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The TASA Times
May 10, 2019                       Parshat Kedoshim                       5 Iyar 5779
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TASA Yom Hashoah
Holocaust Memorial Museum Visit

As part of their Yom Hashoah-Holocaust Unit, Torah Academy of San Antonio seventh and eighth grade students visited the Holocaust Memorial and Museum on the Jewish Community Campus. The students were given a tour of the museum by one of the museum’s docents. The TASA Seventh and eighth graders were also privileged to meet with Holocaust survivor, Rose Sherwin Williams. The ninety-three year old Williams shared her first hand account of her experiences during the Holocaust. The students were genuinely appreciative to have the opportunity to meet with an actual survivor, as survivors are sadly a dwindling resource.

At the end of the program, TASA student then worked on identifying a number of San Antonio families who descend from Holocaust survivors. “It is our hope that these types of programs empower our students to be knowledgeable ambassadors for goodness and kindness, as well as fight hate, intolerance and antisemitism” said Rabbi Yossi Marrus, Dean if Students and Director of Judaic studies at TASA.

TASA Participates in Holocaust Program
at Fort Sam Houston

TASA Parents, SGT and Mrs. Glassburner, arranged for K-8 students to attend "Beyond Religious Boundaries" on May 2nd at Ft. Sam Houston, in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day.   "Beyond Religious Boundaries" is a program designed to build awareness of the evils of racism and discrimination. Students and teachers met at the gates of Ft. Sam Houston, and were transported to the on-base venue in a white military bus.

Sixth through eighth grade students were asked to light the six memorial candles alongside military personnel.  Rabbi Chaim Block gave an inspiring speech about the impact of bigotry, hate and silence of others. Both Rabbi Block and Mrs. Diric were given Military Certificates of Appreciation and military coins from Major General Stammer, Commanding General of the US Army South.

The Future is in Our Hands

Dear Friends,

Shalom U'Vrachah!

I am an unabashed proponent of Jewish Day School education. I believe that education is the key to our future as Jews. I say this not just because of all the statistics and polls conducted, or because I am employed by a Jewish Day School. I say this because I truly believe it in my soul and have dedicated more than twenty years of my life to furthering Jewish education, specifically in community day schools. It is my life experience.

My parents who were both raised as secular Jews, and became “Baal Tesahuvas” (returnees to Judaism and tradition) in the early 1970’s. Together they made a decision to send my siblings and me to Jewish schools to ensure that we would be raised with Judaic knowledge, and we would stay Jewish.

Today, some forty-five years later, their dreams and hopes have been fulfilled as my siblings and I have raised our own Jewish families, and continue to educate our children in the age-old tradition of our people.

San Antonio is a beautiful place to raise a family. The community is warm and vibrant, and our community’s synagogues are beautiful and inspiring. Our greatest challenge Jewishly though is the Jewish education of our children and keeping the next generation engaged and committed.

This is precisely why TASA exists. To provide a cutting-edge Judaic and secular education for the children of our community. Every poll conducted in the Jewish community shows the same results: day school education is critical to the future of a Jewish community. Students who are educated in Jewish Day Schools are far more likely to support Israel, donate to Federation and Jewish causes, be engaged in synagogue life and educate their future children as Jews.

As we celebrate the conclusion of our sixth academic year, I ask you to please support our Casino Night fundraiser on May 19th honoring our dear friends and long-time supporters of Jewish education, Dr. Joe & Susan Furman.

Your tax deductible contribution to our school will allow us to educate Jewish children for many years to come. Please visit the event website at to buy event tickets, place an ad in our event journal, purchase raffle tickets or just to make a charitable donation.

On behalf of the students, staff and board of the school, I thank you for your generosity and Mitzvah. May you be blessed with Yiddishe Nachas and merit to see future generations continuing in the traditions of our people.

Rabbi Yossi Marrus
Dean of Students / Director of Judaic Studies
Have you booked your tickets yet for TASA's Casino Night?  Hurry, time is running out! Casino Night is on May 19th! Please click here...

A Visit With The President
of the Orthodox Union

On Friday, May 3rd, TASA students had the privilege of meeting with the president of the Orthodox Union (OU), Mr. Moishe Bane.

Mr. Bane is a lawyer by trade, who spoke with our student body about the many programs and services offered by the OU.  The OU, in addition to being the largest Kashrus organization in the world, also provides many other services for synagogues and communities around the world.  

NCSY, YACHAD, and Israel advocacy are among some of the many Orthodox Union (OU) programs and initiatives.

