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 Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio
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The TASA Times
June 7, 2019          Parshat Bamidbar / Erev Shavuot          4 Sivan 5779

Mazal Tov to All of our Graduates

...Big and Small!
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TASA's 2nd Annual 8th Grade Graduation

On May 30th more than one hundred family members, community leaders, students and friends came to celebrate TASA's Second commencement exercises. The program, which featured beautifully delivered Divrei Torah and Zichronot - Memories from the graduates in both Hebrew and English, words of encouragement and blessings by Rabbis Schinberg and Block, and remarks by Howard Feinberg, Board president, and administrators Rabbi Marrus and Mrs. Diric, concluded with the graduates receiving their diplomas and a beautiful book on Pirkei Avot - Ethic of our Fathers.

Mazel Tov to the class of 2019, Margaret (Yael) Darter, Aliza Hanun, and Rachel Kron. We are so very proud of the wonderful young adults they have become.

We would like to express a heartfelt thank you to all the Middle School teachers who taught the graduates throughout the year, the many teachers who helped them prepare their speeches, and the many volunteers who helped set up, create the video presentation and much more. Special Hakarat Hatov and thanks to PTO Graduation chairpersons Alma & Roger Kron for their dedication and efforts in making the event so special.

Kindergarten Graduation 

On June 5th, TASA's 2019 graduating Kindergarten class celebrated their commencement from Kindergarten with song and poetry.

After words of welcome and introduction from Rabbi Marrus and Mrs. Diric, the kindergarten class shared songs and poems that featured elements of what they learned this year in both General and Judaic studies. They sang about growing and changing, and rapped about the Jewish months and holiday cycle. Mrs. Johnson pointed out how each student had grown both in learning and as an individual.

The program continued with a multimedia presentation that chronicled the class's progress as it reviewed the milestones over the course of this past year.

The program concluded with the presentation of diplomas followed by a light reception.

Many thanks to Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Endzweig and Morah Naomi for the amazing job they did this past year, transforming a group of wonderful little kids into eager and ready to learn first graders!

Student Voices

Please click on the image below to launch the video
TASA Student Voices - Parshat Bechukotai

D'var Torah

Bamidbar: Navigating the Desert

Today is the final day of the school year. In moments, the shouts of happy students will reverberate through the hallways as they mark another year completed and the start of summer break. Teachers will pack up their classrooms and head home for some much needed rest and rejuvenation. It’s hard to believe but summer is here.

This Shabbat we begin reading the fourth book of the Torah, Bamidbar-Numbers. It is worthwhile to note that while the secular translation of the fourth book of the Torah is “Numbers”, in Hebrew it is Bamidbar, which means “In the Desert”. What a puzzling name for a book in the Torah!

This Shabbat is also Erev Shavuot, the day before Pentecost, the holiday that celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mount SInai, which coincidently took place - Bamidbar, in the desert of Sinai.

Allow me to share a metaphor that I have shared with my children many times. A father once took his two sons on a camping trip. As they hiked and trekked through the different terrains and mountains, they encountered a large and vast desert. Before entering this frightening desert, the father reminded his sons to stock up on water. “Remember children, there will be no water in the desert to drink. It will be very hot. Take as much as you can now, so you will have it when you will need it”. One son took his father’s advice and the other did not. It didn't take long in the sweltering heat, before their canteens were empty. The smart son had plenty of back-up water, while the foolish son ran out of water, as he had not prepared adequately and failed to listen to his father's advice. The smart son on the other hand had everything he needed to complete the trip.

The same applies to each and every one of us. Life is very much like a Midbar, a desert. It is a vast and dangerous place with many perils. A person needs to be prepared with the tools necessary to lead a healthy, fruitful and spiritual life. This is what the Torah is all about. The Torah provides us with the “Water”,  the guidance, teachings and inspiration to encounter the Midbar in our lives. We just need to stock up and be prepared.

