. Mrs. Henderson and I are getting to know them through their writing and appreciate their willingness to share their experiences. 

Then the sketching began! They had to plan out what would be on their canvases. They had to plan out their colors, the size of their drawings, and had to leave room for their poems to be printed on there. Most of the students are already painting their canvases! We are thrilled to see a variety of styles, such as abstract, realism, and folk art. Mrs Henderson's unique eye and expertise is helping them create their best painting ever! Stay tuned to see their finished work.

Below are some photos from our wonderful Middle School Poetry & Art Collaboration.

-- Mrs. Sarah Endzweig --

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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
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Shabbat Shalom y'all!