Monday, December 20, 2010

Kohelet Fellowships Event

Our community enjoyed a historic moment last Thursday night.  Thanks to the Kohelet Foundation, 92 parents from both the Academy and Solomon Schechter - representing all three Orthodox shuls, Chabad, the two Conservative shuls, and the Reform Temple - gathered together for an evening of joint Torah study.

The program, which featured a two-part presentation by Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveitchik with group source study in between, was this year's first communal event of the Kohelet Fellowships program.  The Fellowships program, now in its second year and in its first year in Memphis, provides a tuition break to parents who enroll in and complete either the Partners in Torah or Jewish Learning Institute's adult education program.  We are proud of the fact that with only 102 families in our school, we have 97 parents enrolled in the program.

As one of the 97, I can attest to the fact that it has energized our parent base and is helping to foster a love for life-long learning throughout our community.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Steak Dinner 2010

The boys of our high school shined once again, as they wined, dined, and entertained some three hundred guests in their annual Steak Dinner.  The Steak Dinner is the major fund raising event which provides the high school with its student activities budget.  For weeks the boys worked on securing sponsorships, preparing their faculty tribute video (replete with comical advertisements for the dinner's corporate sponsors), practicing their solo (two pianists) and band performances, divrei Torah, programs, decorations, and - of course - the four course meal.  Under Rabbi Gersten's masterful guidance, the boys, once again, did not disappoint.

Here are some images from what was a very special night:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chanukah PhotoStory

Just a few weeks ago we equipped our Early Childhood classrooms with webcams and introduced our teachers to ways in which they could incorporate Skype and PhotoStory into their teaching.  To say they jumped at the opportunity would be an understatement.  Our students have gone on a tour of menorahs in a neighborhood in Israel via Skype and helped to bring digital images alive with their own narration.

To get a sense for the way in which these tools are enriching the learning experience for our children, watch this PhotoStory created by our 4 year-olds in PreK in which they use pictures of themselves and their own words to share the story of Chanukah.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing

Another Dr. Kutliroff production.  Another smashing success.  This time it was the Girls High School rendition of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and once again two-thirds of our high school collaborated in bringing the 16th century playwright's masterful writing to life on stage.

What made this production stand out in my mind, was the fact that no one girl stole the show.  There were so many outstanding performances from so many different girls -  9th through 12th grades, dormers and in-towners alike -  that it truly spoke to caliber, capability, and talent of our girls as a whole.  Thank you again to Dr. Kutliroff and his trusted assistants and congratulations to all of the girls for a job beautifully done.

The slideshow below provides glimpses into what was a magical evening.  Click here for a web album with all the pictures.

3rd Grade Tal Am in Action

The 3rd grade, under the leadership of Morah Yehudit, demonstrated the power of the Tal Am program this morning, when they performed the story of Avraham Avinu for parents and students alike.  The performance used a mixture of prose, pesukim, and songs, all completely in Hebrew, to teach both the narrative of parashat Vayera as well as the practical lessons it offers for our lives.

Have a look at the clips below and notice the content knowledge, the Hebrew skills, and the excitement for learning which runs rampant in our 3rd grade classroom.

From Avraham play-11-24-10

From Avraham play-11-24-10

From Avraham play-11-24-10

From Avraham play-11-24-10

Celebrations in the CYHSB

These past few weeks have been chock full of celebrations in the Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys. Starting with the Thursday night mishmar siyum by Mr. David Schlesinger, which, thanks to Jon Wogan, brought the community and our boys together to celebrate talmud Torah, to the weekend of celebrating our Torah MiTzion Kollel, to the most recent simchah - the birth of a baby boy to CYHSB principal, Rabbi Uriel Lubetski and his wife Shani, it's been one joyous occasion after another in our Boys High School.

Here are some pictures from the siyyum and the kollel weekend, including a special edition of our famed Friday afternoon chulent tisch:

And, hot off the press, here are the pictures from this morning's bris:

Torah MiTzion National Convention

Our school and community was privileged to host the national convention of Torah MiTzion Kollelim from across North America two weeks ago.  The shuls and school came alive with activity as 70 shlichim from Israel descended on Memphis for a weekend filled with learning, networking, teaching, and growing.  In honor of the event, our Memphis kollel created this video which offers just a taste of the wonderful work the Torah MiTzion Kollel does throughout our community.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Writing Award is Back!

The Dean's Writing Award is back up and running. Each month, one piece of student writing regarding Judaic Studies and one piece of student writing on a General Studies topic will be awarded the Dean's Writing Award.  The names of the nominees will be posted to our Dean's Writing Award Wikispace, and the work of our winners in each category will be posted as well, for all to see.  In addition, each of the winners will take a home a small gift card to Barnes and Nobles.  So, write away!

As we did not award the prize to anyone in September, I have selected 2 winners in our General Studies category for this month, and one in our Judaic Studies category.  The two General Studies winners are Lee Sauer (2nd Grade) for her story about firefighters and Alyssa Wruble (8th Grade) for her dramatic depiction of Middle Passage.  On the Judaic Studies side, the winner is Asher Finkelstein (8th Grade) who insightfully compared the lessons of  Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with those of the Talmud.  Look at the wikispace for the names of the other nominees.

