The Monthly Roar, April 11, 2014

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Letter From the Head of School

Dear Families,

I am taking the liberty of fast forwarding through our Jewish holiday schedule. I am bypassing Pesach and moving on to Shavuot, the holiday celebrating the Israelites receiving the Torah. Mirroring the Jewish people receiving a moral code, the Ten Commandments, AJA was recently presented with a governmental code. This was bestowed not by God but by the fire marshal.

When everyone returns to school after the Passover break we will face a new reality. Our hallways and classrooms will lack the usual amount of student material and colorful educational materials regularly on display. The fire marshal will begin to enforce the international fire code which states that only 20% of a hallway wall and ceiling may be covered with combustibles. This figure is dropped to 10% for classrooms. Because AJA is a “shared facility” we may be subject to even greater restriction.

Over the coming summer months, we hope to face and overcome the challenge of restoring our classrooms and hallways to their previous artistic glory while still obeying all fire code regulations. We teach our children to never shy away from a challenge. Consequently, we are viewing this disruption as a unique opportunity to exercise both creativity and innovation.

Dayenu…enough already.

Shabbat shalom and Hag Semach to all!

Cheryl Hersh

Counselor Corner – More on community and the support of the No Place For Hate (NPFH) initiative

As a part of the NPFH initiative, which is sponsored by the ADL, the students at AJA have participated in many activities throughout the year that intentionally build community. On Friday, March 14, the primary grades participated in a Mix it Up lunch. Mix it Up lunch is a time where students sit with someone new and engage in positive conversations. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet new friends. Activities like this, and others where K-8th grades come together and build community, actually promotes a stronger learning environment. The building of relationships, inclusion and a sense of belonging has been proven to increase a student’s academic ability to learn. Here at AJA, we want all students to be in an environment that promotes learning.

Would you join us, your child and the staff at AJA, by agreeing to make our campus a safe place to learn by going to the AJA Face Book page and “liking” the Resolution of Respect – AJA Facebook. By agreeing with this resolution you are joining us in our promise to treat people fairly, be kind to everyone, even when they are different and work together to be a school where there is No Place for Hate.

Thank you for supporting AJA.

Janai - K and 1st boys and girls

Janai - 3rd and 4th Grade Girls


Janai Bryan

School Counselor

Mark Your Calendars

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 – Tuesday, April 22nd AJA is closed for Passover. The office will be open Monday April 14th, Thursday April 17th and Friday April 18th.
  • Wednesday, April 23rd AJA Professional Development – school is closed.
  • Thursday, April 24, 2014 AJA is back in session.
  • The JCC will be running a Yom Kef (Fun Day) Program – Monday 4/14, Thursday 4/17, Friday 4/18 and Wednesday 4/23
    7:30am-6:00pm, Lunch and snacks will be provided and will be kosher for Passover. The cost per day is $50 JCC members/$65 nonmembers. If interested, contact Jessica Ochs.

Future Important Dates

  • Sunday, May 4, 2014 – Sunday, May 11, 2014 Back by popular demand, this year’s Palette of Young Artists Exhibit is returning to the Texas State Capitol! The exhibit will feature work by all AJA art students. It opens Sunday, May 4th and ends Sunday, May 11th. Please join us Sunday, May 4th for a school wide picnic on the capitol grounds 12-3PM.

Grey Bush

  • Thursday, May 8, 2014 6PM – 7PM AJA Music Showcase Featuring: AJA Music Students Kindergarten – 5th Grades. Taking place at the JCC Community Hall.


  • Friday, May 9, 2014 – Portfolio Day – Please sign up for your child’s presentation time and consider being a guest panelist. If interested, contact Cecelia Stewart.
  • Monday, May 5, 2014 – Friday, May 9, 2014 Book Fair – The 2nd Book Fair of the year will be taking place in the Library with books from Book People. Please come support an Austin independent business. Book People is generously giving 20% of the net sales back to AJA in cash. More detailed information will be sent out but please stop by, support AJA and get some great literature for your children. The Book Fair will also be open Friday, May 9th during Portfolio Day.

