CHATTER - Spring 2021

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CHATTER SPRING 2021 / 5781 ‫אביב‬

Calling all alumni: let’s connect!

The Power of Parents A global Generations Day Finding the silver lining in a pandemic


CHATTER Spring 2021 / 5781

‫אביב‬

The Chatter is published through the TanenbaumCHAT Advancement Office and is distributed to more than 9,000 alumni, parents, donors and friends of the school.

Messages:  Head of School  3 President of the Board of Directors   4

Editor: Jane Rimmer

COVER STORY:

Design & Layout: Ulrike Balke

Spotlight: Alumni – The launch of a new project that will celebrate the impact of our alumni on the world  17

Printing: Superior Printing & Litho Inc. Follow us on

Regulars:  QUICK STUDY: Highlights from around the school  5

Facebook: @TanenbaumCHAT1 Instagram: @tanenbaumchat LinkedIn: TanenbaumCHAT Alumni Association TanenbaumCHAT 416-636-5984 info@tanenbaumchat.org www.tanenbaumchat.org www.PoweringTanenbaumCHAT.org

17 10 POWERING TanenbaumCHAT Finding the silver lining in a pandemic  11 In Memory of Alex & Alyce Orzy z”l  12

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Cover Image: Daniel Malen

The Power of Parents   14 A global Generations Day   15 Remembering Cooki Levy z”l   16 ALUMNI UPDATES Alumni News & Notes  21 Alumni Back @TanenbaumCHAT  23 Introducing Jesse Primerano ’11  24 Mazal Tov!   25

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Director of Advancement Frances Bigman, CFRE fbigman@tanenbaumchat.org Director of Admissions Laurie Wasser, CAEP lwasser@tanenbaumchat.org Alumni News & Notes submissions: PoweringTanenbaumCHAT.org/share-your-news or contact Jesse Primerano ’11 at: jprimerano@tanenbaumchat.org


Message from the Head of School Jonathan Levy, Ph.D.

S

ome 30 years ago, a young mother escaped Russia and moved to Canada. Not knowing anyone, she approached a Jewish day school administrator looking for a suitable place where her child could be educated. Without any hesitation or thought to language or financial barriers, the principal simply told this woman that her daughter, a Jewish child, needed to go to a Jewish school, and accepted her. I recently heard from the young girl about how the acceptance to that school all those years ago changed the course of her life. My mother, Cooki Levy z”l, the principal who accepted this young girl, was a legend in the field of Jewish education, first as a teacher, then as a principal, head of school and consultant. Her knowledge, expertise, compassion, leadership and sense of humour were well known. What is less well known is that in 1988, she taught a class of 15-year-old boys, of which I was one. Perhaps it was our first “professional” experience together as my career ultimately arced after hers. We had frequent discussions about Jewish education, values and visions, and even had the opportunity to give presentations together. Her ideals influenced me profoundly: educate the whole child, set a high bar, show compassion, and never underestimate the value your small role in someone’s education can have over the direction of their life. TanenbaumCHAT shares many of these fundamental values and I suppose that is what drew me to the school 12 years ago. With a robust New Stream program that provides a Jewish education to those who have never attended Jewish school before, extraordinary curricular and extra-curricular options, and a commitment to tuition accessibility, TanenbaumCHAT is strongly positioned to continue to provide an outstanding education to the next generations of Toronto Jews. My mother would be very proud. ◆

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Message from the President, Board of Directors Howard Simkevitz ’91

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t’s hard (for me) to believe that I graduated from this wonderful high school 30 years ago, this spring. It’s not so much the passage of time or the obviousness of change that makes this milestone seem so profound. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s hard for me to believe it’s been so long because TanenbaumCHAT is still so much a part of my life. I say this not in jest but after considered introspection. My parents, who understood the value of a Jewish education, encouraged me to attend for Grade 9. I didn’t know many people, my Hebrew skills were less than honed, and the prospect of an eighthour day with 12 classes made the whole enterprise seem rather daunting. I was reluctant at best, and so it was, until the first day of class. Among my closest friends today, are the friends I made at high school. It’s not because they are necessarily like-minded – it’s because they are mentschen, honest people, kind and caring. They are the type of people you need in your life – those who will be as quick to celebrate the good times as they will be to provide support when times are not so good. These friends are still so much a part of my life. As my Hebrew language skills developed, so too did my interest in, and connection with, Judaism and the State of Israel. Make no mistake about it, Hebrew literacy is key to the Jewish experience. Without access to our primary texts, access to Judaism is inhibited. This point has proven true both in terms of my own experience and when I compare my experience to those who did not receive the same fundamental training. Knowing Hebrew has allowed me to ask the right questions, to explore our rich history and, ultimately, to make informed decisions about my religion (not to mention it makes arguing with a cab driver in Tel Aviv much easier). Hebrew is still so much a part of my life. As a student, I worked hard. The demands of the curriculum were such that you really didn’t have much of a choice. However, the intensity of the experience had merit. I was taught how to think critically, manage my time and multi-task. I was taught how to deal with adversity, contend with failure and strive for success. The work ethic I developed as a result is still so much a part of my life. In the face of the passage of time, life experience can be lasting. We cling to the formative. In Pirkei Avot, it is written: the world stands on three things: Torah, work and deeds of kindness. These were the pillars bolstered beneath me through my high school experience, and I recognize now that they’ve withstood the test of time – even some 30 years later. ◆ 4 | CHATTER Magazine SPRING 2021


Highlights from around the school Thinking Pink THE BEAT GOES ON Students continue to learn and grow, and are challenged in many ways in the music department. The music room has been upgraded with the latest air filtration system and special seating, and students have been equipped with specialized music PPE – for themselves and their instruments! Many new music software applications have been adopted which allow students to play with each other from home and with recordings of their music pieces. The curriculum has been enhanced with sound editing, and students can now audio edit their own performances to create virtual ensembles.