Congratulations to all and keep up the good work!

Pilgrims and Poems

Though the word Pilgrims at this time of year typically conjures images of the 17th century English dissenters who first colonized Plymouth Massachusetts, we had a different sort of Pilgrim marching through our campus earlier this week.  Though also English, these were the Chaucerian Pilgrims of the 14th century, traveling the countryside and commenting on society in metered rhyme.

With her Girls High School English class in the morning, and then with her Boys High School class in the afternoon,  Mrs. Hasenmeuller led her Pilgrims through the drizzle to various spots on campus where they paused and offered their own Chaucerian poem.

Of course, Mrs. Hasenmueller joined in the fun, and offered these "comments" on her "society" to her Girls High School class:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cooper Invitational 2010

Just when we thought it couldn't get any better... it did.  All week long emails have been pouring in from across the continent with feedback on this year's tournament.  Here's a small smattering of what we're hearing from coaches and chaperones who participated in last weekend's event:

"I think you have a problem. This year's tournament was so well done, I don't see how you can top it next year.  From the changeover to using vans to a wonderfully balanced field of teams, this year's tourny was great.

I am sorry that I could not experience the community's hospitality but everyone I talked to said the same thing, how nice and warm and inviting thier hosts were. It is truely a wonderful testament to the Jewish community in Memphis."

"WOW!!! That is all I can say.  The tournament was an amazing success and Daniella and I were both honored to participate.

The tournament’s high level of play, shabbos experience, and fabulous speakers would have been more than enough to make for a successful and enjoyable weekend, but you went above and beyond with your friendly smile and warm welcome. Thank you for your hospitality, hard work, and for making Daniella and myself feel like we were part of a team.

I look forward to speaking with you in the near future and visiting Memphis again soon."

"I just wanted to thank you for your most gracious southern welcome to the staff from Yeshiva University. Coach Halpert said that you made him feel like a rock star. Our reports were that it was a very successful tournament. I’m just disappointed that MTA didn’t win in the finals."

"I must say that because of you and the Cooper Yeshiva family, the athletes in general, and my players in particular, had the experience of a lifetime that they will never forget. Literally for the rest of their lives they will carry with them the warmest and finest memories of their time in Memphis."

"I want to thank you and all of the people who helped you with this year’s Cooper Tournament. The Flatbush team truly had an experience of a lifetime and not just from a basketball perspective. The messages delivered by all your speakers are those that I hope all tournaments will strive to deliver to all kids in the future. You and all the people associated with the tournament should be very proud of this great accomplishment."

"Once again let me tell you how impressed I am with the quality of this tourney. Your leadership has turned this into the best Jewish tournament in the country bar non! Not even N. Y. Can compete now that you went streaming! Congrats on a job well done.......again!!"

Our deepest appreciation again goes out to Tournament Director, Josh Kahane, for his remarkable efforts in putting the event together. 

Below are some highlights from the weekend.  For all of the pictures from the tournament click here: Album 1, Album 2

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mazel Tov!

Exciting news!  In this week's parasha Yitzchak takes Rivkah to be his wife and thanks to the creativity of our Early Childhood Morahs, all of our Early Childhood children were on hand to watch!  Not only were the chatan and kallah there with their families, but so was the band, the photographers, the bride's maids, the mesader kiddushin, and a whole host of well wishers.  The chuppah was followed by a scrumptious reception.  Special thank you to Morah Debbie for all her help in putting it together!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Festival 2010

Our Third Annual Fall Festival was a smashing success.  Parents and children from across the community came together for a fun-filled morning of moonbounces, hayrides, story-telling, and much more.  Click on the slideshow below to see some of the Festival's most precious moments.

You can find all of these pictures and several more on our Fall Festival Picasa web album.  Enjoy!

Speakers Galore

We've had a steady stream of experts and activists in various fields present to our Middle School and High School students over the past few weeks.

On October 6th we had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Rona Novick, whose groundbreaking bullying prevention program called BRAVE, we are piloting in our Middle School.  As part of the Azrieli Graduate School's Institute for University School Partnership, Dr. Novick visits our school several times over the course of the year to collect data regarding the implementation of her program as well as to lead related programs with our Middle School students.  A recognized expert in Child Psychology, Dr. Novick, also graciously offers to give a parenting workshop to our parent body each time she visits.  This time, her topic was "Trusting our Teens:  The Balance Between Adolescent Independence and Parental Supervision" and over fifty parents came out to participate in the evening workshop.

