Archive for the "HAYIDION The RAVSAK Journal" Category


October 26, 2017
By Rebecca Friedman-Charry and Judith May, Judaic Studies Teachers

Click her for online article


Like many schools, ours accepts some students who are beginning Jewish day school in middle or high school. How can we support these transfer students’ integration into the Tanakh classroom?

We spent years experimenting with different models. Developing a separate track for transfer students didn’t work. Isolated from their peers, the beginners lacked role models for engaging in traditional text study. On the other hand, early attempts at immediate mainstreaming led us to the opposite pitfall: Beginners were overwhelmed and felt they could never catch up. We found, then, that differentiating for these students affords them the best opportunities for success in Tanakh.

Some background: At SSLI, Tanakh classes are already heterogeneous. Students are accustomed to classmates with various levels of Hebrew knowledge, academic achievement and home observance. Tanakh teachers already create differentiated lesson plans and assessments. Mainstreaming with differentiation for transfer students makes sense in our school culture. We have found that transfer students can be mainstreamed successfully if teachers help them prepare and scaffold their learning.


When they enroll, students with no prior day school experience receive a list of the most essential Jewish studies information they should know before school begins in September. The list begins with the most basic skills, like being able to decode the Hebrew alphabet, and concludes with more “advanced” knowledge, like knowing the names of the Hebrew months. Students who are ready to develop a basic biblical Hebrew vocabulary are directed to the list of 52 most frequent words in Tanakh, as identified by Larry A. Mitchel (A Student’s Vocabulary for Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic). The intake team guides the family to identify which items on the list are a priority for the student to prepare. A family member may help the student prepare, or a family may hire a tutor.

Once the school year begins, teachers give these students extra attention. In addition to diagnostic assessments and conversations, teachers speak twice as frequently with transfer students and their parents during the first month of classes to determine a course of action. Teachers continue to check in with each transfer student throughout the year and adjust the plan as needed.


Early in their studies, we try to pair transfer students with one another in havruta, so that when the rest of the class is working on translating a Bible passage from Hebrew, the beginners can use a translation. We tell them, though, that they will be responsible for recognizing some of the text in Hebrew. In the course of a unit, the class will focus on a number of key phrases. Before we quiz the class on those phrases, we meet with each transfer student to select which of the phrases they will have to recognize in Hebrew. At first, we may choose only two or three phrases. We gradually increase the number, continuing to involve the student in decisions of what will be formally assessed.

As transfer students become more comfortable in the school, we pair them with their more experienced peers. While this sometimes brings up concerns about Hebrew vocabulary, it exposes the new student to translation strategies. Most importantly, it teaches new students how to study in havruta.

What’s the outcome? By the beginning of twelfth grade, transfer students are integrated into the Tanakh classroom. They study Hebrew text as frequently as their peers, with the same level of comprehension. Students are proud of having become full-fledged participants in their school’s Jewish life.

Hanukkah in 4D

June 15, 2016
By SSLI Communications

For the complete Summer 2016 issue of Hayidion, click here.

Hanukkah in 4D: Bringing the Israel Museum to the Middle School Rabbinics Classroom
By Rebecca Friedman-Charry and Sara Beckerman


Click here for printable version of this article.



December 11, 2015
By Kerry Dalton and Dr. Cindy Dolgin



CINDY DOLGIN - Head of School
KERRY DALTON -Athletic Director


This article was featured in the athletics edition of HaYidion (page 47); click here for the full online publication. Click here for Printable copy.

Our small school takes pride in our ability to accommodate as many students’ ideas and initiatives as possible to enhance the day school experience beyond the classroom. Nevertheless, we struggle to balance the appeal of a large and popular theatre department, mock trial team, and a full list of other extracurricular activities with team sports that require a “robust number” of skilled athletes. Our challenge in maintaining all these extracurriculars requires flexibility, cre- ativity and improvisation. A few years ago, when the number of players for boys’ baseball began to falter, what began as disappointment for a few baseball enthusiasts turned into the birth of a new co-educational spring sports team: golf.
Like most ideas worth pursuing in our school, the idea for starting a golf team that ultimately benefitted others came from one individual stu- dent. “Josh” had received one-too-many injuries playing basketball and his parents would not allow him to continue playing contact sports for the remainder of the year. Josh needed to find a non-contact sport to fill his athletic soul or we were in serious danger of losing him as a student to the excellent high school in his home district that had a golf team.
Over lunch with a school supporter, the head of school shared this predicament. The donor offered to speak to the members of his club’s board and ask for permission for our school to use one of their courses. Who knew that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after school hours are low-volume usage times for golf courses? It turns out that despite the prestige of golf club member- ship, the “golf community” is concerned about the long-term viability of their clubs and have a vested interest in instilling a love of the sport for a growing pool of future members.
With the stipulation that the high school players be supervised by experienced adult golfers who are members of clubs and are fluent in course etiquette, two different country clubs in the area agreed to host our team for practices. One of the two clubs became our home course for interscho- lastic competitions.
With the formation of the golf team has come an excited and overwhelming response from many students within the school. This newfound enthusiasm has prompted the physical education department to incorporate golf into its curriculum. We now teach golf skills in our HS physical education classes, using the equipment purchased and collected for the golf team members. Even our elementary students have caught on, with a dozen taking part in an afterschool club.
For the first year of our team’s existence, our high school had few schools to compete against. Our interscholastic sports league for independent schools did not have an official golf program. We eventually joined a new athletic league that offered golf as an interscholastic sport, and with the new schools added we were able to encourage more schools to incorporate golf in their sports offerings. We started playing against two schools, then four, and in the 2016 season—Josh’s senior year—we will play seven or eight teams.

One student’s idea, clever problem-solving and ability to recruit peer participation, combined with the behind-the-scenes networking of faculty and volunteer leadership resulted in an innovative solution, the birth of a new varsity team, school pride and blossoming leadership skills. Our baseball team may be “on hiatus” but the golf team flourishes.





Search by Keyword(s):
(separate multiples with a comma)

Recent Posts

9/14/18 - By Newsday
3/24/18 - By Newsday
3/14/18 - By The New York Jewish Week
3/12/18 - By Long
3/9/18 - By Sheryl Sokoler
10/26/17 - By Rebecca Friedman-Charry and Judith May, Judaic Studies Teachers
9/7/17 - By SSLI Communications
6/15/17 - By SSLI Communications
4/28/17 - By SSLI Communications
4/11/17 - By SSLI Communications


Reopening Plan