Monthly Dateline Newsletter
September 2017/Elul 5777
Columbus Torah Academy Monthly Dateline
Message from Head of School by Rabbi Avrohom Drandoff
Rav Kalonymos Kalmish Shapira, the Rebbe of Piaseczna, writes in his magna opus, Chovas HaTalmidim (The Students’ Obligation) in an essay entitled “A Discussion with Teachers and Parents” that when the word “Chinuch” is used in the context of educating children, “it means to nurture the inherent character and talents that lay dormant within the child or only partially realized, and to develop them.” Rav Shapira goes on to explain, that educating children is a greater and more dynamic process than merely about informing the child of the “to do’s” or “do not do’s”, nor is it simply about pilling lots of information into their brains or teaching them good habits. Educating children starts with the belief that every child has the necessary qualities, talents and inner beauty to develop into living a life that is filled with meaning and success.    

As much as we are delighted that CTA has increased our enrollment over the last few years, we are motivated to continue to push forward to expand our base. This summer, CTA professional leadership embarked on a process to develop “The CTA Way” for the purpose of further advancing our academic offerings and to put our own unique stamp on education. The CTA Way is our commitment to prepare our students for a life of meaning and success. It represents our belief that all students are capable of identifying their passions, talents and the areas where they can accelerate and achieve great success in life. It is our goal to understand how each of our students learn and what they are passionate about in order to meet them where they are . Read More
Columbus Torah Academy will hold its annual Scholarship Dinner on Sunday, December 10. The evening will be a celebration of the school and will raise money for the Scholarship Fund which provides tuition assistance to families and ensures that all Jewish families can provide their children with a Jewish education.

Co-chairs, Beth Binsky, Stacy Leeman and Michelle Lessnick, have begun organizing the committee and planning a successful fundraising evening in celebration of the school which will include a program highlighting special honorees, an auction and a delicious dinner.

Honorees include Alan Levine, an alumni parent, whose three daughters attended CTA. Mr. Levine commented, "I am touched to be selected as an honoree by CTA for my commitment and support for Jewish education. This honor is a reflection of my dear parents, Norman and Tillie Levine's legacy and their love of Jewish life and learning that they instilled in me and my brother Mark."

The evening will also include an appreciation to the Columbus Jewish Foundation which has steadfastly worked to promote and support Jewish education and has been a magnificent partner with CTA over the years. Since 1985, CTA's endowment and a host of named funds have been held at the Columbus Jewish Foundation and the agency has provided the school with generous grant support.

Special teacher recognition will be presented to Steve Guinan. CTA is fortunate that Mr. Guinan, an Upper School English Language, Social Studies teacher and Film Studies instructor for the past 20 years, has shared his talents and commitment to education with colleagues and the more than 450 students at CTA who have taken the path best traveled in his classrooms.

Invitations are forthcoming, but to confirm receipt of an invitation or to participate in the Tribute Journal, contact or 614-864-0299, ext 218.

Parents have an opportunity to get involved and be leaders to help raise money through the Scholarship Dinner. Every dollar raised through ad book solicitations can be applied to family Give & Get commit- ments. To get involved, contact Shari Herszage at
Rabbi Zecharia Weitz, Upper School Judaic Studies Coordinator
Best Year Ever
To make sure the 5777-78 school year will, with G-d’s help, be the best yet, Upper School Judaic Studies has significantly upgraded two of our flagship programs.

Interschool IronMench! This year will have substantially more healthy competition as we face off with up to four other schools for the Ironmench Tournament! In order to gear up for this grand event, we’ve already begun regular review of the comprehensive Yiddiot Klalliot (Jewish literacy facts). Details to come!

“Middot Lab” - Building off of last year’s program, we’ve put a lot of effort into more deeply integrating Middot into our classroom curriculum. This year, the US will be focusing on one Midda per quarter. Each of the year’s four Middot were carefully chosen based on the latent themes in the text we are covering in our classes. Hands-on workshops and experiential activities that we will have throughout the year will facilitate a deeper appreciation of each midda.

