Friday, December 18, 2009


In the biggest upset of the Cooper Invitational's first round, the 12th ranked Cooper Macs knocked off the 5th rank North Shore Stars to advance in the Tier 1 bracket.  For details on all the games and to join the 14,000 listeners from across the country who tuned in to the tournament's webcast, visit

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Stellar Performance

There's no better way to describe what our Girls High School students did tonight.  Their rendition of The Diary of Anne Frank was authentic, insightful, harrowing, and moving.  It transported an audience of a hundred and fifty adults back to the attic of an office building in war-torn Amsterdam and deep into the heart and mind of a precocious thirteen year-old Jewish girl.  It told a story of suffering and a story of hope.  A story of destruction and a story of survival.

It was another masterful production by Dr. Kutliroff and another exceptional performance by our girls.  It was everything The Diary of Anne Frank was intended to be.

Click on the slide show to view and download pictures from the play.

Friday, December 11, 2009

First Class Kickoff

The Cookbook Kickoff for Simply Southern: With a Dash of Kosher Soul, brought Jews and non-Jews alike from across the city and across the country to the Baron Hirsch Congregation on Thursday night.  Samples of the recipes in this book - which has sold hundreds of copies across the country on only its first day of publication - were available for all to try.

If you haven't gotten your copy of Simply Southern yet, just go to their website and order one.  It's quickly becoming something no kosher cook wants to be without.

Diary of Anne Frank

Though only a dress rehearsal, the middle schoolers from the Bornblum Solomon Schechter School as well as the 9th graders from the Hollis F. Price Middle College High School walked away from our Girls High School's performance of The Diary of Anne Frank, thoroughly impressed and visibly moved. Once again, the professionalism of the show, the quality of the acting, and superb directing by Dr. Jerry Kutliroff far exceeded expectations for small school like ours.

Don't miss the real performance, Monday night, December 14, at 7:00 pm in the MHA / FYOS Gym.

JV Takes on Brooklyn

The CYHSB Junior Varsity Basketball team took to the court (and kosher restaurants) of Flatbush last week at the Thomas Hausdorff Memorial Tournament.  While our team, led by freshmen Justin Wruble, Ethan and Dylan Cooper, and Asher Silberman, along with sophomore Aaron Rubenstein, came in a respectable third place.  Even more impressive, though, is that the Cooper Macs took first place in the Skills Competition and Justin Wruble's 49 points made him the tournament's high scorer.

Everyone we spoke to - from host families to the shabbaton coordinators - had only the best things to say about the boys from Memphis.  Thank you Coach Carr for making it happen and thank you boys for making us proud!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tournament of the Millenium

Here's are segments from a recent post about our upcoming Cooper Invitational from the forum at

I've got a confession to make. I missed the boat on this Cooper tournament. I just had the opportunity to look through the participants this year and dare I say this tournament more than rivals the Saracheck? Dare I say it? Once again, I dare...

Somehow the Cooper school was able to attract the elite of the national schools across the country to come to Memphis, TN for a weekend that will potentially provide some matchups that will go the distance to help determine the national rankings, in my humble opinion...

Most tournaments we see these days usually and unfortunately include a few teams that are auto-wins for the rest of the pack. But with 16 teams and 2 Tiers you are looking at potentially the years best and most competetive tournament. In fact it may be the millenium's best tournament thus far...

For the entire post click here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Virtual Open House

To all of the parents and students across the country who are considering either the Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys or the Goldie Margolin School for Girls as an option for your son or daughter next year, but could not make it to Memphis to for our Open House on November 19th... don't despair! We have decided to bring the Open House to you!

Follow this link to the site we created with all of the materials we handed out as well as live video of our Open House presentations.  The link has also been permanently added to the sidebar of the blog for easy reference in the future.

We look forward to introducing you to the school, the faculty, and the students in person very soon!

Giving for Thanksgiving

The school was alive with Thanksgiving spirit last week.  While our youngest students were busy taking in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Thanksgiving at their Early Childhood Thanksgiving Feast, our older students focused not on taking, but on giving.  Our Elementary School classes spent much of their feast - which also featured a Reader's Theater presentation - packing the toiletries which they had collected, together with a note, into Ziplock bags to be distributed amongst those in our city who cannot afford to purchase such items themselves.