This past Tuesday, our Middle and High School Girls had the privilege of hearing from Ms. Rochelle Shoretz, founder of Sharsheret, an organization which supports Jewish women with breast cancer.  Ms. Shoretz, a Columbia trained attorney who clerked for the Supreme Court and is now battling a second round of cancer, shared her remarkable story with our students.  To get a sense for what they experienced, watch this incredible Fox News interview with Ms. Shoretz:

To cap things off, thanks to the Baron Hirsch Congregation, both our Boys High School and our Girls High School had the pleasure of hearing words of inspiration from Rav Ronen and Mrs. Pnina Neuwirth this past Friday.  The Neuwirths, who serves as Scholars In Residence at Baron Hirsch over the weekend, are heavily involved in the Tzohar Organization which is trying to bridge the secular and religious divide which currently tears at the heart of Israeli society.

From Speakers

Technology and Hebrew Immersion

Our separate school-wide initiatives in Hebrew Immersion and in Technology came together today as our 3rd grade class took a new document camera for a test run.  The document camera functions much as an overhead projector did in the past, except that now one need copy or write onto transparencies in order to project something for the class to see.  In fact, with a document camera, one can project just about anything - from a textbook or student work to a piece of art or a biological specimen, and anything in between.  

The document camera, coupled with our new wireless slates and the SMART Notebook software with which every class has been outfitted, is particularly useful in our lower school classrooms where we have introduced the Tal Am Hebrew Immersion program.  As the Tal Am program produces all of its books and notebooks, many of which contain visual stimuli critical to teaching our children without having to translate into English, and as they are not yet available in digital form, the document camera allows the teacher to simply place the workbook under the camera, which projects an enlarged picture of it onto the whiteboard, and then the class can use the wireless slate to analyze the work and fill in the correct answers

Here's a quick video we took of our 3rd grade doing exactly that this morning:


As part of the Max Cooper Business and Technology Program we hope to purchase two document cameras.  If you're interested in sponsoring the purchase of additional units for additional classrooms please let our business office know.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sukkot at the MHA

The days leading up to Sukkot are always an exciting time in school.  From classroom sukkot and sukkah decorations in the Early Childhood to model sukkot and students modeling as the ushpizin in the Lower school, and from the intense hilchot schach competition in the Boys High School to the diverse Sukkot stations in the Girls High School, everywhere you turned this week there was excitement, enthusiasm and hands-on education, in preparation for the upcoming holiday.

Here's a glimpse...

Student Named National Merit Semifinalist

More than 1.5 million juniors in over 22,000 high schools entered the 2009 National Merit Program by taking the 2009 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). Of those 1.5 million only 16,000 students nationwide - and only 44 in the city of Memphis - qualified as National Merit Semifinalists. We're most proud that 12th grader Maddie Tavin was one of them.

The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, which represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,400 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $36 million, that will be offered next spring. We wish Maddie the best of luck on the next - and final - stage!

6 Students Win National AP Awards

Evidence of our astounding results on last year's AP tests continue to roll in. Just recently we learned that 5 of the 19 students in last year's graduating class - or 26% of the class - won prestigious national awards from the College Board for their performance on the APs, as did one member of last year's Junior class.

Luky Guigi and Rachel Rubenstein received the AP Scholar Award which is given to students who receive scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP exams. Debbie Farber and Ariav Schlesinger received the AP Scholar with Honor Award for scoring an average of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken AND scoring 3 or higher on four or more of those exams. Ariel Cooper, last year's valedictorian, received the AP Scholar with Distinction Award which is given to highly select few students who receive an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP exams AND score 3 or higher on five or more of those exams (Ariel took 6 AP exams and scored an average of 4.67 out of 5).

Maddie Tavin, who is only now a senior in our Goldie Margolin School for Girls, also received the AP Scholar award for having already taken 3 Advanced Placement Exams prior to her Senior Year and having scored a perfect 5 on all three.

Congratulations again to all of the students and all of their teachers for a job splendidly done.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Selichot Night

As has become a tradition over the past few years, both of our high schools gathered in their respective schools late on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah, for a moving program prior to the beginning of selichot.  Under the direction of Rabbi Noam Stein, both schools began with a powerful excerpt from the movie Freedom Writers, followed by an assignment for self reflection, a time to share thoughts with each other, and some powerful singing.  Then, the two schools came together in the Beit Midrash for selichot led by Rabbi Gersten.

It was a most fitting way to begin the Yamim Nora'im.

Kollel Night of Learning

One of our most beautiful community events is the bi-annual night of learning which our Kollel Torah MiTzion hosts twice a year to help us get ready for Yamim Nora'im and then again for Pesach.  The evening begins with chavruta study of Torah sources relating to the upcoming holiday and then each of the four congregational rabbis gives a short shiur based on the sources prepared.  It is nothing short of inspiring to watch our Beit Midrash fill with men and women, grandparents and grandchildren, all there to expand to grow in knowledge and spirit in preparation for the chag.

May our growth in Torah learning and communal collaboration only increase and strengthen in the coming year.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

You Can Make a Difference

Dear Friends,

As our preparations for the Yamim Noraim intensify, so do the efforts of our dedicated lay leaders to make this year's annual campaign the success we need it to be.

