Kol Bialik Winter 2024

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Kol Bialik

IN THIS ISSUE

Coming Together to Answer the Call PAGE 2 Ready, Set, STEM! Coding Unlocks Creative Exploration Nurturing a Love of Science and Medicine Sowing the Seeds of Jewish Culture

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Kol Bialik Kol Bialik is published annually by Bialik Hebrew Day School’s Advancement Department Editor Lydia Levin Director of Marketing and Communications Director of Development Marlee Koplowitz Director of Admissions Danielle Waltman Viewmount Branch & Main Office 2760 Bathurst Street Toronto, Ontario M6B 3A1 416.783.3346 Himel West The Ben and Edith Himel Education Centre 180 Ilan Ramon Boulevard Vaughan, Ontario L6A 4P6 905.417.3737 Himel East Kimel Family Education Centre 9600 Bathurst Street Vaughan, Ontario L6A 3Z8 905.417.3737 Kol Bialik Coordinator Liana Sandberg Design and Layout Michael Cherkas Printing Exodus Graphics Photography Ararsa Kitaba and Tagwa Moyo Ashtyn Robbins Photography Bialik Staff Caley Taylor Photography Justine Apple Photography Shay Markowitz Photography Shelby K Photography Contributors Jonathan Karr Lauren Korzinstone Lydia Levin Lisa Rostoks Janet Gottlieb Sailian Liana Sandberg Cover Photography Caley Taylor

facebook.bialik.ca @bialikhds

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Headlines

Focusing on Our Students Students and faculty bring positive energy into our buildings each day

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here is a saying in the print and broadcast news business, “if it bleeds, it leads,” the logic being that people are drawn most strongly to negative things. And, indeed, as a community, we have not been lacking in disturbing storylines. The October 7 attack, the subsequent war in Gaza, our school security needs, and the highly disturbing rise of antisemitism both globally and here at home have all occupied our thoughts and attention this school year. So, you might imagine that this publication would “lead” with these difficult topics. Bialik is, indeed But, instead, this Kol Bialik contains nothing a special place — a haven of sorts — of but feel-good stories — how we have galvanized learning and laughter the community to support Israeli families and of joy. Teachers escaping the hostilities back home, how we comment on how continue to provide innovative and engaging wonderful it is to educational programming for our students, and be able to come how Bialik alumni and volunteer champions of to work and focus previous and current generations contribute to on the children. ” making our school the special place that it is. Bialik is, indeed, a special place — a haven of sorts — of learning and laughter and joy. Teachers comment on how wonderful it is to be able to come to work and focus on the children. Our Israeli families seemed to compete with one another to be evermore complimentary and appreciative of the respite our school community provided. And the results of our parent survey confirm that our families truly value Bialik as a daily home for their children. So, take some time to read through the magazine. I promise you, it will be both informative and uplifting, the kind of positivity we can all use about now.

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Benjy Cohen Head of School

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Ahavat Yisrael

Coming Together to Answer the Call How the Bialik community welcomed Israeli families in their time of need

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ctober 7 changed the lives of Jews in Israel and worldwide, and it certainly changed the trajectory of Bialik’s school year. Within days of the start of the war, Bialik families, staff members, and the broader community began to reach out, asking us to provide schooling for Israeli children — whether on behalf of their family members, friends or Bialik alumni living in Israel. While parents looked for safer environments for their families, their children’s education was top of mind. For Bialik, opening our doors and our arms to welcome Israeli families was a matter of values and an expression of who we are as a Jewish people. As our Head of School, Benjy Cohen, says: “We rarely get such an obvious opportunity to live our Jewish values. ‫ — כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה‬Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh.” As the number of inquiries grew each day, we were guided by our school’s mission in answering the need. With little time to spare, we applied our tried-and-tested teambased Bialik approach to creating a new, flexible system for admission that would be welcoming to the families. (continued on page 4)

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Ahavat Yisrael

(continued from page 2) “We had never experienced such a rapid need for admission and we had to change all our procedures,” says Director of Admissions Danielle Waltman. “Our administrators ran a busy schedule of interviews with families so that we could meet them, make them feel welcome and comfortable, and get the kids into class as fast as possible.” We also worked with the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and other community organizations to filter the many applications and provide the range of services that could support the Israeli families. We heard the stories of what so many Israeli families were experiencing. Some children had come to Canada with one parent while the other stayed in Israel to work or to serve in the IDF. Other children had been sent with their siblings to the care of family or guardians

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Thank you so much for the best welcome. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, everyone in the school makes us feel like home!”

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in Canada. “Whatever their circumstances, we aimed to be their soft landing place where they could find safety and support,” says Viewmount Principal Jake Gallinger. Maya Trajtenberg, Israeli mom of a fourmonth-old baby and two boys in Grades 5 and 2 at Viewmount, put it this way: “What was so important was that the school was so flexible and agile. Bialik accepted the kids immediately and then figured it out afterwards.” She adds: “The first day was incredible when we walked into the school. People were hugging us and offering any help we needed.” Within a few weeks, more than 180 families reached out to Bialik and 100 students enrolled to attend at both our branches. This represents well more than half of all Israeli students welcomed to Toronto Jewish day schools and is by


far the greatest number of such families in any Jewish day school in North America. In the classrooms, our teachers showed their usual dedication and love for the new students. They created a warm atmosphere and encouraged our already eager students to welcome their Israeli counterparts, some who were as young as four years old. Even in classes that were already full, faculty worked tirelessly to overcome language barriers and provide stability for the students. A JK teacher said: “I am in awe of the support from the Hebrew teachers, the SK assistants and the Ivrit BaGan teacher. They have come in constantly to help and communicate with our new JK students whenever they can.” The dedication of our faculty was appreciated by our new families. As expressed by a Himel Grade 3 parent, “The kids love the school and their teachers and are extremely happy. We could not have chosen a better school family for [our children] during this challenging time.” The team effort very soon involved the

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It’s heartwarming to see our children in an atmosphere of community and togetherness without sirens. Thank you very much for sharing this moment.”

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entire Bialik community. Our IT Department set students up with laptops and access to our online learning systems; our students displayed huge empathy and compassion, very excited to buddy-up with new Israeli friends and make them feel at home. The Parent Associations and parents at both branches spared no effort in welcoming families warmly, inviting them to Shabbat dinners, helping them with grocery shopping and finding their way around. “The parents gave us lists of the stores and one of the moms took me shopping. She even showed me what to buy and how to make school lunches in Canada,” said one of the Israeli parents. The branch lobbies became filled with tables of Canadian clothing. Physicians and dentists in our community offered to provide complimentary services at their practices. We were very fortunate to have had about 10 dedicated and committed volunteers come forward with offers of help. Retired administrators and teachers, as well as Board members (continued on page 6)


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This Saturday we will return to Israel. We want to thank all of you, JK team and parents for your help and the warm way you accepted [our son] and us. We will remember it for the rest of our lives. We hope that when Israel is safer you will also visit and meet us too. We will be happy to help back in some way too in the future.”

(continued from page 5) gave invaluable time to support the visiting students in their academic and social-emotional learning. A past principal came back to help in the Admissions Department. Not only did we focus on students in our own school. We also took on many outreach projects to share our love and support. Our students worked enthusiastically on art projects, adorning our walls with their beautiful artworks and meaningful messages. They sent pictures, cards and letters to Israeli students and members of the IDF. They also made a “welcome back to school” video for students at our partner schools in Eilat-Eilot. As a school, we initiated the making of a beautiful “HaTikvah” video by the choirs of Toronto’s Jewish elementary day schools — this video went viral with more than 43,000 views on our Instagram feed and another 17,000 on the UJA’s.

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We will never forget this positive experience at such a difficult time. Thank you so much.”