K’Tiva v’Chatima Tova - A Good & Sweet Year!
We excitedly started off the beginning of the school year bringing in the month of Elul. The students recognize this daily by hearing the shofar and seeing the holiday decorations throughout the hallways and classrooms. There is a beautiful symphony of shofars being blown by the students each day as they try out their skills. In addition, the students are learning the meaning of the three different shofar sounds.
We are looking forward to the Shofar Factory coming to our school where the students will learn all about how to make a kosher shofar, which types of shofarot we use for Rosh Hashanah, and a “hands on” experience seeing an exhibit of many different kinds of shofrot. Read More
By Dror Karavani, Lower School School Judaic Studies Coordinator
Shirly Benatar, Hebrew Language Department Chair
We are excited to welcome new faculty members Oded and Tehilla Karavani, who just moved to Columbus from Israel, although they are practically family here already. They join returning Hebrew staff Mordechai and Ester Bar Asher, our Hebrew Sh’lichim, Malca Makias and Eva Chaykin. It is my pleasure to work with this entire team!

At the very beginning of the year, students in Lower School and Upper School spent the first days of classes with introductions to: each other, class rules and learning habits, new books, and their new teachers. Many classes reflected on summer vacation. Our students used their writing skills to reflect on an experience they had during the summer and they wrote Hebrew sentences or paragraphs describing one fun thing they did this past summer vacation. Those reflections are displayed on cards decorating our bulletin board in the hallway!

In addition to regular Hebrew language lessons, the Hebrew department coordinated a school-wide project,“ חלום של ביקור dreaming to visit ”.  We learned about the upcoming historical birthday for the State of Israel – 70 years! Our students explored Israel’s map via technology and video and then had to pick the place in Israel which they dream of visiting. Each student wrote the name of the place on a colorful note and placed it in a tube. Finally, we formed a collage of all the tubes with their wishes, in the shape of 70.May we all be blessed with achieving our dreams and visiting Eretz HaKodesh ! ארץ הקודש Read More

10 th and 11 th graders are participating in a special program funded by Better Together which joins CTA students with senior citizen members of Project Ariel, a group from Jewish Family Services. The students traveled to the Illinois Holocaust Museum in late August to learn about interacting with their new Project Ariel friends. Following is a reflection from CTA 11 th grader, Hannah Wolfson. The students will be documenting their experiences on their website: 

The Illinois Holocaust Museum left me with one piercing question; are you a bystander or an up-stander?

On August 27, the tenth and eleventh graders went on a two-day trip to Chicago, Illinois to visit the Holocaust museum and get trained on how to appropriately speak to and interview the survivors in our community during our year-long program called Better Together. Not only was this an eye-opening experience, but it also generated in me a deep connection to the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust and I gained an understanding of the lives of the Jews at the time. They weren't treated like human beings. They lived every day of their lives asking if it would be their last.

Although the museum is full of real artifacts and photos from that time, that's not what hit me. What hit me was walking into a real train boxcar that was used to transport Jews to the concentration camps. The boxcar was wooden, cold, dark and had a bad smell to it. I could sense the fear of the Jews approaching death. I could hear the cries of the children. I felt as though I was in there with hundreds of other terrified Jews. They were stuck in boxcars just like the one I saw for days with no bathroom, no food or water, treated like animals. Innocent people lost their lives just because of their religion. Hitler solely identified them as "Jews," but they were much more than that. They were human beings who had loved ones and hopes and dreams. Read More
Mrs. Miller and the Lower School Education Team established student expectations and the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Systems (PBIS) over the summer during professional development workshops and rolled out the new system to students at the beginning of the school year which practice workshops in common areas throughout the building. PBIS is based on our 4 Middot--honesty, respect, patience, and friendship. Grade levels have been earning Middot Money and Lion Notes to celebrate students doing the right thing in our common areas. Every morning during morning announcements, students are leading the Pledge of Allegiance over the loudspeaker and Mrs. Miller is announcing 3 student Lion Notes and awarding prizes in recognition of positive actions in our school community. PBIS is setting the tone for a positive and supportive culture which will encourage social, emotional and academic success for every child. This method helps to build student leaders and effective communication skills. 
Reflecting on what traits bring our graduates to a life of meaning and success, Upper School teachers, led by Mrs. Delman and Steve Guinan, worked with Rabbi Drandoff on a list of characteristics to engender in our students. At the top of the list were the skills of Speaking and Listening. No matter a person's path in life, good communication skills make possible healthy relationships and satisfying professional lives. In every single subject, teachers have expectations for students regarding listening to their peers, listening to directions, speaking respectfully and speaking in a way that encourages others. Upper School staff will be focusing on these skills this year and will continually revisit best practices with teaching our students these critical skills.
Welcome back to school! I hope everyone is off to a good start. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. I'm Beth Binsky, the new PTO chair. I am looking forward to meeting you. I have three children in the lower school in 5th, 3rd and 1st and my husband, Daryl is an alumni.