As you can imagine, like Day Schools across the country, the economic downturn has taken a heavy toll on us and many of our families.  Nonetheless, our administrative team and our outstanding team of educators are as committed as ever not only to continuing to deliver high quality education in all subject areas, but to constantly improving and constantly growing.  For us, there's no other way.  After all, the future of our children, our community, and klal yisrael depends on it.

The only way we can continue do so, however, is with your support.  Therefore, I ask that in this season of teshuva, tefilla, and tzedaka, you give whatever your means allows to help our school continue to actualize its mission.

Doing so is easy.  Just click here to access our secure paypal form which will walk you through the simple process.  That's all it takes.

I thank you in advance for helping to make a difference in the lives of our children.

Best wishes for a ketivah va-chatimah tovah,

Rabbi Perl

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back to School Barbecue

The PTA once again kicked off the year with a fun-filled Back to School Barbecue.  Judging by the smiling faces in these pictures, I think it's safe to say it was another big success.  Thanks to all the volunteers who made it happen!

Monday, August 30, 2010

MHA Takes 1st place!

With just the right mix of creativity, humor, workmanship, and meat-related puns, our alumni group brought the first ever Showmanship Champion title at the ASBEE Kosher BBQ contest to the Academy. Of the nearly 50 booths in the competition, the school's booth took first place in both name ("Lebron Flames and the Miami Meat") as well as booth creativity (a mock lockerroom with walls describing the merits of each of Lebron's possible new teams - including the MHA Macs!). This year a new award, called the Showmanship Champion, was added to the mix for the team that had the highest combined score in the name and booth competitions. The first place finish in both competitions made us a lock for that one as well.

Our heartfelt thanks goes to Richard Lewis, Daniel Lewis, Benjamin Rubenstein, Zac Kaplan, and Yoni Frieden for all their hard work. Can't wait to see what they come up with for next year...

Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 27, 2010


Be sure to drop by the Academy's booth at the ASBEE BBQ this Sunday.  Thanks to the incredible efforts of Richard Lewis, Zack Kaplan, Benjamin Rubestein, and crew, it is a "decision" you won't regret.

Internet Safety

If you haven't yet registered for this Tuesday night's presentation by Phil Rosenthal, an nationally recognized expert on internet safety, please do so by clicking here.

Rosenthal, a Tennessee native who attended then-Memphis StateUniversity, has nearly 30 years of experiance in computer safety andtechnology awareness. He created the Computer Crime Unit of the Rockland County Sherrif's Department, from which he recently retired.

Top law enforcement agencies like the FBI, the Israel National Police, andNew Scotland Yard have called on Rosenthal to assist in solving technology-related cases. He is frequently sought by mental health professionals, school guidance counselors, clergy members, and community leaders across the country for his expertise in Internet safety for children and treating technology addictions.

The presentation, sponsored by Young Israel of Memphis, will take place at the JCC, Tuesday, August 31st at 8:00pm.  If you have school age children or grandchildren, it is imperative that you attend.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

EC -6 Are Underway!

The excitement pulsated through the hallways, smiles were in abundance, and anticipation was in the air, as grades PreK through 6 got the new school year started yesterday.  With new families and fantastic new faculty joining the MHA family it was truly a special day for all.  Catch a glimpse of it below...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

$500,000 for the MHA

In case you haven’t yet heard, Kohl’s Department Store is running a Facebook contest in which people can vote for the schools they believe should get a $500,000 donation. The top 20 vote getters will all get the award. According to a story in the Jewish Week, there are currently 20 Jewish Schools amongst the top 50 vote getters. While the size of our school puts us at a disadvantage, we’ve shown time and again that our little school is capable of some pretty big things. So this is yet another opportunity for us to rally our troops and rise to the occasion!

Here’s what we have to do:

1. Go to and vote for the Margolin Hebrew Academy. You have 20 votes and can use up to 5 for one school, so please do!

2. Send this message to everyone you know, let them know it’s not a hoax, and ask them to do the same.

For some schools, $500,000 is a drop in the bucket. For us, it could have a profound impact on our children and our community. The contest ends September 3rd so please don’t push it off. Take just a few seconds to give us your 5 votes and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Site for Tournament

At approximately 12:00 EST, the newly revamped Cooper Yeshiva High School National Invitational Website went live on the internet. The website provides up to the moment information about the Invitational, its participating teams, hotel accommodations, and more. You can also visit to relive championships past via its pictures and records section, and discuss the exciting action with your friends on the new Invitational Forum. Once the Tournament tips-off, the website’s cutting edge technology will broadcast live video and audio of each game, and will release post game articles via its social networking media connections. Don't forget the sign up for the Bracket Challenge, which will be posted shortly after the seeding is released.
Visit the website and check it out. Make sure to keep up with all the action by becoming a fan of the Invitational’s Facebook Page and signing up for Twitter updates.
Many, many, many, thanks to Gershon Yarmush for his art direction, planning and execution of the new site

Monday, July 26, 2010

Memphis Receives Community Growth Grant

Thanks to the hard work of Mr. Josh Kahane and his dedicated committee, we just learned that the Memphis Orthodox community was one of two communities awarded the first Community Growth Grant from Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future.