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When they say “it takes a village,” this has been so true over the past months. Our whole community — from staff, Board and faculty (past and present) to parents and students — has stepped up with tremendous generosity of spirit. Our community has come together with shared values and a strong sense of purpose, and the gains have been felt by everyone. “As our new Israeli friends have been leaving,” says Himel Principal Natalie Vine, “it is with our Canadian arms wrapped around them. We are honoured to have had them here.” Reflecting on the experience, Benjy Cohen says: “We Jews are all responsible for one another and it has been a privilege to support our Israeli cousins who have come here because of the war. While we have provided some respite for the Israeli families here in the GTA, their presence has enriched our community beyond measure.”


Sharing Messages of Hope Our Bialik students were keen to forge links with Israeli students and learn about their experiences

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n the days after the Hamas attack on Israel, Bialik’s Jewish Studies teachers shared their collective desire to do something to support their students and Israel. “We were shocked right from the start and felt so helpless and hopeless,” says Mechanechet Hagit Dekel. After investigating some informal ways to connect with schools in Israel, she partnered with the World Zionist Organization, Department of Hebrew and Culture, which offered the opportunity for students to meet with Israeli students over Zoom. Before confirming the session, Hagit and her colleagues asked their students what they knew about the events in Israel. Even though not all students had access to detailed news, they knew what was happening and were eager to connect with kids in Israel. So, Hagit and the Senior Division team made preparations for all Grade 8 classes at both branches to participate in a Zoom call. Meanwhile, Viewmount teacher Chaim Shpiler received an email from one of his students wanting to connect him with a relative who is a teacher at Leo Baeck Elementary School in Haifa, Israel. The teacher wanted her Grade 7 students to practice their English by meeting over Zoom with Chaim’s Grade 8 class. So Chaim started preparing his class for making new friends over 9,000 kilometres away. He led discussions about the type of questions they would ask and what they would share about themselves. The two classes connected virtually and slowly started to get to know each other.

Our students were curious about whether the Israeli kids were scared, how often sirens sounded and whether they had safe rooms to be in.

“They started with school-related questions. The Israeli students were very interested to ask about what Hebrew school is like and the typical day of our Bialik students,” says Chaim. They spoke in English, while the Bialik students used Hebrew. As the conversation continued, questions turned to the war in Israel. “Our students were curious about whether the Israeli kids were scared, how often sirens sounded and whether they had safe rooms to be in,” says Chaim, noting that both groups shared openly and kindly. Both Hagit and Chaim call the Zoom meetings a success. “Our students were very appreciative to learn about the situation and get a true sense of connection,” says Hagit. Meirav Cohen, who teaches at Himel, says that it’s provided further opportunity to commit to Jewish values while opening the door for students to share how they’re feeling and ask questions,

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if they’re comfortable doing so. For instance, she has highlighted the tradition of memorial candles. “Lighting candles is becoming more valued,” she says. “We have many students from Israel in Grade 8 here. They shared names of family back home and we lit candles for them. More students will come in and say they know someone who is serving in the war, so we say their name.” Despite the geographical distance, the children are connected through their Jewish identities. “Our students look alike, they speak the same language,” says Chaim. They also quickly realized over Zoom that they enjoy the same YouTube celebrities, joking about videos they’d seen. The students wanted to continue the connection in some way. Now they’re staying connected online and are sharing messages with each other while they wait to schedule another class call. Meirav notes that the students take photos of the supportive posters they’ve made and displayed around school. “It enables our kids to share their messages with students in Israel,” says Hagit. “They’ve embraced it, writing positive messages, singing, videotaping, while we show our students videos that highlight perseverance, hope and faith, which are so important during this time.”


: School Highlights : Social Action Squad OUR SOCIAL ACTION Squad has been very active in creating school-wide family volunteer events to support charities in the GTA. “Before we started the Social Action Squad, our families frequently asked us to provide opportunities for hands-on volunteering in the community. They wanted to be able to experience the meaning of Tikkun Olam together,” says Jake Gallinger, Viewmount Branch Principal. The Social Action Squad is chaired by dedicated volunteer Melanie Zeitz, who works tirelessly with her committee to make everything happen at each branch or on site at organizations such as Kayla’s Childrens Centre and DANI. Says Mel, “It is wonderful to see how enthusiastic families are to participate in the events and especially for the students to learn together with their families how they can make a difference.” From making sandwiches for Ve’ahavta to spending the afternoon with seniors at the Bernard Betel Centre, our young student volunteers and their families pour their heart and soul into all the activities. There are many more Social Action Squad activities to come, and we cannot wait to be able to give back to the community.

NEW WEBSITE In October, we were proud to hit refresh with the launch of our new website, aiming to promote our school to prospective families. The dynamic homepage incorporates metrics, our vibrant social media posts and program highlights. We’ve updated all the information about the school, the curriculum, and all that makes Bialik such a special place for our community. Current families can still access the Parent Portal from the website as well as read our Bialik Blog, where our admin team provides thought leadership on educational topics. Give the new site a visit at bialik.ca.

Facilities Enhancements OUR SCHOOL SPACES get put through their paces with our many multi-functional needs, and the Viewmount Lunchroom is no exception. Thanks to generous support from our families, the Lunchroom has been painted, fitted with new lighting and equipped with new folding tables and benches. It’s now a great space for Senior Division students to eat lunch and socialize together, for meetings and events to take place, and as a home for our Beit Bialik program. The Himel East Learning Commons has also undergone a huge refurbishment, thanks to a generous donation by the Himel Parent Association. With beautiful new hard and soft furnishings, the large space has been optimized with the areas divided into a library, a lunchroom and a STEM learning area. Keeping active has also had a top spot in our recent upgrades. Our Himel East students are now enjoying playing in the courtyard at recess with the provision of new soccer and basketball nets and balls, thanks to the support of the Himel PA. At Viewmount, the Kimel family has generously donated a newly upgraded large turf area for students’ active play as well as

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providing new play structures. And should you be in the Viewmount Upper Gym, you’re sure to be impressed by the newly refurbished floor, also showing the benefit of donor gifts to the school.

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Our Libraries THE BIALIK LIBRARIES at both our branches are vibrant centres of discovery, research and recreational reading for our students. Starting this year, the branches’ libraries are staffed with full-time teacher librarians who are bringing stimulating library programming to our students. At our Himel Branch, we have renewed and refreshed the libraries in both buildings with colourful comfy furniture providing wonderful opportunities for students to engage with books and discover the joy of reading. Associate Director of General Studies Karen Lidor says, “Students’ eyes light up when it’s time for their class to visit the library and that’s really what we want to see. If we are exciting their imaginations and promoting a love of reading, we are giving students valuable lifelong skills.”

Martha Fleury Display Shelves

Parent Education Series

IN HER LONG tenure at Bialik, Martha

Fleury was a beloved art teacher and mentor to many students, including alumni siblings Jonathon’06 and Sharon’02 Markowski. They wanted to highlight her impact by making a donation, together with other alumni, to the Viewmount art room where they had spent so many meaningful hours. Thanks to their efforts, last summer the Martha Fleury Display Shelves were installed, providing space for students to display their artwork. We appreciate Jonathon and Sharon’s efforts in spearheading this heartfelt gift to Bialik to honour Martha. As we recognize Martha’s role in inspiring creativity for many Bialik students, we are greatly saddened by her passing in November 2023.

IMPACT REPORT We have recently published our first Bialik Impact Report, honouring the generosity of our many Bialik donors. This marks the first time that our donor listings have been given their own publication, separate from Kol Bialik. We are excited to be able to provide a new forum to tell our donors’ stories of what inspires them to support this wonderful school. We invite you to visit the Giving section of our website to read the Bialik Impact Report 2022-23.

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WE WERE HONOURED to have Dr. Yoni Schwab, co-founder of the Shefa School in Manhattan, NYC, hold a workshop with our parents on October 25, 2023. As educators, we are seeing many children in need of support in the areas of organization, time management, focus and self-regulation and this event shone a spotlight on these themes. The audience had the opportunity to ask many questions of Dr. Schwab, who is an expert in helping children and families manage ADHD. Dr. Schwab and the Shefa School have been providing our faculty with professional development throughout the year, enabling them to be better equipped in providing support to students with learning challenges.