At TASA, this is our goal. To empower our young students to study, take life lessons, and prepare themselves physically and spiritually for a wonderful life ahead of them. It has been an honor and privilege to teach your wonderful children, the future of Klal Yisrael for another year, and provide them with good education, council and much “water”.

Enjoy the summer break!

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Shavuot Sameach and L’Hitraot!
Rabbi Yossi Marrus
Dean of Students / Dir. Judaic Studies

Teacher Feature Double Feature

Dear Readers,

    As we wind up the school year, we thought that it would be fun to ask both Rabbi Grossbaum and Mrs. Endzweig the same questions separately, without telling them about the other!

Hello there!

We know how busy things are at the end of the school year. Thank you for taking the time to sit down for this interview.  


Q: As this school year concludes, what are your reflections on how much TASA has changed since you started teaching here?

Rabbi Grossbaum:  TASA has become a pillar in the San Antonio Jewish community, changing the lives of the lucky children that attend in an extremely profound way, and reminds the community as a whole about the importance of children's Jewish education.
Mrs. Endzweig:  TASA has of course evolved in many ways, like becoming an accredited institution, has implemented great programs, and has a blended learning lab. But what hasn't changed are educators who genuinely care about each student, a school where all kids are like family to each other, and a place where parents know their children will grow in their Judaism.
Q:  Besides for first and second grades, what else do you teach at TASA and how do all of your classes differ from each other?
Rabbi Grossbaum:  Aside for teaching the first and second grades, I teach the third and fourth as well. In first and second they begin to learn chumash, learning how to read and translate the words, memorizing a bank of Hebrew shorashim and prefixes and suffixes. Every day they learn about the parshah of the week and the lessons that can be learned in how we serve Hashem and how to behave with one another. In third and fourth grade we learn chumash in a more advanced level with many of Rashi's commentary. We also learn the oral law - Halacha and Mishnah, and Navi - prophets.
Mrs. Endzweig:  Besides first and second grade, I teach kindergarten Judaics and Hebrew. I am also involved in a poetry/art collaborative project with Mrs. Henderson in the middle school, and was elected as adviser to NJHS. Kindergarten classes involve shorter lessons with more hands-on learning, while first and second grade classes are more rigorous and involved. They all have similar expectations, though: follow instructions, put forth your best effort, and stay focused on the task at hand.
Q: In what way do you feel you have grown the most as a teaching professional since coming to TASA?
Rabbi Grossbaum:  I grow every day with my wonderful students as they ask great questions that makes me take a deeper look in areas that I might have looked over otherwise.
Mrs. Endzweig:  TASA has challenged me as a teacher to reach my students in an individualized way. Due to the unique structure and size of our classes, I have had to learn how to coordinate different tasks to different students. I never would've dreamed that I'd be teaching Hebrew or Judaics, but I'm surprised at how much I enjoy it.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most about summer vacation?
Rabbi Grossbaum:  To spend daylight hours with my wife while my adorable loud kids are in camp.
Mrs. Endzweig:  This summer, I am most looking forward to seeing more of the United States. It's been a goal of mine to spend some time in each state, and every summer, I get to check one or two off of my list.

Q: What is it like having your daughter in school with you, as well as having had her as your student?

Rabbi Grossbaum:  A proud feeling, seeing her absorb all the lessons taught.
Mrs. Endzweig:  Parent teacher conferences with myself were kind of awkward, but otherwise I was able to see her strengths and weaknesses as a student.
Q: We know that you are involved in other San Antonio organizations besides TASA. What are they, and how is your role different there compared to what you do at TASA?
Rabbi Grossbaum:  My wife and I direct the Cteen chapter in San Antonio where we give (for the most) teens that attend public school, opportunities to engage in Jewish activities and Torah learning discussions in an extremely fun and warm family environment.
Mrs. Endzweig: I volunteer a lot and like to help out, but my main focus is TASA! I view each opportunity as a way to grow as a person, a parent, and a teacher.
Q: If you could change places with anyone Past, Present, or Future for one day only, who would it be, and why?
Rabbi Grossbaum:  One of the people physically witnessing the giving of the Torah at Mt Sinai.
 
