Tuesday, November 26, 2013

20th Anniversary Steak Dinner

For 20 years, under the direction of Rabbi Yonason Gersten, the boys in our high school have been marketing, purchasing, cooking, setting up, entertaining, serving, and cleaning up their famous four-course formal dinner fondly known as the Steak Dinner in an effort to raise funds for their activities account.  This year a record crowd of well over three hundred community members came to show their support, enjoy a fantastic meal, and schep a bit of nachas from the truly outstanding boys who make up the Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys.  As always, the boys chose a surprise honoree for the dinner for whom they made a moving - and entertaining - tribute video.  There could not have been a more fitting recipient for the 20th anniversary dinner than this year's honoree, Mrs. Teri Graber.

Mazal tov to her on her much deserved award and yasher kochachem to Rabbi Gersten and all of the boys for reminding us all just how much teenage boys are capable of and just how special our little school is.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Congratulations to the girls high school for a phenomenal evening of theater earlier this week.  Rather than one full-length drama production, this year the girls, under the direction of Mrs. Renee Brame, showed off their versatility in presenting several different types of theater.

The evening began with a staged reading of an original play collaboratively written by the girls themselves in their creative writing class.  It was a mystery set in a school and centered around a drama production which made it both suspenseful and entertaining.  Most of all, it gave them invaluable experience in an area of both drama and writing which is often neglected in high school curricula.

The next part of the production shifted from live theater to film as the students presented a documentary they had filmed and produced about the preparations they had made and efforts they expended leading up to this evening.

For the final and featured piece of the evening's entertainment, the girls performed Agatha Christie's The Patient. A suspenseful whodunit set in a hospital and centered on a woman left paralyzed by someone who pushed her out of her second story window, the girls did a masterful job of conveying the play's wit, surprise, and drama.  For more pictures from the play, click here.

The entirety of the evening shined a wonderful light on our girls, the High School English Department, and the GMSG as a whole.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An Inspiring Weekend

For months our school and community had been looking forward to what we were billing as a "Shabbat Experience" - a weekend in which various parts of our school community would come together in and around the school to draw inspiration and to inspire each other.  With the help of Dr. Gary and Dena Wruble, and the talents of the weekend's feature attraction, Mr. Charlie Harary, it didn't disappoint.

The weekend started with a talk that Charlie gave to both of our high schools at the end of the school day on Friday about what it means to be a "Yehudi" - a descendant of Yehudah.  On Friday night, in a first for our school, the entire community was invited to davening in our High School Beit Midrash followed by dinner and a talk from Charlie.  280 men, women, and children of all ages signed up and the atmosphere was nothing short of electric.  From a spirited davening to a wonderful meal replete with "parsha questions" for the kids and the much beloved "cup song," there was something very special about all parts of our diverse community coming out to enjoy Shabbos together.  It was capped off by a captivating talk by Charlie on the meaning of inspiration and how best to find it.

On Shabbos morning the weekend zeroed in our teens with a special davening in the High School in which Mr. Harary delivered a derasha about the lessons of Chanukah.  That was followed by a special kiddush and a teens-only Q&A session with Charlie.  One of the most inspiring sights of the weekend was seeing our Beit Midrash packed with kids on Shabbos morning after davening, when no one was forcing them to be there, just for the opportunity to glean some wisdom from our guest speaker.

Charlie turned his focus back to the adults with a short talk during Shalosh Seudos at Baron Hirsch and then capped off the weekend at a Melave Malka in which a crown packed Dena and Gary's beautiful home  to hear Charlie speak on the challenges of raising Jewish teens.

For many of the participants I spoke to, this was a weekend unlike any other in recent history in our community.  Our hope is that there will be many more like it in the future.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

High School Open House

On Tuesday night we hosted 8th grade students and parents for annual High School Open House.  In case you missed it, below is the multimedia presentation we showed highlighting the endless "opportunities" available to students at the Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys and the Goldie Margolin High School for Girls.  Unfortunately, the best part of the presentation is missing: that was eight of our students who eloquently spoke about each set of "opportunities" and the way in which they have benefited from them.  Nonetheless, the presentation itself does give at least a glimpse into what may await your child at our high schools.

Lab Dedication

On Tuesday our radically upgraded high school science lab was officially rededicated as the Dr. Jerome and Shelley Kutliroff Advanced Science Lab.  To mark the occasion, Dr. Kutlirof, who served as our General Studies Principal for many years before returning to school to pursue his second PhD, and Mrs. Kutliroff, our master History teacher who also served as our upper school General Studies principal before returning full-time to the classroom, were invited along with Dr. and Mrs. Diane Wruble, the lab's donors, and Mr. Josh Kahane, the Board president, to join us in the lab for a demonstration of our new equipment.  There, they were able to circulate between stations in which students demonstrated our new microscopes, Vernier probeware, CO2 sensors, low friction Dynamics Track and motion detectors, and LEGO Mindstorms NXT Robotics systems, all of which are currently being integrated into our high school STEM curricula.

After the demonstration, the guest of honor were taken to the Beit Midrash where Dr. Wruble introduced Dr. Kutliroff who spoke to the students about the way in which science affords us "vision" we wouldn't otherwise have and where Mr. Kahane officially dedicated the lab by presenting the plaque which will be hung outside its door.

This infusion of high-tech cutting-edge equipment that spans the full range of STEM disciplines, resulted from careful research by our STEM department into what was necessary to create the very best high school science facility and visits to the laboratories of some of the leading high schools in the city.  Our faculty now believes that due to the generosity of the Wrubles and in honor of the Kutliroffs, we can offer our students an immersive STEM experience on par with that of high schools anywhere.

Our thanks go to our STEM faculty - Mr. Dave Lewellyn, Mr. Dana Vaughn, Mr. Daniel Wallace, and Ms. Nicole Kolenic - to the Kutliroffs and to the Wrubles for making this dream become a reality.

Rav Stav Visits the High Schools

Thanks to the generosity of the Baron Hirsch Congregation, our high schools had the privilege of hosting Rabbi David Stav a few weeks ago. Though he has long been one of Israel's most prominent Torah figures, Rav Stav was catapulted into the limelight this summer when he was one of three final candidates for Israel's Chief Rabbi position.

Rav Stav addressed our high schools on an issue which he knows better than most, and which is of particular interest and importance to our students: how to adopt an embracing and inclusive attitude toward others while simultaneously maintaining ones own firm and unwavering ideological principles.  Rav Stav shared anecdotes from his own personal struggles with this issue as well the perspective of Rav Kook and other great Torah minds all of which gave our students much to think about and reflect upon.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tournament Pictures

I've gotten many requests for our pictures from this year's Cooper Tournament so here they are: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and a compilation of the best pictures from the tournament.

Congratulations to YULA on yet another championship victory and to all of the teams who gave everything they had out on the court.  Our thanks again to Josh, Eric, Jon, Melissa, Rabbi Lubetski and all of the other volunteers who made the weekend an unforgettable experience for all.