Mr. Bane explained that the Orthodox Union (OU) was founded in the late 1800's to enable Jews to live observant lives in the United States, and to give them a voice. Mr. Bane focused on the mission of every Jew, which is to love Hashem, learn Torah, and do everything they can to help the Jewish people.

Special thanks to Rabbi Avraham Scheinberg for making this experience possible for our students.

TASA Visits Heintz Preschool

Torah Academy of San Antonio Kindergarten through fourth graders were invited to join Heintz preschool on May 7th to hear Israel Dayan and his family sing. The Dayan family are visiting San Antonio from the western Galilee region of our partnership, and are here for the celebrations at the JCC this week.

TASA students sang together with around 70 preschool children.

TASA teachers planned an exciting craft activity that all of the children participated in.

All of the students present made Israel themed windsocks and bracelets.

TASA Yom Hazikaron Commemoration

On Wednesday, May 8th, students of the Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio commemorated Yom Hazikaron, the day to memorialize Israel's fallen soldiers. The program began with Rabbi Marrus speaking to the students about the centrality and importance of Israel to Jews throughout the world. He accentuated the fact that it is the home of all Jewish people and that all Jews have a stake and a place in Israel, should they choose to declare it. He then spoke about how the many who had fallen in defense of the land of Israel. He noted that in a nation of nine million people, everyone knows someone who lost their life defending their country. Yom Hazikaron, in Israel, is a day that has deep meaning for everyone. Rabbi Marrus described how Yom Hazikaron is observed in Israel -- how a siren is sounded for 2 minutes and traffic and all activities stop. People stand at their desks or next to their cars at attention as an act of giving kavod / respect to those who have fallen. The students then watched a video showing how the siren sounds throughout Israel.  They saw how everything came to a standstill as everyone stood to show their respect to those who lost their lives in defense of Israel.

Rabbi Marrus then introduced IDF veteran Yuda Doliner. Mr. Doliner, a longtime resident of the city of San Antonio, was born in Israel to Holocaust survivors. He was in the Israeli Army and fought in several of Israel's wars. Mr. Doliner spoke about how when he was growing up it was considered to be one of the greatest honors to be able to serve in the Israeli military to protect one's country. He also spoke about the sadness he feels each year as he remembers the comrades and soldiers who were under his command who lost their lives in Israel's wars. He told the students that every year on Yom Hazikaron he calls the families of the soldiers who died under his command.

Mr. Doliner concluded the program with a question and answer session.  Thank you to Mr. Yuda Doliner for his time and sharing his experiences with our students.

TASA Represents at
Community Yom Hazikaron Gathering

TASA students sang at the Jewish Federation's annual Yom Hazikaron program on May 9th.

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Teacher Feature:
Mrs. Jessica Johnson

Hello Mrs. Johnson! We love having you as a teacher at TASA! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview so that we can get to know you a little bit better.

Q: What is the best part about teaching Kindergarten at TASA?

Everything! What's not to love about Kindergarten? I thrive off their innocence and enthusiasm for learning! You can't be in a bad mood when you have kindergartners around. They are like Sour Patch Kids. Sometimes they are sour and sometimes they are sweet. Everyone single one of them has brightened my day or made me laugh at some point in the day, making any grumpy or frustrating moment obsolete as soon as they open their mouths.  What's not to love about teaching at TASA? I have the world's best co-workers, especially Mrs. E when it comes to teaching Kindergarten. She helps keep me balanced and works alongside me everyday to help me help my students in all the best ways we know how. I cherish that I have such a small group of kids to work with, which means I get so much 1-on-1 time with each that I am able to make them more successful than if I had a large class size. I especially love that I have parents that have a vested interest in their child's education, so they work with me as a team to help keep their kiddos on track and doing their best. Ok, I know I sound like a Hallmark card, but this is truly how I feel. *Insert all feel good emojis here.*

Q: We heard that you used to live and teach in Hawaii.  How different is living in San Antonio from living in Hawaii?

Wow, where do I begin? Hmmm...There is NO beach here! (*cue "How Do I Live Without You?"  by Leann Rimes). I certainly miss Hawaii for it's beautiful beaches and mountainous views, no matter where I went on the island, even from my bedroom window. Also, I kid you not, I saw a rainbow literally almost every day because of the daily showers. It wasn't unusual to see double rainbows either! The culture is very different as Hawaiians live, breathe, and drive with Aloha. I'm not sure what word you could use to describe to the driving I've encountered in San Antonio, although it's not a nice one. One thing I do love about San Antonio is the Hispanic influence. I had a friend at my last base who was half Mexican and got us all to dress like sugar skulls once. Ever since then, I LOVE sugar skulls! My kitchen is decorated with sugar skulls. I don't view myself as a person particularly intrigued with death, but I see the beauty of spending a day honoring our passed loved ones and celebrating the lives they lived as you see on Dio De Los Muertos. Also, there is something to be said about being able to order savory, authentic tacos anywhere you go in the city, especially from the local taco truck that makes its rounds at the neighborhood park and school functions. I do believe Hawaiians could take note here because their fish tacos don't even compare.

