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Shabbos Parashas Mekeitz

Shabbos Parashas Mekeitz 5775


Dean’s Office – Balak

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: “A Singular Focus.”



Girls Chanukah Chagigah 5775

The Girls Division Chanukah Chagiga was fun, creative, and enjoyed by all. The girls dressed up as different time periods, from the 40’s until today. After a delicious lunch and milkshakes in the VTHS 50’s diner, the girls split up into teams and had a delicious and fun cupcake competition. Each team decorated several cupcakes using the frosting and toppings that were provided for them. The cupcakes were then presented to the judges, who picked a winning team based on appearance, creativity, theme connection, and of course, taste. We then played “The Burning Questions Game Show,” which challenged students to answer Chanukah trivia and questions about Valley Torah’s history.

Thank you to all those who helped make the Chanukah Chagiga the great success that it was.


Chanukah Chagigah 5775

The Boys Division Chanukah Chagigah and Chidon was a smashing success. We started with dancing to the music of Rabbi Moshe Samuels in our fully decorated and specially lighted Beis Medrash. We then segued into the Chidon section of the event hosted by our very own Rabbi Asher Biron. Each of the three rounds of the Chidon came down to the final question. After the dust settled, the senior class had won the Chidon. Lunch was served – humungous hero sandwiches – and Rabbi Dovid Horowitz from Mekor Hachaim addressed the boys. The raffle was followed by bentching and the boys returned to their regularly scheduled classes.

Thank you to Dr. Uri & Efrat Zisblatt for helping to sponsor this event!


Taking a break from parenting

In this weeks Parsha we find the Torah sharing an eternal truth about parenting. Rashi brings a Medrash that relates how Yaakov wanted to live in serenity. So Hashem sent him the affair of Yosef, remarking that “are the righteous not satisfied with what is prepared for them in the World – to – come, that they seek tranquility in this world too”? The commentaries on this Medrash focus on Yaakov’s desire to live in peace and quiet. Yaakov did not have an easy life. What was so terrible with him wanting to retire and enjoy his golden years? Yaakov most likely was looking forward to doing the Daf HaYomi, learning with his grand children maybe even taking walks with them to show them the wonders of creation. Yaakov was looking forward to a spiritual vacation not a hedonistic one, what was so wrong?

However, there is another aspect of this Medrash that I feel needs clarifying and that is why of all the troubles that Yaakov had, was the affair of Yosef the one that Hashem felt would send him the message that this world is not one for relaxing and taking it easy? I believe the answer is because the message about one’s real purpose in life can only be taught by teaching us about a fundamental aspect of parenting. Namely, that you cannot take a break from parenting – as soon as you let your guard down all the work you have invested in it, can be lost.  Parenting is not easy, it  never will be easy, it never was supposed to be easy. It is the one responsibility that no matter whom, no matter what and no matter when, needs to be worked at, to fulfill. You cannot put parenting on hold. Internalizing this truth will help us look at our lives and recognize that there is a greater purpose to life and just us we can’t take a break from life we can’t take a break from our purpose in life.

Felt Tips

Family time and individual time: We should give thanks to Hashem for structuring our lives so that at least once a week we are able to spend quality time with our family. A time where work doesn’t beckon, where the constant buzz or chirp of our cellphone isn’t distracting us – and that’s on the holy day of Shabbos. However, the onus remains on us to create individual time to spend with each of our children separately on a consistent basis. A time where our children know what to expect and that it actually happens. This individual time is essential to us as parents as it gives us the opportunity to connect with our children but more importantly, it is critical for our children to know that they are valued and cared for as an individual.


High School Interview Skills

This week began the interview process for potential incoming 9th graders. I have been enjoying meeting the future of Valley Torah and it got me thinking about if anyone is preparing these students for the interviews. Not that anyone that I have met has done a poor job. In fact, I have been very impressed. However, as someone who sat on the other side of the interview table many times in my life any and all tips were always welcome. So here are my tips for any 8th grader looking to come to Valley Torah or any high school for that matter. Good luck!


Don’t worry and be yourself:

You have taken your entrance exam, submitted your transcripts, almost finished middle school and are at the last stage of the application process. You have worked really hard to get to this point and should feel good about that. The interview is not a test. It is just a way to get to know you in a way a test can’t. We are interested in knowing what you are interested in and why you are interested in Valley Torah. Just be yourself and you will do great!


