November 30, 2017
12 Kislev 5778

Parashah Vayishlach

   Shabbat Candle Lighting 5:03 p.m.

Parshat Vayishlach: The Triumph of Hope
Rabbi Joe Hirsch, 4th Grade Judaic Teacher and Lead Learning Designer

A man fell off a ten-story building. When he blew past the fifth floor, he thought to himself: "So far, so good."
 
We are taught to face adversity with optimism and hope, but the two are not the same. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has wisely noted, optimism is the belief that things will get better. Hope is the belief that if we work hard enough, we can make things better. That subtle but startling realization is the driving force behind human ingenuity and innovation. It is also a message powerfully conveyed in this week's reading of Parshat Vayishlach.
 
After two decades of separation and estrangement, Yaakov and Esav reunite. Their encounter is brief but revealing. Yaakov tries to shower his brother with gifts, but Esav refuses: "I have plenty, keep what is yours" (33:9). Yaakov counters in the next verse: "Please take my gift...for God has graced me, and I have everything." Esav claims to have "plenty" (in Hebrew, rav). Yaakov claims to have "everything" (in Hebrew, kol). But who has more?
 
Looking at past and impending events, Yaakov hardly seems his brother's superior. Esav travels with a formidable army. Yaakov trudges along with a small camp. Esav owns rich swaths of land. Yaakov is promised land but owns none of it. In chapter 36, Esav's genealogy fills more than forty verses. Yaakov's family tree barely occupies four. Following this encounter, Yaakov loses a daughter to abduction, a wife to childbirth, and father to old age. This is a man who has "everything?"
 
In a life besieged by struggle (indeed, the very foundation of his name -  Yisrael, "the one who struggles"), Yaakov holds steadfastly to hope. He proves time and again that with enough pluck and persistence, he can always make things better. Sometimes he rises, other times he falls. Inspired by his God-given gifts and deep sense of commitment, he not only struggles to make it, but to make it better.  
 
Each morning, we recite a blessing: "Blessed are you, God, for having given me everything ("kol") that I need." As we say these words, we can't possibly know how the day will turn out and if, in fact, our needs will be met. But we do know this: With hope and hard work, we have everything we need to become our very best selves.

Mazal Tov to the Feinstein family on the bat mitzvah of Lilly.

Mazal Tov to Sari and Mickey Bar, and Akiba student Remy on the birth of a baby girl. 

Mazal Tov to kindergarten teacher Jennifer McDougall (Weise) on her recent wedding. 

Mazal Tov to the Sacher family on the bat mitzvah of Micah. 

EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAM
 
This week in Early Childhood, students experienced learning in so many ways!
  • Nitzanim continued to work on their mosaic in the art studio with Morah Lindsey, creating a butterfly with the tiles they broke into pieces using hammers.
  • Morah Malka and Morah Vickie's Chaverim worked together on their writing journals.
  • Our Nevatim and Teenoki Alef friends got to know each other.
  • The K'Ton Ton children got creative with Chanukah dreidels.
 

THANKSGIVING RECAP

Check out 1st  graders learning how to say 'thank you' in Hebrew in honor of Thanksgiving: part 1 and part 2. Below, Thanksgiving Feasts and celebrations brought cheer throughout campus.
 
 

LOOKING DEEPER

In 3rd grade Judaics, students read from Siddurim. Teacher Zelmen Dubrawsky explains, "we start the day with the prayer Modeh Ani, which asks us to be thankful and grateful. With things like meditation and gratitude being so popular now, we can look at Modeh Ani and say, 'w e've had this prayer for thousands of years. It's a great way to start the day.'"

 

TEACHERS SHARPEN SKILLS

Faculty members spent Monday's in-service immersed in project-based learning with the  I.D.E.A. Schools Network Project-based learning allows students to gain 21st century skills through investigating and responding to complex questions or challenges.

 

GRANDPARENTS AND SPECIAL FRIENDS' DAY

Thank you to all the grandparents, special friends, parent volunteers, PTO and Akiba faculty/staff for making this year's celebration one of the best. We loved welcoming everyone to our campus.

Facebook album pics are  here .

 

HISTORY LESSON
 
In Keith Johnson's 7th grade social studies class, students are immersed in the unit "Texas: From Colony, to Republic, to Statehood." They studied Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and his calls for Mexican independence from Spanish rule. Hidalgo's Grito de Dolores (cry of Delores) sparked a movement that would culminate with the Treaty of Cordoba of 1821, establishing Mexican independence from Spain at the conclusion of the Mexican War of Independence.
 
 

'WONDER,' A WONDERFUL LEARNING EXPERIENCE

School counselor Heather Behr encouraged students and families to read the book "Wonder," and then offered a book club to promote discussion of the book's life lessons. Recently, Behr helped organize a field trip for the students to see the movie 'Wonder,' followed by  discussions about bullying and kindness.

Students loved the opportunity to see the movie and felt its impact deeply. 

"My eyes were tearing up.  There are parts of the book they left out that I wanted to see." -  Ranen Rapps, 5th grade 

"Our teachers are always attempting to find engaging ways to teach. This (seeing 'Wonder') is a great example of this. The morals of the Torah that I believe in share a common message with this movie." -  Hillel Baynash, 8th grade

"This movie carried conversations out throughout the weekend. I recommend it to everyone and was emotional throughout the whole movie!" -  Noa Terenyo, 8th grade


 

Lights & Latkes: Join us for a Hanukkah party and dairy dinner (cholov yisroel). Dec. 14, 5:30-7 p.m., Pollman Hall. Free, but  RSVP is required.

Get your Akiba spirit shirts to wear with uniform bottoms every Friday!
Even if you did not order by the deadline, we have extras while quantities last. Youth XS-L are $8, Adult S-XL are $10. Pick up shirts in the atrium this Friday, Nov. 10, 8:15-8:45 am. Please email akibapto@gmail.com  with questions.
 
Lunch VolunteersSign up  to help serve hot lunch  here .