Here are some excerpts from the Grant's guidelines:

The Community Growth Grant selects several communities that display the preparedness to implement a growth strategy as outlined in this guide’s best practices and exhibit a culture of excellence and an infrastructure that promote the values and ideals of Yeshiva University. These selected communities will participate in an enhanced community growth relationship with YU CJF.

What a CGG community can expect from Yeshiva University:

 A programming grant toward YU programs which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

    1. YU speakers to serve as scholars in residence
    2. Site visits by YU CJF to consult with your community and assist in the growth process
    3. Access to young families:
      1. Apartment communities in our network through parlor meetings
      2. Active promotions for your community through matchmaking efforts and interactions wit young families
      3. Assistance in providing leadership training for the young leadership in your community
    4. Access to other YU CJF resources including but not limited to, Career Development Center, and the Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement Services
Selection parameters for communities:
  1. A complete application
  2. An established and vibrant Torah Umada Jewish infrastructure
  3. An engaged and inspired leadership that is able to collaborate effectively across local institutions.
  4. A vibrant local day school
  5. A vibrant local high school
  6. One or more vibrant local synagogues
  7. A local federation that is actively supportive of community growth
  8. Thriving local youth groups
  9. A community eruv
  10. A community mikvah An economic climate in your community that has potential for job growth
  11. A comprehensive incentive package to attract young families and aid them in their move
  12. A strong community growth infrastructure to facilitate the influx of young families and to assist new family retention
  13. A commitment from your community to encourage high school graduates to attend Yeshiva University

We'll share more details when they become available.  In the meantime, though, I wanted to express how proud we are of the fact that all facets of our vibrant Memphis Orthodox community enjoy a strong relationship with Yeshiva University and how deeply appreciative we are for all the support they have given us over the years.  We have no doubt that this new grant will help both our community and our relationship with YU soar to even greater heights.

Camp Shemesh

As another fantastic summer at Camp Shemesh draws to a close, we wanted to share some of the highlights with you. . For more information on Camp Shemesh, email the camp director, Mrs. Michelle Katz.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Outstanding AP Scores

Our High School AP scores came in last week, and I'm proud to report that once again our students did beautifully.  Of the 62 students in our high schools last year, 19 of them took at least one AP exam last year and several took more than one.  Despite the very high percentage of our total student body who took an exam, the results from our high schools on all four of the tests taken far outdid the national averages (comparisons are to last year's average scores, as national data for this year is not yet available).  These numbers are particularly significant as the students taking AP tests are a self-selected group of the country's most talented and motivated students.  Here's a summary of how we did (Note:  The College Board, who administers the AP exam, considers a score of 3 to be passing.  Most universities award college credit, though, only for a score of 4 or 5):

  • AP English Language and Composition: The national average score last year was 2.88.  Amongst the 10 MHA / FYOS students who took the test, the average was 4.2 - or 46% higher than the national norm!
  • AP Physics B: The national average for Physics was also 2.88.  Only 2 students took the test this year, but their average was a 3.5.
  • AP Psychology: Our AP Psychology results bordered on perfection.  The national average last year was a 3.22.  14 of our students took the test and all but two received a perfect 5, with the others receiving a very respectable 4.  Our school average was a 4.8 - or 51% higher than the national norm!
  • AP US Government and Politics: This was a new offering for our school this year and the results were fantastic.  10 students took the exam and scored an average of 4.2, compared to the national average of 2.78.  Here too, our student scores were 51% higher than the average AP student across the nation.
Congratulations to Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Vaughn, Mrs. Perl, and Mrs. Kutliroff  - and, of course to all of our students - for a job beautifully done!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Color War

Just when our lower school kids were convinced that this year there really would not be any color war, color war was sprung upon them.  For a day and half the school was sea of yellow and blue and red and black.  They competed in everything from relay races to basketball, Torah bowl to team newspaper, banner to skit, and everything in between.  Both the chesed team and the tzedakah team demonstrated what it means to work together as well as sportsmanship and middot par excellence.  Here's a small taste of what it was like:

From Movies

Debate Day

What better way to culminate a year-long Debate elective in both high schools (the first of its kind) than with a debate against... each other.  So it was on Monday, that four pairs of debaters from the Boys School squared off against four pairs of debaters from the Girls School, over the national high school policy debate resolved "That the United States government should substantially increase social services to those living below the poverty line in the United States."  The teams sparred with each other over three rounds, each team arguing both the Affirmative and the Negative side of the debate at least once, and needless to say it got rather intense.  Each side grilled the other over their knowledge of the government's current social service programs, over the other team's proposal to enhance or reform it, over funding, over statistics, evidence, and anything else you can imagine.

It was a special privilege to have members of Seedco's Memphis Office, who several months ago introduced our debaters to many of the issues related to poverty in the US, join us as judges for the day.  Across the board, they were impressed by the eloquence, thoughtfulness, resourcefulness and creativity of both teams.  In the end, though, there could only be one winner... and this year it was our girls.

