Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kindergarten Graduation Slideshow

Here's the slideshow we showed at our Kindergarten Graduation.  Pictures from the graduation will be up soon.  Mazal tov to all our graduates!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Israel Festival and Color War

Even as the year winds down, things don't get any less exciting here at the Academy.  This weekend was a perfect example.  The festivities started on Friday afternoon with a fairly successful Color War fakeout, followed by a much anticipated Color War breakout for grades 1-8.  On Sunday our lower grades, under the direction of Mrs. Leba Kugielsky, performed at the rain-soaked Israel Festival sponsored by the Memphis Friends of Israel.  On Monday the fun continued with a full day of Color War activities between teams Gevurah (strength) and Chochmah (wisdom) culminating with banner, skit, cheer, and song presentations from each team.  It was a fell fought battle by both teams, but when all was said and done team Chochmah won with the slightest of margins.

Below are pictures from both events:

Monday, May 16, 2011

12th Grader Wins Flatow Scholarship

On April 9th, 1995, 20 year-old Alisa Flatow was killed in a terrorist attack outside of Kfar Darom during a year of study abroad in Israel.  To preserve her memory and to enable others to do what she had been doing when her life was tragically cut short, the Alisa Flatow Scholarship Fund was created to provide scholarships "on a limited and competitive basis" for full time religious study in Israel to students "showing academic promise in their religious studies."

In each of the past three years, only five such scholarships have been awarded from a pool of over 250 applicants nationwide.  Yet in each of the past three years, one of those five winners has been a student from our high school.

We are most proud to announce that this year Mendel Osdoba has been awarded the Alisa Flatow Scholarship. Undoubtedly a major factor in the decision was the powerful essay which Mendel wrote about what the ability to spend a year in Israel would mean to him. Here is just a brief a citation:

Learning Torah in Israel after high school has always been a dream of mine; learning in Eretz Hakodesh would also fulfill one of my father’s deepest wishes. I vividly remember the somberness and solemnity that enveloped all who stood in the airport hangar as my father’s body was loaded onto the airplane. The entire community, especially my family, though faced with the painful task of saying goodbye to a beloved husband, father, and friend, understood that my father’s final resting place was exactly where he longed to be. My head spun as fast as the plane’s propellers from the turbulence I had just encountered, yet I was calmed by the fact that my father was on a voyage to the place he coveted most, the land of Israel. Attending yeshiva in the Holy Land would not only make it possible for me to visit my father’s grave for the very first time, but moreover it would allow me with the good fortune of connecting to him on an elevated spiritual level. I fervently believe that going to Israel next year would help bring closure to the childhood tragedy that has permeated my life since I was eight years old.  

You can find the essay in its entirety here.  It is well worth reading.

Mazal tov to Mendel and we look forward to hearing great things from him next year and for many years to come!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Brother and Sister to Headline Graduation

For the first time in our 62 year history (or at least in so far as anyone I spoke to can remember), our high school graduation addresses will be given by a brother-sister combination.

Valedictorian for the Yeshiva of the South Graduating Class of 2012 will by Maddie Tavin and Salutatorian will her brother, Jonathan.  Both of the Tavins will be heading to Israel for a year of study next year; Maddie to Shaalvim and Jonathan to Yeshivat Har Etzion.  Following their year abroad both Maddie and Jonathan will enter Yeshiva University's Honors Program, where both were awarded significant academic scholarships.

We look forward to hearing from them at graduation and to hearing about them for many years to come!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Students to Participate in NY Siyyum

As part of the new Masmidim Program instituted by Rabbi Noam Stein this year, 8th graders Avi Katz and Asher Finkelstein, as well as 9th graders Akiva Somer and Bentzy Kampf, and 12th grader Jonathan Tavin, have successfully completed mesechet Megilah.  The Masmidim Program, which is intended to provide opportunities to students for additional Torah study, works in conjunction with the Bronka Weintraub Bekius Program at Yeshiva University, which provides a framework and incentives for high school students across the country to engage in Talmud study beyond the classroom.  As part of that program, Yeshiva University is organizing a siyyum in New York this month, marking the completion of mesechet Megilah, for all of the students who participated and our boys will be flying up to New York to participate.

