March 19-25, 2017
21- 27 Adar, 5777

Word of the Week

By Michael Quigley, Head of Upper School

So, What’s Going on at Your School?

Recently, I, along with Chaim, Kelley and Skip, traveled to Baltimore to attend the NAIS Annual Conference. This year’s event was attended by over 5000 independent school administrators who could choose from almost 200 workshops to learn, reflect and dialogue on school trends, programs and futurist ideas. Although the speakers were impressive, much of the learning occurred when dialoguing with new, current, and former colleagues. Chaim noted in a recent Kolot about the 4R’s – reading, writing, ‘rithmetic and relationships that is embedded in the independent school culture. The relationships forged in our classrooms with student and teacher extends to school leaders as well.

Whether connecting with other school leaders from southern California and beyond or old friends from grad school, a common conversation starter was: So What’s Going on at Your School? Every encounter led to deep conversations about our own school, learning about each other’s experiences and considering how we might evolve as a learning community that supports students in a personalized way.  An interesting framework developed that I think is very timely for SDJA. Within the context of futurist thinking on education some new language categorizing schools emerged that was interesting… are we a school of “chalk and talk, with a belief in canonical knowledge, and a culture of discipline and compliance?” or one with more of a “constructivist approach to teaching and learning, with a focus on the development of the individual building of his or her strengths rather than trying to mold children into a certain ideal mix of intellectual and personal capacities?”  These two spheres are very different and no school falls neatly in one category. We proudly lean toward the latter which we feel better supports our students as they grow and prepare to navigate the complex world of 2017 and beyond.  

One takeaway from the conference is how powerful it is for SDJA be a part of a national network of schools that is dedicated to personalized learning, growth, choice, relationships, character and the well-being of students and faculty alike. After I shared some of what we are doing at SDJA like middle school EXCSEL, IIET, Judaic Studies Pathways, POD, a redesigned course catalogue that most agreed offered more opportunities for personal and intellectual growth than schools much larger than ours and all of this underpinned with a robust individualized professional development program for faculty, the response was overwhelmingly: Wow, you’re lucky to be a part of that school!   

I couldn’t agree more.

Mike Quigley, Head of Upper School

Maimonides Upper School - Grades 6-12

Mazal Tov! SDJA Shines at Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair!

A number of eighth grade students represented San Diego Jewish Academy at last night’s Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair Awards. Awards given out were as follows:

First Place & Sweepstakes Winner: Jessie Gan – Biochemistry. Additional awards she received: GSDSEF Student Advisory Board Award, Journal of Youths in Science Award, Sigma Xi: The Science Research Honor Society (SD Chapter) Award)

First Place:Maya Silberstein – Behavioral & Social Sciences

Third Place:  Grace Calderon – Behavioral & Social Sciences

Third Place: Michaela Simble – Behavioral & Social Sciences,

Third Place: Leya Shaw – Plant Sciences

Fourth Place: Rosie Alchalel – Plant Sciences

SDJA Sisters Score Platinum at Dance Competition

Mazal Tov to SDJA students (and sisters) Dalia (grade 10), Geena (grade 8) and Toni (grade 3) who competed at the Rainbow National Dance Competition in Escondido this past week with an “Acro Trio”. Rainbow is dedicated to producing a high quality dance event that creates rewarding experiences for dancers, teachers, and parents. 

The girls received a platinum award and placed 3rd overall in their category.

Teen Events

March Events:

Sunday, March 19th : J Teen: Garage Sale

Carmel Valley

Teen volunteers are needed to run our Garage sale to benefit the G’mach Jewish Gift Closet. Proceeds will go toward buying  gas cards and other services for Jewish San Diego residents in need. For details, contact Rabbi Bortz 

Sunday, Mar 26th Friendship Circle & JTeen: Boomers!

