Friday, September 8, 2023   22 Elul, 5783

Dear Harkham GAON Families,

We are looking forward to socializing with you this Sunday at our Back to School event!  If you have not already RSVP’d, please do so here: RSVP Back to School Night.

In Judaism, education is considered a top priority. This week's Parsha tells us, “if the next generation is raised to serve in G-d's home, their parents will find a way to enter too.” When I am asked what kind of a school Harkham GAON Academy is, I remind myself that we are not just a school that promotes individualized learning opportunities or a fast track to a diploma. Harkham GAON Academy is a place where we participate in the success and continuity of Jewish education.  As Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks tells us, “Do not think it is enough to be able to say, my ancestors received the Torah from Moses. You must take it and make it new in every generation.” At HGA, our mission is to make both Jewish and secular education new for our students. 

To that end, we are beginning to settle in, and gradually looking ahead.  Next week, a few students will be afforded the opportunity to earn chesed hours by helping out at a local soup kitchen in preparation for Rosh Hashanah.  Our middle school enrichment period has begun. Our high school Hebrew class, in partnership with Santa Monica College, is underway.  We appreciate parents’ cooperation and support for this entirely unique opportunity we have been able to establish with SMC.  We may need signatures, payment of minor SMC fees, and your understanding that the class goes until 4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Finally, in November, we are looking forward to a whole school field trip to the Wallis Annenberg Theatre for a student matinee of “The Jewish Dog.”  Other plans still in the works are: lunchtime music sessions, a “women’s minyan,” counselor visits, and hot lunch deliveries

Steve Jobs used to say, “And one more thing…”  And I do love a Steve Jobs quote when the subject is cell phones!  The topic of cell phones in classrooms is a point of controversy and consternation for all schools. Since I’ve been working in schools since before the ubiquitousness of students carrying cell phones, I have personally witnessed myriad policies around phones, and what eventually becomes of those policies: they eventually fall apart.  I see two choices for us: a student responsibility-centered policy that is simple: cell phones hidden throughout the day, unfettered use at lunchtime, and bring them along to PE (for emergency purposes), as long as classroom rules are followed.  Yet, we find ourselves plagued already by cell phone abuse.  The alternative would be a strict policy that - guaranteed - makes nobody happy.

Therefore, at this juncture, I would like to take a quick  Survey* regarding the phones.  Please discuss this with your children and other family members, and we’ll let you know the outcome of the survey in my next Friday message. And one more form… we have created a Parent Concern Form*, which can be found among the other useful forms on our website. Please use this to voice concerns, questions, feedback or anything else; entries on this form will be shared with the members of our board. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Ruth Morris


Harkham GAON Academy

*click on the blue words and it will take you to the survey and to the form.