Help us Pave the Way

Our alumni are getting involved in helping AJA Pave the Way to our Science and Innovation Center! Our grandparents and grandfriends are getting involved! Our parents are helping out! Thank you to all our friends NEAR and FAR who have participated so far in the Pave the Way Project. We have a had great response, and were scheduled to wrap up today. But, several people have asked us to extend the deadline until after Passover break. There is still time to order. Your brick will be visible for generations to come.

If you would like to participate, please do so soon! You can also easily and quickly order online through the link below Polar Engraving.

There is more information below on brick sizes and pricing. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the AJA development director at 512-735-8374 or Sarah Craemer.

Preview- AJA Class of 2012

Melanie Pave the Way

Congratulations, Condolences and Tributes

Congratulations to Aytahn Ben-Avi who placed 4th in Materials and Bio-Engineering at the 2014 ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair.

2014 ExxonMobil Science and Engineering Fair

Our condolences to AJA Counselor Janai Bryan on the recent death of her mother.

  • Cheryl Hersh made a donation in memory of Janai Bryan’s mother.
  • Myrna Glikman made a donation of a library book in memory of Janai Bryan’s mother.

A donation was made in honor of Aunt Natalie’s 90th Birthday from The Austin Lippmans.

Cheryl Hersh made a donation in honor of Brooke Silverstein and Kendall Miller on their b’nai mitzvah.

A library book was donated in honor of Briella Lippman’s birthday.

Library - Briella

What’s Happening at AJA?

  • Austin Jewish Film Festival AJA sponsored a movie Igor and the Cranes’ Journey. Look at the lovely AJA display of students cranes.

Cranes Installation cropped

The Kindergarten classes, led by Alisa Lerner, put on a heartwarming performance during Kabbalat Shabbat. The program was centered around Israel and Hayim Nahman Bialik, an Israeli poet. The children recited some of his poetry and sang songs. Learning to look through eyes of a poet was the goal of this particular performance. It was truly so precious to hear them sing, flap their wings, and look so charming in their crisp white shirts.

photo 1

AJA Buddies

1st and 5th grade buddies had a building challenge! Each group was given marshmallows, toothpicks, and popsicle sticks. They were to build something with the materials they were given. Mrs. Greg and Mrs. Hidalgo judged which building was the most creative, which was the sturdiest, and which was the tallest!

Check our creative hard workers.




5th Graders also shared their knowledge of the Haggadah with their first grade buddies in our windy but fabulous outdoor classroom. We even had passersby stop to hear their singing.

Buddies #4

Buddies #2

Buddies #3

Buddies #1

Kindergarten and 4th grade – The kinder kids proudly shared their dinosaur stories and dino dioramas. Afterwards, they went outside and helped measure the lengths of different dinosaurs. Oh, the memories!


Caleb helps his buddies measure an Allosaurus.
Caleb helps his buddies measure an Allosaurus.

Click here to see the 2nd graders perform a video about A Bee’s Life Cycle.

Click here to see some great dancing to Happy.

Great job AJA track team. The athletes competed in a track meet with 15 other schools from all over Austin.

  • Lue Coplin – 6th place 400 meter
  • Aytahn Ben-Avi – 6th place softball throw
  • Kendall Miller – 6th place shot put
  • Emily Kolodney- 7th place shot put

AJA Track Team

Field Trips

4th Grade spent a day in San Antonio and had a blast! The children walked away with a stronger understanding of Spanish Texas.

Defenders of the Alamo! Defenders of the Alamo!

4th grade in front of the Alamo Memorial statue. 4th grade in front of the Alamo Memorial statue.

Middle school students took a trip to the beautiful West Cave Preserve, close to Hamilton Pool. The students hiked in a savannah habitat, observing species diversity, then compared the data collected to a riparian area along the creek. They’ve been exploring both taxonomy and evolution in science class, and the staff did a wonderful job of weaving in geology, diversity, and adaptation into these topics.