Here's a list of all the recipients of the individual and team awards:

1st place team: Maddie Tavin and Debbie Farber
2nd place team: Jeremy Cooper and Isaac Krupp
3rd place team: Shoshana Somer and Zahava Gersten

1st place speaker: Debbie Farber
2nd place speaker: Maddie Tavin
3rd place speaker: Jeremy Cooper and Zahava Gersten (tie)

A job very well done by all!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

8th Grader Wins International Essay Contest

8th grader, Shira Osdoba, was awarded 2nd place in the 'True Story" category of the 2010 Jewish Heritage Essay Contest.  The contest included entries from Middle School students from 22 schools in 21 cities in the U.S, South Africa, and Israel.

Here's one small piece of her insightful and inspirational essay about the indomitable spirit of her father, the late Matty Osdoba, of blessed memory:

It could be very easy for anyone to be resentful or angry with God when someone’s life could be taken from him at  any second. Where is the joy in being sick? My father had a powerful answer. He firmly believed that by smiling at anyone and being cheerful that he was representing God on this

Read the rest by clicking here.  It's a short piece with a powerful punch and a critical lesson for life.

Thank you, Shira, for sharing it with us all.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Birthday Presents for the School

6th graders Nathan Goren and Marty Lang celebrated a special12th birthday together on Wednesday night. No, it wasn't the laser tag or the Ricki's pizza that made it so out of the ordinary.  It was two little lines written on all of the invitations which read "In lieu of gifts, a small donation to either the MHA Library Fund or to the MHA Athletics Department would be appreciated. Nathan and Marty will be prepared to accept any donations on behalf of MHA during the party."

As he was leaving school yesterday, Nathan handed me an envelope with all of their "presents."  It was a special gift from two very special boys.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Moving Tribute

The Girls High School put on a most meaningful tribute dinner Monday night, in celebration of the life of their teacher, Mrs. Karin Schmitt.  Over two hundred community members were in attendance as the girls put on a program that would undoubtedly have made Mrs. Schmitt proud.  To say that her sons and husband were moved by the experience is an understatement.  From the slideshow to the video, and the dvar Torah to the desert, everything was done with class and the utmost taste.  It was a kiddush Hashem of the highest order and we are most proud of them.

From Exported Videos

From Tragedy to Triumph

These past few weeks have seen school-wide commemoration and celebration and we remembered both the tragedies and the triumphs of our people's recent past.

It began with Yom HaShoah when our older elementary and Middle School students watched as our high schoolers put on a dramatic rendition of eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust written by children who were there.  Afterward they broke into groups moderated by our Kollel boys and our Bat Ami girls, who led them in meaningful and reflective conversations about what the Holocaust means to us as individuals and to our people.

Yom HaShoah was followed by Yom HaZikaron, a day in which members of our own faculty who served in the Israel Defense Forces shared their thoughts and experiences with our students.  In the evening, our kids were on full display, as their choir performance, flag dance, and skit formed the centerpiece of the communal Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut program sponsored by all of the local Orthodox shuls.

From Movies
Unlike the somber moods of Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron, Yom Ha'atzmaut was one of unbridled joy and non-stop celebration.  From plane rides to Israel to davening at classroom kotels and from a special minyan and breakfast for the upper school to Israeli snack making in second grade, celebrations of Israel and what it means to us were everywhere you turned.  As has become the tradition, the day was capped off by a jubilant march from the school to Baron Hirsch in which the entire school joined several community members in publicly displaying our support and love for the State of Israel.  Upon arrival, our students were treated to ices followed by mincha and a shiur for the older kids and Israel oriented programming for the younger kids.  Finally, before dismissal, the entire school came together to dance and sing one last time.  Suffice it to say, it was a special day for all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Student in Finals of International Math Competition

11th grader Molly Brakha will be heading to Israel later this week to compete in the final round of the Ulpaniada International Math and Logic Competition.  Now in its fourth year in Israel, the Ulpaniada was created by Michlalah College in Jerusalem as a means of promoting excellence in math amongst young Jewish women.

This year, for the first time, the Ulpaniada was expanded to become an international competition.  Thousands of girls in Jewish High Schools from across the globe competed in the first two rounds and only a select few made it to the finals which will take place on Tuesday, May 4th at the Michlalah campus in Jerusalem.  At its completion, all finalists will receive a special certificate from the Israeli Minister of Education.

We thank Mr. Vaughn and the rest of our Math faculty for preparing Molly so well and we wish Molly the best of luck.  We know she'll make us proud...she already has!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

MHA Students Win Community Awards

While certainly it was not the focal point of Sunday's community-wide Yom HaShoah commemoration, nor should it have been, it was hard to walk away without being impressed with the students of the Margolin Hebrew Academy.  This year, the Federation used the event to culminate three community-wide student contests - for Holocaust related art, essays, and poetry – and our students could not have done any better.