Students and staff dressed to impress in support of this year’s iteration of “Think Pink” for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Families were invited to watch small ensemble band performances live via Zoom. The TanenbaumCHAT Singers and the Jazz Band meet regularly. They performed at TanenbaumCHAT’s Got Talent, and at a donor appreciation event and Generations Day. Students’ recordings from all music classes this year will be featured in a virtual music night in June – stay tuned!

The Fireside Chat After a long history of print publication, this year our student newspaper went digital. Find our student journalists here: www.thefiresidechat.org.

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Highlights from around the school

YACHAD It’s heartening to see our students continuing to connect and support one another as well as others in our wider community. Case in point: one evening in November, 20 TanenbaumCHAT students and 30 members of Yachad – an international organization dedicated to enhancing the life opportunities of Jewish individuals with developmental disabilities or other learning challenges – met online to enjoy games, activities and breakout rooms.

A Taste of Shabbaton The Grade 9 Taste of Shabbaton, masterminded by Keren Romm ’98, Co-Director of Student Activities, was this year’s creative stand-in for regular Shabbaton programming. This in-school and online series of events included ice-breakers, discussions around important concepts like Jewish identity and shabbat, guest speakers from our community (Rabbi David Grundland from Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue and Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin from Beth Tzedec Congregation), Israel Engagement activities run by our shlichim Lee Kestecher Solomon and Ariel Solomon, craft projects, and challah making. It was not the same as a traditional shabby to be sure, however “it gave students the opportunity to experience the highlights and, of even more importance, socialize with their friends outside of class,” says Keren.

AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE We were proud to mark the accomplishments of our Awards of Excellence recipients. The honours were for 2019/2020, and so the grades noted here in parentheses are for that academic year. (Pictured left to right) The Edith and Victor Sefton Award for academic achievement went to Aaron Black (9), Shira Reznik (10), and Noah Juravsky (11). The Tikkun Olam Award for Distinguished Service went to Jacob David (9), Natanel Roizenman (10) and Ori Epstein (11). Yeshiva University Model UN A TanenbaumCHAT delegation participated in the Yeshiva University Model UN – a student-run simulation, fully online this year, that provides an opportunity for students to learn about the complex landscape of international diplomacy. Close to 350 students from 35 schools attended virtually. Our team represented Thailand in various UN committees. Roni Vicus (Grade 11) in UNICEF, and Ori Epstein (Grade 12) in UNEP, received honourable mentions for best delegate of their respective committees. 6 | CHATTER Magazine SPRING 2021


TanenbaumCHAT’s Got Talent This year’s talent show – dubbed Into the Unknown: QuaranTEEN Edition – was a onehour extravaganza of song, dance, comedy, magic and surprises, all pre-recorded in individual “home studios”, aka outdoor locations, bedrooms, living rooms and garages!

Interesting speakers

L to R: Shawn Lichaa, Adam Abid Alexander, Anthony Housefather

One upside of connecting online is that guest speakers can participate from far afield. For example, in his Grade 9 and 10 Jewish History courses, Rabbi Shaanan Scherer ’96, hosted Guy Yehoshua, a member of the Samaritan community in Holon, and Shawn Lichaa, a member of the Karaite community in San Francisco, along with Adam Abid Alexander of the Ahmadian Muslim community closer to home in Toronto. Extra-curriculars have also hosted virtual visitors. For example, MP Anthony Housefather joined the Politics Club in mid-October for a discussion that included the government’s response to COVID-19, minority rights, and Canada’s foreign policy.

VIRTUAL DESTINATION: ISRAEL Our shlichim, Lee Kestecher Solomon and Ariel Solomon, joined forces with our Athletic Council and Israel Engagement committee to create Tigers Trekking Israel. With an eye to staying active during the pandemic, this online experience in support of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto allowed participants to exercise locally and log their distance virtually across an Israeli “hike” of more than 1,000 km.

Fellowship for Dr. Nicholas Maes TanenbaumCHAT teacher, Dr. Nicholas Maes, was awarded an inaugural Abraham Lincoln Teacher’s Fellowship. This new initiative by the Tikvah Fund provides an advanced seminar on American history and civilization for Jewish day school and yeshiva educators. This is Nick’s 18th year at TanenbaumCHAT where he teaches history (Canadian, American, modern, western, and ancient) and politics. www.tanenbaumchat.org | 7


Highlights from around the school Remembering... During Holocaust Education Week, TanenbaumCHAT was once again honoured to have survivor Elly Gotz tell his story to students, both in school and learning remotely. For Remembrance Day, the school community came together for a beautiful and thoughtful student-led online ceremony to commemorate those who have served Canada during times of war, conflict and peace.

Let’s chat about mental health Tools in your mental health toolbox was the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW). Established in 2014 by Guidance Counsellor Stacia Wolle, the annual MHAW includes a variety of relaxing and fun activities, lots of shared information to expand the educational component of mental health, as well as interactive programs run by an enthusiastic student committee. An incredibly well-attended Zoom assembly welcomed back TanenbaumCHAT alumni to share their mental health journeys and stories of hope (see p.23 for more). This year also saw the launch of the MHAW website which contains important resources for our TanenbaumCHAT family and the community at large. See tchatmhaw.weebly.com, and continue the conversation around mental health.

