January 5, 2017
Tevet 7, 5777
Good Things Happen Every Day 
at  The Silver Academy
Rachel Zilbering, Principal

Happy new year, everyone!  We are back at school after our winter break, which was a great time to rest and rejuvenate.  This year's break was unique in that the entirety of Chanukah fell during this time.  Although we didn't formally celebrate Chanukah in school, I saw many of our students at community celebrations and celebrations with family and friends. 

Looking at our calendar for 2017, I have 2 important events to point out.  On Monday, January 16, we are hosting our annual Mitzvah Day in conjunction with Bring a Friend to School Day.  If you know of a school aged child who would like to take a test run of the school, please see the flyer below and contact the school asap!

Also, please save the date for our annual Open House and Student Showcase on Thursday, February 9th, at 7:00 pm. All current parents, prospective parents, community members and friends are welcome to come check out our school.  Teachers and students will be on hand to show some of their work and answer any questions. 

Shabbat shalom. 


Inside the Classroom

Special Studies - French
Mrs. Lillian Rappaport

Nous avons fini notre classe de francais en decembre. The time seemed to fly as we reviewed, among other things, French greetings and numbers.  French is such a beautiful language and the students enjoyed practicing pronouncing French words and phrases.We finished our French unit in December and our culminating activity was a "petit dejeuner francais"-- a French breakfast.  Students prepared "omelettes avec fromage" (cheese omelettes) et ils ont mange (they ate) baguettes avec du buerre et de la confiture (French bread with butter and jam)  A good time was had by all!  

For the next several months, as the students begin to work on essays for submission to the Schwab Holocaust Essay Contest, we will learn about the Holocaust and its lessons.  In addition to learning about the history of European Jewry, their lives, their culture, and what was important to them, we also discuss what we do when we see discrimination, intolerance, and evil.  One of the most important lessons to be learned from studying the Shoah is to not be a bystander....to speak up and take a stand when we witness wrongdoings.

Later in the spring, la clase de espanol will begin.  

Lillian Rappaport

Middle School Judaics
Rabbi Yosef Gewirtz

Middle School/ Fifth Grade Tefillah

Few would argue that prayer can and should be an enjoyable and meaningful experience.  But it often isn't, neither for adults nor children.  A groundbreaking seminar with national and cross denominational representation, and sponsored by PARDES was held during the past two summers at the Pearlstone Retreat Center near Baltimore to address this challenge.  Rabbi Gewirtz participated in the first seminar and Mr. Rosenberg participated last summer.  The following is an update on the development of the Middle School/ Fifth Grade Tefillah program with Rabbi Gewirtz.

The revamped program was named "Davening Lab".  So that students could develop a personal connection with the prayers, "after davening" projects are designed to help them discover how the prayers express their own thoughts and feelings.  Time is reserved for the students to share and discuss their ideas with the group.  Last year, the first few brachot of the "Amida" were discussed.  This year, the focus has been primarily on more "global" issues connected to tefillah.  On certain days, individual "quiet" davening replaces the standard group choral davening to give students experience in davening privately.  Dr. Holly Engelman, president of our board and mother of two Middle School students, now leads the weekly girls' tefillah group that Mrs. Layala Males inaugurated last year. Allowing the students a gender specific prayer environment, gives the boys and girls an opportunity to participate in a tefilah experience tailored for them and to explore topics that are specifically relevant to their needs. Students are also encouraged and required to periodically lead the tefilot in order to learn that important skill. 


D'var Torah
by Rabbi Yosef Gewirtz

This D'var Torah is not about this week's parsha, VaYigash.  It is a thought about the importance of communication.  But it is related to Chanukah, which just ended, and to the story of Joseph and his brothers, which concludes with this week's parsha.

Although lighting the Chanukah lights is a rabbinic mitzvah, legislated by the sages of the Sanhedrin (Jewish supreme court) to commemorate the Chanukah miracles, the blessing said before lighting appears to consider the lighting the fulfillment of a Torah based mitzvah.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָ-י אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר חֲנֻכָּה
Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe , who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light .

Miamonides explains that because the Torah (Devarim 17:11) directs us to follow Sanhedric legislation, G-d does command us to light the Chanukah light and to fulfill every other rabbinic mitzvah. The blessing makes sense.

However, there is a "Chanukah lighting" whose blessing is not explained by this idea.  There is a custom (Minhag) to light the Chanukiah (Chanukah Menorah) in the synagogue in the evening, between the afternoon and evening services (Mincha and Maariv).  Although this ritual was not legislated, it was introduced by the people themselves and is practiced by the Jewish people as a way to "publicize the miracle" in a most evocative setting:  the synagogue; the institution most like the Temple where the miracle took place.  Despite its status as a custom, the blessing is said!  Why would we thank G-d for the mitzvah of Chanukah lighting when just performing its "custom" form?

Rabbi Yaacov Emden (Mor Uk'tziah #672) suggests that although a blessing is usually merely an adjunct to a mitzvah, (and the mitzvah is considered fulfilled even were blessing not said) the blessing before the Chanukah lights is an integral part of its mitzvah.  The blessing is what gives the candle lighting its significance.  The blessing's function is to interpret the act as a commemoration of a miracle and not just illumination. Thanking G-d for the mitzvah of lighting before the synagogue lighting is what communicates its message.  Lighting candles is meaningless without the blessing clarifying its message. (Though I wonder if Rabbi Emden would say the same when a Chanukiah is used rather than plain candles or cups of oil.)

The sale of Joseph by his brothers and all the subsequent suffering and pain could have been prevented had the entire family been more communicative.  Had Joseph's brothers expressed their feelings to their father, had Joseph communicated his true intentions to his brothers, had Reuben openly expressed his true intentions, the story could have ended more happily and much sooner.

