Everyone is invited to join us on Purim. See schedule below:
This past Motzei Shabbos, Valley Torah girls enjoyed a fun Pre-Purim Melava Malka Bash, which included such activities as face painting, mask decorating and creating flip books of themselves. Thank you to the Avrahamy Family for opening up their home to us!
Valley Torah girls are getting ready to put on their Annie Junior production. The actresses went to a few schools on Thursday to perform a couple of scenes. The audience loved it! We can’t wait to see you on March 15th!
On Thursday night, incoming Valley Torah girls had a blast jumping, flipping, and shooting hoops at Sky Zone Trampoline Park. They chatted with current students and enjoyed pizza and Dippin Dots ice cream.
“WE WON!” When I said that in the classroom on Wednesday morning, my students thought that now it is official – I really lost it. I know what the scoreboard said, and I know that the Wolfpack will definitely not take the CIF championship this year, but I still submit that our boys won the game.
When I left the house, giving some students a ride to the game, I told them not to count on me for a ride back, as I am probably leaving early – I didn’t think that we had a chance. I am not pessimistic, but considering that we lost against this same team by 30 or so points, and they have multiple players that stand north of 6″6, I was being a realist. But I was proven very wrong. Not only did I stay for the entire game, but I didn’t want to miss a play.
Our boys played so hard, and so well – it was amazing. They were tenacious and skilled, fighting for every opportunity. To me, it was a winning game.
Chazal, (Shabbos, 31a), gives us a heads-up that eventually we will have to answer a few questions; Were we honest in our business? Did we designate time for Torah? Did we await Moshiach? It is interesting that the last two questions don’t ask about what we accomplished, but rather what we strived to do. It doesn’t ask, “Did you become a Talmid Chacham?” Rather did you learn. Nor does it ask, “Did you bring the Moshiach?” Instead, did we desire his coming.
The focus of answers won’t be what we accomplished, but rather what we strove to accomplish, and for that we shall be rewarded. And, isn’t what we always tell our children? Don’t we preach that it is the effort that counts – I hope we do.
Society is about the bottom line – did you or didn’t you? If you didn’t win, then you lost. Effort can be appreciated, and intent is recognized, but the bottom line is the bottom line. This is not a Torah value. Indeed, the Torah values teach us that we don’t just recognize the intent and effort, but we honor and reward it as well.
So, to our dear students, members of the Wolfpack basketball team of 2015, walk with pride knowing that you won! Take this lesson with you in everything that you do, in your Torah learning and advancement, to any career choice you eventually make – strivers are winners!
In a similar vein, I couldn’t have been prouder of the school pride displayed by our student body. The energy and excitement was palpable and the overall good spirits made it enjoyable to be with them. The cheering was appropriate, and even religious as they broke into the Adar song, “Mi Shenichnas Adar…” I was inspired when they too were encouraging of their friends and their playing.
Finally, and far from least, as was duly impressed by the members of the team that came on time for shacharis the next day.
Indeed, WE WON!!
By Rabbi Daniel Grama
This has been wonderful week of learning. Not just for the students, but for the staff as well. We began the week with a staff development day focused on Leader In Me. We spent most of our time on our current mission and vision of VTHS and where we are headed in regard to bringing in this framework of leadership for our students and staff. Later in the week, myself, Mr. Joseph, Mr. Rodgers and Rabbi Semmel went down to High Tech High in San Diego to see project-based learning in action. This was our second staff trip. Myself, Rabbi Felt, Mr. Paradzik and Rabbi Samuels went last time. This trip was organized by the I.D.E.A. Schools Network of which Valley Torah is a founding school and is generously funded by a grant from the Joshua Venture Group. We spent time with the C.E.O. Larry Rosenstock, met students and teachers, saw amazing classes and engaged in discussions with representatives from YULA, Shalhevet, Kohelet and Yeshiva Lab who were in attendance. A special thank you to my co-founder of the network, Tikvah Wiener who made this trip happen. In both of these learning experiences culture was a prominent theme. Specifically, a culture that promotes growth, change and innovation is critical to success. However, to support this culture you must focus on, as Dr. Todd Whitaker says, the people not the programs.
On the top ten list of what parents and teachers have to watch out for is not losing their credibility. When a parent threatens a child with a consequence and doesn’t follow through or when they make a promise and can’t carry it out – they lose credibility. That leaves a child without the security he needs from his parents. It also results in children having diminished respect for their parents. Both the need for security and the need to respect one’s parents are critical in a child’s development.
The Torah highlight the importance of maintaining credibility even in a situation that appears to be harsh. Parshas Tezaveh is unique in that from the first time Moshe Rebbenu’s name is mentioned in the Torah, his name continues to appear in each parsha until the final Parsha of Vezos Habroacah. Yet, in this weeks Parsha Moshe’s name is not mentioned at all. The commentaries explain that after the sin of the golden calf Hashem wanted to destroy the Bnei Yisroel, Moshe had to plead with Hashem to the extent that he begged Hashem to forgive them and if not “than erase my name from the Torah” (Shmos 32:32). Once Moshe made that declaration to be erased from the Torah even though Hashem did forgive Bnei Yisroel however, because of the rule “Tzadik Gozer V’Hashem Mekayaim” that what a righteous person decrees Hashem fulfills – his pronouncement to be erased from the entire Torah had to be at least, partially fulfilled.