Mrs. Endzweig: I would totally change places with my husband Yosef for a day. He works in Methodist Hospital, and gets to save people's lives on a daily basis. I have never experienced something as powerful as that!
 
Q: What is the most unusual item that you have in your car, and why is it there?
Rabbi Grossbaum:  A Tent. Just in case I get tired.
Mrs. Endzweig: The most unusual items in my car are a pair of ice skates. Yosef loved to ice skate before his knee started causing him issues.  
Q: If you could invent anything, what would it be?
Rabbi Grossbaum:  A device that would easily enlighten all child bearing parents to see how critical it is to send their children to a Torah day school.
Mrs. Endzweig: If I could invent anything, it would be a cure for Alzheimer's. I have personally seen how those afflicted and their family suffer. Let's see more light in this world!
Q: What does San Antonio need the most (choose one) … a Kosher (meat) burger place, a Kosher pizza shop, or a Kosher sushi place?
Rabbi Grossbaum:  Definitely pizza.
Mrs. Endzweig: San Antonio needs all three in one store!!! It could happen…
Q: Morning person, or night owl?
Rabbi Grossbaum: Unwillingly both.
Mrs. Endzweig: Night owl!
Q:  Blintzes or Cheesecake?
Rabbi Grossbaum:  Cheesecake
Mrs. Endzweig:  Lasagna

TASA Kindergarten Spelling Bee !!

TASA's Kindergarten ended the year on a high with their very first “Kindergarten Spelling Bee”.  It was a “spellbinding” experience for all who attended. Thank you to Mrs. Johnson for teaching our Kindergartners how to spell, and Mazal Tov to the entire Kindergarten class for all of their hard work!

TASA Students Complete 15,000 Bandages For "The Tolerance Kids"

Headed by the Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio's National Junior Honor Society, our TASA students from grades three through eight spent the past few months participating in a meaningful bandage writing project, originated by Lisa Liss and her “Tolerance Kids” from California.

The Bandage Project was started by Lisa Liss, a teacher from Woodlake Elementary School located in Sacramento, while she was teaching her students about tolerance. In one of her tolerance lessons she focused on how the Holocaust affected millions of people.   Eleven years ago a very motivated group of students wanted to do more to spread awareness, and so "The Tolerance Kids" were created. In 2008, The Tolerance Kids began their Bandage Project, with a goal of collecting 1.5 million bandages -- to represent the 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust.  The students chose bandages to represent children because they come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and most of all, heal pain. A different name of a child who was killed in the Holocaust is written on each bandage wrapper. In 2016, Tolerance kids had collected 0.5 million bandages. By May of 2018, they reached their One Millionth bandage!  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.)

TASA students eagerly agreed to help The Tolerance Kids reach their goal of 1.5 Million Bandages. TASA’s NJHS students collected boxes of Band-Aids, received generous donations of boxes of bandages, and got to work! Originally TASA students committed to writing the names of child victims of the Holocaust on a minimum of 10,000 bandages.   By the end of May, TASA students surpassed their original commitment by a whopping 50% and submitted 15,000 bandages!

Our 15,000 bandages have since been sent by Mrs. Diric and received by Lisa Liss and the Tolerance Kids, and have been placed in a beautiful display case at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California.  We are very proud of our students’ accomplishments! Thank you to everyone who helped our students reach and surpass their goal!

Below is a recent correspondence between Mrs. Diric and Ms. Lisa Liss, of The Tolerance Kids.

May 29, 2019: Correspondence from Mrs. Jessica Diric, general studies coordinator at TASA:
The Torah Academy of San Antonio students in grades 3-8 completed 15,000 bandages for the Tolerance Kids Bandage Project!  