Be on time:

Ok. If you are interviewing at a high school the chances are you have little control over punctuality because you are coming with your parents and are not the one driving. However, you can remind your parents that it is important to be on time. Is being late a deal breaker? Of course not, especially if there is a good reason. Yet, being late can mean having to reschedule the interview and it is not best way to start the interview.


Dress for success:

This does not mean you have to come in a suit and tie. However, it also means it would probably not look great to come in shorts and a T-Shirt. Your regular school uniform will be just fine. By dressing nicely you are saying that you are taking the interview seriously and that goes a long way.


Know yourself:

I know this sounds like a tall order. I mean come on, you are only thirteen year old! I don’t mean you have to know everything you want to be and everything you are yet. That will come with time and high school will help with that. However, be prepared to talk about some of the things you like, what you are good at and even some of the things you know you need to work on. Why? Because you will be asked to describe yourself either in general or in specific areas like your academics, what you do for fun or what you like or don’t like about school.


Like school:

We can’t make you like school, but we are looking for students who generally do like school. Valley Torah is a wonderful school to learn in and we hope you are excited about coming here. Does that mean you have had to like every class you ever took? Of course not. What it means is you should come prepared to talk about some of the things that you do like about school. Every student is different and have had different experiences with the schools they are currently in. We understand that. However, there is generally something you liked and we want to hear about it. Of course, if you like many things we would love to hear about that as well.


Know something about the school

It is always good to come to the interview knowing about the school. This should be easy if you came to the open house and heard all about us. Use that information to describe why you want to come to Valley Torah. If you missed the open house, check the website, speak to some friends or ask your parents what they know about the school. If you still have questions, bring them to the interview.


Always have a question

In most interviews in life you will likely be asked if you have any questions for the interviewers. Be prepared with at least one. It should be about the school. Don’t ask what the interviewers favorite color is, but you could ask what clubs the school currently has.


I hope you found these tips helpful. Click here for a clip from, a website of, from the movie The Internship of an interview gone pretty wrong, but somehow saved at the end. Enjoy!


Shabbos Parashas Vayeishev

Shabbos Parashas Vayeishev 5775


Mother Daughter Breakfast

mother daughter breakfast dec 25 pdf


Dean’s Office – Vayeishev

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: “Not a Second Longer.”



Chess Club

On Thursday, our chess club was visited by a third generation chess master, Mr. Jaellan Cruz. Mr. Cruz shared many different opening moves and strategies to the club members.
Mr. Cruz is excited to return on a monthly basis to challenge and train our chess club members.



Rabbi Stulberger in Encino

Rabbi Stulberger will be visiting the Encino community this Shabbos, Parashas Vayeishev. The entire community is invited to join:

Friday Night December 12th

4:15 P.M. – Kabbalas Shabbas at Netan Eli Synagogue, 17984 Ventura Blvd
8:00 P.M. – Oneg Shabbos at the home of the Leibowitz family, 17631 Corinthian Dr – All Alumni & VTHS students are welcome.

Shabbos Day December 13th
10:30 A.M. – Kiddush at Beit Yosef Synagogue, 18050 Ventura Blvd
11:00 A.M. – Kiddush at Makor Hachaim, 17815 Ventura Blvd
12:15 P.M. – Kiddush at Haichal Moshe, 18042 Ventura Blvd
4:15 P.M. – Seudah Shlishis at Makor Hachaim, 17815 Ventura Blvd


Chanukah Chagigah

This year’s Chanukah Chagigah and Chidon will take place during school on Wednesday, December 17. Here are highlights of last year’s Chagigah:


I am sick of talking about technology

I am sick of talking about technology. I want to be talking about education. Yet, the current discussion around “21st Century Learning” always seems to revolve around the technology when it needs to be focused on the teaching and learning. Don’t get me wrong. I feel strongly that technology can and should be integrated meaningfully into the classroom. However, for it to be integrated meaningfully it has to be ubiquitous. When it becomes a focal point of the learning experience, the driver of the class or the educational outcome we have failed. We have missed the point of educational technology which is that the word “education” comes first.

I showed this video below during our General Studies staff meeting this week and asked what it meant to them.