As those who have done so can attest, completing an entire mesechta of Gemara is no small feat.  For these boys to have done so outside the context of their regular classes is all the more impressive.  We therefore wish them a sincere mazal tov and yasher kochachem li-orayyta.  We're looking forward to many more such celebrations in the future!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

News Coverage

If you didn't catch it, today's Business Section of the Commercial Appeal mentioned Yosef - a.k.a. Jay - Gersten's award:

Local student honored
Memphian Jay D. Gersten, a senior at Margolin Hebrew Academy, has received a $1,000 scholarship from the National Federation of Independent Business Young Entrepreneur Foundation.
Gersten is one of seven students across the state -- and the only one from West Tennessee -- chosen to receive the NFIB/Tennessee Leadership Council Young Entrepreneur Award, which promotes entrepreneurship among high schoolers.
"It's a challenge for anyone to start a business and keep it going," said Jim Brown, state director of NFIB. "These scholarship winners managed to start successful small businesses while keeping up with their classwork. They really are an inspiration to anyone who's ever thought of starting their own business."
Nationally, more than 4,500 students applied for the scholarships and 131 were awarded.


Now that Noga Finkelstein's book review has been published by Moment Magazine, I need to make a few corrections to my last post.  It turns out that there were six winners, not four.  However it also turns out that the submissions - and the winners - came from across the globe, not across the country.  Here is a list of the winners taken from their website:

  • Hannah Levine, 10 years old, 5th grade, Fair Lawn, NJ
  • Noga Finkelstein, 12 years old, 6th grade, Margolin Hebrew Academy, Memphis, TN
  • Chunchom Gonmei, 9 years old, St. Mary’s Montessori, Dimapur, India 
  • Samuel Farbman, 10 years old, 4th grade, Ezra Academy, Woodbridge, CT
  • Beatriz Maria Sofia C. Pangalangan, 13 years old, 7th grade, Pasig City, Manila, Philippines
  • Andrew Gary Walters, 9 years old, 3rd grade, Duncanville, TX

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

6th Grader Wins Publish-A-Kid Contest

This month's edition of Moment Magazine, North America's largest independent Jewish magazine, features a book review by our own 6th Grader, Noga Finkelstein. Her review of Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret was amongst many book reviews written by 9-13 year-olds across the country and entered into Moment's Publish-A-Kid writing contest.  The email which our fantastic 6th Grade General Studies teacher, Mrs. Cindy Massey, received from the magazine said that Noga's piece "was so wonderful and insightful that we had to share it with our readers."

As one of only four winners nationwide, not only does Noga become a published author, but her teacher wins a subscription to Moment Magazine and - best of all - her class wins a pizza party!  As of Wednesday, May 4th, the book review will be online at  Be sure to read it and to let her know how much you enjoyed it!

GMSG Sweeps Writing Contest

The prowess of the high school English department was on full display this past Sunday, when the Memphis Jewish Federation announced the winners of its Holocaust Poetry and Essay contests.  Our girls pulled off a complete sweep of both categories.  Racheli Tsuna, Myrel Nechama Samuels, and Zehava Gersten took first, second, and third place respectively in the poetry section.  Naomi Samberg took the top prize in the essay contest and read her piece aloud at Sunday's community-wide Yom HaShoah commemoration.  She was followed by Ariana Kaufman in second place and Leah Flieschhacker in third.

Congratulation to all of them - and their teachers - for a job very well done!

Student Wins St. Jude Internship

Each year, students from across the region vie for the three highly coveted spots in the Summer for Sickle Cell Science Program at St. Jude's Children Hospital.  The students selected for the program spend their summer doing hands-on research in the laboratories at St. Jude's with some of the world's foremost experts in the field.  They are also charged with creating an altruistic "give-back" program to increase the quality of life for children with Sickle Cell Disease.

It gives us great pride to announce that 12th grader Sam Rapp has been selected for the program for this summer.  Following his summer of research, Sam will be attending the Honors Program at Yeshiva University where he will continue to be mentored by word-class academics and where he will be expected to continue his own sophisticated research.

We look forward to hearing more great things from Sam in the not-too-distant future!

Senior Wins NFIB Young Entrepreneur Award

The  National Federation of Independent Business Young Entrepreneur Foundation named 12th grader,Yosef Gersten, as a recipient of one of its 2011 NFIB Young Entrepreneur Awards.   The program, which awards between $1,000 and $10,000 scholarships to the award winners, is designed to reward and encourage entrepreneurial talents among high school students.  Those who know Yosef, whether through his Four Corners Video Production operation or any of his other assorted endeavors, know that he certainly fits the bill.

More than 4,500 students nationwide applied for a YEF scholarship this year and only 131 scholarships were awarded.   Of those, 7 were from the state of Tennessee and Yosef was the only winner from the city of Memphis.