Monthly Dateline Newsletter
March 2019/Adar 5779
Columbus Torah Academy Monthly Dateline
This past Shabbos, which was the Shabbos immediately before Rosh Chodesh Adar, we read the additional Torah portion describing the mitzvah of the half-shekel. The Mishna informs us that the nationwide collection of the half-shekel began on Rosh Chodesh Adar, therefore, we read the section on the Shabbos that precedes the day.

The obvious question on the mishna is why did the collection of the half-shekel begin on Rosh Chodesh Adar? What is the significance of the 1st of Adar that was selected as the date to kick off the collection? The practical explanation is because the new batch of communal offerings were purchased with the half-shekel fund. It took approximately a month to raise and organize the funds for the offerings therefore the collections started 30 days before on the 1st of Adar.

Rabbi Immanuel Bernstein offers a beautiful explanation beyond the practical reason as to what the relationship is between the half-shekel and Rosh Chodesh. The Talmud in Tractate Shekalim, says “Hashem knew that Haman will one day weigh out shekalim for the purpose of destroying the Jewish people. Therefore, Hashem preceded the Shekalim of the Jews to those of Haman.” The Talmud requires clarification. In what way does the Jewish people giving a half-shekel to the Beis Hamikdash once a year serve as an antidote for silver coins Haman was prepared to weigh out for the destruction of the Jewish people?

Rabbi Bernstein explains, when Haman asked for permission from Achashverosh to destroy the Jewish people he refers to them as “scattered” and “separate” among all the nations. The Manos HaLevi says that “scattered” alludes to the Jewish people as being geographically spread throughout the kingdom. The word “Separate” alludes to the fact there was division within the Jewish people. He explains, the separation was why the Jewish people were in danger. Haman understood that since there was a lack of unity among the Jewish people they were vulnerable to being harmed. Ultimately, Haman was unsuccessful because Esther was able to bring the Jewish people together to pray and fast as a unified people. The secret to the success of the Jewish people is achdus - unity.

The commandment of the half-shekel captures the message of bringing the Jewish people together. The commandment dictates that every Jew must bring the exact same amount. No one is permitted to bring less or more than the half-shekel. No one tries to outdo the other. All contributions are of equal value and equally valued. This is why the portion of the half-shekel is read at the start of the month of Adar. An important lesson from the Purim story is that the Jewish people came together which is the idea the half-shekel represents. May we all have a wonderful and happy Purim.
By Eliza Delman, Upper School Principal
Deliberating on Real Life News
Mr. Guinan’s English 11/12 class has been engrossed in a project honing their listening, critical thinking and writing skills. After listening to the popular Serial podcast, about a high school student accused of murdering a classmate, they cloistered themselves in the jury’s deliberation room and wrote their decisions, supported by the evidence they heard. This is just one example of applying real life news and a creative assignment to motivate and engage students in learning
Better Together Writing Workshop
Ninth and 10th graders, involved in the Better Together program, which includes a writing contest, worked with Amy Greenberg to craft essays about the life of a senior citizen. Each student interviewed an older person (not a relative), asking questions about his/her life. Using the information they received and turning it into a well-developed essay required a lot more thinking and consideration than many of them expected. Having Amy Greenberg and the English teachers coach them individually revealed some thoughtful and insightful work.
Experiential Learning - Teachers Integrate Technology into their Classrooms
Teachers are already integrating the Professional Development workshop from February 15th. While listening to Mr. Spurlock talk about ways to integrate experiential technology into lesson plans, Judaic Studies teacher, Mrs. Claman was determined to find a way. Just a few days later, she assigned her high school Ketuvim class a project that allows the students to choose their preferred work product. Back when many of us were students, we got to choose a “paper” or a “project.” Mrs. Claman’s students can choose a video presentation “newscast” (using Clipchamp) or audio presentation “podcast” (using Soundtrap) to explain the political landscape in the Book of Esther. Both online apps were introduced to teachers and students by Mr. Spurlock through the Experiential Learning Initiative grant from the Columbus Jewish Foundation Jewish Education & Literacy Fund. 
Poetry Out Loud
Eight high school finalists advanced to the school wide Poetry Out Loud competition after an initial round in the classrooms. Finalists were Yaakov Newman, Aidan Samuelson, Brooke Samuelson, Sahar Import, Gillian Herszage, Nechama Stebben, Shmuel Metz, and Addison Horwitz. Judges, Amy Greenberg, Joe Spurlock and Kristen Van Gundy had a difficult job scoring the competition as there were several excellent performances. The winner at the school level was senior, Addison Horwitz, who participated in the regional competition with runner up Shmuel Metz.