School Highlights

CELEBRATING the CLASS of W

e were so proud to celebrate Bialik’s largest graduating class ever in 2023 — 118 Grade 8 graduates! After the many Grade 8 events throughout the year, the Class of 2023 parents and graduates enjoyed their Branch Graduation Breakfasts before coming together for the school-wide Graduation Ceremony held at Congregation Adath Israel. We were moved by inspiring speeches from the Head of School and the Grade 8 Valedictorians. The legacies of our graduates will live on in our buildings through their impact on Bialik’s school life and their names on the Tree of Honour. Mazal Tov to everyone in the Class of 2023. We miss you at Bialik but we cannot wait to see what you go on to do!

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As you revel in the joy and sense of accomplishment that your graduation brings, my wish for you is that you are able to find the right combination of youth and maturity: On the one hand, the young, ambitious, optimistic growth mindset that allows you to soak up all there is to learn from school and the world around you. And on the other, the mature wisdom to integrate all that you see and absorb into your already well-formed Jewish and Zionist identities. We look forward to watching you as you continue on to high school, and know for certain that many successes await. I wish you and your families a hearty Mazal Tov! May you go from strength to strength.” Benjy Cohen, Head of School

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Teaching and Learning

Ready, Set, STEM! Starting a cycle of innovative thinking in Kindergarten and watching it progress through Grade 8 and beyond WE’VE BEEN A proud STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) school for more than seven years, with our program growing and developing in very exciting directions each year. STEM is the way our students learn. It has brought hands-on learning alive for our students, who are challenged to apply design thinking and problem-solving skills in all their projects. Not only do we keep innovating in our curriculum and the way students experience STEM learning, but we also have beautiful state-of-the-art facilities at both branches — with large, flexible learning spaces, tools, 3D printers, libraries and a greenhouse. Here, we showcase a few of the stimulating projects students have been working on.

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on the fun. Then, the students became the teachers as they led their parents through a surprise challenge — wiring their own circuits!

SENIOR DIVISION DERBY RACES There was heart-pounding, non-stop action as Senior Division students took to the race track in STEM. Starting with a block of wood, the students designed, carved, sawed and sanded their derby race cars over the course of three months. They met with design expert, Bialik alum Jonathon Markowski’06, who shared insights on the elements required to design a futuristic car with a focus on aerodynamics. Students constructed their cars, taking into account gravity, mass, impact and velocity in order to win the race. It was thrilling to see all their hard work come to fruition during their highspeed races to the finish line.

AQUAPONICS IN GRADE 3 To instil an awareness of sustainability from a young age, our Grade 3 students were introduced to the concept of aquaponics. This involves using the nutrients produced from fish waste to grow food plants such as parsley, lettuce and other leafy greens. Classes created their fish tanks using materials found around the school, before receiving fish for their tanks. In their aquaponic system, the nutrient-rich water was moved up from the fish tanks to the plants to fertilize them, and the clean water, purified by the plants, travelled back down to provide a clean environment for the fish. In this hands-on project, students learned about natural, alternative ways to grow food while taking care of their fish and seeing their gardens grow.

WATER CYCLE IN GRADE 2

GRADE 6 CIRCUIT CHALLENGE

Grade 2 students learned about the magic of the water cycle, building terrariums out of recycled containers

Our Grade 6 students became game designers when they participated in the Carnival Circuit Challenge, a culminating science project for our electricity unit. Students were tasked with creating a unique carnival game that included two types of hand-made switches and different forms of transferring energy. They got to show off their fun games to the rest of their peers and their families, who came into the school to join in

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and then planting seeds. Using only the moisture from a single watering, students were excited to observe their seeds growing. Through this, they were able to observe each element of the water cycle — evaporation, condensation and precipitation.

SK COMPOSTING WITH WORMS In our hands-on STEM composting program, SK students have been introduced to the concepts of food sustainability and recycling by looking after their class’s composting bin full of worms. STEM Coordinator Shawn Stevens has taught students how to be mindful of their impact on the environment and categorize waste as “green,” “brown” or “non-compostable.” They have discovered what can be added to the bin to keep their worms busy making nutrient-rich soil. Throughout the year, students put their compostable food into the bins to feed the worms and keep them alive.


Teaching and Learning

Learning Moreshet through Critical Thinking Connecting our heritage and history to contemporary issues for Jewish people

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e recently completed the roll-out of our Moreshet program, with our innovative Bialik-created six-theme curriculum, taught to all students in Grades 6 to 8. The program is now in its third year at Bialik. Says Associate Director of Jewish Studies Adi Barel, “The way we created the course enables students to apply academic rigour and use their critical thinking skills to explore the many different values and historical and present-day stories that shape the Jewish narrative. This will enable students to build a strong and lasting connection to the State of Israel and the Canadian Jewish community.” Now, more than ever, we feel the importance of creating this bond for our students. We aim to make Moreshet a dynamic and thought-provoking class for our Senior Division students. The translation of “Moreshet” into English is “heritage” — a person’s unique, inherited sense of family identity through

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The curriculum aims to have students questioning and debating as they learn about the direct connections that each of us has to our Jewish heritage.”

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values, traditions, culture and artifacts handed down by previous generations. It’s not a class where students can simply memorize historical facts and Hebrew grammar rules. Says Adi, “The curriculum aims to have students questioning and debating as they learn about the direct connections that each of us has to our Jewish heritage. We sometimes highlight ancient texts that still hold value for us today, and use critical thinking to discover how what some view as old ideas are still applicable and relevant to our modern world.” When students graduate from Bialik, we want them to look back on Moreshet as a springboard to more learning about their heritage in the future. Our goal is to propel them to look deeper into the roles that Judaism and Israel play in their day-to-day lives and their Jewish identities. It’s in this way that we will be able to continue to pass down our Jewish heritage for generations to come.


Getting to Know Our ShinShinim

almost every day, even though there are no little kids in the family. They have made me South African dishes that I’m sure I will make for years, like the fabulous malva pudding! Shira E: I’m staying with Reesa, an amazing woman. I couldn’t believe how special the compatibility is between us. Living in another house on the other side of the world is an amazing experience and has, undoubtedly, made me grow up.

Meet the enthusiastic Israeli teens bringing Israeli culture to Bialik this year

What are some highlights of the year? Shira and Yoav: This year is crazy, but these tough times also come with a lot of highlights. We get so much support and love from the Bialik families, whether it’s the winter equipment or parents reaching out with invitations to dinner. The rallies supporting Israel and all the events we were invited to add up to great and interesting experiences. Mor: The Tishrei holidays made my connection here stronger and deeper. It was hard for me to be away from my family, but I got the chance to celebrate the holidays with my Canadian family, eat Rosh HaShanah dinner with them, go to services at the temple where I’m working, and sit in Bialik’s Sukkah with the kids. Shira E: A “small” moment when one of the children writes “Israeli means good like us,” or when they tell their parents about us and something new they learned about Israel. It is also the “big” moments, like all the support I received from the entire Jewish community after the war began.

OUR SHINSHINIM BRING wonderful Israeli energy to our

classrooms and give our students an authentic taste of Israel. They are hosted by generous families in our community, whose lives are enriched by the experience. We asked our ShinShinim — Shira Danino and Yoav Levin at Viewmount and Shira Eliahu and Mor Tarshish at Himel — to tell us about their time at Bialik. Why did you decide to become a ShinShin? Shira D. and Yoav: This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to live abroad, make new connections and be independent. We want to help answer questions and engage, but there is a big part of us that also wanted to learn and get out of our comfort zone. Mor: I am curious and like to take on new adventures and challenges. It was incredible to get the opportunity to move to a different country. Shira E: I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to learn so many things from you, get to know you and bring us all together. I get the opportunity to bring my Israel to you.