Our Girls High School took it one step further.  Having already visited a home for Alzheimer's patients to help serve a pre-Thanksgiving meal the week before, they took of their own vacation time to serve as part of the volunteer team at the Memphis Thanksgiving Dinner for the Homeless and Hungry.  This annual event feeds over 700 people from the Memphis area who would otherwise go hungry even on Thanksgiving Day.  Here's the Fox News video explaining just how vital this event is and just how special the volunteers, like our girls, are: 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Steak Dinner

...A wonderful, feel good evening for our school... Our boys and our school shined... I cannot remember The Yeshiva shining as brightly as it did last night... It really was remarkable to see the wholesomeness, camaraderie and drive that is instilled within them... It just gets better every year... What a special evening! A beautiful concept, executed beautifully... All the other schools I have ever been in have something to learn from what happened here tonight... To say that tonight was so beautiful and so nice, is a terrible understatement... I have lived in several different communities and I have never, ever seen something so moving... All the other schools I have ever been in have something to learn from what happened here tonight...

These were but a few of the comments I received in response to Sunday night's 16th annual Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys Steak Dinner.  Moving as they may be, no words can quite describe an evening for which 40 boys, led by their mentor, teacher, and friend, Rabbi Gersten, spent weeks cooking, cleaning, practicing, filming, editing, marketing, and fundraising; an evening in which over 300 community members came out for food that was truly delicious, service that was truly unparalleled, and entertainment that was both wholesome and thoroughly enjoyable; an evening in which high school students, of their own accord, publicly payed tribute to a teacher who has made a difference in their lives.

Hopefully, this video will give you some sense of how magical the evening was.  The only way to truly appreciate it, though, is to join our boys as they do it again next year...

From Steak Dinner 09

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lyposuctioned Kangaroos

It's been a busy few weeks for the Junior inside and outside the classroom.  From the hosting of the Avon Lenox School, a Memphis City School for the physically and developmentally challenged, for a feel-good game of basketball ball and friendship, to onegs and in-town shabbatons, there's been little down-time for our 7th and 8th graders.

One only had to visit Mrs. Talya Tsuna's 8th grade English class on Friday, though, to learn that the fun doesn't only happen once class lets out.  As part of their English curriculum, our 8th graders have been studying the phenomenon known as origin myths, that is, the way in which ancient cultures composed stories to explain the world around them.  After studying several such myths together, Mrs. Tsuna asked the 8th graders to compose their own.  From tigers jumping through fiery hoops to zebras engaged in a paint fight, and from frogs with overly harsh parents to a kangaroo whose lyposuction went awry, there was no shortage of creativity, imagination, and genuine joy for learning.  


Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Simply Southern" Site Launched

For four and a half years, a dedicated group of women in our school community under the direction of Dena Wruble and Tracy Rapp, have given endless hours to the creation and publication of a professionally done, distinctly Southern Kosher cookbook, that would open up new avenues for exploration by kosher cooks the world over, while simultaneously serving to significantly benefit our school and our children.  Their tireless efforts have now come to fruition.

Jewish newspapers throughout the country have picked up this story on the cookbook by the JTA, and hundreds of people have already pre-ordered the cookbook through their website: .  If you haven't ordered yours yet, be sure to do so soon.  And, if you're in Memphis on Thursday evening December 10th, be sure to join us at the official Cookbook Kickoff event at Baron Hirsch at 7pm.  The price of admission is simply the purchase of one cookbook.  From what I understand, it will be well worth it...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fall Festival 2009

Our second annual Fall Festival was everything we had hoped for.  Picture perfect weather, lots of kids from throughout the community having lots of fun throughout our campus, and, most importantly, smiles on everyone's faces.  From the moonbounces and music classes to a petting zoo and hay rides, and from quilt-making and cookie decorating to face painting and necklace making, there was something for everyone.  Here's a glimpse into what was truly a wonderful day:

From Fall Festival

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

High Schools Rank in Top 10% of Nation

If you haven't read my Dean's Message in the school newsletter each of the past two weeks, I urge you to do so (click here for two weeks ago, here for last week).  In them you'll learn that our little high school out in Memphis, TN has done pretty well for itself on the SATs.  In fact, you'll learn that our average scores on the verbal section of the SATs over each of the last two years puts us amongst the top ten percent of high schools in the country.  You'll also learn that Math and Writing are not lagging too far behind...

High School Discovery Program

The Boys High School new Discovery Program is off and running.  The new program, created by Rabbi Lubetski and implemented by Rabbi Stein, allows students to choose from an array of exciting electives that meets their particular interests.   The electives are broken down into four categories: Learning, Service, Creativity, & Skill Building.  Each student has to pick four with at least one coming from both the Learning and Service categories.

So wander on in to the Boys high school during last period each day and don't be surprised to find students learning to cook in the kitchen with Chef Arie Hazzan, learning to wire outlets and jump start cars with Executive Director (and resident Handyman) Mr. Hirsch Serman, doing studio art with Mrs. Flieschhaker, practicing for Model U.N. with Mrs. Kutliroff, going at each other in Debate with me, learning bi-chavrusa with the kollel, peer tutoring younger students in the library, exploring current events in Israel with Rabbi Goldberg, preparing to fight poverty in the inner city, practicing with the school band, writing for the school newspaper, and - believe it or not - a whole host of other activities.