12pm training
1-3pm activities
Together with Friendship Circle, JTEEN will be taking children with special needs on a fun filled outing to Boomers. Mini-golf, go karts, arcades, and more! email or

Sunday, March 19th @ 10:30am-12:00pm: Friendship Circle: Shooting Stars All-Girls Performing Arts Club

Cong. Adat Yeshurun, La Jolla 92037

Teen girl volunteers needed to assist special needs youth and teens as we do arts & crafts, sing songs, play music and dance! Musicians welcome! RSVP required, email:

Sunday, March 19th @ 12:15pm-1:15pm: Friendship Circle: Teen Leadership Board Meeting

Lawrence Family JCC “The Bean” Coffee Shop, La Jolla 92037

Interested in joining a dynamic group of change-makers? Have a great idea for a program or event? Friendship Circle is looking for exceptional teen leaders with experience in the special needs community! Come check out a meeting and see if it’s a fit for you. RSVP required, email:

Sunday, March 19th @ 5:00pm-6:00pm: Friendship Circle: Friendship Dojo

Shaolin Kempo Arts, 11633 Sorrento Valley Rd, San Diego 92121

Teen volunteers wanted to have fun for an hour of games, activities and self-defense moves with special needs individuals! Bring out your inner ninja (or jedi) as we play Star Wars, throw “ninja stars” and learn helpful defense moves. RSVP required, email:

Tuesday, March 21st @ 6:15pm-8:30pm Like Israel “Uncut”

Lawrence Family JCC,  La Jolla 92037

Join the largest teen youth & Israel advocacy gathering in San Diego for this year’s Like Israel “Uncut” event with headline speaker Ami Horowitz.  Presentation by YouTuber and American media personality Ami Horowitz, teen breakout groups, and a call-to-action ending.  Engaging, informative and exciting.  For more information contact or        

Thursday, March 23rd 4-5pm: LFJCC: Senior Buddies

Lawrence Family JCC, La Jolla 92037

Looking for teen volunteers to help senior citizens get the hang of technology.  Come help the older generation navigate around an iphone, computer or desktop.  Help send a message, take a photo, or set up skype.  Community service hours available.  For more information: or 858-362-1331

Sunday, Mar 26th Friendship Circle & JTeen: Pesach Party!

Together with Friendship Circle, JTEEN will be conducting a Passover Seder for children with special needs. We will re-enact the plagues (think marshmallow shooters for hail) and give the children a great time. Teen volunteers needed to plan, help out during the event, and be buddies to individuals with special needs. For more info email:

Sunday, March 26th @1:15-3:15 pm : Hands Up Youth Food Pantry Military Distribution

Camp Pendleton, Religious Development Center, Building #1344 on A St. and 11th St.

Background check required. Volunteers needed to assist with food distribution and to help lead an art project/activity. All ages welcome, children under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Must be able to lift up to 25 pounds.  Volunteers are encouraged to bring a package of diapers (size 4, 5 or pull ups) to donate to the military families. Please remember to bring water and a snack for yourself. We may be distributing inside or outside depending on the weather; so, wear sunscreen, closed toe shoes and comfortable clothing. Sign up online

Ongoing: Friendship Circle: Friends at Home                                                     

Looking for teens to volunteer a few hours a month for a child in your neighborhood who really needs a friend — a child with special needs. It’s about the amazingly fun times and the incredible feelings of accomplishment you will enjoy while you’re at it. And it’s about the fringe benefits that come along with being a part of the circle. For more informationContact Maxime 914-525-6793

Ongoing: The first Sunday of every month 11-2 pm: G’Mach Jewish Gift Closet

High school volunteers needed to help work at G’Mach, an organization that helps by offering free items such as clothing, food, furniture to those in need. Please contact 858-549-1877 or to volunteer.

MUS - Mark Your Calendar

March 24: HS Student Government Elections

April 2: Hartman Institute Judaic Honors Seminar

April 5: Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Thinking (IIET) Presentations

April 7: Senior Siyyum and Breakfast; MS Student Government Elections


Golda Meir Lower School - Grades K-5

Professional Development is Key

Dear Parents,

Extensive professional development has been taking place over the past few months for GMLS faculty and staff. Here are a few exciting professional development activities in which your children’s teachers have participated:

Perspectives for a Diverse America workshops:

Over the course of a few months, eight teachers are participating in the Museum of Tolerance’s 2-day teacher training. Our teachers are learning about a literacy-based social justice lesson that integrate with rigorous academic skills.