Q: How is teaching at TASA different from teaching in Hawaii?

The biggest difference is that TASA is a small private school, and I taught at a large public school. We had 8 kindergarten classes one year just to get our class size down to 24 students each, to put it into perspective. My students were also from very different backgrounds. The majority of my class was either Native Hawaiian or another Pacific Islander like American Somoan, Filipino, Marshallese, or Chuukese . Most of the rest of my students were from other Asian countries, specifically China and Japan. (The minorities were the Caucasian and African American children of military members.) Because of this, the 2nd language introduced at our school, Keone'ula Elementary, was Japanese. Hawaiian studies was also a mandatory subject where students learned traditional Hawaiian language and customs. We celebrated all national holidays, but we also celebrated Hawaii's holidays, like King Kamehameha Day and Statehood Day. Because of the heavy Asian influence, schools also had Chinese New Year celebrations and made crafts of dolls on the Japanese holiday of Girl's Day and kites shaped like fish on the Japanese holiday of Boy's Day. One year, I was speaking to my mother in Arkansas, and she said her kids at the daycare she was working at were celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Meanwhile, I was celebrating Boy's Day with Asher and Liam on that same day! That conversation had me thinking about how diverse our country really is. Conversations with students and staff were always peppered with Pidgin. During my orientation, I listened as the principal went over professionalism with teachers, explaining how to do recess duty as, "We walk around. We don't stand 'round talk story, yeah?". She also explained professional dress, stopping to note, "...oh! And no pukas in ya pants." Imagine my thought process, looking around, one eyebrow raised, slowly mouthing, "Poooookas?", when my new co-teacher leaned over and clarified "Pukas are holes." It took everything in my power to hold in my laughter. Even more so when they invited me out for "pupus and ono" afterward!

Q: We’ve seen your boys visit TASA many times.  What do they think of TASA?

They love it! Liam has begged to come to work with me several times . I can tell he views TASA as a part of our family and he sees all the students here as his friends. Asher loves being invited to the different holiday parties and learning about Judaism first hand through such authentic experiences. I think he also enjoys seeing how there are students his age, growing up in a different religion and a different type of school then he goes to, but recognizing the similar interests in sports, books, and, of course, current YouTube sensations.

Q: Where did you grow up and what is your favorite childhood memory?

My dad was in the Army for the first 6 years of my life, so I spent the earliest part of my life in Bad Cannstatt, Germany, and then Huntsville, Alabama. He left the military and we moved to the small, rural town of Bryant, Arkansas the summer before 2nd grade. My parents bought a home with my grandma,  who had become widowed a few years back. My parents struggled with the move and transition to civilian life. My dad worked as a pharmacy technician for the VA hospital, and self-taught himself how to code in his downtime without any formal college training. He had a room we called "the computer room" where he had a wall of bookcases, all the shelves lined with coding and computer books. My mom was a hairdresser who made less than minimum wage, and ended up leaving to take on a series of customer service jobs. Looking back, we did not have much money, but as kids, we were none the wiser. We attended the local Catholic church where my mother made sure my sister and I were always dressed in our "Sunday Best".

It's hard to choose just one childhood memory, because I had a lot of good times growing up. We lived at the entrance of the neighborhood, where 5 other girls all around our age become our best friends, and all of our parents were friends. Summers were the best because we would spend hours going back and forth from house to house playing in each others' above ground pools, jumping rope in each others' driveways, or lugging our favorite barbie dolls to the house with best accessories and Barbie dream house. We used our imagination A LOT! We put on magic shows, dance shows, and a pretend circus once for our parents. We pitched tents and would run an extension cord through backyard with our tiny 13", CRT TV propped on a plastic lawn table so we could watch Aladdin from the mesh screen. We tried to melt all of our old crayons in my moms good pot once, because one trip to Hobby Lobby made us sudden experts, before my grandma intervened. As I got older, I practiced cooking with my endless summer hours, burning pancake after pancake, and forcing my sister and the boy down the road to eat them, because, well frankly, they would eat anything. And although my parents did not have a lot of money, my dad was really great at make my sister and I a priority in his life. He would take us on road trips across the state to work on someone's computer, all the while talking about crazy science fiction ideas like, "What if people could move to another planet?", unbeknownst to us that such things were not too far off in the future.. He would take us to movies, the batting cages, go-karting, hockey games, and often tote along a friend or two, with the running joke in the neighborhood that if the kids left with Tom, you probably would not see us until the end of the day when we were worn out from our adventure.

