The Weber School and the visual and performing arts magnet program at Tri-Cities High School in East Point launched a collaboration with their performance of the musical “Cinderella: The Enchanted Version” (hosted by Shrek) as part of Weber’s Arts in April celebration of literary, visual and performing arts.
Students from the two schools performed two shows at the Marcus Jewish Community Center and one for Epstein School seventh-graders.
“As a freshman, I was nervous. Not only was this partnership new to Weber, but I was new to Weber,” Anna Rose Barrack said. “I can honestly say that the experience was amazing and I learned so much. I’m so excited that this is just the beginning of working together with my new friends at Tri-Cities.”
Rabbi Ed Harwitz, Weber’s head of school, said the high school’s learning community is enhanced by having artistic professionals teach fine and performing arts.
“Arts in April showcased how working directly with professional artists elevates our students’ true artistic abilities,” said Amber Singleton, a professional artist who serves as Weber’s director of fine and performing arts. “Weber’s program is unique in its intent to expose our students to the broader Atlanta arts community.”
Weber’s arts team includes Hilda Willis, the performing arts director in residence and a working actress and director; Cheryl Myrbo, the visual artist in residence and project director of the Atlanta High School Art Exhibit; Jai McClendon Jones, a dance specialist and founder of Atlanta’s Resource for Entertainment & Arts; and Drew Cohen, the music director and an Atlanta Jewish Music Festival board member.
“Partnering with Tri-Cities High School is the next step in the growth of our program, allowing our students to collaborate and build rich, meaningful relationships with other talented and dedicated young people in Atlanta, many of whom hope to make the performing arts a career,” Rabbi Harwitz said.
Writing and Reciting at Chaya Mushka
The 60 students at Chaya Mushka Elementary and Middle School had two special opportunities to celebrate their religious heritage recently: a visit from sofer (scribe) Rabbi Mordechai Danneman for a middle school class on sofrut (scribing) and a second-grade brachot (blessings) bee.
“How many Torahs do the Jewish people possess?” Rabbi Danneman asked the students, one of whom quickly provided the right answer: two, one written and one oral. The written Torah gives us the mitzvah, and the oral Torah explains the what and the how.
He taught the students that the Hebrew letters they know are the same as those given to Moses, and one small change to a letter can alter the meaning of a word, sentence or intention. For example, a drop of ink can change a yud and a nun into a tzadi or a kaf and a vav into a mem.
The students were allowed to touch kosher parchment and the quills he uses and to see kosher ink and learn how it is made. He showed them fake and nonkosher mezuzot, such as those with water damage or with improperly written letters, and they got a close look at a nonkosher Torah. The students also learned the ins and outs of tefillin with two 150-year-old sets — one tiny and one huge.
A few weeks earlier, the Chaya Mushka second-grade class held its annual brachot bee to test the pupils’ success at studying the blessings recited before and after eating certain foods. During the bee, a food was named, and the students had to identify the proper bracha.
The bee had four categories:
- Saying the pre-blessing on the food announced.
- Saying the pre- and post-blessings on the food announced.
- Saying the multiple blessings for foods eaten together, such as ice cream on a cone.
- Saying which of two announced foods, along with its blessing, should come first.
Epstein Fourth-Graders Swim With the Sharks
Epstein School fourth-graders recently dived into the “Shark Tank” with the Break Into Business program to demonstrate their entrepreneurial skills.
Four sharks — Epstein parents David Zalik, the CEO of GreenSky Financial, and Rachael Abt, the owner and chief branding officer of Land of Eden, plus Epstein Chief Operations Officer David Levy and library media specialist Michelle Epstein — evaluated 12 business presentations, which included budget analyses, marketing strategies, posters, slogans, T-shirts, and prototypes or demonstrations.
The projects included Pro Pops, healthy, protein-based ice pops; Covercro, Epstein logo fabric overlays that attach with Velcro to cover logos on socks that do not meet uniform standards; Food Fun, a board game that allows finicky eaters to play their way to Dessert Mountain; and Cardboard Arcade, an affordable, easy-to-assemble arcade kit to entertain children while reducing screen time.
Reform Preschool Leaders Meet in Memphis
Rabbi Micah Lapidus, Edye Summerfield and Jamah Maman were among the locals who attended the Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism’s 16th annual conference April 7 to 9 in Memphis, Tenn.
ECE-RJ represents professionals in all fields of Jewish early childhood education, serving as a voice for educators, providing synagogue leadership with national trends, offering resources for best practices, and facilitating collegial sharing and support.
The kallah, Soul Purpose: Elevating Early Engagement Through Social Justice, Literacy and Leadership, featured Rabbi Gary Zola, the executive director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and a professor of American Jewish history and Reform Jewish history at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.
Rabbi Zola led an exploration of historical documents for an analysis of minority rights under President George Washington, followed by a discussion of ethical wills, moral legacy letters and moral lessons for the next generation.
Summerfield, the assistant director of Dunwoody Prep and communications vice president for ECE-RJ, and Maman, the interim director of Temple Sinai’s preschool, said they were deeply moved and inspired to learn about the moral trials and tribulations of the past and see how people struggle with the same issues today.
The ECE-RJ kallah attendees visited the National Civil Rights Museum and, led by Cantor Mark Horowitz, vice president and director of the Sheva Center of the JCC Association, looked at their own moral legacies on personal and professional levels.
The group toured the Memphis Jewish Community Center’s Reggio Emilia-inspired early childhood program and was welcomed by Rabbi Micah Greenstein to Temple Israel, which hosted the visiting educators at Shabbat services.
Rabbi Lapidus, the director of Jewish and Hebrew studies at the Davis Academy, was one of three national scholars running sessions at the kallah. He led a constructivist approach to the Saturday morning service called “Giving Voice to the Spirit.” Kallah attendees were so moved by Rabbi Lapidus that they moved to a larger room to keep working together rather than break into small group sessions as planned.
The three-hour workshop drew on Rabbi Lapidus’ doctoral research into spirituality and his experiences at Davis to help the preschool directors at the conference better understand the importance of childhood spirituality and how they can nurture it.
Education Conference Set for Chicago
NewCAJE, an international and pluralistic organization dedicated to excellence in Jewish education and support for Jewish educators, will hold its seventh annual conference July 31 to Aug. 3 at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., outside Chicago.
A Shabbat program July 29 and 30 will lead into the conference.
The conference will include presenters from across the Jewish educational spectrum on such topics as Israel, Hebrew, special needs inclusion, adult education, early childhood teaching techniques and day school topics. Experts from across the country will lead five-hour workshops on critical topics for educators, and educators are welcome to submit workshop proposals.
Registration is open at www.newcaje.org, and scholarships are available. Early-bird rates, good through Thursday, April 28, begin at $750, including housing.
3 Stars for Sunshine School
The Marcus Jewish Community Center’s Sunshine School, a preschool housed at Temple Kol Emeth in East Cobb, has earned the top three-star rating from the Quality Rated program of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.
“The MJCCA is pleased that the Sunshine School has been recognized by the state of Georgia as a top early-care provider,” CEO Jared Powers said. “We are committed to offering early childhood education of the highest quality.”
More than 2,300 child care programs are Quality Rated participants, and more than 800 ratings are posted at www.qualityrated.org.