Poetry Out Loud is a national contest of poetry recitation. Contestants each select a poem from the Official Poetry Out Loud list and recite it from memory. In addition to Accuracy, their recitation is judged on the official Poetry Out Loud criteria: Physical Presence, Voice and Articulation, Dramatic Appropriateness, Evidence of Understanding and Overall Performance.

The CTA school wide competition is sponsored by Daniel Newman and Ilana Klamka in memory of Eythan Klamka, poet and educator, uncle of CTA students, Alia, Bina and Yaakov Newman. His life's work was to help inner-city students develop their own poetic voice.
YUNMUN Teams Represents Turkey
High School students on the CTA Model UN team participated in YUNMN (Yeshiva University National Model United Nations), this week in Stamford, Connecticut. The event is run by Yeshiva University students and is a simulation of the workings of the real United Nations. High School students from Jewish day schools across the country participate in the two-day conference that gives students an opportunity to experience and learn about the complex landscape of international diplomacy. Schools are assigned a country and team members sit on different delegation councils discussing a variety of timely topics. CTA’s country this year was Turkey and student delegates used their knowledge of world affairs to represent a variety of positions on behalf of the country. Students meet after school for this program advised by Upper School Social Studies Teacher, Tim Pray. To see a video snippet from the conference, click on this link:
Changing the World
That’s what we do in US Judaic Studies. As Adar 2 approaches, the Upper School is gearing up for two big educational events. During the first week of March, we will hold the first “IronMench Supreme” - an extra challenging assessment for students to compete and demonstrate their Torah knowledge as the students get ready for the IronMench competition. Students who ace the challenge will receive limited release IronMench swag and the utmost respect from their peers and teachers. The Official IronMench Tournament will be held on March 14. Educating and supporting our students to become knowledgeable Jews is an important way of changing the world.

A classroom goal of the Junior High Navi class is to learn Torah laws and share what is learned with others. The class has been exploring different ways to share knowledge. You can see a great display about the laws of Netilat Yadayim (hand washing) on the shelving unit in the hallway leading to the cafeteria.  

By Rabbi Zecharia Weitz, Upper School Judaic Studies Coordinator
By Nicole Miller, Lower School Principal
Professional Development
The entire faculty joined together for a February Professional Development Day. The Lower School agenda and sessions were as follows:
1. Core Values: How CTA's faculty and staff make a difference for our students and our school. Presented by: Rabbi Drandoff

2. Content Area Break Out Sessions:
  • a. Judaic Studies-Task Analysis of standards within Chumash and Parsha with teachers from K-6th grade. We looked at how to plan detailed lessons using the Essential Elements of Instruction model. Presented by: Nikki Miller and Rabbi Drandoff
  • b. Fundations- Training for General Studies teachers in grades K-2 on the art of collecting and using data to inform our practice; the importance of teaching handwriting; and a view on how to be proactive in early grades to help students who may have dyslexia. Presented by: Angela Ullum, Principal at Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School
  • c. Units of Studies Reading Workshop Model for 3rd-6th grade teachers- How to open a new unit and celebrate a student's growth; a close look at online resources; a deep study on the Progression of Learning within reading; and how to implement Performance Assessments. Presented by Amy Rahav and Nikki Miller
  • d. Hebrew Team & Specialty Teachers- Reflecting, Writing and Discussing Student Engagement and using technology within the classroom with Eliza Delman and Joe Spurlock