Q: If you could redesign the food pyramid without any consequences, what would it look like?

There would be no pyramid. Just a box with pizza and tacos. To this day I still can't choose a favorite, but love them both equally. I guess if I have to throw in other foods, we can add some pie or ice cream for when I have a sweet tooth. No veggies or fruits though. I eat them only because I should, not because I really love them. And this kids, is why Mrs. Johnson is such a short adult. Don't be like Mrs. Johnson. Eat your veggies.

Q: What is the weirdest place you have ever eaten a meal, and what was the meal?

A ramen stand at the Food Court in the Ala Moana Mall in Honolulu. That was the day I discovered I really only like what I like to call "Americanized Asian Food". I thought ramen was something you bought in a plastic pouch with a super salty season packet and noodles. To this day, I cannot tell you what was actually in that bowl of ramen I bought at the food court. I ended throwing it away.

Q: Do you squeeze your toothpaste from the middle or the bottom of the tube?

Believe it or not, from the middle. *GASP* When it runs low, I will start rolling it up from the bottom. I also don't care which way you put the toilet paper on the roll. Seriously people, who cares? I live in a house of all boys. It's a miracle if the toilet paper actually makes it on the plastic roller.

Q: Star Wars or Star Trek, and why?

Is Harry Potter a suitable alternative? No? Hmm...Star Wars I guess. I have no interest in Star Trek and have only watched Star Wars when others have insisted I would love it. I don't. I normally fall asleep before any of the Star Wars movies are finished.

Q: What song or movie title best describes your life?

Anything by Green Day. "Time of Your Life" reminds me of my childhood. "Closing Time" reminds me of working at Domino's through college closing the store many nights with the man that is now my husband. "Wake Me Up When September Ends" reminds me of the sacrifices we have made as a military family.

Q:  What do you look forward to the most about summer vacation?

I don't have any big plans yet. But I'm ok with that. Just getting time off with my boys is the best. Playing video games, going to the water parks, curling up on the porch furniture with a coffee and an autobiography on some strong female I admire are all things I try to make time for. We do try to make it to Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs with my in-laws every 4th of July to spend time on the houseboat and just catch up with family. Other than that, my boys and I make our own adventures each week during the summer. I use this time to recreate the fun and closeness I had as a child with my boys and that is priceless.

Butterfly & Plant Life Cycles at TASA

As part of their Spring Science unit, TASA Kindergarteners are learning about the life cycle of butterflies.  They started the unit by collecting tree branches to put inside their classroom butterfly net. Mrs. Johnson provided the class with caterpillars that have recently transformed themselves into chrysalises.  Our students are now eagerly waiting for the butterfly transformation.

Our Kinders are also studying the life cycle of plants, starting from the seed and “stemming” into full plant growth.  As each plant grows into new life, our students are learning about the different parts of their plants as well.

Hands on science - another “learning by doing” experience at TASA.

Tolerance Building Bandage Project


Our 3rd through 8th graders, headed by our NJHS students, have surpassed our commitment!

TASA students committed to writing the names of 10,000 child victims of the Holocaust for the "The Tolerance Kids" at Woodlake Elementary.  

As we go to press, we have completed 14,000 names.  Our new goal is to send 15,000 inscribed bandages.

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.

Thank you to everyone who helped our students reach and surpass their goal!

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!

Mazal Tov to TASA parents, Olga and Michael Darter, on the birth of their daughter Sarah Eugenia, born shortly before Pesach.
Mazal Tov to TASA 8th grader & big sister, Margaret.

Upcoming Events and Programs

  • Tuesday, May 14: Faculty meeting, no clubs
  • Sunday, May 19: TASA Casino Night
  • Thursday, May 23: Lag B’Omer - special in-school programming
  • Friday, May 24: Siddur & Chumash Celebrations
  • 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

From The TASA Photo Gallery

Highlights from our Model Seder

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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 the PDF version of the May 2019 Jewish Journal, please click here.
For a direct link to the FLIPSNACK version of the May 2019 Jewish Journal, please click here.
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!