DRAMATIC FLAIR This year, despite the many safety protocols in place, the Drama Department has worked hard to allow students to form strong artistic and social bonds, and to hone their skills as actors, writers, directors and producers. “What has been truly amazing to witness is the resilience, commitment to the creative process and excellent work of our students,” says Lori Fahidi, Department Head. Grade 9 students created original scenes using both mime and tableau, and wrote and performed monologues – some of which explored the difficulties of the past year. Grade 10s performed the play Check Please in person, online, 8 | CHATTER Magazine SPRING 2021

and as a hybrid of the two. They adapted material that was written for the stage to video, and in their final productions the usual production elements of costumes, props and sets were augmented by digital components like sound effects, opening titles, closing credits, Zoom backgrounds and even editing! The show must go on of course – and it will, in Quad 4, when Grade 11 and 12 Drama is scheduled.


Holiday celebrations Pandemic notwithstanding, we’ve continued to mark holidays at TanenbaumCHAT. For chanukah, candles were lit – safely! – in each classroom, and there was a wealth of in-class programming, prizes, dreidel games, ugly sweater days, and a virtual, school-wide assembly. Fully online for Tu B’shvat, classes could join a Jewish National Fund virtual experience: a tour of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, or a look at the migratory bird species and biodiversity of Israel. Back in school for Purim, we were treated to two days (one each for Cohorts A and B) of fabulous costumes and individually packaged hamantaschen, and a rousing reading of Megillat Esther!

Unwinding Online Over the last few months, thanks to our Student Activities team, our school community has enjoyed all kinds of fun online gatherings that have provided a chance to connect and unwind. These have included the Teachers vs. Students Games; the 5th annual student spelling bee, and bingo night for students, staff and families.

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Highlights from around the school

Time to help During Quad 2 this year, our students were provided with many opportunities to contribute their time, compassion and talents to a range of local community organizations through our JesinNeuberger Community Service Program. Here are a few examples. At Ve’Ahavta our students made blankets, prepared food, packed Harm Reduction supply kits, and collected and sorted clothing donations and supplies, all of which were distributed to hundreds of Torontonians living on or near the streets. “We are so grateful to these students for their volunteering – and positive attitudes!” says Ruth Hart, Volunteer Services Coordinator. When the women of the Toronto Jewish Quilting Project – an initiative of the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, Toronto Section – decided to add quilted pot holders

to their Passover Food Drive boxes, they realized that “hand-sewing 2,000 of these was a huge challenge during COVID as we have not been meeting,” notes Eva Karpati, President. Then she realized that TanenbaumCHAT students “could learn a new skill and participate.” Eva says it, “was an absolute delight, and a pleasure to meet them and work with them.” Our students supported children and families through Jewish Family and Child Services (JF&CS). According to Sharyn Feldman, Supervisor, Family Resource Centre, the parents in the matched families were appreciative of the homework help our students provided. With Reena programming all online, finding ways to engage has been challenging. However, TanenbaumCHAT students stepped up. “The volunteers from TanenbaumCHAT have been great,” says Raquel Heayn, Coordinator, Volunteer Services. “They are kind, helpful, have a positive attitude, take helping others seriously, and have genuine empathy for the individuals they are volunteering with.”

Many of our students returned to their elementary schools to help younger students with reading, math, test preparation, homework, and socialemotional support. Associated Hebrew Schools (AHS) and Bialik Hebrew Day School are just two examples. At AHS, Danilack Volunteer Tutor Initiative Coordinators, Sarah Bernholtz and Debbie Cohen-Savage ’93, note that “the volunteers took their time to support other Jewish students in the community... and exceeded our expectations.” Similarly, Shoshana Taitz ’93, Director of Curriculum at Bialik Hebrew Day School says that TanenbaumCHAT students went above and beyond and “were mentsches. It was a wonderful partnership and a unique way to keep our communities connected.” Shawna Sliwowicz (Grade 11) echoes the sentiments of many of our volunteers when she says that spending time with the younger students “especially during the pandemic, and helping them learn and grow, was something I looked forward to every single week.”

“ We are so grateful to these students for their volunteering – and positive attitudes!” Ruth Hart, Ve’Ahavta (Left) Many of our students volunteered with UJA where they helped to fill over 200 grocery boxes for vulnerable and isolated community members over the winter holiday season. 10 | CHATTER Magazine SPRING 2021


Power ing

TanenbaumCHAT Now & Always

Finding the silver lining in a pandemic

A

gainst a backdrop of uncertainty and change wrought by COVID-19, TanenbaumCHAT has flourished – and this spring is all about growth. Enrolment has never been stronger. Approximately 80% of Grade 8 students currently in our feeder Jewish day schools will enter TanenbaumCHAT this coming fall, alongside our most robust New Stream cohort ever, which will account for one-quarter of the Class of 2025. The new pandemic normal has also afforded us new opportunities. Our virtual world has allowed us to “open the doors” of our school in different and exciting ways, resulting in amazing access and participation. For example, at this year’s virtual Generations Day, we welcomed grandparents literally from around the world! Our teachers served up great lectures in our TanenbaumCHAT Teaches series. The excellence of the student experience has been maintained through programming like Shabbatons, outstanding visiting speakers (often alumni!), and creative extracurricular activities, like Tigers Trekking Israel. We also saw an extraordinarily successful launch of the new Parent Engagement Committee.