From left: Shira Eliahu, Mor Tarshish, Shira Danino and Yoav Levin.

What’s it like living with a Canadian Family? Shira and Yoav: It’s so fun! Canadian people are very different from Israelis and we are very lucky to live with wonderful families. It took a while to get used to taking off our shoes inside but both of us call Canada home now. We both have a second mom and dad and a lot of siblings. We are thankful to our host families for welcoming us with open arms. Mor: I feel very connected to my host family. One of their traditions I really love is that they eat dinner together

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Teaching and Learning

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ialik is demystifying and deconstructing coding to help students as early as Junior Kindergarten unlock its magic. “Coding is now part of the current Ontario math curriculum and gives our students the ability to use another language that is essential to their learning and future success,” says Director of Curriculum Shoshana Taitz. “With our STEM approach to learning, students as early as Kindergarten are enjoying our engaging coding projects that integrate Jewish and General Studies themes.” “Bialik’s coding curriculum is very dynamic and changes to align with the students’ needs,” Shoshana adds. “We are continuously adapting to their growing experiences and knowledge in coding and our curriculum changes to remain innovative and creative.”

Coding Unlocks Creative Exploration Students grow in their understanding by solving problems from different angles

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Two years into her position as a Coding Specialist at Bialik, faculty member Hannah Lidsky is sold on the educational and life-skills benefits of students learning to code. Hannah and her colleagues in the STEM program are responsible for working on coding projects with Kindergarten through Grade 5 students. “Coding helps us create technologically savvy students,” says Hannah. “It helps them better navigate their computers and iPads and adapt to new technology. Coding equips students with the skills they need to be successful. It might even end up being a future career field for some of them. More than anything, coding teaches students creativity in how to look at a problem and solve it from different angles.” She adds that a key goal of coding, and the entire STEM program, is to highlight the importance of failure. “We learn from our mistakes. Rather than

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Coding teaches students creativity in how to look at a problem and solve it from different angles.”

give students the answers, we help guide their thinking and encourage them to use different problem-solving strategies.” Hannah describes some of the projects that have transported young Bialik students through their coding journey this past year: • In Kindergarten, students are introduced to basic coding using Scratch Jr. and the concepts of sequencing that foster early exposure to computational thinking, nurturing problem-solving skills and creativity. • In Grade 1, coding starts completely offline. “We slowly build familiarity so that by the end of the year, Grade 1 students are able to design and program their own maze adventures.” • Students enjoy robotics in Grade 2, when they build and code their own robots using the LEGO SPIKE™ robot sets (more on this below). • In December 2023, students in Grade 3 coded digital Chanukah cards. “We created characters and added

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backgrounds, sound and text to make digital cards,” says Hannah. • Grade 4 students explore animation through the lens of Indigenous education. “As a class, we read When We Were Alone and students created animations to accompany the book.” • Coding in Grade 5 focuses on game design and variables, enabling students to create point systems and scores. Grade 5s created their own Chanukah-themed games. “One of my favourite projects was coding our own emojis,” notes Hannah. “It nicely blended graphic design and coding, as students created gifs to bring emojis to life.” Student feedback has been especially enthusiastic about LEGO SPIKE™ robot sets. “SPIKE robots have two components. First, the students build complex LEGO robots and then they have to code them,” Hannah explains. “They learn about movement and different sensors. It’s one thing to code a character to move across the screen, but it’s on another level to code a car to drive down the hallway.” Notes Shoshana: “Coding promotes critical thinking, problem solving and logical reasoning skills. It encourages a growth mindset by fostering resilience and creativity — crucial attributes in today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape.”


Teaching and Learning

Tower Gardens are Greening Bialik Planting the seeds of sustainability in our school

FARMER SHAWN (STEVENS) at Viewmount and Alex Krieger, STEM and Athletics Coordinator at Himel, are the enthusiastic proponents and organizers of Bialik’s new tower gardens program. Twenty-four towers, at both our branches, can be found in Grade 3 classrooms, each staff room, STEM Learning Commons and hallways. These ingenious plastic structures with an internal water pump on a timer can yield lettuce, greens, herbs and teas for sale at Bialik’s Farmers Markets and, soon, sharing with members of the wider community. Shawn, a garlic farmer, has taught for close to 20 years in New Zealand, Texas, New York, Ottawa and Toronto. After teaching Grade 3 at Viewmount, Shawn became a STEM Coordinator six years ago, excited to bring his interest in urban and indoor farming to Bialik. Passionate about extracurriculars, Alex not only teaches STEM but also coaches six athletic teams. He lauds “the amazing potential for effortless, efficient farming practices that

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We teach things differently at Bialik, and I hope our students apply this wide lens to many things as they grow up to change the world.”

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enable students to see — from seed to table — food grown indoors with no soil or pesticides.” Says Shawn: “The towers are a ‘set it and forget it’ system, which is why they work so well in schools. We start our seeds in rock wool and germinate them either in class or the Viewmount greenhouse. Once they’ve germinated and roots are visible through the rock wool, they can be transferred into the towers.” Replanting is continuous, and teams always plant a few extra, as not every seed will grow. Several years ago a donor gave the school a single tower garden. As buzz around the program grew, the school purchased more. In January 2023, Bialik began the program for Grade 3 plus a farm club, tea garden, staff-teacher program and House program. Teachers and staff manage the towers in the staff rooms, then harvest and share the herbs and greens with other employees. Grade 3 students are involved in every step of the process in their classrooms: building and care of the tower; monitoring the plants; and harvesting. In the upcoming tea garden program, students in Grade 6 will choose varieties to grow, dry their teas, make tea bags, and perhaps create a signature Bialik tea. Students will market, including logo design and branding, and sell the harvested produce at Bialik’s Farmers Markets. Says Shawn: “I am very lucky to be working at a school that allows us to think big and beyond traditional education. The support of teachers, students, staff, admin and parents has been amazing.” Adds Alex: “We teach things differently at Bialik and I hope our students apply this wide lens to many things as they grow up to change the world.”


From left: School Social Workers Rachel Srebrolow and Jordyn Berman at Viewmount and Suzy Brotman at Himel

Reaching Out for Student Support School Social Workers have an open-door policy when it comes to student mental health

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n their roles as School Social Workers, Rachel Srebrolow, Jordyn Berman and Suzy Brotman are in the unique position of being mental health professionals who can see the impact of their work in real time. “We don’t need to rely on students reporting back to us about what strategies worked for them; we get to actually see them in action every day,” says Rachel, one of the Viewmount Branch Social Workers. Having such a front-facing approach is completely intentional. Jordyn, also at Viewmount, makes a point of being at the Kindergarten entrance of the school every morning to ease students into their classrooms. When social worker Suzy joined the Himel Branch at the start of this school year, she made sure to have a frequent presence in the halls so that students would feel comfortable approaching her. She also is focusing on developing relationships, rapport and trust with families so that they know exactly who she is and who they can turn to when their children need support. When the war in Israel broke out in October, there was understandable worry

that many of our students would struggle to process and cope with the situation. “It’s better to be proactive than reactive,” says Jordyn. “While the current situation in Israel was unprecedented for everyone, the groundwork for students to receive additional support had already been laid, and students knew whom to turn to.” “We know that not every student feels comfortable admitting when they are struggling, but we have been able to see the trends among students’ anxieties,” says Suzy. The School Social Workers

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We want to help students develop positive relationships in any way we can. Peer relations have an impact on student mental health, and student mental health has a profound impact on peer relations.”