3. Whole Lower School Staff: What is ADHD; how to provide research-based management within the classroom setting and promote student success. Presented by Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, Director of Cincinnati Children's Center for ADHD
PBIS Around Campus
We continue to catch students doing the right thing and using all 5 middot. This month, many grades earned enough Middot Money for an extra gym class and students in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade earned a special STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) lesson. The 5th and 6th graders have helped to shape the prices of prizes in the Lion Note Store to be more reasonable and they added a few more worthy prizes. This past Friday, they had the opportunity to shop at the store. Popular objects were a movie lunch with friends, 10 rubber ducks, Amazon gift card, and Graeter’s gift card. Here is a list of items the students helped to create:
Pictured is Sam Garvin and Boaz Harow enjoying their 10 rubber ducks.  
STEM challenge in 3rd grade: Create a perch that Harry can sit on and see the entire class with only the materials in the bag.
STEM challenge in 2nd grade: Create a spacecraft that could independently go down a line with Legos. They worked in teams of 3 to design, create, test and adjust their plans!
STEM challenge in 1st grade: Explore animal adaptations to understand how penguins stay warm and dry in the frigid Antarctic waters. They discovered that penguins have wax in their feather which causes water to repel off of their body. They also made their penguins Jewish with a kippah
Writing Workshop
Artist-in-Residence, Amy Greenberg, spent three weeks at CTA working with different classes in the annual Writing Workshop. The Workshop is funded by a TeachArts Ohio grant from the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) and Mrs. Greenberg has been leading the workshop for over 20 years. The workshop is for grades 2 and 5 and gives the students an opportunity to concentrate on their written expression and hone their writing skills. In 2nd grade the focus is on poetry and in 5th grade the focus is on short stories with dialogue. Mrs. Greenberg also spends time working with the 3rd and 4th graders on poetic expression in some min-lessons. New this year, Mrs. Greenberg led a one-week workshop on reflective writing with 8th grade students as part of the grant. It was a joy for her to see their growth and development in their writing since their 5th grade OAC Writing Workshop and exciting for the students to reconnect with her. In addition, Mrs. Greenberg led a workshop for the 9 th and 10th grade classes participating in Better Together as they write and rewrite their essays for the Better Together Writing Contest. It is wonderful to add Mrs. Greenberg’s skills to our curriculum and give students an opportunity to work with her.
Kindergartners enjoyed Dr. Seuss week by creating hand prints for the book
The Lorax.
The first graders finished their Iditarod unit by completing the course with fans cheering them on! Check all of the great pictures at
Third graders invited the 2nd graders to visit their classroom and they were prepared to teach them all that they have learned in reading workshop thus far. The 3rd graders had just finished their unit on mystery, so many chose to teach about how to read mysteries. Each third and second grader were partnered and the 3rd grader taught, using handmade visuals, the topic they selected. Ask a second grader if they know to beware of red herrings in books.
Kindergarten and 2nd grade celebrated the 100 (ish) day of school as they dressed up like how they might look when they are 100 years old. Pictured are kinder and 2nd grade students working together on activities involving the number 100. How many times can you hop in 100 seconds? How many times can you blink in 100 seconds? How many times can you clap in 100 seconds? Great inter-grade level activity! (It was also nice to see groups of siblings working together.) 
Pictured are 1st graders celebrating the milestone of 100 days of school! 
4th grader Ben Sherk was the principal for the day. He helped lead announcements, created a business proposal to share with Rabbi Drandoff, selected new prizes for the Lion Note store, and was a guest judge for the Chopped Challenge: Exodus Edition
Check out the milestones and learning happening in Lower School Judaic Studies classrooms. On behalf of the entire school I want to wish a Mazel Tov to Morah Yonit Kirschbaum, first grade teacher, and her family, on the birth of a daughter and a welcome to Morah Esther who will be teaching her class while she is on leave. 
By Rabbi Avrohom Drandoffi, Lower School Judaic Studies Coordinator
Kindergartners Finish Breishit
What a wonderful celebration for our Kindergartners as they finished the Book of Breishit and celebrated with friends and family at a performance. Every student received a completion certificate and medal. Check out the pictures and video from the siyum! (The students also loved the delicious cookies afterwards!)
Chag HaChumash