These past months have shown me that there is real power in Powering TanenbaumCHAT. I am thrilled to report that our annual campaign is on track to reach a record $2-million by the end of the school year, providing the critical additional funding necessary to support our commitment to accessible tuition. This amazing financial support underscores the great value placed on this premier institution by our community. Our collective commitment to one another and to the ongoing health of our school has been wonderful to see. I have never been more proud to be a part of this community! Frances Bigman CFRE, Director of Advancement fbigman@tanenbaumchat.org / 416-636-5984 Ext. 230

Your gift will continue to keep tuition as low as possible and mitigate the extraordinary financial burden placed on the school by COVID-19. TanenbaumCHAT is powered by the generosity of our entire community. And now more than ever, you can make a difference.

Please make your gift today. 1. Hold your phone camera over this QR code 2. W hen a notification appears, tap to go to our giving page Or visit: poweringtanenbaumchat.org/giving

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Why did you establish this award in memory of your parents? Our parents were leaders of the Jewish community in Kitchener, Ontario. They were each the President and leader of every major Jewish organization there (multiple times), and our father was the force behind the building of the Beth Jacob synagogue and Jewish Community Centre. He was President of the synagogue, Chair of UJA (then Federated Charities), the Council of Christians and Jews, Israel Bonds and others. Our mother became Ontario Vice-President of United Synagogue Sisterhood. She organized many courses and study groups on Jewish themes and topics, and attended Torah and other classes regularly.

In memory of

Alex & Alyce Orzy z”l

The Rabbinics Award in Memory of Alex and Alyce Orzy will be presented for the first time this year to a graduating Grade 12 student. We are enormously grateful to Rick, Deborah and Judith Orzy for endowing this award in honour of their parents, and were pleased to have the opportunity to connect with Rick to learn a bit more about Alex and Alyce.

Both were fervent supporters of Jewish education, especially our mother, who began Kitchener’s association with Camp Ramah, United Synagogue, USY and other important institutions. It was their big regret that Kitchener had no Hebrew day school (just a limited afternoon and Sunday Hebrew school). They were ecstatic to see their three grandchildren attend Hebrew day school and two of them (Noa ’10 and Zev ’12) attend TanenbaumCHAT. They are also remembered, among other things, with an Award in Jewish Teacher Education in the Jewish Studies Program at York University. This award [at TanenbaumCHAT] fits right into their example of supporting worthy causes, especially Jewish education.

Power ing TanenbaumCHAT Now & Always

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Tell us a little about their lives. Alex Orzy z”l (1923-2020) was born in Lida (then Poland, now Belarus). His grandfather was a founder of the Beth Lida Synagogue on Gilgorm Street in Toronto. He grew up in Kitchener where his father was the kosher butcher. He attended the Waterloo campus of the University of Western Ontario and, in 1949, he became one of two original Volkswagen dealers in Canada who were Jewish. He sold the business in 1968, and then worked for many years as a private commercial mortgage lender. Alyce Orzy z”l (19262000) was born in Hamilton, Ontario, attended McMaster University and moved to Kitchener after marrying in 1947. She gave birth to three children: Deborah, Judith and Rick, and served as a leader in almost every Jewish organization in Kitchener. When our parents left Kitchener in the late 70s, the entire community (Jewish and non-Jewish) hosted a unique major dinner in their honour with press coverage, speeches by the mayor and other politicians and visiting dignitaries. They moved to Toronto where they continued to be active in many synagogue and charitable organizations. Why support TanenbaumCHAT? TanenbaumCHAT is a cornerstone educational institution in Jewish Toronto. It turns out students who have learned a great deal, work hard and are prepared for success and accomplishment.


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Power ing TanenbaumCHAT

Now & Always To find out more, go to www.PoweringTanenbaumCHAT.org

The Power of Parents We’re thrilled that the new TanenbaumCHAT Parent Engagement Committee is up and running! The aim is to find ways for parents to make meaningful contributions to TanenbaumCHAT, connect with one another and participate in the life of the school. We have already welcomed some 40 parents to the committee – but there’s always room for more. Parents have signed up to get involved in one of the four sub-committees: Parent Ambassadors, Social/Educational Committee, The Power of Grads – Class of 2021 Committee, and the Staff Appreciation Committee. Whether it’s helping to plan a social event, brainstorm a new initiative, or chair an adult learning opportunity, your participation will play a critical role in strengthening our school community and, by extension, the experience of our students.

Our first event was a huge success. There was a fantastic turnout at the Passover Pop-up – a virtual cooking experience with renowned kosher chef, Suzy Fishbein! In addition, the Staff Appreciation Committee was thrilled to recognize the extraordinary efforts of TanenbaumCHAT staff during this past year-like-no-other with a gift card. To join us and get involved, please contact Gillian Sinclair, Senior Advancement Officer, at gsinclair@tanenbaumchat.org

Ann Rastin & Suzy Kauffman ‘90 Co-Chairs, Parent Engagement Committee

In December, we were thrilled to feature Chatazon on PoweringTanenbaumCHAT.org. This parentdriven initiative supported more than 50 local vendors and artisans – including some of our very own alumni, parents and students. It proved to be a very popular pandemic-friendly destination for Chanukah shopping.