California Association of Gifted & Talented annual conference:

Seven of our GMLS teachers participated in a two-day workshop designed for teaching strategies to meet the needs of gifted children – and all learners. Teachers learned about differentiation, curriculum design, enrichment lesson ideas, and much more.

The Well-Balanced Student:

Three of our faculty members attended Denise Pope’s recent workshop in Los Angeles. Denise Pope is a senior lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education and the co-founder of Challenge Success. She is also the author of “Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Mis-educated Students” and her most recent book, “Overloaded and Underprepared:  Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids.” 

San Diego Independent and Private Schools Conference:

On March 13th, all SDJA faculty and staff were among 800 educators from San Diego independent schools attending a full-day conference. We heard a keynote presentation on the future of education from Pat Bassett and attended excellent breakout sessions on a wide range of educational topics. Many of these break-out sessions were taught by SDJA teachers and attended by area educators eager to learn about our best practices.

Instructional Rounds:

Much like doctors who observe and learn from their fellow doctors, GMLS teachers have been engaging in instructional rounds this year. Teachers come together around a shared “problem-of-practice” and then observe fellow teachers and debrief on observations and solutions and find ways to incorporate new methodologies into their own practice.

Professional development is key to ensuring high-quality teaching and SDJA invests heavily in your children’s teachers’ growth. It is exciting to be a part of a school where the teachers are truly learners too.


Kelley King

Environmental Club Having an Impact!

Thanks to all GMLS teachers’ efforts and support of Mrs. Feltman’s second grade “Marker Recycling Project!” The Environmental Club has collected over 300 markers to now send to Terracycle, along with over 60 glue sticks.

The students even tested the markers to ensure they were actually dried out. They take great pride in their marker project. Students are becoming more environmentally-conscious – Neomi even pointed out how the environmental club teacher was eating her veggie lunch out of Styrofoam… a lesson in how we all are a work in progress when practicing what we preach.

For more info on Terracycle’s diverse recycling programs go here. A latest one is contact lens recycling. 

The second graders and our tiny planet thank you. 

SDJA Sisters Score Platinum!

Mazal Tov to SDJA students (and sisters) Dalia (grade 10), Geena (grade 8) and Toni (grade 3) who competed at the Rainbow National Dance Competition in Escondido this past week with an “Acro Trio”. Rainbow is dedicated to producing a high quality dance event that creates rewarding experiences for dancers, teachers, and parents. 

The girls received a platinum award and placed 3rd overall in their category.

JA BizTown and Summer Camps

JA BizTown was a great experience and our 5th grade students really shined! JA BizTown is a mini-city in which students discover how the “real world” works. We had CEO’s, editors, bank tellers, doctors, police officers, a judge, and much more. While at BizTown, students make personal financial decisions, hold business meetings, pay taxes, and donate to charity.  We were so impressed by their professionalism and dedication to their jobs.





JA is excited to announce open registration for our JA Summer Camps!

JA BizTown Summer Camp – 3 available weeks!

AGES: 4th-6th Grade

WHEN: July 10th -14th,  July 17th -21st, or July 24th -28th

TIME: Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm

COST: $255

JA Finance Park Summer Camp – 1 available week!

AGES: 6th-8th Grade

WHEN: July 10th -14th

TIME: Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm

COST: $255

Visit our website for more information and registration.

We look forward to seeing your campers again this year

Camp Simcha Offering Jewish Day Schcool Discounts

Camp Simcha is offering a discounted rate for Jewish Day School students. There is also an additional “Early Bird” discount – which ends March 15th!

Kayefet - Session # 3 is Here!

KAYEFET (olivia)

We are so excited for our 3rd Session of Kayefet – our after school program. This session will run to the end of the year, Tuesday, March 14th  to  June 15th. Classes are held Monday through Thursday from 3:05 pm to 4:15 pm. We provide snacks and all materials. Classes will run every week regardless if it is a short school week.

Monday: RockStar (1-5); Spanish for Spanish speakers (3-5); Spanish for English speakers (3-5); Soccer (K-5).