A special milestone at CTA and many Jewish day schools across the country is the Chag HaChumash Ceremony which is when students receive their first chumash (bible). The chumash is full of the weekly Torah parshiot. As the Torah is read each week, the same parsha is read in synagogues across the world. All of the Jewish people are on the same schedule. The stories and laws found in each parsha are the basis of our traditions. What a special celebration as the 2nd graders shared what they have been learning with family and friends. We wish them all of the best in their learning endeavors. See their performance at
Third Graders Open Their Own Restaurant
Don’t get too excited. It’s not opening yet, but the 3rd graders did create menus for a future Kosher restaurant in Columbus following their Brachot/Blessing unit. Menus had to include food choices from all the different blessings and still be a cohesive and well-balanced menu. This was a great way to learn the different blessings for different foods, the order to say them in and dream of a kosher restaurant in our city!
Fourth Graders Play “Battle Canaan”
After learning the chapter of Sefer Yehoshua that described the 31 nations Yehoshua conquered over the course of 7 years, the students filled in maps indicating the locations of the nations. To review the names and locations of the nations. Morah Sarah created a Battleship style game called “Battle Canaan”. Each student received a game board that was the map of Canaan. To play each student was responsible to protect two nations and using the map they filled out in class, the students called out a set of coordinates in hopes of hitting or conquering someone else's nation. Whoever conquered the most nations won! It was a really enjoyable way to review what was learned! 
Fifth Grade Pays It Forward
The 5th graders have been hard at work improving themselves and the world - one good deed at a time. In their unit on Tzedaka, they talk a lot about Chessed - doing good deeds. The students started a “pay it forward” campaign at CTA to see how many people can benefit from the ripple effects of a single kind gesture, aiming to grow a culture of kindness in our school. Those impacted by the pay it forward wave sign their name on the bulletin board in the breezeway after passing on the kindness. This week the students will extend what they learned about Tzedaka and Chessed, by starting a small Kids4Chai fundraiser to support programming for Jewish kids battling cancer. The students will be applying what they have learned in our Yediot Klaliot program by competing in a Judaithon - a comprehensive exam in random Jewish knowledge given to students around the country. The students will get sponsors to donate a certain amount for every exam they pass. Please support our students in this great initiative for a wonderful cause! Ask Mrs. Kohn for the link. 
Mark Your Calendar - Sixth Grade Play
The sixth grade is preparing their Purim Play which will be performed for fellow students during school wide Purim festivities. Pictured is a planning meeting as they are collaborating on writing and editing the script (first editing session pictured above) and are beginning to practice on stage. 
Chopped Exodus Edition
Earlier this month, as part of their weekly Shabbat Shebang activities, students in grades 4-6 worked in multi-grade groups for several weeks learning about different parts of the story of the Exodus from the chumash. The project culminated in a "Chopped - Exodus Edition", interactive competition where the students illustrated their selected scene in a sugary confection. Teams had a $25 budget and 15 minutes to create their masterpiece. The success was in the weeks of planning. Each group gave a d'var torah and deep explanation of their design. It was a tremendous display of great teamwork, creativity and fun! Check out the presentations here:
Professional Development – Hebrew Teachers
Reflecting and Learning In February, Hebrew teachers had the opportunity to spend an entire day engaged in Professional Development at a workshop in Cleveland. The study about Unit Planning and Backwards Design with Shirly Benatar included a video from Dr. Esty Gross from Bishvil HaIvrit, our new Hebrew language curriculum. Teachers were able to put theory into practice and plan their next unit of study. The following week, Hebrew teachers were part of the CTA Teacher Professional Development Day reflecting on our school’s Core Values and discussing student engagement. 
By Shirly Benatar, Hebrew Language Department Chair
Israel Education
We are going to the moon! February 14 marked the historical launch of the first Israeli spacecraft “Beresheet” בראשית to the moon. Israel will be the fourth country (after USA, Russia and China) to land on the moon. Students in both Lower and Upper School saw a presentation and a movie clip, learned about this little Chalalit חללית (spacecraft), her journey (it will take two months) and age appropriate vocabulary relating to space travel. They had interesting conversation about this historical event, and many classes also built small models of Beresheet. You can see more in this interesting animation about Beresheet’s Journey to the moon. 
Upper School