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A global Generations Day

It was a wonderful experience. Keep up the great work educating our grandkids. – Aaron Rifkind

G Thank you for managing this difficult situation so effectively. It was thoroughly enjoyable to see my grandson and his fellow students “at work”. – Sue Freedman

We live in Winnipeg so for us [this] was such a treat. We appreciate the work the teachers did to make it run so smoothly. TanenbaumCHAT is an incredible educational institution. – Margaret Shuckett

enerations Day – a highlight of the year – went virtual this year. This meant that neither geography nor timezones presented a barrier to attendance, and grandparents were able to tune in from wherever in the world they happened to be. More than 600 of them did so, from as far away as Australia, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and the UK, as well as from across Canada and the USA. They participated in upwards of 50 different classes, and our teachers did a wonderful job of providing an authentic taste of the virtual/ hybrid education our students have been experiencing during the pandemic.

Huge thanks to current grandparents Toby and Saul Feldberg for providing a generous matching gift, and to the grandparents who stepped up to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to support the school. We reached our goal of raising $100,000 to help fund our tuition accessibility initiative. A wonderful time was had by grandparents and grandchildren alike!

My bubbie and zadie called me to tell me how much fun they had. They live in Peru so this was a wonderful opportunity for them to participate in my class. – Ellie Samson (Grade 9)

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Remembering Cooki Levy z”l With enormous sadness, in March, we noted the passing of Cooki (Frances) Levy z”l. Cooki was a force to be reckoned with in Jewish day school education in North America as well as a staunch and generous supporter of TanenbaumCHAT. A dedicated Jewish educator, Cooki was actively involved in the Montreal Jewish day schools for more than 40 years, first as a teacher, department chair and guidance counselor at Hebrew Academy, and later at The Akiva School where she served as Head of School for 22 years. She also was a lecturer in Jewish history at McGill University. In recent years, she held the position of Executive Director at the Bronfman Jewish Education Centre (BJEC) in Montreal to which she brought a wealth of expertise and knowledge, as well as her experience as a program director, mentor, and consultant for both RAVSAK and Prizmah, two umbrella organizations supporting Jewish day schools across North America. In 2007, Cooki was the first recipient of the Manual Lazar Memorial Prize from the Association of Jewish Day Schools, recognizing her outstanding professional leadership and contributions to Montreal’s Jewish day school system. In 2018, with a gift from the Levy family that honoured Cooki and her husband Barry Levy for their long-standing dedication and commitment to Jewish education, TanenbaumCHAT was proud to name our Beit Midrash “The Cooki and Barry Levy ‫ – מרכז לימוד תורה ע”ש לאה‬known simply as Centre for Torah Study” – ‫ובנימין‬ The Mercaz. Cooki and Barry also established three academic awards at the school: the Mathematics Award in memory of Beryl Levy, the Science Award in memory of David J. Levy, and the Carol Rosenfeld Endowment Fund Jewish History Award. Cooki leaves an extraordinary legacy of commitment to Jewish pedagogy – not least by passing on her passion for Jewish education to her son, our Head of School, Dr. Jonathan Levy. May her memory be a blessing.

To send a condolence card or to make a gift in Cooki’s memory, please visit: poweringtanenbaumchat.org/remembering-cooki-levy-zl.

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SPOTLIGHT: ALUMNI We’re thrilled to have an opportunity to celebrate our alumni in this exciting new project. First up: TanenbaumCHAT grads around the world! Our alumni are the backbone of our school. Close to home, as board members, staff, parents, guest speakers and more, their contributions to TanenbaumCHAT are vital. You can also find them making a difference further afield, in Toronto, Tel Aviv and all points in between. The values and lessons they learned in high school inform their lives in a variety of ways. They provide leadership, vision and professional skills to numerous communities, both within the Jewish world and beyond. We can’t wait to celebrate them and the pride they bring to our school in our new project – Spotlight: Alumni. In these pages we’re sharing a very brief overview of the global reach of our graduates, but we know there are more of you – especially in the GTHA! This will be an online feature, and we hope it will grow to include many more alumni. So, wherever you are, let us know what you’re doing. We’d love to hear from you! To see the project online and submit information, go to PoweringTanenbaumCHAT.org/spotlightalumni Or contact Jesse Primerano ‘11 Alumni Relations Officer jprimerano@tanenbaumchat.org

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Dr. Isaac (Itzik) Becker ‘86 Beit Shemesh, Israel Itzik attended the one-year Program at the Hebrew University through a scholarship awarded by the Canadian Friends of Hebrew U to a selected CHAT grad. He holds a doctorate in law from The Hebrew University and is Senior Assistant to the Legal Advisor of Israel’s State Comptroller helping, among other things, to oversee the auditing and compliance of Israel’s various political parties and candidates. He and his wife Chaya made aliyah to Beit Shemesh where they raised three children. Their growing family includes a son-in-law, two grandchildren and the recent arrival of Savta Mary Becker as a new olah. Lindsay Bloom ’15 Massachusetts, USA Lindsay played NCAA basketball at Tufts University in Boston, where she also explored her passion for technology and graduated with a degree in Computer Science. She is a software engineer and works at Sonos, an American developer and manufacturer of audio products in Boston.