Tuesday: Yoga (K-5); Fuse Glass (1-5); Magic Matt (K-5).

Wednesday: Ultimate MineCraft (1-5); Capture the Flag (K-2 and 3-5); Mad Science (K-5); Drama(2-4).

Thursday: Chess (1-5); Basketball (K-5); The Junior Baker (K-3).

For registration and more information, please click here.

Some of our classes have limited space, so please sign up in advance!

If you have any questions, email Kayefet Coordinator– Revital Harosh at

Thank you in advance for supporting the Kayefet program and making it a success!

Kayefet Session # 3 Details

March 14th – June 15th


GMLS - News You Can Use

PTO Purim Carnival – Thank You

This year’s PTO Purim Carnival was a huge success.  Students will thrilled and amazing by the variety of fun filled activities, rides, games and shows.  We like to send a special thank you to our Purim Carnival chair, Yael Zucker-Abudi and GMLS Judaic Director, Shani Abed who worked tirelessly for months organizing and putting together the best Purim Carnival yet.  We couldn’t have done it without her.  We’d also thank all of the wonderful volunteers for taking time out of their busy schedules to help make this such a great success: 

Tamara Amiram

Clarice Barrelet

Lindy Benson

Matt Dominguez

Elizabeth Estline

Melissa Galicot

Natalie Josephosn

Maya Kanarek

Julia Kapchinskiy

Yael Goodman-Korda

Irma Matloubian

Carina Rock

Inna Shekhtman

Stacy Varon

Karin Zell

Parent/Teacher Conferences

For the convenience of parents, we are offering a full day of student activities during parent-teacher conferences on Monday, March 20th.  Because we will not be conducting regular instruction on March 20th, student attendance is optional and all absences are considered excused. The alternative activities will run during normal school hours from 8:00am – 3:05pm. These activities will be facilitated by our own staff, specials teachers, the guidance counselor, substitute teachers, and teacher assistants. Session topics may include technology, art, physical education, health and more. As always, please notify the main office if your child will be absent. If you need childcare after 3:05pm, please contact Aftercare at to reserve a space for aftercare in advance.

We look forward to meeting with you to discuss your child’s progress!

Tribes Activities – Rescheduled

Our next Tribe Activities for 2nd-5th graders scheduled for Friday, April 7th Please be sure your child wears their tribe shirt. 

Future Tribe Activities will take place on:  April 28th, May 19th and June 9th

Lost Jacket? Check Labels!

Please be sure to check the labels on all outerwear to make sure that the pieces of clothing that come home belong to your child. It is easy for children to accidentally grab the wrong sweater or fleece jacket, so it is important to periodically check the inside label.

Weekly Programs

Please join us as we begin each week together with our Monday morning Modeh Ani ceremony on the steps at 8:05am.  Then join us Friday afternoons to welcome Shabbat with our Kabbalat Shabbat program in the Ulam at 2:15pm.

After School Childcare

The school year has started and that means aftercare is now available! All GMLS students are welcome. If you are interested in learning more about aftercare services, have questions or inquiries please contact our aftercare coordinator, at

SDJA School Calendar

Click here to download the NEW 2017-18 Calendar!

GMLS - Mark Your Calendar

3/20    8:00 am – Parent/Teacher Conferences – Special Activities for Students

3/21-22 – 4th grade field to Sacramento

3/21    9:00 am – 1st Grade field trip to History Museum

3/23    10:15 am – 3rd grade field trip to JFS

3/24    8:00 am – Coffee Talk with Kelley– Rescheduled from 3/1

3/24 – 5th Grade Shabbaton

3/27    10:30 am – 5th Grade Seder with Survivors

3/29    2:00 pm – 5th Grade Shorashim Presentation

3/29    8:30 am – Kindergarten Noah’s Ark Program

3/30    7:30 am – 5th grade field trip to Museum of Tolerance

3/31    9:15 am – Kinder field trip to Botanic Gardens

4/7     1:15 pm – Tribes Activities – Rescheduled from 3/31


Early Childhood Center

Why Do We Ask Sooo Many Questions?