7-8th graders in Morah Chen-Li’s class used detective skills in order to find patterns of verbs and identify the Binyanim, a (difficult) grammatical concept that is unique to Hebrew. Our students were amazing linguistic detectives and sorted a bank of verbs correctly, and then identified the correct Binyan!

9-10th Advanced Hebrew in Morah Ronit’s class studied about Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, who advocated for girls’ right to an education in Afghanistan. Students researched, read articles, watched clips and debated the question if she merited the prize or not. Each student presented to the class her position and opinions on the matter.

11-12th graders studied about community service in Israel as a requirement for high school graduation and the “Bagrut”. They learned about the different types of community service and volunteering opportunities in Israel, debated and expressed their opinions about the requirement, and finally summarized different articles and explained them to their friends.
Lower School

Third graders focused on identifying feelings with Morah Chen-Li, Morah Eva, and Morah Malca. They enjoyed learning and singing the song: "אני נשאר תמיד אני אבל” "I always remain myself” as part of a larger project about “Regashot” "רגשות) "feelings), a unit from our new Lower school curriculum "Ivrit B'click". Please enjoy this cute video of our third grade students singing

Fifth graders are currently busy working on “My Timeline” שלי הזמן ציר a project documenting snapshots of their lives with pictures and descriptions of events on a timeline. They are researching, writing, typing and will present the final Timeline in Hebrew to their class.

Sixth graders spent several weeks on the project “My Book Recommendation” ממליץ אני ...with the guidance of Morah Ronit and Moreh Dror. They learned about the structure of a recommendation, useful vocabulary, and important things to include. Each student selected a favorite book that they have already read (in English). They wrote a three-paragraph recommendation about the book in Hebrew , which included descriptions of favorite characters, events, and reasosn for the recommendation. Students also made creative posters and gave an oral presentation to the entire class, and to guests, Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Benatar. 
Did you know that reading 20 minutes a day with your children is a wonderful investment in their future? Research shows that children who read just 20 minutes daily score better on standardized tests. Just as importantly, reading gives children the powers of information and imagination. Help your children love reading by providing books they enjoy reading and that keep pace with their changing interests and skills. Have a collection of books at home? Give your children a voice in choosing the books they enjoy reading. Be library regulars, and …
Come to CTA’s dynamic and dino-mite Spring Book Fair! Our Scholastic Book Fair brings the books kids want to read into our school. It provides engaging and affordable books your children want to read at home. It also supports our school library and provides another place CTA students can find great books. CTA’s Spring Book Fair is March 21–29 during the school day and also for two special CTA events – Sun., March 24, Uncle Moishy Concert and Wed. March 27, Family Literacy Night. For more information, visit CTA’s Book Fair homepage at Our Online Fair is available from March 15 – April 1. 

PTO is selling Gratitude Grams for teachers and staff. A sheet of gratitude grams is $1 for 4. You can show your appreciation for your favorite teacher or staff person. They can be purchased online at / by emailing to or using the same email to send payment to Paypal. Orders will be delivered to your child to take home. All completed Gratitude Grams will be returned to the front desk for distribution by the Lower School Student Council. If you have any questions, contact Beth Binsky at

CTA Lunch Menu and School Events ( / ). Check this for after school activities, sports events and more.

School Links for Parents (
Mar. 1-22: PTO Miss Chocolate Passover Candy Sale
Mar. 8: End of Lower School 2nd Trimester
Mar. 10: Daylight Savings Time Begins, turn clocks ahead 1 hour
Mar. 11: CTA Twirlers begin Spring Practices
Mar. 15: End of Upper School 3rd Quarter; Lower School Dress Down Day
Mar. 15-Apr. 1: Scholastic Online Book Fair
Mar. 17: CTA Diner, 4-7 pm, at Beth Jacob Synagogue
Mar. 21: Purim Festivities, 1 pm Dismissal
Mar. 21-30: Scholastic Book Fair, in the Lower School Library, Various Hours
Mar. 24: CTA Family Concert featuring Uncle Moishy, 10:45 am doors open, 11 am concert begins
Mar. 24: Pizza Cafe to benefit 2019 8th Grade Trip to DC, 12:30-1:30 pm, CTA
Mar. 27: Lower School Family Literacy Night, 5:30-7:30 pm (dinner from 4:45-5:30 pm)
Apr. 2: Kindergarten Readiness Screenings for Fall 2019