The reason I showed this video was to spark a discussion about the fundamental role of the teacher, which has nothing to do with whether you can use a smartboard or an iPad. As the author of the video states, a great teacher guides the social process of learning with an ability to excite, challenge and inspire their student to want to learn. Their goal to is help each student think and to make every student feel that they are important. This can be done without technology and there are times when it must be. That is why I suppose I am sick of talking about technology.

A great teacher should be driven by the above values and know when and what technology can be used to engage students and help them think. In the 21st Century, more than ever we need to be talking about the fundamentals of great teaching and then how to integrate technology to support those fundamentals. When we don’t do that we run the risk of what many teachers often state they are afraid of, which is that technology is being touted as a teacher replacement. I do not share that fear because I believe strongly that technology can never replace a great teacher. However, I put the emphasis on the word “great.” As said in the video, if the goal of a teacher is just to transmit information than we have much more efficient ways to do that with technology.

In an open letter to her colleagues, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice and author of The Connected Educator states:

I am often asked as I travel to various places to present why I would spend so much time talking about technology knowing that with outsourcing and such that I am undermining job security in that computers could replace teachers. To that I respond,  If you can be replaced by a computer then you probably should be! The truth is that technology will never replace teachers, however teachers who know how to use technology effectively to help their students connect and collaborate together online will replace those who do not.

She is correct that technology will never replace teachers, but only when teachers understand and are proficient in their fundamental role. I also believe that when they understand that, as do our teachers at Valley Torah, then they will also understand the value of technology in the classroom and are not intimidated or defensive about it. The technology is not the educator, but rather the tool that supports the engagement, inspiration and challenges that help our students to think and connect to the learning. It is a tool. I would add that I think it is “the tool.” As Adam Bellow says “Ed tech is not the icing on the cake; it is the dough.”

On that note, I would like to share Mr. Bellow’s keynote address at the 2013 ISTE conference where I heard that line for the first time and was inspired by his words, his presentation style and the actual presentation slides themselves. Enjoy!




Student safety

Reflecting on the academic rigor during the school year, you will find different intensities associated with different times. For example, the beginning of the year the atmosphere is intense; students are focused and driven. This intense atmosphere is replicated during the week before quarter grades and semester finals. Then there are times when the environment is relaxed such as vacation times and during the Shabbaton season. And then there are the times when you just have to push forward.  For example, during the winter when the going gets tough, there is not much to look forward to and all your time is taken up by ball practice, community service or other assorted commitments you have undertaken and you still need to keep up with all class work.

How one manages these up and downs is really what sets students apart. Students who know how to pace themselves and stay ahead of the curve are the one’s that will have a better chance at being successful later in life. The student who works in spurts is going to end up struggling and without any real support will not get through unscathed. As parents we have a responsibility to support our children however, what are the guidelines for that support.

In this weeks Parsha we find that Yaakov told Esau that it would not be wise for them to travel together. Based on the commentaries, Yaakov’s argument was that if he travelled at the same speed as Esau he was afraid that his children would Chas V’Shalom get hurt and he has a responsibly to keep them safe. The question posed is why didn’t Yaakov maintain that he didn’t want his children to get hurt because he loved them? One of the answers to this question is that a parent’s true obligation to their child stems from their need to keep their child safe rather than from love.Even though it is difficult to imagine a parent not loving their child however, love is subjective and can be inconsistent whereas making sure your child is safe is fundamental and a constant.

In considering our child’s academic future we need to acknowledge that Chazal places the obligation for a child to learn a profession on his parents. Chazal even go as far as equating learning a profession to learning Torah (Kiddushin 30b). This should tell us how significant our child’s education is and give us an idea of how far we need to go to provide the support they need. We are fortunate to have a school that acts as surrogate parents, working together with the school as a partner supporting our child/student is the surest way for them to be successful in an ever-changing world.

Felt Tips

As a student, some of the major challenges we face are being organized, keeping on top of work due and finding time to do all the things we would like to do. Fortunately, there are numerous apps that can assist. First we can try the default apps that come with most standard phones or tablets. However, there are also a number of great apps that combine the reminder, calendar and clock app into one that make it more efficient. There are also school specific apps that can track class work with homework and provide the necessary alarms to make sure you are not tardy with your assignments. From my experience they are all good it is just a matter of actually using them!


Shabbos Parashas Vayishach

Shabbos Parashas Vayishlach 5775


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