Highlights included exploring a cave behind a waterfall and listening to the sounds of water falling, going inside of a 25,000 year old cave, touching a “dead” stalagmite, seeing snakes, lizards, and butterflies, smelling a sweetgum leaf, seeing freshly blooming columbine flowers, and just enjoying the beauty of the majestic cypress trees and crystal clear stream.

Westcase Preserve #4

Westcase Preserve #3

Westcase Preserve #1

Westcase Preserve #2

Special Events at AJA


Each month, the 4th grade children look forward to meeting their senior pen pals for a little noshing and schmoozing! During their time together, the children interview their buddies, collecting life stories in order to compose a pen pal biography. The biographies will be shared with the buddies and parents during an Ice Cream Social on Tuesday, May 27 at 2:00.

Caleb and Ally are learning to knit during our lunches.
Caleb and Ally are learning to knit during our lunches.

Support AJA

Scrip is an essential part of the AJA’s fundraising program and a very easy way for our parents to do their part in supporting our wonderful school. Scrip cards are purchased at face value and Austin Jewish Academy receives a rebate from the vendor.

Scrip cards can be purchased daily in the AJA office. You can also, go online to to purchase scrip from hundreds of participating vendors. Using ScripNow!â„¢ is a great and easy way to purchase your Scrip, right from home! Once your account is set up, following the instructions on the website, you can just purchase Scrip and print out the codes or use them online to make your purchases. An easy way to do your shopping and help our school at the same time! You can even send your child with a completed Scrip Order Form or fill out an Authorization Agreement and have scrip cards pre-authorized and sent to your home.

Want to learn more about scrip? Contact the Advancement office at 512-735-8374 or send an email to Sarah Craemer.

Library Book Donation

Recognize an event, milestone or someone special by purchasing a book from the Library wish list. A book plate will be placed in the donated book. The student you are honoring will be able to choose from the newly purchases collection (not yet received). He/she will be the first to check the book out and it will be presented at Kabbalat Shabbat. Alternatively an acknowledgement letter will be sent to any non-student who is being honored.
Want to learn more? Contact the front office at 512-735-8350 or e-mail Myrna Glikman.

Alumni News

Thank you, Rachel Sher and Shayna Goldblatt for donating a brick in honor of the first graduating class of AJA in 2002.

Shayna G

Rachel Sher

What’s Happening in the Community?

  • National Essay Contest for High School Students. As part of The Story of the Jews series that recently aired, an essay contest has been launched which is open for grades 9-11, ages 13-18. All entries must be submitted by June 13, 2014 to PBS essay contest.
  • Camp Young Judaea is accepting registration for summer camp for children entering Grades 2-9. For further information click here Camp Young Judaea.
  • The Austin Jewish Business Network (AJBN) will be hosting a Break the Passover Fast Happy Hour at Blackfinn Ameripub 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin, TX 78758 on April 22nd, 2014 6:30-8:30 pm to celebrate the end of Passover and enjoy some social time with one another. To RSVP and find out more about the group click here Jewish Business Network.
  • Anne Frank: A History for Today at the Georgetown Public Library – opened through May 4th, 2014.
  • Yom Hashoah Commemoration: Never Forget Monday, April 28 7PM at Congregation Agudas Achim sanctuary. For more information call 512-735-8008 or e-mail Dana Epstein.
  • Yom Hashoah 24-Hour Reading of the Names Sunday, April 27-Monday, April 28 – beginning at 5PM at Texas Hillel – 2015 San Antonio St. For more information call 512-476-0125.
  • Yom HaZikaron Commemoration for Israel’s Fallen Sunday, May 4 7PM at Temple Beth Shalom on the JCC Campus. For more information call 512-735-8030 or e-mail Aliza Orent.
  • Sifriyat Pijama B’America – Hebrew Story Hour event will be on Monday, May 12th at 5pm in the AJA library. It is for children 3 to 6 years old from Hebrew speaking families.


Please join us – Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend Kabbalat Shabbat on Fridays from 8:00-8:30am. We would also like to encourage all students to wear white shirts on Friday to give AJA that special Shabbat feeling.

On behalf of the staff at AJA we would like to wish you and your families a Shabbat Shalom and a Happy Passover.