Our shipment will be sent to California by the end of this week!

Thank you Lisa Liss for allowing our students to take part in this amazing (and huge) project! It is so important for us to instill love and tolerance in our students, while also remembering the 1.5 million children who died during the Holocaust!  

Thank you to the Friends and Families of TASA who so generously donated boxes of bandages for this cause!

May 29, 2019: Correspondence response from Ms. Lisa Liss, coordinator for the Tolerance Bandage Project:

This is so amazing!! We are so thrilled that Torah Academy of San Antonio is sending us 15,000 bandages! We have a giant writing day tomorrow and counting! We are hopeful that by tomorrow we will be over the 1.4 point. Now, it's just waiting for all the mail to arrive by Wednesday!! We have faith that it will all come together. We are working on the bandage container too. Hopefully it will be displayed in a museum soon and some of you will be able to see it. We are inspired and thrilled that people all over the world have participated in our Bandage Project. I certainly didn't think it would reach the entire world 11 years ago when we began. I hope that the students and adults who helped will continue to remember that with faith and hope, we can achieve anything. Our motto is: "Hate Hurts, Tolerance Heals!"

Hugs to all!!
Lisa and my Tolerance Kids

Photo above: Lisa Liss posing with the glass display case before it was filled with bandages.  Photos below:  Front and back images of the glass display case filled with 1.5 million bandages, with the names of the 1.5 million children who were murdered during the Holocaust written on them.  This display is now in the Museum of Tolerance, located in Los Angeles, California.

Siddur & Chumash Celebrations

On May 24th, in a joint ceremony, TASA's first graders celebrated receiving their Siddurim while the second grades received their Chumashim.

In a wonderful program arranged by Mrs. Endzweig, the first graders sang and demonstrated the remarkable progress and growth they have made in the area of Tefillah - prayer. The students demonstrated that they not only could recite and sing the Tefillot, but that they had remarkable insights into the concepts and process of prayer. The students focused on the three main concepts of Jewish prayer, praise, giving thanks, and requests. The students shared some of their personal thoughts and insights which were incorporated into a video presentation shown at the program.

The second half of the program was organized by Rabbi Grossbaum, who introduced the second graders and pointed out how much they have learned in Chumash and how the second graders have become proficient in reading and translating the Chumash. The students spoke about how precious their Torah learning was to them and how it was one of the most important things in their lives. Mrs. Endzweig surprised Rabbi Grossbaum with a video of the second graders expressing their love of Torah and their thanks to Rabbi Grossbaum for teaching them. Rabbi Marrus then presented them each with a replica Torah scroll as a commemoration of the event. After receiving their gifts, the second graders read and translated a number of pesukim they had recently learned and told over a Dvar Torah on the Parsha they learned.

After accepting their Siddurim and Chumashim, the children stood under an outstretched tallit and received a Bracha (blessing) from Rabbi Avraham Scheinberg.

Alphabet Countdown

For the final 26 days of school, TASA teachers brought back "Alphabet Countdown Days" to incentivize student performance and create some end of year spirit.


Some examples were “B” for “bubble day”, "D" was "directed drawing day" and “E” for “extra recess day” (an all time favorite!)  Other days included “F” for “frisbee day” and “P” for “popcorn day”. On “M” / “Marvel day" students had “free dress” to dress as their favorite superhero.  On “I” day, students enjoyed ice pops. Other activity days included “L” for “limbo”, “R” for “rainbow dress day”, and “S” for “sunglasses day”. "U" was for "umbrella day", and "W" was for "water-play day".

Students (and teachers) are all looking forward to “Z-day” --  “zip your backpacks and zoom off to summer vacation”!

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Math Club Recap

TASA’s first after school math club was a rousing success. Led by Mrs. Endzweig, the Math Club which was open to Middle School students, gave the participants an opportunity to improve and refine their math skills with a variety of fun math games.