In the Art contest, Racheli Tsuna shared 1st place with 2 students from Solomon Schechter and Brina Copper took 2nd place along with a boy from BSSS.  In the poetry contest it was a clean sweep: Alexa Wender took 1st, Jake Baum took 2nd, and Lavi Tsuna took 3rd.  We swept the essay contest too with Maddie Tavin taking first place, Jordana Wender taking 2nd, and Jonathan Tavin taking third.

Click here to see Alexa's award-winning poem and the evening's program listing all of our award winners.  Congratulations to all of the winners and a special thank you to Mrs. Fleischhaker and Mrs. Johnson for their help in encouraging our students to participate. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Student Art On Exhibit at Dixon

The artistic creations of four of our Elementary School students are currently on display at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.  As part of their Made in Dixon exhibit, the work of Edya Finkelstein, Dovid Freiden, Ethan Morris, and Joel Weinstein can be viewed by the general public until April 4th.  The Dixon has been kind enough to make several free passes available to those Academy families who would like to visit over chol ha-moed.  To get them contact Mrs. Chani Fleischhaker and when you do, be sure to thank her for the wonderful work she does running our school's rather impressive art program! 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Student Wins Scholarship to NYU-Poly

The Cooper Yeshiva High School's resident videographer, technical coordinator, and concert pianist, has received an enticing offer to continue pursuing his passions.  Ethan Addess received notice this week that he was selected for the Promise Fund Scholarship at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, NYU's school of engineering, applied science, and technology.

According to the letter he received, the purpose of this scholarship program "is to identify, support, and encourage young men and women who demonstrate the potential for making significant contributions to our university."   Should Ethan decide to accept the offer, he would join fellow graduates Andrew Tavin (class of '09) and Yonadav Tsuna (Class of '08) in representing our school on the campuses of NYU.

Ethan's scholarship offer brings the total scholarship offered to this year's seniors up to $44,000, with the vast majority of acceptances still to come.  He, like almost of all of our seniors from both high schools, will spend a year learning in Israel before beginning his college career.  And, like all of our seniors, we're so proud of what Ethan has accomplished and can't wait to see what lies ahead.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Student Accepted to Honors Program

Ariav Schlesinger was notified last week of his acceptance to the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program at Yeshiva College, the Men's Undergraduate Division of Yeshiva University.  Yeshiva University, ranked by U.S. News and World Report as #52 on their list of the country's best colleges, founded this program in 1999 as a means of challenging outstanding young scholars to reach their full potential by stressing writing, speaking, critical analysis, creativity, the arts, and research. The program also enhances educational programs and expands academic opportunities for all Yeshiva College students through intellectually rigorous experiences, individualized mentoring, and advanced work. It encourages students to express themselves articulately, both verbally and in writing. Through intense study and dedication, graduates of the program develop stronger ties to faculty members at large and contribute strongly to courses and the college community. A long-term educational investment, the program prepares young men who seek prominence in their professions, in their communities, and in the world at large.

Applicants to the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program, including Ariav, have all earned a minimum combined score of 1400 on the critical reading and math sections of the SAT I or a score of 32 or above on the ACT, a 90 or above high school average, and correspondingly high SAT II and AP scores. Ariav also has many other talents which have been nurtured during his tenure at CYHSB, which include singing, acting, and a gift for studio art. Should he accept the offer, Ariav will have access to a wide range of special honors courses, a plethora of specially designed summer enrichment programs including several experiences abroad, and will have to submit an honors thesis upon graduation.

As part of his acceptance to the program, Ariav received $10,000 in academic scholarship.  Following classmate Luky Guigui, who received close to $20,000 in scholarship awards with his early decision acceptance to Brandeis, Ariav's acceptance to the Honors Program at Yeshiva College is the second exciting announcement in what we anticipate will be another proud college acceptance season for the Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys and the Goldie Margolin High School for Girls.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Margolin Academy of the Performing Arts

These past few weeks have featured one incredible student performance after another.  Starting with the third graders whose Purim Play, done completely in Hebrew, gave the 5th graders a run for their money, followed by the second graders who acted out a story from their literature series, and culminating with the second stunning performance by our new lower school Music and Dance program, our elementary school students have been shining like never before.  A special thanks goes to Morah Yehudit, Moreh Shimshon, Mrs. Winestone, Mrs. Fleischhacker, and, the director of our Music and Dance program, Mrs. Kugielsky, for making it all happen.

Of course, our upper school is always ready to get into the act as well.  Tonight at 7:30pm our Girls High School will be presenting a pre-Pesach musical for women at Baron Hirsch on the life of Natan Sharansky and at 7pm on Tuesday of next week, our Boys High School will take the stage with their rendition of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night here at the Academy auditorium.  Be sure to join us!

In case you missed our lower school students in action, here are few clips.  Follow the links for more!

From 3rd Grade Play

From 3rd Grade Play

From 2nd grade play

From Music Performance

Athletics Blog

If you haven't yet seen Coach Carr's new MHA Athletics blog, you have to check it out! It's the hub for everything sports related at the MHA: forms, schedules, news, pictures, and, of course, results.  You can even follow @MacsAthletics on Twitter!