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have collaborated to create grade-wide initiatives to address these worries for the students who do not reach out to them in addition to those who do. “If one student is experiencing specific worries, it is very likely that they are not the only one, and we want students to know that they are not alone.” Suzy came to Bialik this year after years of working at the TDSB, and is enjoying building connections within our community. “Going from splitting my time across five schools to being able to take the time to form deeper relationships at one Bialik branch has made a huge difference. At the end of the day, kids are kids, and I’m always here to support them.” In addition to one-on-one meetings with students, our School Social Workers want to further develop the leadership skills of older students. This year, they started the Senior Division Wellness Committee across both branches. The committees have offered a different way for students to bond with the Social Workers, and have allowed them to implement projects such as putting up encouraging messages all over our buildings to give students extra motivation. They also spent Anti-Bullying Week visiting the classrooms of our younger students to facilitate activities to promote kindness and inclusivity. Rachel explains that “we want to help students develop positive relationships in any way we can. Peer relations have an impact on student mental health, and student mental health has a profound impact on peer relations. When we help a student in one of these areas, we get to see how they improve holistically.” Jordyn adds, “our students and our families knowing us, and knowing what support we offer, is the first step. We will continue to build relationships so that everyone knows we always have an open door. A Bialik student’s success is our success.”


Family Spotlight

Obsessed with School Teachers get to know each child’s personality

YOU KNOW YOUR child adores school when he refuses to believe he can’t go there every day. When Brody Faibish, 6, was in JK, he insisted his parents take him to the Himel Branch one Saturday morning to prove it wasn’t open on weekends. Such is the excitement learning and sharing at Bialik holds for Brody and his sister, Emmy, 4. Their parents cherish the bond shared among the school community and the caring, individual attention given to their young children. Phil Faibish details the family’s connection with the Himel Branch: “My wife went to Jewish day school growing up and it was important for her to instil in our children those same Jewish values and traditions she learned. Bialik was an easy choice for us to make.” Phil and Danielle appreciate the frequent communication about what’s happening around the school. “We’re kept really well-informed and it definitely feels like a community rather than an institution.” The teachers have also been instrumental in ensuring their kids’ positive transition to Bialik. “They know our kids incredibly well — their likes and dislikes, their ‘shticks,’ their personalities — things you think only parents know. The teachers make an effort to understand our children beyond their learning styles and ability to comprehend the lesson plans.” Last year in SK, Mrs. Fisher knew how much Brody loved recreating what he learned at school on his computer at home. “One day, he made his own work-

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My wife went to Jewish day school growing up and it was important for her to instil those same Jewish values and traditions in our kids.”

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sheets and printed them out for his entire class,” says Phil. “Mrs. Fisher allowed him to hand them out and everyone spent time working on them. He came home the happiest boy in the world!” Another example of how much the children love Bialik was when Emmy was kept indoors for recess around the beginning of the war. Danielle and Phil recount that she refused to go back outside afterwards. “We eventually learned it was because her teacher, Brittany, had been staying inside with her and she had been getting so much one-on-one attention. She preferred to be indoors with Brittany rather than playing outdoors with her friends!” Both kids love learning the songs leading up to all the holidays and singing them for weeks at home. This year, Brody has enjoyed learning the Hebrew alphabet and playing Hebrew word games online. The kids enjoy coming into school after-hours for fun school-wide events and they love seeing their teachers outside the classroom. “Our kids are very proud to be part of Bialik, and it shows,” say Phil and Danielle. Through Bialik, the Faibish family hopes their kids will gain a deep appreciation for Israel, the Hebrew language, and Jewish traditions. “We hope they’ll grow up proud to be Jewish, proud to have been given the opportunity to learn about their history, and proud to share that knowledge and love with others. We can’t imagine being anywhere other than Bialik.”

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A Seamless Fit Easily integrating into our Bialik community IMAGINE MOVING YOUR child into a new school midway through Grade 1. If Sophie Shedletzky’s parents felt trepidation at this transition during a critical year, Bialik quickly eased any concerns. It helped that Stephen is an alum, attending Bialik from JK through Grade 8, graduating in 2001. The school, while comfortingly familiar, has modernized and grown. Stephen Shedletzky’01 and Julie Herczeg, parents of Sophie in Grade 2 and Jack in JK, reflect on how Bialik’s Viewmount Branch community clicked with and embraced their family: “In Bialik we found a school responsive to student needs and to current pedagogical research and evidence-based practice. We value the focus on the whole child, in both academic progress and social-emotional well-being. We sought a community of like-minded families, committed to supporting our children’s education and contributing to the community at large. Establishing a Jewish cultural identity for our children is also important to us.

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In Bialik we found a school responsive to student needs and to current pedagogical research and evidence-based practice.”

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Touring the school, we were impressed by all the educational programs, activities, and modern facilities, particularly the STEM Learning Commons. The branch is so active and vibrant. There are many opportunities that invite students and families to meet, socialize, and engage during and after school hours. When Sophie transitioned to Bialik halfway through Grade 1 in January 2023, she had had minimal exposure to Hebrew. The school suggested working with a tutor to bring her up to speed. Miri Simhon ensured that Sophie was well prepared for her start in the classroom. Sophie’s entire Grade 1 teaching team — Ari Bensimon, Oshrat Rotenberg, Paige Traber and Miri — were warm and welcoming, and ensured that she was supported every step of the way, socially and academically. We have been wonderfully supported by Danielle Waltman in Admissions and Karen Lidor, the Associate Director of General Studies. The entire administration team’s visibility and accessibility is remarkable. We feel extremely confident knowing that our children’s teachers truly know who they are and how they thrive. Our choice of Bialik has been affirmed again and again. Both kids enthusiastically tackle new concepts and new learning. They enjoy the myriad After 4 programs that allow them to pursue their interests and passions. We are grateful for evidence of our children’s growth and learning with artifacts they bring home, and the prompt, thorough, considerate communication from the teaching teams and administration. The school has done a fantastic job of navigating turbulent times with grace and clarity. The commitment to security and transparent communication is felt and so appreciated. Our goal is that our children become lifelong learners with a strong work ethic and moral character. We hope they are equipped to face and overcome challenges with perseverance and resilience, and develop foundational values as communityminded, contributing individuals. Bialik is helping our family establish that strong foundation.”


: Meet Our New Board Members : We’d like to introduce our Board President for 2023-2025, Leah Zilnik, and the new members joining the Board this term.

LEAH ZILNIK’94, President

When looking back at her old Bialik report cards, Leah Zilnik’94 sees that a commitment to being active in the Jewish community has always been a part of her DNA. Now, a mother of two Senior Division students at the Himel Branch and leading our Board of Directors, Leah wants to emphasize Bialik’s Neshama (Soul) –– how we connect as a community, who we are as a school and who we need to be as Bialik continues to grow. Leah knows that there are many ways to give back to Bialik, whether financially or with time, but participating on the Board offers another avenue to become a part of the community. “We want to make the experience on the Board meaningful and supportive of the school.” Our Board is composed of parents, life members and active community members. “This is all intentional,” says Leah. “This balance allows us to represent the history of our school along with the perspectives of current parents.” With an emphasis on sustaining the legacy of Bialik, Leah is looking

forward to leading a Board full of equally passionate representatives. “Bialik set me up academically for life. It taught me how to approach problem solving, how to ask questions, how to be curious about the world and how to go about finding information and processing it. It instilled in me a pride for Judaism and a love of learning; now everything comes full circle and I get to give back.” GERSHON HURWEN

Gershon is a Viewmount parent of three students. He is active in community leadership, is the founder of Vitality Capital and CEO of a number of companies. NADINE ROCKMAN KATZ

Nadine is a parent of three Viewmount students. She works as counsel at Torys LLP, with a focus on debt financing transactions. DEBRA ARONSON

Debra is a parent of two Viewmount graduates. She has a background in electrical engineering and holds numerous leadership roles in the community. MORAN EICHLER

Moran is a parent of three Himel students and CoChair of the Himel PA. She is an entrepreneur, with a business in activity engagement and entertainment booking.