The club used Mathcounts, a targeted level-based curriculum meant to reinforce middle school math skills. Some of the games the students enjoyed were Bombs Away and Math Golf which reinforce logic skills, factors, and products, respectively. 

The TASA Math Club even developed its own math game (together with TASA’s NJHS chapter) called Soccer math, which reinforces working with mathematical functions. The club members submitted Soccer Math to the authors of Mathworks for inclusion in their program! 

Math club was an amazing team building and learning success!  Many thanks to Mrs. Endzweig for spearheading this amazing initiative.  

Lag B’Omer at TASA

On Thursday, May 23rd. TASA students celebrated Lag B'Omer with a variety of fun activities.

While our Kinder-2nd graders enjoyed skipping, jumping through hula hoops, jump roping, standing on one foot, and Frisbee throwing distance contest, our middle schoolers ran through an obstacle course / relay race with soccer, disc golf, and standing on one foot.

As has been our tradition, Lag B’Omer at TASA was a fun-filled active day for everyone.  But most importantly, there was a lot of laughter and fun, despite it being a very hot day.

The Hess Coporation Awards TASA
With a Stem Grant!

TASA third and fourth graders had the opportunity to engage in a unique STEM activity courtesy of a grant from the Hess Corporation. The  Hess Corporation offers STEM grants to schools and provides lesson plans and materials for a variety of STEM-based learning activities.

The students were exploring the connection between the amount of fuel/force it takes to move objects with different amounts of mass. The Hess corporation provided a number of model vehicles which the students propelled using a set amount of elastomotor force. The students loaded the vehicles with several types of weights and then measured and recorded how far the vehicle traveled with each load. They then discussed how their findings could relate to the amount of fuel that vehicles would consume based on their load.

A great practical STEM lesson made possible to TASA students by a grant from the Hess Corporation.

Rabbit Reflections
from Mrs. Endzweig

This had been an idea that I had been mulling over for a few years now. Pets are great for kids. They teach kids about responsibility, taking care of a pet, and knowing how to act around a pet. They teach kids all about how to be kind to animals. But did I really want that responsibility at school? 

When the school year started, I spoke to Rabbi Avraham, and his requirement for having a pet was that no creature would be running around the building, destroying the property.   I spoke to the first and second grade students and we created a table with a list of different class pets that would be appropriate. On the list were some interesting choices, like butterflies, turtles, and dogs. The class then voted, and marked tallies for their favorite choice of a pet for their classroom. The most popular vote was for a bunny rabbit. 

I decided to wait until after the busy holiday season, and would get a pet after the Sukkot holiday. I also spoke to parents during back to school night, and they were all amenable to the idea of helping out and volunteering to take care of a class pet. While I was at shul over the high holidays, I had spoken to Martha Hendler about the vote that occurred in my classroom, and she said that she had a solution which wouldn't cost a penny. The two rabbits from Camp Gan Izzy were available to be adopted. My class had originally voted on one bunny rabbit, but how could I separate these two rabbits that have been together since birth?? So there I was with the cage, two furry little rabbits, rabbit food, and hay. 

It was love at first sight when the first and second graders saw their class pets. They wanted to hold them, to feed them, and wanted to clean their cage. First, they voted on names. Brownie became the male's name, and Fluffy became the female's name. They quickly learned that the rabbits didn't necessarily want all the attention that they were giving. With the help of Mrs. Schwab and Mrs. Henderson, the kids and myself acclimated to our new friends in the classroom. 

Once Mrs. Glassburner noticed how much happier they would be if they had more room, she donated a snap together corral that could be taken outside for the rabbits to run around in an enclosed space. Oh! How they loved the grass and the fresh air!

The children enjoyed watching the rabbits, noticing their habits and daily living. They were surprised to see that the female rabbit, Fluffy, was able to jump over a 26 in. high pen. Her nickname, Fluffy "Aly Raisman" TASA, was given that day!As the year went by, the children grew to respect the rabbits and their environment. They learned not to put their fingers in their cage, not to be loud or make sudden movements near them, and to give them space. They also realized how much work goes into having a rabbit as a class pet. Their cage tended to get stinky after a day, and on occasion, they enjoyed helping clean it out.

