Preschool story time online with Becky


Together We Begin The Redemption

These past few weeks have been some of those most difficult and beautiful weeks of my life. The long days making sure we are doing the best for our students, holding so much concern for others and the unknown have weighed on me in my waking hours and when I (barely) sleep. At the same time, I see we are stronger as a community than we have ever been. I have never been prouder of the work of our faculty and administration. I have never been more impressed with the resilience, creativity and grit of our students. I also can't thank our parents enough for how they have partnered with us and supported our work. 

In a live Zoom talk to educators this week, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in discussing what we are going through, said, "The second you share suffering you begin redemption." As we enter the holiday of Passover, the holiday of redemption, we will not only be remembering our exodus from Egypt, we will be living it. As we start the Passover Seder, we read the Haggadah and invite "all who are hungry to come and eat" and "all who are in need to come and join us." Why? Because my struggle is your struggle and your struggle is mine. 

I am so grateful for our entire community through this difficult time and I can't imagine being with anyone else through this "suffering" and, please G-d, the soon-to-come "redemption."

If there is one thing, a nearly impossible task, that I could point to that highlights the beauty of our community, it isn't something we have done these past few weeks, but something we chose to do moving forward. The decision for Akiba Atmosphere to stay open during break is a reflection of how we are all in this together. Thank you to the teachers and administration who are volunteering their time during their break to ensure there is no break from the so needed connection to each other. 

May this Passover be a global exodus from this pandemic for all humankind, and may G-d deliver us to the other side of this a better, kinder and stronger people.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!
Dr. Eliezer Jones
Head of School  
From the Day School
This is what online school from home looks like for sisters Nataniella (1st) and Elisabeth (5th).
It's an Emotional Roller Coaster for All of Us
by Miriam Kass, Principal
Each one of these Corona days feels like two. Each is its own emotional roller coaster. When we wake up in the morning and realize the nightmare is still real, we feel deflated. 
Later on, however, the teachers and I are refueled by the student and staff faces on Zoom, which remind us why this exhausting work is so necessary, important and appreciated. 

The daily silly memes and objectively bad dad jokes make us laugh out loud. The teddy bears in the windows around Hyde Park seem to be multiplying, and they cheer us all on on our daily walks. The regular parent and student emails of deep appreciation make us proud of all our efforts, and grateful that we are making a difference. (Did you see the wonderful public recognition our collective hard work received in the  Block Club Chicago article earlier this week?)

My own one-on-one student sessions give me glimpses into the inner lives of our students. Here are some excerpts just from one day this week.
  • "I hate this. I mean, no offense, I like that you're meeting with me, but I hate that we're not in school." 
  • "Yeah, I guess there's a silver lining. No sunburn. That's it." 
  •  "My dad's doing tele-medicine from home today, but he still has to go into the hospital some days. I get it, but I hate it." 
  • "I'm really, really upset about probably not being able to go to Israel or have color war or even graduation. I've been waiting for all of those things for 8 years!" (many 8th graders)
  • "I want to talk to my parents about how scared I am, but then they stop telling me stuff that's going on, and I also want to know what's going. And I can tell that they're worried, too. So, I don't talk to them too much."
  • "I know that I have less work than I would have if regular school was still happening, but it just feels like so much more. And I'm always so tired." 
  • "My grandma's health isn't so great and she lives with us. So we are being extra careful and just not going outside. At all." 
  • "Did you hear that a man from my shul died from COVID? I used to hang out with his kids on Shabbos. He was younger than my dad. Sometimes I'm not really thinking about anything else." 

Many of our students are on the same emotional roller coaster we are on. They are scared and sad, tired and preoccupied, confused and anxious. And they are children. Those moments with teachers and each other, on Zoom or on the phone, mean a great deal to them. With attention and care, they are distracted and they are brave; they are challenged, they are inspired and they are nurtured. We are grateful to our teachers for leading our students on this uncharted path and showing them as much empathy as possible. We know it's not always easy. 
Plans for Passover Break and Beyond
These next two weeks of Spring Break will provide time to catch our breath and celebrate Pesach with our families. And yet, this vacation is anything but what we had imagined it would be. There will be no trips, no large family Seders, no museum outings. We are all disappointed about that. And yet, there are many good things happening over break as well:
  • On Monday, April 6, 10:00 - 10:45 a.m., we will host our (optional) Model Seder for all grade school students on Dr. Jones's Zoom URL:
  • On Wednesday, April 8, 10:30 - 10:50 a.m., we will host a Burning of the Chametz (also optional) on Dr. Jones's Zoom URL:
  • The Annual Akiba-Schechter Reading Contest will be ongoing (April 3-June 1). Everything you need to know about it is HERE .
  • Our staff members have volunteered to offer optional Zoom programming for our families throughout the break. Click HERE for the latest menu of grade school options and check back over the weekend and next week as more may be added. Preschool and Kindergarten families should have already received an email from Carla about programming offered by staff and parents over break.
In addition, over the break, our staff will meet (on Zoom, of course) and continue strategizing for the remaining six weeks of the school year. The work has already begun. 
  • We've made note of what we had hoped to accomplish with our students in these remaining months of school, and we will continue to grieve those losses. 
  • We made the decision that the third term of the year for Middle School will be graded Pass/Fail with an emphasis on effort. We certainly still have high expectations of our students, but we cannot pretend that this is normal school. (We have already reached out to CPS to discuss the implications of this decision for our current 7th graders interested in applying to CPS schools. More on this at the forthcoming Parent Meeting on Zoom for 6th and 7th grade parents, date TBD.)
  • We will reassess our academic priorities with an eye to what is possible given our new format and these difficult times. We will lean in to the opportunities our small group and one-on-one sessions allow us to explore. We will further develop our relationships with our students and with one another so we can better innovate, create and thrive. 
  • We will work to have better answers to our students' daily questions: Will there be an Israel trip? How will we do Color War? Will we ever do the play? What will graduation look like? How will we celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut? And more.
  • We will continue to keep a close eye on the Corona Chesed Google form and continue to match up Akiba community members who can help with those who need help.
We are well aware that COVID-19 and the Governor's Order to Shelter in Place (extended through April 30) has affected us all. We extend special gratitude to the members of our Akiba family working in healthcare and first responder capacities (and their families!) for whom the challenges and strains are especially acute. We know that many within our Akiba family are struggling with emotional, professional, and/or financial stress. Please don't hesitate to reach out to Dr. Jones, Mrs. Waitzman, Carla, Miriam Friedman-Parks or me if we can be of any assistance over the break.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!
Akiba Atmosphere    
On Wednesday the Purple Room teachers presented a Passover Puppet Show via Zoom.
Purple Room and yoga teacher Kristine Greiber, with tech help from her son
Clement, has been recording yoga sessions for kids and their families.
Click for her Frog Family Challenge, just in time for Passover!
The Blue Room kids share their pyramids.
Shabbat celebration with Carla
Shabbat celebration with Carla
A sample of students' work from Mr. Salk's 1st/2nd grade: a food chain created by Stuart, and the Wow! activity created by Nataniella and Talia, completed by Coco.
Drawing Seder plates in Art class.
Akiba Atmosphere Thank You
A thank you video from our students
for Akiba Atmosphere
Researching Native American Tribes
Mr. Esse's 3rd/4th grade class has been learning about Native American tribes. Each student selected a tribe and has been researching it. Using the research, the children created Google Slideshows and have been sharing what they learned to their classmates online. 
Solje presents on the ancient Chinese civilization.

