The Monthly Roar, October 3rd, 2014

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Letter From the Head of School

Although Yom Kippur is upon us, I have chosen to write about an unrelated topic.


In an earlier edition of the Maccabee, I shared my personal experience of moving to an experiential school, where the entire curriculum was individualized. I was entering eighth grade, and I could barely keep it together. I was a voluntary prisoner at my parents’ kitchen table completing two weeks’ worth of school work in a weekend. Anxiety took over my being.

That was in 1973. In 2014, anxiety, although not infectious, feels like an epidemic. It does not discriminate. I have a close friend whose mother suffers from Parkinson’s. Her mother’s anxiety prevented a trip to the DMV to renew her driver’s license as she feared failing and losing her independence. I know of people in their 20’s and 40’s who depend on medication. And currently, many school-age children and their parents grapple with it as well.

I often wonder why. Is it the bombardment of frightening world news of the rise of antisemitism and barbaric beheadings? Is our society too focused on achievement? Is it extrinsic or genetic? I don’t have the answers, but I do know it can be terrifying, and living with constant fear is not a healthy way to live one’s life.

In the spring, I came across this story in a weekly NPR email summary of stories. I saved it to share with you, the readers of the MaccaBee. My purpose is to share this success story to encourage hope.

For those of you who will be sitting long hours in shul or Temple for Yom Kippur, take a moment to think about anxiety and its impact. I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.

G’mar Hatimah Tovah,


Save the Date

  • Friday, October 3rd Erev Yom Kippur– noon dismissal
  • Sunday, October 5th Put up Sukkah- Volunteers desperately needed for set up at 9:30 am! Come help and you’ll win a million Mensch-points!
  • Tuesday, October 7th Parent Association meeting- 8:00-9:00 am in the Becker Science Center
  • Wednesday, October 8th Erev Sukkoth- full school day
  • Thursday & Friday, October 9th and 10th Sukkoth– school closed
  • Tuesday, October 14th Sukkafest– from 5:30-7:30 pm
  • Thursday & Friday, October 16th and 17th Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah– school closed
  • Saturday, October 18th Cross Country Meet– at Brentwood
  • Sunday, October 19th JCC FallFusion annual fundraiser– Honoring AJA parents, Debra & Brett Hurt
  • Tuesday, October 21st Take down Sukkah- Volunteers needed!
  • Wednesday, Friday, & Saturday October 22nd, 24th, and 25th AIPL Flag Football Tournament– location and time TBD
  • Saturday through Tuesday, October 25th through 28th AIPL Volleyball Tournament for 5th/6th Grade– location and time TBD
  • Saturday, October 25th Cross Country Meet– at St Stephen’s Upper School
  • Thursday, October 30th Prospective Parent Event- Please contact Risa Ferdman if you know of anyone interested or who should receive an invitation.
  • Monday, November 3rd Professional Development– school closed
  • Thursday, November 13th 5th Grade Tikkun Ceremony
  • Monday, November 17th Middle School Information Night
  • Thursday & Friday, November 20th and 21st Middle School Trimester Exams
  • Wednesday through Friday, November 26th-28th Thanksgiving Break– school closed

Congratulations, Condolences and Tributes

  • Noa and Aviga Epstein made a donation to the library in honor of Mrs. Aileen Duncan.
  • Greg Sapire made a donation in memory of Cecil Lain, father of Jackie, Trevor and Ted; husband of Leone; grandfather of Maya and Max.
  • Aliza Orent made a donation in honor of Eytan and Matan Bos-Orent.

What’s Happening at AJA?

  • After studying the three main community types, our 2nd Grade students wrote an explanation of which one they liked best. After choosing either urban, suburban, or rural, students made a plan of their community on paper and then began designing the 3D version.


  • Our 3rd Graders had a fabulous time on their field trip to the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and San Marcos Fish Hatchery.3rd grade field trip 2 3rd grade field trip
  • Our 4th Graders had a great time in Jewish Studies, sampling foods that the Talmud, a Jewish text, tells us we should have for the New Year. These include familiar things, such as pomegranates and apples and honey, but also foods like pumpkins, beet/spinach leaves, and figs. They had a great time reading why these foods were chosen and what they symbolize, as well as reading the prayers for a good new year that accompany each food!photo 4 photo 3


  • Our Middle Schoolers were living it up at the Nature’s Classroom Institute at Camp Young Judea Texas. Check out how much fun they had!1511771_10204181020638612_5067680779255453407_n 10375952_10105129310218080_2988708386558311018_n 10387222_10204940813182379_7892436347875855325_n 10628351_10105128759955810_360062285332149479_n

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, in the lobby on Friday mornings, or even during curbside pick-up on Mondays. 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 office at 512-735-8374 or send an email to

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

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.

What’s Happening in the Community?

  • We invite you to set up your Sukkah beginning Sunday October 5 with take-down on October 19. We would like to have as many sukkah’s on the lawn as possible and look forward to seeing your unique design.
  • We are excited to have our annual Sukkot event on the evening of Tuesday October 14th from 5:30-7:30 on the front lawn of the JCC. We will have music by Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour, children’s choirs, mini educational sessions, food, family activities and more. Click Here to Learn More About SukkahFest!
  • Sunday, October 19, 2014, the Jewish Community Center will host its annual fundraiser, FallFusion, at the Dell Jewish Community Campus. Co-Chaired by Andrea & Walter Kalmans, FallFusion supports youth, senior adult and Jewish cultural programming at the JCC. AJA parents, Debra & Brett Hurt, will receive the 2014 LBJ Humanitarian Award in recognition of their extraordinary local philanthropy and community service. A Sponsor & Patron Cocktail Reception (5:30-6:30 PM) and Award Ceremony will precede the Community Celebration (6:30-9:00 PM). The unique and fun format of FallFusion will feature eclectic entertainment, local cuisine and the best silent auction at the JCC yet!
  • Sifriyat Pijama B’America is a program for Hebrew speaking families with children from three to six years old. The first event will be on Monday, October 27th at 5:00 pm in the AJA Library. Contact Risa Ferdman with any questions!Sifriyat-Pijama-Logo-PJ

On behalf of the staff at AJA we would like to wish you and your families a Shabbat Shalom and G’mar Hatimah Tovah!