In the springtime, when the rabbits were out more frequently, we noticed Fluffy burrowing in the dirt and creating holes. That started an amazing science lesson and research on different habits of rabbits. The children discovered that rabbits, as prey, create a network of burrows to hide in from predators.

Overall, the male rabbit, Brownie, was the fan favorite! He never hissed, got territorial, or bit the children. He liked to be held and petted. Every PE class, the students begged Mrs. Henderson to take Brownie out of the cage, so they could hold him.

After the passing of Fluffy one weekend, the children learned an important lesson about animals and the cycle of life. They each grieved in their own way, and had lots of questions about the lifespan of rabbits. Again as a team, Mrs. Henderson, Mrs. Schwab, and myself were able to help them get through this difficult time.  A week later they got to say their goodbyes to Brownie, as he was off to experience new adventures with 200 of his kind at the rabbit sanctuary in China Grove, San Antonio. I recorded every step of his journey for the students.

I cannot express how grateful I am for all the parents, teachers, and volunteers who took the rabbits on different weekends. I could not have done it without you all. And now the question that I've been asking myself, do we go for a different class pet next year??? If so, what will it be??? Only time will tell when the new school year begins...
-- Mrs. Endzweig -- 

TASA Gear Spotted Here!!

Special Thanks to
Mrs. Malkie Marrus & Mrs. Brach Gluck
(and their team of volunteers)
for doing an amazing job running the PTO this year!!

Upcoming Events and Programs

  • Friday, June 7: Last day of school, noon dismissal
  • June 11-14: The TASA office will be CLOSED
  • June 17-28: The TASA office will be open from 8:00 AM-12:00 Noon
  • July 1 - August 2: The TASA office will be CLOSED for the summer
  • August 5-9: The TASA office will be open from 9:00 AM-12:00 Noon
  • August 12: Regular TASA office hrs will resume, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • August 19-21: Staff In-service
  • Thursday, August 22: First day of school for students

From The TASA Photo Gallery

Below are some pictures from this past school year that have not previously made an appearance on these pages.


With Special thanks to our awesome and dedicated teachers who have continuously contributed their photos to the TASA Times.

~~~~~~~~

Sketch work from Mrs. Henderson's art class, inspired after learning about the artist Vincent Van Gogh, earlier in the school year.

These photos (originally posted on Facebook) were captured by Mrs. Endzweig of our Kindergarten class enjoying one of the very rare autumn days in SA.

These snapshots from our rodeo trip back in February, did not make it into our issue.

Here are some great (previously unpublished) candid shots of our middle school students from when they went to the Witte Museum back in March.

Here are some extra photos that we did not use from when Mr. Ari Richtberg came to talk with
our students about the sport of fencing...

Random PE & sports activity action shots that simply did not have a chance to be published.

Below are some more random photos from this past school year that just never made it to publication.

(Full disclosure - okay, admittedly, we used the image above once before as part of a collage submitted by Mrs. Johnson. But really, some things simply deserve a second run!!)

TASA's 2018-2019 Class Photos

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Digitized Jewish Journal

San Antonio's Jewish Journal has gone completely digital
in the form of a live website. 

Moving forward, all Jewish Journal news
will be available only online

through the Jewish Journal website @ JewishSA.Org
 and through a link on the Jewish Federation website @ JFSATX.org.

Have you enrolled your child for the
2019-2020 school year at TASA yet?

It's not too late, but don't hesitate!!

Call the school office for more information at 210-607-7261.

Please leave a message if no one is there. Someone will get back to you!

Don't delay another day!
Enroll your child today!!

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 Shmuel Bass Torah Academy of San Antonio, All rights reserved.


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Shabbat Shalom y'all!