Sometimes we think that our good intentions are clear, when they may be clear only to us.  Very rarely are the overt expressions of sincere people destructive.  There are also situations that require not telling the whole truth.  But when in doubt, it's usually better to err on the side of clear and tactful communication.  Even the Chanukah lights are silent without clear verbal communication.

Catching up with Classmates
David Leopold
Class of 1979
After nine years at the Yeshiva, I went to Susquehanna High School and then the University of Pittsburgh. With a degree in theater history and administration I thought I would follow my twin brother John out west and run a small theater company in the Bay Area. But as with so many things, life intervened. A cancelled meeting in Bucks County, led me to visit with my great Aunt Rae Solowey, whose husband, Ben, was an internationally renowned painter. They had created a paradise for themselves and his art on a 34 acre farm in a little village in Bucks County.

Rae's sister  was Esther Yaverbaum, (my grandmother) . Esther's husband, Irving,  (my grandfather),  had helped to found the Yeshiva with his longtime friend Rabbi Silver.  Esther was a force of nature unto herself, and she was delighted when I started to visit my Aunt Rae. Long story short, Rae was looking for someone to take on the farm and keep it open for future generations to enjoy. Although reluctant at first, I did agree, and 25 years ago, we started presenting regular exhibitions of Ben Solowey's work and his contemporaries in Ben's remarkable studio on the property. My research on Ben lead to his celebrated "Theater Portraits", charcoal drawings from life of performers on Broadway, opera, film and dance that appeared in the New York Times and the Herald Tribune. I noticed that often Ben's drawings appeared alongside the work of Al Hirschfeld. I decided to write to Hirschfeld to see if he had any recollections of Ben, which led to an invitation to visit with him at his home and studio in New York.

Soon I found myself working as his personal archivist, visiting him at least once a week in his studio for 13 years. When he died in 2003, I was asked to work for the new non-profit foundation created in his name, and I worked for the next 12 years alongside his wife, Louise. I am now the Al Hirschfeld Foundation's Creative Director. In the last 25 years, I have curated a number of exhibitions on Hirschfeld's work, written two books and a number of articles on different aspects of his work. I have also continued to organize exhibitions and write books on a wide variety of artists including well known figures such as Irving Berlin and the Berenstain Bears, as well as many under-appreciated artists for museums around the country and in Europe.

I now live on the Solowey farm in Bucks County and go to New York once a week for work. I was fortunate to attend the Yeshiva when Rabbi Silver was a living breathing part of what it was about, and the teachers at that time were a group of interesting individuals who poured their heart and soul into our education. Elkie Koplovitz, who taught both second and seventh grades, was a favorite as was her sister, Pearl Hoffman, who taught 5th grade. Rabbi Stein, Rabbi Goldberg and Mar Ghadsi were instrumental in my Jewish education. It seemed like such a small community in the 1970's when I went to the Yeshiva, yet we lived in a Jewish world. We walked to school (I was even a member of the school safety patrol), and there were so many sukkahs to visit right in the neighborhood. I always felt that my Yeshiva education really gave me a leg up when I entered the realm of public schools, and the sense of community has remained a vital part of my life ever since.

Recent Portrait Drawing of David Leopold - © Paul DuSold

© The Al Hirschfeld Foundation www.AlHirschfeldFoundation.org 

Who do you recognize?
7th Grade - 1978

Do you love hearing what's going on with friends and classmates from your past years here at The Silver Academy?
If you are interested in sharing "your story", recent engagement, wedding, baby, graduation, new jobs, or other news, please email Shari Dym at sdym@silveracademypa.org.

School Notes and Reminders

JCC HBG Basketball

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Monday, January 16th   -   8:45 am-12:30 pm
  • Please join The Silver Academy on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day for a morning of fun, mitzvot, and community service.
  • We will also host our third annual hair-donating ceremony for Pantene Pro V Beautiful Lengths. Please consider donating your hair if you have 8 inches to spare!
  • To RSVP or if you are interested in donating hair, please contact Adam Grobman at agrobman@silveracademypa.org or 717-238-8775.

Click Here for More Information 

Click Here for Friend Permission Slip




Challah With a Twist 
Offers Weekly Order and Delivery To Students and Teachers
  • Order your challah by Thursday at this website:  challahwithatwist.com. It will be delivered to school on Friday.
  • Send check to school, payable to Challah with a Twist , or use  .
"Challah With a Twist", (a.k.a. Varda Challah), has been providing home baked challah for the Harrisburg community for over 20 years.
Varda Gewirtz, 717-919-1358

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Jan 6, 2:00 pm
Kabbalat Shabbat

Jan 16, 8:45-12:30
Mitzvah Day/Bring a Friend to School Day

Jan 18, 6:45 pm
Science Fair

Feb 9, 7:00-8:00 pm
Open House and Student Showcase
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Clip  BoxTops 4 Education symbols on General Mills, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Nestle Juicy Juice, Progresso soups and others. Each is worth 10¢ and can be redeemed by The Silver Academy for cash! Please visit the  Box Tops 4 Education  website for more details.

Giant Gift Cards
Purchase these dollar for dollar in the school's office, and then spend them the same as cash. The Silver Academy earns 5% - that's $50 earned for every $1,000 sold!  You may also purchase by calling Susan at 717-608-0190.

This is how it works...Download the free Shoparoo App on your phone and use the code VuG13074. You will then complete a profile and pick The Rabbi David L. Silver Yeshiva Academy. Then after you complete a shopping trip, take a picture of the receipt using the camera on your phone with the app open. It is that easy! Once a year, Shoparoo sends the school a check from the percentages!