Head of OU Visits High Schools

Both the Boys and the Girls High Schools were privileged with a visit by the new Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Steven Weil.  Formerly the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Jacob in Beverly Hills, Rabbi Weil is now the professional leader of the OU, the largest organization of synagogues in the United States, as well as the country's largest provider of kosher supervision, and - of particular interest to our kids - it is the umbrella organization for NCSY.

Rabbi Weil, who met with community leaders the night before in an effort to better understand the dynamics of our community and its aspirations for the future, mesmerized our students with talk of the latest products soon to be kosher as well as with words of inspiration regarding their dual loyalty as citizens of the United States and proud, unabashed, Jews.  Clips of his words to our girls can be heard below.

From Rabbi Weil Visit

3rd Grade Play

The third grade introduced this month's Middah of the Month - Hachnasat Orchim (Welcoming Guests) - with a breathtaking theatrical performance, written and directed by their talented teacher Morah Yehudit and her equally talented husband, Moreh Shimshon.  Not only was the acting great, and the lines recited to perfection, but as you'll see from the video clips below - the entire play was performed in Hebrew.  It's but another shining example both of the results we're seeing from having transitioned to a Hebrew Immersion environment for all Lower School Judaic Studies last year, and of the way we're combining Hebrew language with core Jewish values and sacred Jewish texts in a way that's fun and exciting for all of our children.  Well done, Kitah Gimel!

From 3rd Grade Play

From 3rd Grade Play

From 3rd Grade Play

Kindergarten Blast

Kindergarten has had quite a blast these past couple of weeks... literally.  From the blast of their volcanoes in science enrichment to the blast of the waves against their pretend Ark and from the blast of Fall weather against their cheeks as they explored the Memphis Botanical Gardens to the blast they had searching for words throughout the school with their 5th grade buddies,  it's been one exciting adventure after another for our Kindergarten kids.


I sincerely apologize to all of those avid blog-followers out there, that it's been a while since my last post.  Don't think for a second, though, it's because school life has simply been dull.  Nothing could be further from the truth. So here goes a little game of catch-up...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shiur Online

The audio and source sheets from today's shiur on Bereshit are available in the audio section of our school website:  We focused on the Netziv's understanding of the story of Cayin and Hevel (Cain and Abel). Enjoy!

Rapping in Hebrew

Our 5th graders were rapping, singing, banging, bumping, and jumping to the words of a Hebrew poem they learned with Morah Yehudit.  Luckily, I captured it all on video...

From 5th Grade Ivrit

From 5th Grade Ivrit

From 5th Grade Ivrit

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Extraordinary Student Gift

Her speech took us all by surprise.  It wasn't the poise and eloquence of 7th grader Meryl Musicante's Bat Mitzvah speech that surprised our teachers and administrators sitting in the audience that shabbat morning a few weeks ago.  We expected that from Meryl.  What no one expected was her announcement, in front of all who had come to daven in Baron Hirsch that morning, that she planned to give a significant percentage of the money she received for her Bat Mitzvah to the Margolin Hebrew Academy.

Sure, bnei and bnot mitzvah have given a percentage of their gifts to charitable causes before.  It's a wonderful practice that we should all highly encourage.  Yet, so often our young men and women are encouraged to contribute toward the needs of those who live great distances away or locals whom they've never met or with whom they'll never have a meaningful relationship.  Seldom do we encounter a young man or woman, who realizes that sitting in their very own class are students whose families need help.  Seldom do we see a young man or woman who recognizes that attending a Jewish Day School is an extremely costly endeavor that many in our own community simply cannot afford.  Seldom do we meet a young man or woman who understands that giving of their Bar or Bat Mitzvah gifts to their school can help give the gift of Jewish Education to students for whom it might otherwise be out of reach.

Yesterday, Meryl handed me an envelope at carpool that had "Donation to School" written on the outside.  I opened it up to find a check for $900.  It was an extraordinary gift from an extraordinary student.

May we all draw inspiration from her stellar example.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What a day!

It all started with the Boys High School launching it's Sukkah Wars right after davening this morning during which three teams split to learn the intricacies of hilchot sukkah and then set out to build one which incorporated as many of the halachot as possible.  From there it was the lower school's turn to celebrate Sukkot with an assembly that featured a performance from Mrs. Kugielsky's new Music and Dance program, a story from Rabbi Kugielsky, and dancing to the music of our Junior High band.  Then it was on to edible sukkah making in 4th grade, Simchat Torah marching in Pre-K, model sukkah judging and a whole host of other activities.  Who knew school could be so much fun...


From Sukkot