All Boys Division students and alumni are invited to our Annual Purim Chagigah on Wednesday night, March 4 starting at 10:00 PM. Our chagigah is 0% alcohol, but 100% simcha. See for yourself below:
This is the latest segment of the weekly video series from Rabbi Stulberger – You’ve Been Called to the Dean’s Office. It’s a short (four minute) message on a timely Torah topic. This week’s message: “The Human Factor.”
This rare video taken before the start of the First Kennisiah Gedolah in 1923 shows the saintly Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, entering the event (0:56).
I was reading an article this week entitled “Passion takes a teacher from being merely good to great” written by Adrian Furnham for The London Telegraph. In it he argues, “Teachers can, and do, change lives. They can light candles in the darkest mind. They can mold beliefs and behaviors, setting an example to follow. They can determine choice of university and degree course. They can have a direct impact on careers”. He then asks, “So what makes an inspirational teacher? First, there is the enthusiasm, even passion, for their subject. They show the thrill and pleasure of acquiring skills and knowledge in a particular area. And they are able to communicate this. Indeed they cannot hide it. You can’t easily fake passion – or at least not over a sustained period. All great teachers are passionate”.
This idea is alluded to us in this weeks parsha when the Torah drops the letter “yud” in the word Nessiim. This weeks parsha talks about the different items donated for the building of the Mishkan. The Torah lists the “Avnei Shoam and Avnei Miluim” the precious stones that adorned the Eiphod, last. These stones were the most valuable and expensive items donated to the Mishkan, nevertheless, they are mentioned last, as insignificant, because of how they got there.
The commentaries explain that the Nessim, who brought them, had declared that they will provide anything that was needed that the Bnei Yisroel didn’t bring. The Torah tells us that the Bnei Yisroel’s response to provide material for the Mishkon was overwhelming and the only thing that remained missing were the Anei Shoam and Avnei Miluim. While the Nesiim’s intentions was justifiable and one could argue even noble, they were still called to task for it.
Rashi tells us that the flaw in their reasoning was it demonstrated a lack of enthusiasm and passion to have a part in the building of the Mishkan. Rashi commenting on the missing Vav in their name says, that since they were lazy (we will discuss “lazy” in a future blog) the Torah dropped a letter from the word Nesiim. R’ Chaim Shmulevitz explains that the laziness they displayed stemmed from a lack of altruism which stemmed from them not valuing the cause. R’ Chaim says if the Nessim would have been passionate about giving to the Mishkan, then even though they had a good reason for holding back their gift (So they can give whatever was missing) they would have not been able to, they would not have been able to sit idly and wait until after the Bnei Yisroel had finished giving their donations. The Nesiim as leaders failed their people by not modeling and promoting a passion for Torah and Mitzvos and as a result their gift was relegated to the bottom of the list.
Mr. Furnham at the end of his article highlights something we as parents can take away. He asks “And why are inspirational teachers the way they are? Intelligence, knowledge, a variety of skills or all of the above. But most say they became teachers or lecturers because they themselves had an inspirational teacher. So it’s not genetic… but it certainly is passed on”. This is what we as parents can pass on to our children – we have to become passionate about living a life as a Torah Jew and with Hashem’s help we will then be able to pass that on to our children.
If you want your children to do something that is not so natural for them to do you need to show them how to do it? The most effective way to show them is for you to become passionate about it. Find areas that you can become passionate about and display that enthusiasm. It is contagious. Lets take Teffilah an area that is extremely difficult for most teenagers – if we as parents show some passion for it can spread it to our children. Look for a part of davening that talks to you, that is meaningful to you and talk about it, let it spill out of your mouth as if you can’t control your excitement about it- If we can do that, our children will be able to too.
This was a jam-packed week of learning, professional development for the administration, a visit from a congressman and a beautiful Rosh Chodesh Davening with a fun and entertaining Rosh Chodesh Adar breakfast. There are so many things about this week that I want to share and will hopefully share some of it in future posts. However, in the spirit of Adar I chose to focus on our school spirit.
This Wednesday the Wolfpack dominated their first playoff game and we are all proud of their accomplishment. Now, as many of you know, I have tried to get us to “howl” more at games to support the team. Some of you have howled and some of you have not. Why isn’t everyone howling? Well, it dawned on me that maybe howling is too hard. So, I decided to do some auditions from the animal kingdom to see if we could come up with a better howl. I videotaped the auditions for all of you to see and, in the end, the winner was clear. Hopefully, now we will realize that there is no alternative to the classics and we should all continue to support our team on the road to the CIF with a strong howl! Good Luck Wolfpack and whatever happens we could not be prouder of the season you are having.
Here are the auditions:
Valley Torah Girls celebrated Rosh Chodesh Adar by spending Thursday afternoon in the park. The girls enjoyed a delicious lunch and had fun playing a school-wide game. Thank you to Mrs. Shira Pollack and to the Rosh Chodesh Committee for planning such an enjoyable afternoon. Chodesh Tov!