Studying Ancient Civilizations and Presenting on Zoom
Mr. Esse's 5th/6th History class has been studying different ancient civilizations. In partnerships, the students picked an ancient civilization to study. They learned about many aspects of that civilization, including government, geography, contributions, religion, writing, technology and others. After taking notes, the students made slideshows and presented to their classmates using Zoom. The class had its share of technical issues, but the students have been great about being patient and persevering. 
1st and 2nd graders have been learning about instruments in Music class with Mr. Castle.
Puzzlemania struck teachers and staff over the weekend!
Ms. Kass (upper left), Ms. Friedman-Parks and daugther Shira (upper right), Morah Rogan (lower left), Ms. Chipman (lower right)
Spotlight on...
USAID Deputy Director and Akiba Alumna Bonnie Click on How Her Work is Impacted by COVID-19
Bonnie Glick with the Sarajevo Haggadah (reprinted from the Jewish Insider)

Akiba-Schechter alumna Bonnie Glick is featured in the Jewish Insider this week, giving insights on how her education helped her forge her Foreign Service career and how the pandemic has changed her agency's focus:

8 Question for an 8th Grader
We continue our series of featuring an 8th grader in each issue of the Kibitzer. This time it is
Jed Marcus:

1. Since when have you been at Akiba? I have been at Akiba since 3rd grade.
2.  What neighborhood do you live in? I live in Skokie.
3.  What do you hope to accomplish in 8th grade? How is being an 8th grader different from your previous grades at Akiba? In 8th grade I hope to go to New York for Chidon HaTanach. I do not think 8th grade is different from any other grade.
4.  What is your favorite subject at Akiba and why? My favorite subject is math, I like numbers.
5.  What do you think is special about Akiba? What do you particularly like and why? My favorite part about Akiba is the conjoined grades. I think it is good to have older kids to be role models.
6.  If you have had your bat mitzvah or are preparing for it, what did you learn from it?I learned from my Bar Mitzvah how to organize my time well.
7.  When you're not at school or doing homework, what do you like to do? Some of my hobbies include baseball, violin, reading, and sometimes learning how to code.
8.  What do you want to be when you grow up? When I grow up I would like to be an engineer.
Our  Thursday, March 26, Day of Learning was dedicated anonymously f or the speedy recovery of  Zalman ben Rivka.

Our Thursday, April 2 Day of Learning w as dedicated in honor of Sholom Nuer and with thanks to all of his teachers and all the school staff b y his grandparents Judy and Izhak Livny.

Today's Day of Learning  was dedicated by Sherry Glick i n honor of Annabelle Glick's birthday.

Today's Day of Learning  was also dedicated by Ilene Foster i n honor and memory of 
Ivan Lippitz.
Mazal tov Judaics teacher Rabbi Meyerowitz and his family on the upcoming wedding of his son, for which he and his daughter traveled to Israel last week and are now in quarantine.
Kol HaKavod Jed Marcus (8th) who has qualified for the National Finals of the Chidon HaTanach. Way to go!

Preschool Summer Program
Sign Up is Open!


2020-21 School Calendar is Available!
View  here .

Dates to Remember
School has moved online and all events are cancelled until further notice.
Please keep an eye out for email notifications of special online events!

Monday, April 6 - Friday, April 17
Passover Break

Please Send Picture of your Children Learning Online!
Parents: Please email us more pictures of your kids doing online school at home to We want to use them in the yearbook!

April 3, 2020  
Volume 16, Issue 15
Candle Lighting: 6:59 p.m.
Parasha: Tzav
Affiliated with the Associated Talmud Torahs and supported by the Kehillah Jewish Education Fund