Russell Citron ’09 USA Russell holds an MBA from Harvard Business School where he focused on social entrepreneurship. He was the Founder and CEO of CrowdChange, a fundraising technology company. He also co-founded Feed the Deed, a social media initiative spreading kindness globally. He is now working on building new initiatives in the selfhelp and education spaces. Renee Ghert-Zand ‘85 Jerusalem, Israel Renee is a freelance journalist covering Israel and the Jewish world. Her work has been published in The Times of Israel, Haaretz, The Forward, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Hadassah Magazine, The Jerusalem Report, and other media outlets. Prior to becoming a journalist, Renee worked for nearly two decades in Jewish education in New York and the San Francisco Bay Area. Renee made aliyah seven years ago. She and husband Joel have three grown sons. Paula (Garshowitz) Harlan ‘04 Colorado, USA Paula is the Associate Director of Global Student Experiences at Hillel International. Still taking an “extended vacation” from Toronto, Paula has resided in Israel and Ohio, and is currently

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based in Colorado where she lives with husband Seth, who she met in Israel, and daughter Bari. She has kept in touch with the great friends she made at CHAT, and she credits the school with preparing her for university and graduate school, and in helping raise the bar and expectations that she sets for herself professionally. Larry Guterman ‘82 California, USA Larry received a degree in Physics from Harvard in 1987, and an MA in Film from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He was personally selected by Steven Spielberg to direct DreamWorks’ flagship interactive computer game Goosebumps straight out of school. He then went on to direct the box office hits Cats & Dogs and Antz! Larry is cofounder and Chief Customer Officer of SonicCloud, a revolutionary technology for personalizing sound on phones and computers for people with hearing loss. He was named one of Fast Company Magazine’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” in 2018. Dr. Daniel Kupfert Heller ‘02 Melbourne, Australia Dan fell in love with Jewish history at CHAT, leading him to pursue a career as a historian of Jewish life in Eastern Europe and Israel. After completing his Ph.D. in History at Stanford University, he was an assistant professor in McGill’s Department of Jewish Studies. In 2019, Dan moved


with his Australian husband Alex and their daughter Miriam to Melbourne. He currently teaches in Monash University’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation.

Dr. Simone (Simi) (Suttner) Landau ’01 Jerusalem, Israel

Martin Himel ’75 New York, USA

After completing dentistry at the University of Toronto, Simi followed her dreams and made aliyah to Israel. She is currently owner and principal dentist at Landau Dental, providing Canadian-standard dentistry to Israelis and foreigners alike. Simi lives in Jerusalem with her husband Chaim and four children.

Martin Himel has worked as a filmmaker, foreign correspondent and war correspondent for 25 years for CTV, Global TV, FOX, and as a producer for ABC NEWS. His television series, documentaries and news coverage have exposed major issues throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Americas, and have appeared on PBS, Bloomberg TV, NBC, SKY, BBC, CNN, CBC Documentary Channel, CTV, and Global Television Canada, among others. His most recent documentaries include The Arrest, Undercover in ISIS, and Secrets of Survival. Miriam Ingber ’96 Connecticut, USA Miriam is Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Yale Law School, where her team focuses on admitting diverse, academically and professionally excellent students, and ensuring equitable financial support. Prior to this, she worked at NYU Law School as a legal research and writing professor and administrator. She has also been a litigator in private practice and at a non-profit organization focused on child welfare reform. Her first job out of law school was as a clerk for Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella of the Canadian Supreme Court.

Dr. Leon Litvack ’79 Belfast, Northern Ireland Leon’s primary academic research area is the life and works of Charles Dickens. He has written and lectured widely, and is an expert analyst of Dickens’s letters, manuscripts, and handwriting. He is Reader at the School of Arts, English and Languages at Queen’s University Belfast, and has been appointed to the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives (ACNRA), an independent body in the UK that deals with freedom of Information requests. Dr. Litvack has held a range of public appointments in the areas of peace and reconciliation, and arts and culture. Elise Loterman ’04 Melbourne, Australia

Brian Lee ‘09 New York, USA Brian is currently based in New York City and runs a Tony Award-winning production company, AF Creative Media. After attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, he began producing theatre alongside his wife, Dayna Lee. Broadway productions include: Angels in America, Company and Moulin Rouge. Their twin girls, Ella and Emmy, are their proudest achievement.

Elise resides in Australia, where she has worked in sales and marketing roles in the coworking and fintech industries. She is an active member of the Orthodox Jewish community in Melbourne and co-founded WOTIV (The Women’s Orthodox Tefillah in Victoria), a group that provides opportunities for women to learn and practice skills such as leading tefillot and leining.

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Jeremy Podeswa ’80 California, USA Jeremy is a prolific and award-winning feature film and television director with too many credits to mention. He has been nominated for the Best Director Emmy Award for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, and for the Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg-produced The Pacific. He has directed for many of the most ground-breaking cable television series, including The Handmaid’s Tale, True Detective, Six Feet Under, Homeland, The Borgias, The Tudors, Dexter, Weeds, and Queer as Folk. He has also written and directed three award-winning feature films: Fugitive Pieces, The Five Senses, and Eclipse.

Jeffrey Rubinoff ’84 London, England After articling and working in Toronto, Jeffrey relocated to London and was a partner in UKbased law firm, Freshfields, for 17 years. In 2016, he became Partner in the London office of New York-based international law firm, White & Case. He resides in north London. He and his wife have four children all of whom attend Jewish schools.

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Karl has served in various positions at Rambam Medical Center and at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. He is currently Dean of the growing Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University in the Galilee. He is a nephrologist, and enjoys teaching and conducting research in population genetics. Karl and his wife Linda moved to Israel in 1995. His five married children and eighteen Israeli-born grandchildren live, study, and work in Haifa. Kyle Ungerman ’11 Tel Aviv, Israel

Talia Radcliffe ’04 Utretcht, Netherlands Talia is a European and Dutch migration law specialist, currently working as a legal advisor with undocumented migrants in the city of Utrecht, Netherlands. One of her fondest high school memories is of a Jewish History trip to Kensington Market, which made a particularly strong impression. Learning about the overlapping migrant groups that lived in that neighbourhood was formative in her choice of career path.

