MaccaBee August 30th, 2012

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Letter From the Head of School

The silent classrooms, with freshly painted walls and clean, shiny floors, eagerly await the arrival of students. The bulletin boards are primed to receive student offerings.  As I walked the vacant corridors of AJA, I was reminded of my teaching in a year-round school. Those years never did feel quite right.  I missed the rhythm of a traditional school year– a year with a clear beginning and a definitive ending.  In hindsight, I realize that I needed the time frame of a “fresh start”.  The new year brings a chance to start over – a fresh beginning.  In Judaism, the calendar designates four new years. The two that are the most familiar to us are Tu B’Shvat which marks the tithing of the trees and Rosh HaShana, the holiday celebrating the creation of the world.  How fortunate we are to have a holiday that not only leaves the past year behind us but allows us to begin the new year with a clean slate.

AJA’s  stated mission is  “to create a better world by raising students to their full academic, social, physical, and spiritual potential guided by Jewish values and traditions.”   As your partner,  AJA is raising “our” children.  Hence this year’s theme, It Takes Community – Kulanu Kehillah Achat.  As the school year begins and Rosh Hashana approaches, let us take a moment to reflect. Let us concentrate on the coming year and what we can do to better both ourselves and the community in which we live.


Cheryl Hersh

Save the Date

  • Thursday, August 30th 5:30-6:30pm: Hebrew Story Hour with Susan Slomowitz sharing books from Sifriyat Pijama B’America in the Library
  • Monday, September 3rd: Labor Day NO SCHOOL
  • Wednesday, September 5th 6:00-7:30pm: TK-5th Grade Back to School Night meeting in the CAA Social Hall
  • Tuesday, September 11th 8:00-9:00am: Parent Association Meeting outside at the drop-off circle
  • Tuesday, September 11th 7:00-8:30pm: Middle School Back to School Night meeting in the Library

Updates and Announcements

  • If you haven’t already, please request to join the AJA Activities Facebook Page:
  • Please bring in old newspapers to the art room for SukkahCity crafts!
  • AJA grandparents and grandfriends are invited to sign up for the Intergenerational Art Program! Please see the flyer below for more information.

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Congratulations, Condolences and Tributes

  • Risa Ferdman made a donation in honor of Treva Horwitz’s birthday.
  • Steven Tomlinson made a donation to the Library Fund in honor of Brett Hurt.
  • Robin Beckett made a donation in memory of her mother Renee S. Beckett: “In recognition of the children at the Academy who made my mother feel special. Thank you and continue your great work.”
  • Cheryl Hersh made a donation to the Library Fund in honor of Kat Finkelstein’s Bat Mitzvah and in memory of Kathy Katz’s father.
  • Treva Horwitz made a donation in memory of Kathy Katz’s father.
  • Lisa Friedlander made a donation in honor of Lindsay Gregg.

What’s Happening at AJA?

  • We were so happy to welcome everyone back to school on Monday! Classes were busy working right away, and the halls were buzzing with the energy the administration greatly missed this summer!


  • Mazal Tovto AJA’s Susan SlomowitzThe Austin Jewish Academy is proud to announce that Art Specialist Susan Slomowitz is this year’s national level recipient of the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education. This award was designed to recognize teachers in communities across North America who have made a commitment to the field of Jewish Education and who demonstrate leadership abilities, serve as role models in Jewish education, and who implement outstanding curricular initiatives.
  • On August 12th and 13th,  AJA faculty and staff were offered the opportunity to participate in a Council training.  The workshop was  facilitated by Inez Tiger of Pressman Academy in Los Angeles where she teaches middle school students and is certified as a Council Trainer. Council is a practice of open, heartfelt expression and attentive, active listening  that is used to support the social and emotional well-being of students.  Middle School students currently have Council once a week led by Cheryl Hersh, Head of School.  Teachers present at the training will now integrate Council into their teaching practice. Pictures from the training are below.

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  • Kathy Rosemann and her “former” fourth graders are now published poets! The Florida Educational Leadership Journal (an award-winning state journal of ASCD: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development) decided to make their poems a themed issue in and of itself. The issue can be downloaded or read below!

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The Jewish Corner

Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend Kabbalat Shabbat on Fridays from 8:00-8:30am!  In addition, to encourage family discussions, the Parsha is listed and family-friendly Parsha discussion ideas are available at the Shabbat Table in the foyer on Fridays.


  • Friday, August 31st:  Whole school welcome back Kaballat Shabbat…summer birthdays…Shabbat in Music
  • Friday, September 7th: K-5 will be making honey pots for Rosh Hashanah/Middle school is on their trip.

Upcoming Torah Portions:

  • 8/31 Ki Tetze: Moshe continues to instruct the people of Israel about the laws and how they are to behave.  Over 70 of the 613 Mitzvot are included in this week’s parsha!
  • 9/7 Ki Tavo: “When you enter” the Promised Land what should we do?  Moses continues with a recitation of the laws.

What’s Happening in the Community?

  • Northwest Austin Youth Basketball (NWAYBA) will open registration on September 1st at The league offers competitive recreational play for everyone from 1st grade through high school. NWAYBA offers an excellent co-ed developmental league for 1st and 2nd grade kids. There are separate boys and girls divisions from 3rd through 6th grade. Tryouts start the weekend of October 20th (every kid makes a team!).
  • AJA Director of Admissions and Outreach, Collette Hill, will be leading a free yoga class for kids ages 4-6 as pare of Austin’s Free Day of Yoga. Class will be from 1-1:30pm on Monday, September 3rd at The Little Yoga House.