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LEAH BARUCH

Leah is a parent of two Viewmount students and holds an LLB. She is CoChair of the Viewmount Parent Association and is active in community leadership. PAUL ORLANDER

Paul is a parent of three Bialik graduates and has rejoined the Bialik Board as a past president. He is a seasoned strategic leader and financial services executive. NICOLE DASON

Nicole is a parent of two and represents Na’amat on the Bialik Board. She is an experienced banking professional and sits on the Na’amat Toronto Board. DANIELLE ZUCKERLEVY’98

Danielle is a parent of two Viewmount students. She is a seasoned Human Resources professional and has served on our Board Nominations Committee. ADAM HUMMEL

Adam is a parent of two Himel students. He is very active in the community, founded the Catch: Jewish Canadian Ideas Substack, and practices as an immigration lawyer.


Our Community

Sowing the Seeds of Jewish Culture Anne Sokoloff and Renee Topper fondly recall the evening meetings that led to the founding of our school

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AS A YOUNG MOTHER in a new home in the early 1960s, Renee Topper offered her guests bridge chairs to sit on. This simple set-up was used for many meetings as her husband Victor z”l and Julius Sokoloff z”l engaged potential partners and parents in discussions about the formation of a new Hebrew day school. (continued on page 24)

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Our Community

(continued from page 23) “Moshe Menachovsky, Principal of the Borochov evening school, called my husband and Victor about starting a Jewish day school, a pluralistic, not a secular one,” says Anne Sokoloff. They were very interested and thus began the evening meetings at the Topper home. Over 60 years later, Anne still talks about the history of the school as though she’s the honorary Bialik archivist. Anne notes that Julius wanted a school with a curriculum that he didn’t see in other schools of the time, and three things in particular: first, Jewish history taught alongside world history; second, Yiddish language with its history of great literature; and third, teaching about Israel in Hebrew. RENEE AND VICTOR hosted the meetings to engage people and generate interest in the school to help populate the first few grades. Renee points out that with four children at the time — her oldest was six — she was quite busy while the discussions took place in her living room. Similarly busy, Victor was a businessman by day and Julius was a pharmacist. “There was always time to do something that meant something to you,” says Renee. “When their day jobs were done, they had these evening meetings, but we were younger and had the energy.” The group succeeded in creating enough interest for the Labour Zionist Alliance (LZA) to provide space in their building on Viewmount Avenue for Bialik to be born. Renee’s oldest daughter and Anne’s son were in the same class when the school opened in September 1961 with a nursery, a Kindergarten and a Grade 1 class. Earlier that year, U.S. President John F. Kennedy made a speech to Canada’s Parliament and Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. The popular hits of the day included “Stand By Me” by Ben King, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley, and “Crazy” by Patsy Cline.

including the first two teachers, for encouraging registrations. Both Victor and Julius were part of Bialik’s first Board of Directors. “Julius was active in the school from its beginning until his last week of life in 1995,” says Anne. “He was on the Board and various other committees for over 30 years.” Once the school was established, she was the first Chair of the PTA. Yuri Gagarin was the first human to fly into space for what was then the Soviet Union, while East Germany began construction of the Berlin Wall. In Toronto, 64 Jewish children became the first Bialik students. “I remember the days when the bus driver, Sam, would come and take my daughter to school,” says Renee, who can still picture the open concept space where the Principal’s desk sat. There was no elevator, so everyone walked upstairs to the rooms used for the school. She credits the small but impressive staff,

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Anne notes that Julius wanted a school with a curriculum that he didn’t see in other schools of the time, and three things in particular: first, Jewish history taught alongside world history; second, Yiddish language with its history of great literature; and third, teaching about Israel in Hebrew.”

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OVER THE YEARS, Bialik kept expanding. The LZA moved out of 12 Viewmount Avenue to the Borochov Centre so that the school could use all of the space, explains Anne. “Eventually, Bialik purchased the property next door, which had been a supermarket, and built on it,” she adds. Anne notes that Julius always dreamed of having a branch of the school in the north to serve the Jewish community in Thornhill. Of course, this came to fruition in June 2012 with a groundbreaking ceremony for what would become the Himel Branch. Renee attended the ceremony with a pail and shovel and took some of the dirt to her husband’s resting place, knowing how much it would have meant to him to see the success and growth of Bialik. Over the years, Anne and Renee have continued to be members of the school community, staying in touch and attending events from time to time. In fact, Renee recently visited the Viewmount STEM Learning Commons’ greenhouse for a very personal reason. Her grandson, Aaron, is the President of West Coast Seeds, and has supplied seeds for the school to use in the greenhouse, tower gardens and tea gardens. Today, Renee marvels to see the size of the school. “It’s like the seeds we’re growing in the display, what a metaphor,” she laughs. “It’s amazing how it’s grown. If only Julius and Vic could see it now.”


An Irreplaceable Supportive Community How family involvement elevates Bialik above the rest

LISA AND DANIEL METRIKIN moved to Toronto from New York when they were expecting their first child. Bialik factored into their decision, explains Lisa, who graduated from the school in 1999 as Lisa Skapinker. “I really wanted a school that was academically challenging but that provided a Jewish cultural education with nurturing, growth and love,” she says. Despite the many Hebrew day schools in New York, nothing mirrored Bialik and her experience of the supportive environment that it offered. The Metrikin’s daughter, Elliott, started JK in September and their son, Elijah, is now in Grade 2. He frequently comes home talking endlessly about his experiences in the STEM Learning Commons. He takes a real pride in the coding he learns and the videos he builds, often showing them off to the whole family. Today’s technology wasn’t available when Lisa attended the school and she’s so impressed with its availability to students. She says having access to a laptop also gives Elijah a sense of ownership over his schoolwork. But tech isn’t all he’s enjoying at school; Elijah is “very excited” about Hebrew too. Lisa’s tenure at Bialik was broken up when she spent her Grade 6 year in Israel. She returned fluent in Hebrew and grateful that her education at Bialik had prepared her well to integrate into

Israeli society during her time there. A fiction writer and editor, Lisa recalls the encouragement she received to pursue her creative interests while at Bialik. Last year, she returned the sentiment when she spoke to the Senior Division students as part of the annual Learn In. “There was a real passion about writing and creative pursuits,” she says. “The students are very engaged and I think it all starts with the early literacy program and how Bialik fosters excitement around reading and storytelling.” Lisa volunteers frequently at the school. This is her third year as a class

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I really wanted a school that was academically challenging but that provided a Jewish cultural education with nurturing, growth and love.”

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parent, while she also co-leads the organization of the Viewmount Chanukah party and the Back to School party. In some ways, she’s continuing her family’s history of connection to Bialik. Her brother has a child attending Bialik and, when she and her brothers were enrolled, her mother volunteered and her father, Mark, was on the Board, including serving as President. For Lisa’s husband Daniel, being a part of the Bialik community has been a positive and welcoming experience. He grew up in the U.S. and attended the El Paso Jewish Day School in West Texas, with a very small student body. He has a strong connection to his Jewish cultural identity, but at that time didn’t have the large community aspect that he appreciates now. “That’s what makes it special, it’s the family involvement,” says Lisa. “Everyone cares about the kids and the community, so there’s such value in volunteering.” The Metrikins find that they are inspired by other families and the support amongst the group. Lisa points out that recent world events really highlight how unique Bialik’s community is, saying it’s “irreplaceable.”