Dr. Karl Skorecki ’71 Tzfat, Israel

Dr. Karen Skinazi ’92 Bristol, England Karen is a senior teaching fellow and the director of Liberal Arts at the University of Bristol in the UK. She is a scholar of multiethnic, American, and women’s literature. Her most recent book, Women of Valor: Orthodox Jewish Troll Fighters, Crime Writers, and Rock Stars in Contemporary Literature and Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2018) examines media portrayals of Orthodox Jewish women and delves beyond stereotypes to identify a powerful tradition of feminist literary portrayals of Orthodox women – often created by Orthodox women themselves.

Kyle graduated with an MBA from Tel Aviv University in 2019. He was drawn to the tech ecosystem in Israel, joining high-growth start-up, Oribi.io where he is scaling up their Business Development and Sales Team. Robbie Wulfsohn ’11 Massachusetts, USA After graduating from TanenbaumCHAT, Robbie went on to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He co-founded the seven-piece jazz-funk band “Ripe” with fellow students. The band has since grown into a North American touring act.


In February, Giselle Hausman ‘08, the self-described “creative wanderer”, and singer and songwriter, called “Gisun”, launched a new collaborative project: Gracias a la Vida. Giselle uses uses her Uruguayan background and South Korean roots to showcase her own style of Latin and soul-inspired sounds. The objective of the new project was to increase awareness of the healing power of music, and it will support important music therapy initiatives.

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Dr. Sandi Seigel ’80 was named President of Na’amat Canada. Founded almost a century ago, this not-for-profit volunteer women’s organization aims to improve the lives of women, children and families in both Canada and Israel. Sandi, a paediatrician and McMaster University medical school professor, has been volunteering her time with Na’amat in Hamilton for over 20 years since moving from Toronto.

This year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list featured three Class of 2010 alumni! They were: Bryan Gold and Adam Rivietz who cofounded #Paid (hashtagpaid), an online, all-in-one creator platform that allows companies to partner with word-of-mouth marketing; and Lior Ohayon who co-founded Hush, a company that makes Canadian-designed weighted blankets and other products.

Bryan Gold

Adam Rivietz

Lior Ohayon

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In January, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education honoured members of the community who had volunteered within the Jewish day school system over the last year. This group of volunteers invested their time and energy into ensuring the strength, welfare, and continuity of Jewish life in Toronto. TanenbaumCHAT alumni from several decades were extremely wellrepresented! We are exceedingly proud, and say a hearty yasher koach to all of them.

Victor Arrobas ‘97, Board President, The Joe Dwek Ohr Haemet Sephardic School Lisa Dack ‘99, Immediate Past President, Leo Baeck Day School

Michelle Porepa ‘96, Member of Pandemic Advisory Task Force, Robbins Hebrew Academy

Jasmine Eliav ‘96, Board Co-Chair, The Toronto Heschel School

Alicia Richler Kalman ‘94, Vice President, Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School

Michelle Freedman ‘86, Community Director, Montessori Jewish Day School

Ashley Ross ‘95, Board President, Netivot Hatorah Day School

Jacob Jesin ‘97, Board President, Montessori Jewish Day School

Maya Roth ‘97, Executive Member, Associated Hebrew Schools

Suzy Kauffman ‘90, Board Member, Parent Ambassador, TanenbaumCHAT

Erika Rubin ‘90, Former Board President, Leo Baeck Day School

Barry Pakes ‘93, COVID Advisory Volunteer, Netivot Hatorah Day School; Safe Reopening Committee Member, Associated Hebrew Schools

Randy Shiff ‘73, Immediate Past Co-Chair, The Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education

Sylvia Goodman, a former French teacher and head of our French department (and a current grandparent), recently published her memoir: Someone to Watch Over Me: Looking back on a life of upheaval, kindness & fortune. Sylvia, who was known by many of her students simply as “Madame” taught at the school for more than 20 years, beginning in 1983. She has shared her story many times with students, children, and adults. She was a hidden child during the Holocaust, and her memoir dives deeper into her remarkable story and journey. The book is available on Amazon.

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Alumni Back at TanenbaumCHAT Jillian Abramsky ’18, currently a student at Queens University, organized seven different “Life after TanenbaumCHAT” information sessions for current students who are considering their posthigh school options. Sixty-two alumni from 17 different institutions spoke about arts & science, engineering, creative arts, general science, kinesiology, health science, education, business and humanities. “When I was in Grade 12, I looked to students in years above to help shed light on their experiences,” said Jillian. “I was lucky to have those familiar faces during my decision-making process and the alumni of 2018 wanted to be those people to the class of 2021.” A couple of months later, Class of 2020 alumni, Jeremy Margles and Talia Levitt, who are both spending the 2020-21 school year ba’aretz, gathered online with some 25 current students to discuss taking a gap year in Israel.

During Mental Health Awareness Week in March, four TanenbaumCHAT alumni generously offered to share their stories. An extraordinarily high turnout saw more than 900 members of our school community tune into this online presentation which was ably hosted by Guidance Counselor, Stacia Wolle. All the speakers stressed the importance of de-stigmatizing the issue of mental health and of reaching out for help when you need it. Clockwise from top left: Molly Pascoe ’18, David Pasoff ’18, Cooper Levy ’17, Jessica Katzman ’16.

Zack Belzberg and Ryan Freeman, both Class of 2005, brought their business experience and acumen to Zoom to help adjudicate “Tiger’s Den”, a competition organized by the TanenbaumCHAT Business Council after the well-known Dragon’s Den TV show. Many novel and creative ideas were presented. The winner was the “Cathalert” team for their impressive and potentially life-saving medical device. The runner-up was “Remask”, an environmentally friendly take on the modern face mask.