We (including myself) ask children too many closed-ended questions with very little to no meaning nor depth. We also have the habit of asking multiple open-ended questions one after the other. With the answers being either “yes” or “no”, is this really encouraging the child to expand their vocabulary skills? What about being creative? Are we giving our children the opportunity to use their cognitive (intellectual) skills by allowing them to formulate sentences which convey their thoughts, opinions and ideas?

This is what I observed the other day when I wandered into the preschool classroom…..

A preschooler was standing at the easel which was positioned near the doorway for “inspiration” and was painting a picture. All the paint cups were filled to the brim with as many different colors that could fit on the shelf of the easel. There was music being played in the background and she was in her little “zone” singing and painting as happy as can be. The rest of the children had migrated towards the other end of the classroom and were engaged in a myriad of activities set up on the tables.  

A few minutes later, an adult walked into the classroom and stood in the doorway by this little girl painting and began firing away the following questions one after the other, “Are you painting a picture?” “Are you using all those colors?” “ What color is this (pointing to one of the paint cups)?” “Do you like to paint?” “Did you write your name here (pointing to her name written in “preschool” handwriting)?”

OY VEY! What transpired from all the closed-ended questions was even more frustrating because the little girl  abruptly stopped painting and looked over at the adult barking a few “yes” mixed with a few “No” answers. Then, she put her paint brush down and walked away from the easel. The feelings of being inspired…gone! Motivation…. gone! Excitement…gone! Feeling of being Creative…gone! And that was the end of her painting! Amen.

Perhaps, the adult could’ve remained at the door and quietly observed the little girl painting for a few minutes or until it was fully completed without any “open-ended” questions. After all, all the children in this class know their colors and are beginning to write their first names especially in that familiar preschool “scribble.” How about an open-ended question after the completion of the painting, such as “What title would you give your painting?”

Finally, some food for thought, before your 10-year-old son blurts out, “Mom, enough with all the questions!” is that children become more invested in our conversations when they have to actively engage in them with fuller sentences and relate to something of meaning. L’chaim to more open ended questions…

‘Till next time…

Yael Edelstein

PJ Library - A Great Resource!

Looking for a way to nurture the parent-child bond and strengthen your child’s Jewish identity? Read them a book!

Brought to San Diego by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the PJ Library (yes, for pajama) provides children from six months to seven years with a Jewish children’s book or CD every month at no cost!

We are excited to announce that we will now enroll children through age 8!

ECC Enrichments

Monday: Cooking, Soccer

Tuesday: Magic and Hip Hop

Wednesday: Basketball and Yoga

Thursday: Ballet and Tumble Gym Bus

Friday: P.E.R.K. (Physical Education Recreational Klub)

ECC - Mark Your Calendar

April 11,12,17,18: Preschool Closed (Pesach)

April 13, 14: Preschool Closed (Pesach Camp)

April 19: Preschool Resumes


May 29: Preschool Closed (Shavuot)

May 31: Preschool Closed (Shavuot Camp)


June 1: Preschool Closed (Shavuot Camp)

June 14: Last Day of Preschool

June 15, 16: Preschool Closed

June 19: First Day of Summer Camp


SDJA Lions - Athletics

Track & Field Represents Well in First Meet of the Season

The SDJA track and field team came out to compete in the first league meet of the season, which was held this past Thursday at Calvin Christian.  Below are some notable finishes for the Lions:

  • Rachel Kornberg ran a 14.18 in the 100m dash, she finished 1st in her heat and finished in the top 10
  • Dalia Benson ran a 6:40 in the 1600 meter and took 4th place
  • Mia Hansen jumped 4’4” in the high jump and took 3rd place
  • Ilan Leisorek ran 2:27 in the 800 meter and took 5th place

Congratulations to all of the track and field competitors on a great first meet, we look forward to many more exciting results from our newly formed track team!

Go Lions!

Stefanie Hill, SDJA Athletic Director

PTO – Parent Teacher Organization

PTO Highlights

ECC PTO Presents: Preschool’s Mom’s Night Out!