Our Community

A Family Affair Spanning Generations What started as just a school became a connection to community

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AT A PAST SEDER, Don Biback was surprised to be called out by his grandchildren for “skipping some parts.” His efforts to keep the grandkids engaged by avoiding an overly lengthy ritual turned out to be unnecessary. “I was really impressed with Jacob, Noah and Ethan and their knowledge of the holiday,” he says. “They wanted to sing certain songs they liked.” Don and his wife, Cookie, say that what their grandkids learn at Bialik makes celebrating holidays with them very special. Jacob, who just graduated Grade 8 last June, was the youngest student at the Himel Branch when it

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The school provides a very high academic education, then above that, there’s the cultural learning — the Hebrew, Yiddish, focus on holidays. Our experience has been so incredible and we’re honoured to be involved.”

opened. Don recalls him being in a picture at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Bibacks didn’t realize at the time how Jacob’s enrolment in Bialik would also facilitate their connection to the community and begin a regular practice of supporting the school. “We were always invited to attend performances and events, which was nice as grandparents to feel the sense of community,” says Don. Over the years, they got to know the teachers and administrators well. As the school grew, the Bibacks got involved in various ways. They purchased Mezuzot to honour their parents and were thrilled when the school organized a dedication ceremony that meant four generations

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could come together. So, Don was happy to help with other fundraising activities, including encouraging people to sponsor classrooms. “The school provides a very high academic education, then above that, there’s the cultural learning — the Hebrew, Yiddish, focus on holidays. Our experience has been so incredible and we’re honoured to be involved,” says Don of his reasons for giving back. Before the pandemic, he was approached to be chair of the capital campaign because of his prior experience in fundraising. Some of the campaign goals included Himel’s expansion to allow for a new gym and more classrooms. Don felt he should lead the campaign by example, so made a generous donation resulting in the Junior Division wing bearing the Biback name. “The school brings so much light to the kids,” says Cookie. “It’s more than just theory with the music they learn, the STEM Lab, and they learn so quickly in Hebrew. Our grandkids love going to school.” Don and Cookie attended the Yom HaShoah presentation and were in awe of the Grade 8 students speaking so well and moving easily between English, Hebrew, French and Yiddish. While it’s not yet time for their turn at this annual event, Noah and Ethan love being involved in performances. Both are in the choir and take part in many school volunteer events. Don believes it’s building confidence for them to be on stage and have a voice. As grandparents to six grandchildren, the Bibacks try to see their family every week, so being welcome at Bialik helps them stay connected. Their other three grandchildren — Alexandra, Theo and Demi — don’t attend Bialik, but have enjoyed supporting their cousins by attending a number of events. When Jacob celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in January 2023, many of his Bialik friends attended regardless of their current school. Some asked to speak and Don was again impressed: “These kids gave unbelievable speeches. The quality of the friendships he’s developed are special and enduring.”


Our Alumni

He credits Bialik with sparking his interest in Israel and forming his Jewish identity. His schooling laid the foundation for understanding the Jewish culture, including speaking Hebrew and Yiddish.

NATHAN LADOVSKY’03

Feeding His Culture CEO of a Toronto Jewish staple serves his community

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athan Ladovsky’03 is the fourth generation in his family to head United Bakers Dairy Restaurant. Since 1912, Toronto’s Jewish community has relied on United Bakers for bagels, challah, gefilte fish and pea soup, amongst other home-cooked favourites. “It’s such a joy when teachers from Bialik come by and I get to serve them and meet their extended families,” says Nathan. “It’s like coming full circle.” He credits Bialik with sparking his interest in Israel and forming his Jewish identity. His schooling laid the foundation for understanding the Jewish culture, including speaking Hebrew and Yiddish. “When Jerusalem turned 3,000, Ziona Hagler hosted a party and we all got medals. I remember thinking it was cool to see Israelis celebrating Israel in Canada,” he says. In addition to the cultural teachings, Nathan loved spending time in the science lab. He even offered to spend lunch there cleaning test tubes. Although he didn’t pursue science in later years, it allowed him to explore his creativity and curiosity. After attending TanenbaumCHAT, Nathan travelled to Halifax, first for the Foundation Year Program at University of King’s College, then to Dalhousie, where he earned an undergraduate degree in political science and history. All the while, he worked in kitchens, preparing for a return to the family business. With his degree in hand, he returned to Toronto and moved between various roles at United Bakers — dishwashing, line cook, prep cook. One summer he managed the kitchen. As he started to work more in the front of the restaurant he decided to further build his skills through education. This took him south of the border to Cornell University and the Nolan School of Hotel Administration where he earned a Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) in 2018. Not long after getting more involved in managing the restaurant, Nathan and his family

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faced the pandemic. His leadership training meant that he could implement best practices while they sought to “change to stay the same,” which meant leveraging technology to ensure a safe environment. As his father Philip and Aunt Ruthie begin retiring from United Bakers, Nathan is taking on more of an ownership role and he now holds the title of CEO. It’s important to him that he balances his busy professional life with time in nature. That has included competing in triathlons and marathons. “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” says Nathan, describing his recent passion for running ultraraces. The time outside training for the 100-kilometre-plus trail running events helps to “keep him in alignment,” he says. This past year, he completed two of these endurance runs, logging 16 hours running a race in Arizona and 20 hours navigating climbing terrain in Alberta. He capped off that achievement by proposing to his girlfriend, Sandra, shortly afterwards. Now, there’s a wedding in the works too! Nathan jokes that he’s powered by pea soup. “If you can endure Rosh HaShanah or Passover, you can do an ultra-race,” he says, bringing it back once again to his connection to the Jewish culture. In recent visits to Chicago and New York to run their marathons, Nathan included post-race stops for heimische fare at Manny’s and Katz’s delis respectively.


LAURA GOLDFARB’12

Hard Work Paves the Way to Success This young alum is poised to take on top legal roles

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s she maps out her future, Laura Goldfarb’12 sees a place for Bialik in it. She wants to stay in the community and eventually send her own children to the school one day. For now, Laura is devoted to achieving her goal of becoming a civil litigator. Laura attended Wilfrid Laurier University for her bachelor’s degree in political science as her first step in the journey. Just this past year, Laura obtained her law degree at the University of Toronto, earning the Gold Medal for the highest grades in the program and the Dean’s Key for extracurricular excellence. Now, she is working hard to obtain well-rounded experiences within the legal field as she completes her articles before being called to the bar. Laura attributes much of her success to her Bialik days. “I got a really rigorous, solid education,” she says. “The fact that we learned half in Hebrew and half in English helped my ability to remember things. I think learning a language like Hebrew, through song and cultural practices while you’re young and before you fully understand the context, has made a positive impact on me.” With her vision set on practising law, Laura dedicated her extracurricular time at university to “mooting.” A type of mock trial, moot court was a forum for her to compete in the “lawyer” role for a mock appeal. With no juries or witnesses,

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I think learning a language like Hebrew, through song and cultural practices while you’re young and before you fully understand the context, has made a positive impact on me.”

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appeals rely on a lawyer’s ability to present an argument to a judge. In the case of moot court, “lawyers” represent each side of the appeal and make their arguments to a panel of three judges who pepper them with questions. Laura competed in the Gale Cup Moot, Canada’s top criminal law moot, and UofT’s mooting showcase, known as the Grand Moot. In her final year of law school she was on the student committee that ran the mooting program and she coached participants. While Laura has been spending time crafting effective legal arguments, back when she attended Bialik, she was particularly interested in art. She took her love of art outside of the classroom and designed the school’s yearbook. More recently, she was an editor for the journal Critical Analysis of Law and volunteered with a legal clinic focused on intellectual property law. Laura was also a representative of the Jewish Law Students’ Association. Outside of moot court, her law experience includes two summers working as a law clerk supporting civil litigation at the Bay Street firm of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. Currently, she is a Judicial Law Clerk at the Ontario Court of Appeal. Laura already has next year’s role lined up — she will be clerking for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Laura admits that she is sometimes shocked by her early success, but knows that ultimately she worked hard for it. “I do attribute my progress to the standards that Bialik set for me,” says Laura. “There was always an expectation of working hard to achieve your goals.”