Geoffrey Handelman ’15 spoke to two different groups of students and faculty about inclusivity and his own journey coming out as an LGBTQ member of the Jewish community. He shared his insights and unique perspective on kindness, education and acceptance, and why the Jewish community should be especially equipped to welcome all, based on our own history of systemic persecution and discrimination. In March, Samantha (Sami) Shinder ‘15 Zoomed into a program set up by our Israeli Engagement shlichim, Lee Kestecher Solomon and Ariel Solomon. The topic was the environmental and ecological effects of the recent oil spill that had occurred in February in Israel. Sami recently graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science in Marine and Atmospheric Science with minors in Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology. Our students and faculty were excited for the opportunity to learn from such a passionate and wellinformed alum. www.tanenbaumchat.org | 23


StartUp TanenbaumCHAT, our annual entrepreneurship and business career conference, took place in March. Organized by the Business Council, and overseen by Jordan Hoffman, Head of the Business Department, this is an amazing opportunity for students to attend panel sessions, ask questions, and hear from speakers from various sectors of the business world. This year, 66 students heard from eight speakers, six of whom were alumni: Zack Belzberg ’05 (President, Dodds Garage Door Systems), Russell Citron ’09 (Founder, CrowdChange), Rebecca Howard ’13 (Founder, Becked Goods Bake Shop), Jenna Kellner Izraelski ’05 (Head of Growth & Revenue at Ampli; Co-founder, Little Traders), Aaron Maresky ’19 (Founder and CEO, AMNotify), and Joshua Pope ’14 (Co-Founder, Trajekt Sports Inc).

A note from Jesse Primerano ’11 – our new Alumni Affairs Officer When I tell former classmates that I’ve begun working at TanenbaumCHAT, the responses are an overwhelming combination of excitement and nostalgia. Big smiles, encouraging words, and the traditional line of questioning: ‘’Have you seen old teachers yet? Is it strange being at the other campus?’’ The latter of these questions brought to light a concept that effectively describes the ethos of TanenbaumCHAT: that it’s not the building that makes this community so special, but the people. Whether you studied on Neptune, Wright Street, Wilmington, or Bathurst – you’ve played a critical role in shaping this incredible community over the last six decades. The strength of a community isn’t measured by the buildings that house it, the neighbourhoods they’re found in, or the colours on the walls – and our school is no exception. This community is defined by its ruach; by the seemingly endless theme days, shabbatons, clubs, committees, and social events that have built an unbreakable link; and by the intangibles that might be difficult to see (but that are certainly easy to feel) that assure our graduates that no matter where they are, TanenbaumCHAT will always be home to them. Put another way, our school is about the people in the hallways, the experiences we share, and our ongoing collective commitment to a thriving Jewish community. I am so thrilled to return to TanenbaumCHAT, and I encourage our over 8,000 alumni to be in touch so we can find a way to bring you back as well. Jesse Primerano ’11 jprimerano@tanenbaumchat.org 24 | CHATTER Magazine SPRING 2021


Send us your News & Notes directly through our website. Visit: PoweringTanenbaumCHAT.org/share-your-news

Benjamin

Galit (Sone) Samuel ’06 & Adam Samuel ’06

Simone Buslovich ’08 & Michael Cadesky

Nathan Leo

Sedona Esme

Emmy Ari & Ella Blake

Candice (Konkol) Rotenberg ’08 & Jeff Rotenberg

Madison Rochwerg ’08 & Jonah Cait

Brian Lee ’09 & Dayna Lee

Joseph Jackson

John Benjamin

Ezra Dylan

Samantha Levin ’09 & Daniel Levin

Yardena Winegust ’09 & Ross Mitgang

Samantha Wolfish ’07 & Laurie Permack

BIRTHS

Romy Neve

Benjamin Leo

David Gurau ’02 & Rebecca Rockman ’04

Kori Ellie

Tyler Harrison

Parker Mats

Asher Noah

Lyla (Abells) Farbstein ’07 (current staff) & Billy Farbstein

Cory Lastman ’08 & Nicole Lastman

Benjamin Klein ’08 & Eden Klein

Jamie Collins ’07 & Nadine (Block) Collins ’07

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ENGAGEMENTS Aaron Rosin ’10 & Jessi Pollock ’10

Ariela Gutfrajnd ’11 & Michael Glowinsky ’08

Leore Zecharia ’12 & Jake Zerker ’12

Zachary Glazer ’12 & Ariella Eydelman

Brennan Rashkovan ’12 & Rebecca Battat

Samantha Hershenfeld ’09 & Bradley Lichtblau

Jordana Keslassy ’11 & Brendan Schwartz ’08

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Lindsay Cohen ’11 & Jamie Cole

Michelle Kaminski ’11 & Matthew Silcoff ’11

Jakie Young ’10 & Joel Kimelman


Jordan Rostowsky ’11 & Lauren Glick ’11

Matthew Yunger ’11 & Blair Farbstein ’11

Nathaniel Belmont ’12 & Meira Snitman

Simone Orlan ’11 & Zak Schwartz

Sloan Baron ’09 & Aaron Farber

Aaron Swartz ’12 & Ricki Adams

Shlomo Jesin ’08 & Rivka Baronowski

WEDDINGS

Josh Skapinker ’10 & Erin Zacks

Josh Shapiro ’12 & Erin Lieberman

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