You can access the blog by going to our school homepage (, clicking on the tab for any of our divisions and following the link for athletics. It's a top-notch blog, from a top-notch Athletic Director, who is quickly building a top-notch athletics program here at the MHA!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Lesson in Poverty

The Girls High School Debate class took a field trip downtown last week to visit the Memphis office of Seedco.  Seedco is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to help low-income individuals and communities move toward economic prosperity.

The eight girls in this elective class are participating in the national high school debate program whose resolved this year is that "The United States federal government should substantially increase social services for persons living in poverty in the United States."  In what is known as policy or cross-examination debate, the girls are paired into teams of two and together they must prepare to argue for and against this resolved.  Before the debate they will be assigned either the role of the affirmative team, in which case they have to argue for the resolved, or the negative team in which case they have to argue against it.  As the affirmative team, though, the girls not only have to convince the judge presiding over the debate of the need to increase social services to the poor, but that they have feasible plan for doing so.  The team on the negative side, then, has to be prepared not only to argue against an increase to federal social services in general, but need to be somewhat familiar with the myriad programs out there and the way in which they work, so as to be able to poke holes in the affirmative team's proposal.

There are few people in the city of Memphis better equipped to start our girls on this journey than Laura Seidell and her team at the Seedco office in Memphis.  Seedco, after all, is a funnel which directs federal funds to a variety of organizations and institutions which help those living at or below the poverty line.  As such, they were able to explain to our girls the details of how various federal programs work, what their strengths are and what challenges they face.  They were also able to explain in real terms just what it means to live in poverty and how real the problems facing the American people are.

From the handouts, powerpoint, and various oral presentations made by the Seedco staff, it was clear that they enjoyed bringing the girls into their world of working with the poor.  From talking to the girls on the drive back, it was clear that they had learned more than they could have from any textbook and that they gained greater appreciation both for the enormity of the problem and for the efforts of the people who have dedicated their lives to trying to solve it.

New Heights in Hebrew

Now that we are a few years into our Lower School Hebrew immersion Judaic Studies curriculum, the seeds that we've been planting are beginning to sprout.  There was no clearer indication than in yesterday's 5th grade play.  Under the direction of Morah Yehudit and Moreh Shimshon, our 5th graders put on a masterful performance about a mother and daughter recounting the story of their family's history -  from Frankfurt to Warsaw and eventually to the Land of Israel - and the importance of their Jewish faith and their Jewish pride in keeping the family together throughout the generations.

More impressive than their acting, though, was the fact that, with the exception of brief narration, the entire play was performed in Hebrew.  Have a look for yourself...

From 5th Grade Play

From 5th Grade Play

From 5th Grade Play

From 5th Grade Play

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rosh Chodesh Adar

Rosh Chodesh Adar at the Academy is one of my favorite days of the year.  It's not just the incredible ruach generated by 207 dancing students along with their teachers and faculty, but it's the way the high school students take the 1st graders on their shoulders, the way the 5th graders dance with the Kindergarteners, the 10th grade rebbeim hold hands with the 3rd graders, and so on and so forth throughout every division and every grade.

It is a family simcha in the every sense of the word.

From Movies

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Weather Man comes to MHA

As part of their unit on atmospheric science, Mrs. Henry's 5th grade science class had a special guest teacher today: Channel 3's Chief Weather Anchor, Tim Simpson.  Mr. Simpson spoke to the kids about the various components of weather and the tools we can use to predict it.  He also drew his own weather map and explained to the 5th grade what the various signs and symbols represent.  Perhaps most exciting for our kids, though, was the little "shout out" he gave them on this evening's news:


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mrs. Schmitt

Last week we lost a long time member of our faculty, Mrs. Karin Schmitt.  If you knew her, please share your memories with her family by posting something either on the Commercial Appeal's memorial page or on the guestbook .

Here are the words I wrote to our school community immediately after hearing the sad news:

Dear Students, Parents, and Faculty,

I was just informed of the sudden passing of our beloved Math teacher, Mrs. Karen Schmitt earlier today.  As you know, Mrs. Schmitt was a fixture in our Junior High and High Schools for decades.  Her no-nonsense style was complemented by a tremendous heart that wanted nothing more than to see her students succeed.  She would meet with students in class and outside of class,  she'd take on extra sections and create sections within sections, just to give our students that extra boost they needed to taste success. 

In recent years, her declining health forced her into a wheelchair and one only had to watch the way in which our students would gently wheel her from place to place, out to her car, or into the building, to see that our students cared for her as much as she cared for them.  Indeed, our Girls High School had announced that their upcoming Girls School Dinner would be dedicated to honoring Mrs. Schmitt for her years of unwaivering dedication to our school.  Sometimes, though, G-d has other plans. 

Our thoughts and sympathy go out to her family today as they mourn this terrible loss.

Mrs. Schmitt was a teacher who touched the lives of countless students here at the MHA / FYOS and we, as a school, will forever remember her as such.

Sincerely Yours,

Rabbi Perl