Our Alumni

EVAN TANNENBAUM’03

Nurturing a Love of Science and Medicine Coming full circle from his days at Bialik

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r. Evan Tannenbaum’03 has a vivid memory from his senior years at Bialik. Working with a partner, he was tasked with developing a science project on a topic of their choosing. “We prepared a talk on SSRIs, a class of drug used to treat depression,” he says. The pair developed an infographic explaining how the treatment works on a cellular and molecular level. “I’ll never forget it because it demonstrates the level of academics both expected of us and delivered to us,” says Evan, laughing about his recollection of being a kid talking knowledgeably about neurotransmitters. The memory also indicates his early love of science and medicine that was nurtured at Bialik. Evan pursued a career in medicine, completing his undergraduate degree in science at McGill University before going to medical school at the University of Toronto. After his residency at U of T, he also completed a master’s degree at McMaster University. Now, Evan is teaching others. As a physician, he is a clinician educator at Sinai Health System, practising general obstetrics and gynaecology. Assistant Professor in the U of T Temerty Faculty of Medicine, he teaches medical students and residents in clinical spaces to not only care for patients but also to collaborate with other health-care professionals. His research focuses on various aspects of medical education, including assessment, competency-based medical education and feedback. “During my training, I was very moved by the experience of being able to provide care at such an important time in people’s lives,” he says. “Pregnancy and childbirth can be a very

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During my training, I was very moved by the experience of being able to provide care at such an important time in people’s lives.”

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positive experience and yet there are aspects that can go wrong too. I enjoy helping families through it.” Evan has a young family himself. He recently moved with his wife, Ruth, and two children not far from Bialik’s Viewmount Branch. When deciding on their home purchase and driving past the school, Evan felt all the happy memories from his time at Bialik coming back. To this day, his closest friends are those he made while at Bialik. The school provided Evan with a sense of pride in his Jewish identity and culture and a love of Israel. He learned “a decent amount of Hebrew” and a sense of Zionism. “I loved my time at Bialik,” says Evan. “Academically, of all my schooling, it offered the greatest challenge and set the foundation for learning and an appreciation of the value of education.” In September, Evan’s daughter, Georgie, started JK at Viewmount and the Tannenbaums officially returned to the Bialik community. He’s looking forward to experiencing the school’s impact as a parent in the years to come.


Weddings

Annie (Smith) Hyman’10 and Oliver Hyman

Pamela Forster and Eli Zeldin’02

Jonah Friedman and Taylor Resnick’09

Sam Sokol’05 and Robbie Khazzam

Arielle Brickman’08 and Max Zworth

Hunter Rowe Cohen Parents Matt Cohen and Laurel (Sas) Cohen’03

Isabel Alice Gottesman Parents Marly Peikes’05 and Jonathan Gottesman’05

Charlie Rhodes Skapinker Parents Erin and Josh Skapinker’06

Milo Sidney Bittker Parents Hannah Manson’05 and J.J. Bittker

Babies

Blake Reide Slan Parents Shanna Kirshenblatt’03 and Luke Slan

Simchas and Stories Hearing all the Nachat our alumni are enjoying since graduation brings us great joy. Mazal Tov to all our alumni who have celebrated their weddings and the arrival of new babies. If you have news to share, please update us by emailing advancement@bialik.ca. Owen Miles Hyman Parents Annie (Smith) Hyman’10 and Oliver Hyman

Emmett Davis Cohen Parents Jessica Gold’04 and Matt Cohen

Emma Faye Rosenberg Parents Jake Rosenberg’05 and Lesley Donsky Rosenberg

Molly Cynthia Lass Parents Sara (Gurza) Lass’03 and Jordan Lass

Nathan Leo Nofech-Mozes Parents Jaclyn (Ludmer) Nofech-Mozes’05 and Roy Nofech-Mozes’05

Noah Joseph Wise Parents Jessica Danilewitz’06 and Daniel Wise

Ellie Rae Sas Parents Rossi Sas’04 and Zoe Sas

Paige Remi Krikler Parents Danny Krikler’06 and Rachel Krikler

Parker Kellner Adirim Parents Becca Kellner’04 and Zach Adirim

Sonny Miles Gurza Parents Dani Gurza and Adam Gurza’06

Tali Yael Cohen-Rimmer Parents Yoav Cohen-Rimmer’07 and Sara Levine

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WINTER 2024


: Community Events : At Bialik, we truly value our wonderful community. Events that bring us all together, either in our branches or as a whole school, are memorable times that we cherish, especially when we can celebrate our students’ learning at the same time. Over the last year, we have been so happy to have some extraordinary community events organized by our staff and parent volunteers.

Challah Bakes Bring Our Community Together CHALLAH BAKES ARE a time-honoured Jewish tradition, providing us with wonderful opportunities to come together for the Mitzvah of creating a beautiful Challah, feel the unity in our community, and reflect on who we are as a Jewish people. Over the past year, our gyms at both branches have buzzed with the positive, reflective energy of many families participating in Challah Bakes organized by our Parent Associations. Families who have attended have appreciated the communal space they have provided, especially as we’ve faced the war in Israel together. At Viewmount, while the dough was rising, parents heard about strategies for talking with kids about Israel from cognitive behavioural

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therapy counsellor, Leanne Matlow. Bialik parent, previous staff member and now the Associate Director of Digital Activism at UJA, Jessica Waks, spoke about dealing with antisemitism online. More than 200 parents attended Himel’s meaningful Challah Bake in November, also attended by a number of local political dignitaries. Prayers were offered for Klal Yisrael, the hostages taken by Hamas and the people we have lost. Speakers Bonnie Jackson from One Family Fund and the elected officials in attendance addressed our Jewish community’s right to feel safe while identifying and practising Judaism. Together, both branches raised $14,000 in support of Israel.

WINTER 2024


Bialik Games WITH A LOT of excitement and fanfare, in May 2023, we held our first-ever Bialik Games at The Hangar. Organizing this event was no small feat and Viewmount parents Lauren Sigal and Zack Belzberg kindly, enthusiastically and bravely, took the helm of the parentadmin committee that made it all happen. Parents were invited to participate in teams of ten, raising money for the school through peer-to-peer fundraising. Sporting their bright team T-shirts, competitors took to the field in a range of energetic, but not too strenuous, lawn sports. With teams including parents from both branches, everyone felt connected and engaged in giving back to the school they love. Kids also had a wonderful time participating in their version of the Games. The championship cup went to Team Bialik4Lyfe, and Team Sisi’s Bakeshop received the Kavod as our top fundraising team. Plans are already underway for an even bigger and better 2024 Bialik Games.

Comedy Night

Bialik Farmers Markets OUR FANTASTIC FIRST-EVER Farmers Markets, held at both branches this past May, were the culmination of months of the students’ hard work on their community garden projects. Our families were thrilled to purchase the many pots of student-grown herbs, flowers, vegetables and seedlings. Says Karen Lidor, Associate Director of General Studies and the leader of this enterprise, “We were pleased to teach our students about food security and the importance of giving back to those in need by donating the proceeds from this special event to Mazon Canada. This project allowed students to quite literally get their hands dirty while learning about Tzedakah, environmentalism and sustainability.”

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SETTING THE SCENE FOR some serious laughs, the Viewmount Gym underwent a sensational makeover for the PA’s Comedy Night in May 2023. The sold-out audience thoroughly enjoyed the Gym’s transformation into a cocktail lounge with a full service bar and passed food and snacks before and during the show. Parents from both branches came together for a night of fantastic entertainment with comedian Pat McGann, known for his razor-sharp wit and relatable humour about family life and marriage. Pat had the audience rolling in the aisles and wiping tears from their eyes at this wonderful night full of hilarity and celebration. Special thanks go to the organizing committee who worked so hard to plan this memorable night.

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WINTER 2024


STAND TOGETHER ON DAY OF GIVING The Jewish education of our future leaders is now more important than ever.

Join us on Day of Giving and show your support for our school. We rely on you, our Bialik Kehilah, to donate to our school and keep our Jewish community strong. Mark your calendars for Day of Giving on Wednesday, March 6, 2024.


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