March 23, 2017  6:30 pm at Cerami Cafe’ 3435 Del Mar Heights Rd.



Please Mark your calendars, only two more PTO meeting left!

😎April 6th: BLDG A, Conference room next to reception. 

😎May 4th – Last one: BLDG A, Conference room next to reception. 

PTO Activities, March – End of year: 

  • End of March: School Supplies will be ready to order for next year! 
  • April 7th: Hand out Passover Kits & Day of Remembrance candles to families. 
  • April 26th: Math Festival! Volunteers needed! 

Math Festival April 26th! We are very excited to have our very first ever math festival! It will take place on campus April 26, 2017 and we need your help. PLEASE come help support the children, we are looking for 12 volunteers total. PLEASE contact Inna at if you are able to help. Thank you so very much. 

Session 1: 9:00–9:45

  • KA
  • KB 
  • 4A 
  • 5th grade 

Session 2: 10:40–11:25

  • 1A 
  • 2A 
  • 3A 
  • 3B 

LUNCH: 11:30–1:00

Session 3: 1:20–2:05

  • 1B 
  • 2B 
  • 4B 
  • May 7th: Bowling Family Fun day! Sunday, 1pm-3pm. Invitation coming soon.  Please note, RSVP is mandatory to attend.
  • Last Day of school: Hand out gifts and kids get popsicles !

Thank you, 

From your GMLS PTO

Photo of the Week

“When you know the answer, you know the answer!”

Jewish Community Events

  • Kids Mega Challah Bake - March 19
  • Campus Master Plan Presentation - The Future of SDJA - March 20
  • Hazon Ride - April 2
  • K-6 Math Festival - April 26
  • Friendship Circle Walk/IsraelFest at SDJA! - May 21
  • JA Summer Camps


Kids Mega Challah Bake - March 19

Hazon San Diego Ride - April 2

Discount code ‘SPRING’ will take $10 off the registration price. Sign up today!

Junior Achievement Summer Camps

We are excited to announce open registration for our JA Summer Camps!

JA BizTown Summer Camp – 3 available weeks!

AGES: 4th-6th Grade

WHEN: July 10th -14th,  July 17th -21st, or July 24th -28th

TIME: Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm

COST: $255


JA Finance Park Summer Camp – 1 available week!

AGES: 6th-8th Grade

WHEN: July 10th -14th

TIME: Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm

COST: $255

Visit our website for more information and registration.

We look forward to seeing your campers again this year

Friendship Circle Walk / Israel Fest at SDJA - May 21


A Touch of Torah


Name: Vayakhel

Where to find it: Exodus 35:1-38:20

Brief summary: Vayakhel opens with a reminder to observe the Sabbath, emphasizing that none of the work that was to be done for the building of the mishkan could be done during Shabbat.  Moses asks the Israelites to donate gifts of gold, silver, copper, precious stones, fine linen, wood, oil, and spices for the building project.  Two men named Bezalel and Oholiab are appointed by Moses to oversee the construction, and they soon report that donations are exceeding their needs.  Moses has to tell the people to stop bringing donations.  Then, the project that had already been prescribed in the Torah portion three weeks ago is finally undertaken.

Themes of the parashah: Generosity, the importance of Shabbat

Parashah discussion questions: 

  1. The Torah reports the many donations brought by the Israelites for the building of the mishkan, including gifts of gold and gems.  But last week’s Torah portion talked about how the Israelites donated all of their jewelry for the building of the Golden Calf.  So how do they still have jewelry left for the mishkan?
  2. The fourth of the Ten Commandments already told us, “Remember the Sabbath to make it holy,” but only in this parashah do we find out what observing the Sabbath actually means.  The Israelites are told, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God; you shall not do any work…”
  3. Why is not working such an integral part of this special day that it’s specifically forbidden? Why can’t we work if it makes us happy? And why are relaxing activities like watching TV or playing video games categorized as forbidden “work” according to Jewish law?
  4. What might a “Sabbath” look like in the 21st century?

Jeremy Toren

Director of Jewish Life and Judaic Studies, Maimonides Upper School