This year, we are looking for parents to participate on several committees that will help support our school. Please see this document to learn about the different committees and let me know how you want to be involved. I am looking for ideas as well as parents who are willing to run with their ideas. I'd love to hear from you! Thanks so much in advance and please either email me or .


Still wondering where to get a list of CTA families? Planning a birthday party or b’nai mitzvah? Searching for the name of a high school student to babysit? Look no further than the CTA PTO Directory. You don’t have one? Make sure to sign up for PTO if you haven't already done so as it is a perk of membership. PTO Dues are $25 yearly, $210 Lifetime Member (that’s forever!). Stay connected. You will still get a directory even after the kids graduate! For more info, go to
While most of us left the CTA grounds for summer there was a lot of activity happening underground! This summer, a few volunteer students came out to harvest turnips and beets in June. Students delighted in pulling the vibrant reddish purple beets and identified the bright red ripe turnips peaking out of the soil. These vegetables grew in our newest garden bed which was built by the spring club on our “garden island” by the greenhouse. This location gets plenty of sun all year round and we have had good success in that location. Two grocery bags of produce were delivered to Jewish Family Service the next day and were enjoyed by their clients. Read More
Thanks to the $97,000 received from an Ohio Emergency Management Safety and Security Grant, this summer was a particularly busy time for safety and security upgrades that were seen right away on the first day of school.

Families and visitors to the school will immediately notice the bollards by the front sidewalk which provide extra protection from vehicles approaching the building. The new Front Desk configuration offers a better view of the entryway as well as other improvements. Not seen are the upgrades to the lock systems and IT systems throughout the building for great security monitoring. Congratulations, again, to Norm Leist on his efforts to secure the grant and make the upgrades. Pictures are some of the improvements.

Upper School students, led by 12 th grader, Rachel Wolf, joined together to say tehillim for the families affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and took on an initiative to help out. They are encouraging the CTA community to show their support by donating to a student led fundraiser in Houston.

Robert M. Beren Academy is a K-12 modern Orthodox school in Houston and while the school itself was not damaged, some of the Beren families live in neighborhoods that were among the hardest hit.

Beren Academy's student group M.A.D has been helping in anyway they can and has set up a fundraising link to provide funds to families who need it. All donations will go directly to helping families get back on their feet. To contribute, go to the website: or use the button. Read More
The third graders took a trip to visit Nurse Chris in the nurse’s station to better find out what happens there. The students learned about ways to keep themselves healthy and when to and not to go to the nurse. They learned about the four B's (Burn, Blood, and Barf) to help them get a clear understanding when it's appropriate to visit the nurse.  
Click on images to see list of Mazel Tov and Condolence recognition.
Make submissions to
 So many great pictures from the first day of school and you can view them all here.   Love the family pictures!
SOLAR ECLIPSE VIEWING PARTY– Thanks for spending your Solar Eclipse Day with us and for protecting your eyes.
FACULTY-STUDENT SOFTBALL:  Upper School students spent the first Friday of the school year engaged in friendly competition between students and teachers right out on the softball field.
SENIOR & KINDERGARTEN BUDDIES – Match ups on the first day of school and the the buddies will get together later this month for an apple-picking trip!
Sept. 8, 7:33 pm
Sept. 15, 7:21 pm
Sept. 22, 7:09 pm
Sept. 29, 6:58 pm
Oct. 6, 6:47 pm
Oct. 13, 6:36 pm
Oct. 20, 6:26 pm
Oct. 27, 6:16 pm
Consider sponsoring  a Day of Learning  in memory or honor of a loved one or to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, b'nai mitzvah or other life cycle event. A Day of Learning is a $180 donation and dedications are listed in both the CTA Weekly Communicator and the monthly CTA Dateline.

To choose your Day of Learning, contact Shari at
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 .

Donations are listed in our monthly CTA Dateline. Check  here  to see our most recent issue