Friday, December 20, 2013

Kosher Corky's is Back!

Back by overwhelming international demand, we are once again making Corky's world-famous southern hickory-smoked barbecue brisket, ribs, beans, and sauce available to kosher consumers across the globe.

Available only for a limited time under the strict supervision of the Va'ad HaKehillot of Memphis and intended to make your kosher Super Bowl party truly one-of-a-kind, orders can now be placed through our school's website.  For local Memphis orders click here and for delivery anywhere else click here.

If you have friends or family anywhere that love slow-cooked, hand-rubbed, authentic barbecue beef, be sure to let them know about this incredible opportunity.  They'll thank you for it later!

דער פֿאַרהער (the test)

In thinking the past summer about ways that we might further upgrade the rigor of our high school Gemara program, Rabbi Noam Stein, our Talmud Department Chair, had the following idea:  Given that almost all of our boys and girls spend a year learning in yeshiva or seminary following graduation, and given that through our Torah MiTzion program we are fortunate to have bachurei yeshiva here in school with us every day, why not try to create an experience more like a typical Israeli yeshiva than a typical American yeshiva high school while our students are still here with us for those students who want it and those students who are capable of it?

And so our new Beit Midrash program was born.  A select group of students who passed proficiency exams were exempted from our more standard Gemara classes and instead have been spending each morning preparing pieces of Gemara in our Beit Midrash together with one of the Torah MiTzion bachurim (2 students to one bachur).  Much like they do in traditional yeshivot, once the boys completed their preparation, they would gather together with the bachurim to hear a shiur, given completely in Hebrew, on the material they had prepared from Rabbi Maimon, our Rosh Kollel.

As midterms approached, Rabbis Stein and Maimon had another challenge: on the one hand, they wanted to preserve the "yeshiva feeling" of the program and yeshivot don't exactly give midterms.  On the other hand, it was important for us to assess the progress of our students over the first half of the year, especially in an experimental program such as this one.

And so the farher was (re)born.  Following the model quite common in the yeshivot of Europe, Rabbi Stein suggested that the boys get an oral exam on the material they learned but not with review sheets, or questions in advance, or even a test created by their own teacher.  A better assessment of whether they truly knew their stuff would come from bringing "outsiders" familiar with the material but unfamiliar with what exactly the boys had learned to fire questions at them and see how they could respond.  Therefore, a few weeks ago, Rabbi Stein reached out to me and to Rabbi Joel Finkelstein of the Anshei Sphard Beth El Emeth Congregation and asked us if we'd come in to farher the boys on the sections of Bava Metzia they had been learning.

Of course, we both jumped at the opportunity and for an hour and a half this past Wednesday we took turns asking the boys to read, translate, punctuate, tell us about Rashi, read us a Tosafos, explain the underlying concepts and the flow of arguments in the Gemara they had learned.

I'm thrilled to report they did an excellent job, that their enthusiasm for they way in which they are learning is incredible, and, as such, the program to date seems like a real success.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mazal Tov Kitah Aleph!

It was a festive day in Kitah Aleph today as the children celebrated their completion of their first Ariot book.  To mark their accomplishment they ate foods whose Hebrew names contained letters that they had learned and they had a special visitor, dressed in full Ariot regalia, with a בלון אדום for each of them.

The occasion was particularly special because Morah Debbie, who is new to Kitah Alpeh this year, was celebrating her first time completing the Ariot book as well.  We wish her and the class הצלחה רבה as they continue their exciting journey into the world of Torah learning!

Hour of Code

Technology industry leaders launched a global initiative this week called the Hour of Code.  Its intent is to introduce people, young and old, across the world to the value that computer programming plays across all disciplines and in all fields by encouraging them to spend one hour this writing computer code of some sort.  

Under the direction of our Lower School Science teacher, Mrs. Cathleen Triplett, our 6th graders were the first of our students to take part.  You can read about their class and follow what our other classes will be doing as well, on Mrs. Triplett's Science Blog

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Master of the Arts

10th grader Dovid Yehoshua Samuels is known to much of the community for his talent in playing the violin, which was on display to all at our recent Boys High School Steak Dinner.  Within the school, though, Dovid Yehoshua has also long been known for his way with words and his gift for creative writing.  It's this second artistic talent which was again recognized nationally this past week when a poem he wrote was published by The New York Jewish Week's Fresh Ink website.

Here is the poem he wrote, entitled The Light of Chanukah:

The sun sinks slowly beneath the trees
The leaves gain an eerie, but majestic edge
Masterfully casted from the liquid fire of that molten orb
Soon, darkness descends, and with it
gloom blankets the city in an all-encompassing shroud of silence.
All seems quiet, dead;
But no.
A whispered blessing can be heard,
and then — a mere pinprick of light penetrates the darkness
carrying with it more joy and happiness than seemingly possible.
A moment passes,
and as if by miracle,
Light, beautiful Light,
breaks through the barricade of darkness, emanating from the windows
of every Jewish home for miles around.
She spreads her wings, and with an almighty thrust,
bursts into the night – the joy, faith, and happiness
of every Jew mounted proudly astride her back.
She dances, leaps, soars throughout the city
proclaiming to God the hopes, sorrows, and unwavering love
of the Jewish people as a whole.
Finally, upon reaching the edge of the city
she slowly twirls to a stop,
gracefully landing before the window
of a small, but welcoming house.
Her essence flows forward, unhindered by any obstacle.
She rests on a knit rug and lovingly watches as an elderly man sinks
comfortably into a worn armchair before the menorah,
an enormous smile plastered across his face.
Slowly she approaches, her essence joining with that of the man
as he beckons his children and grandchildren closer.
“Come,” he says. “Come listen to the tale of the Maccabees, brave and bold;
of a miracle full of light and grandeur.”
“Come,” he says. “Come listen.”
Chanukah has begun.
author's bio: 
Dovid Yehoshua Samuels is a sopho

Raising Jewish Teens: Charlie Harary's Motzei Shabbos Talk

Thanks to Debbie Miller who videoed Charlie Harary's talk on the Challenges of Raising Jewish Teens at our Motzei Shabbos Melave Malka and posted it on, everyone can now enjoy his words of wisdom and inspiration.  Thanks again to Gary and Dena Wruble for opening their home for this talk and for making the entire weekend possible.