Go Lions! Keep up with the CTA sports schedule at
Zev Schramm (Class of 2006) on the birth of a son and to grandparents Marc and

Sharon Schramm Sam Schmelzer (Class of 2006) on the birth of a son and to grandparents Victor and Susan Schmelzer

Morah Yonit and Rabbi Yaakov Kirschbaum on the birth of a daughter

Shari (Flamholz) Goren (8th grade class of 1971) on the birth of a grandson to Tal and Chen Goren
David and Ayala Kohn and family on the loss of grandfather and great grandfather
Manny Mittelman

Justin and Devora Weprin and Larry Weprin on the loss of uncle Barton Weprin

David Shames (8th grade class of 1969) on the loss of mother Betty Shames
Rachel and Ben Berger, Beth and Daryl Binsky, Roman and Victoria Ilin, Yaffa Gewirtz and Josh Kopp for sponsoring the Staff Rosh Chodesh Adar I Lunch in February.

Larry and Robin Garvin, Beth and Daryl Binsky, Naomi Myers, Smadar and Steven Import, and Ari Berger and Naomi Brenner for sponsoring the Staff Rosh Chodesh Adar II Lunch in March.
Mar. 8: 6:13 pm
Mar. 15: 7:21 pm
Mar. 22: 7:28 pm
Mar. 29: 7:35 pm
Apr. 5: 7:42 pm
Apr. 12: 7:49 pm
Have a lifecycle event to share?  Opportunities to sponsor A Day of Learning are now available at CTA. For a $180 donation, you can make a donation, in honor, in memory, in appreciation, for a speedy recovery or in celebration of a person, a birthday or an event. To schedule a day, contact or .

The sponsorship will be listed in the CTA Weekly Communicator, the monthly CTA Dateline, posted on the monitor in the school lobby, and announced to the students. Thank you to the following sponsors:

● Ely Zofan in memory of Lauri Podell Zofan
● Avery, Gary, and Avalon Sunshine in honor of daughter and sister Billie’s 12th birthday
CTA accepts donations to our Annual Fund or Scholarship Fund throughout the year. We also accept Tribute Donations in memory of or in honor of loved ones. Donations can be made through the school office at 614-864-0299 or online by clicking  here .

To the Annual Fund
● Chad Silverstein in honor of the Leadership Team at CTA
● Yitzchak Gold in memory of Sonia G. Fesman
● Mr. & Mrs. Jeff Kaplan in memory of Thea and Pearson Press
● Josh and Amy Greenberg in memory of Mrs. Buster’s father and Chaya Katz’s father
● Gary Liebesman and Stacy Leeman in memory of Rachel Metz’s grandmother
● Mr. & Dr. Robert Kirschbaum in honor of Yitzchok Yisrael and Chana Nava’s Chumash Party

To the Scholarship Fund
●Paul and Karan Tanenbaum in memory of Dr. David Salczer, in memory Tova Hauser’s father, Grand
Golden, in memory of Ran Hay, in memory of Matt Goldish’s mother, and in memory of Rachel Metz’s
● Janice Schottenstein in honor of Karan Tanenbaum

If you have a CTA Tzedakah Box, don't forget to fill it and empty it often.  THE NEXT SCHEDULED DROP OFF DATE IS MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2019.  You can choose to send in a check with the amount of the contents or put the change and cash into an envelope or baggie and send in with your child. Amounts are counted towards your Give and Get and are a great addition to the donations the school receives. If you need a new or more Tzedakah boxes, contact Shari.

Senior Night: CTA Basketball Teams gave a special shout out to the Seniors for their perseverance, commitment and energy to the team. Special thank you to the coaches and to the parents for all they do to support their children. 
PTO Social Event at Middle West Spirits: Parents and some faculty enjoyed a night out seeing how the local distillery works. 
Pictured are fourth grade students are working on their free art drawings for Art to Remember. Art to Remember packets will go home with students in late February.
Keep Up With CTA Via Social Media
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Columbus Torah Academy is on Twitter. Follow us at : @ColumbusTorah ( ) and @NikkiMillerCTA ( )