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Inside Bnei Akiva Schools

Date post: 17-Jul-2016
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    school history

    For four decades, Bnei Akiva Schools has been developing outstanding Bnei and Bnot Torah who are immersed in Ahavat Yisrael, Derech Eretz, and social responsibility towards the Jewish and secular communities in Canada and around the world.

    Whether attending Yeshivat Or Chaim or Ulpanat Orot, the schools are a place where boys and girls are able to grow intellectually, emotionally and religiously in a vibrant Jewish setting and where Limudei Kodesh are taught in Hebrew. In keeping with the maxim of the worldwide Bnei Akiva organization - Am Yisrael bEretz Yisrael al pi Torat Yisrael (The Nation of Israel living

    in the Land of Israel according to the Torah of Israel) - Zionism is an integral part of the schools philosophy and is deeply rooted in the curriculum.

    But back in the early 1970s, all this was just a dream. At the time, parents in Torontos Modern Orthodox community had just two options for their children entering high school: a co-ed Jewish high school comprised of students from varying backgrounds and levels of religious observance, or a traditional dormitory-style yeshiva for boys with Judaic studies taught in English.

    The mission of Yeshivat Or Chaim and Ulpanat Orot is to inculcate within our students an appreciation for and a commitment to Torah observances and values. Yeshivat Or Chaim (founded 1973) and Ulpanat Orot (founded 1975) were established in Toronto with several specific goals in mind.

    To create a Yeshiva environment where religiously committed Jewish boys and girls will be able to grow intellectually, socially, emotionally and religiously in a vibrant Jewish setting.

    To offer a dual curriculum of Jewish and General Studies that will arm our students with the methodological tools needed to become self-reliant in classical Jewish texts and give them a broad-based secular grounding in the classical world disciplines.

    To deepen and strengthen the centrality of Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael as a fundamental element of our Torah beliefs and, to this end, to stress the importance of Lashon Hakodesh as a manner of achieving these goals.

    To encourage and fervently support the notion of our students continuing their Judaic studies at Yeshivot in Eretz Yisrael and in other institutions of higher Jewish learning.

    mission statement

  • 3yeshivat or chaim / ulpanat orot inside bnei akiva schools 2014-2015

    Among those parents were Saul and Mira Koschitzky. With Sauls eldest son about to graduate elementary school, he discussed the idea of starting a high school based on Bnei Akiva principles with his neighbour Phil Schwartz, Nachman Mr. Mizrachi Sokol zl and Aron Frankel zl.

    The old Torah VAvodah building on Vaughan Road became the first home for the school. The founders hired Rabbi Yehuda Felix as Rosh Yeshiva and Dr. Sol Burak as Principal of General Studies.

    Our goal was not to create Rabbis but Baal HaBatim who go to university, who stand on their own feet, and who have responsibility for Klal Yisrael, recalls Saul. We wanted them to connect to Israel.

    The next important step was fundraising. The Orfus family donated $100,000 in memory of their patriarch Chaim Orfus - hence the name Or Chaim - and the other founding members jointly matched the donation. Once the school established itself as a vital institution within the community, important funding came from UJA.

    Yeshivat Or Chaim officially opened in September 1973 with 29 students in Grades 10, 11 and 12. Two years later, the boys and their teachers headed north to the schools current location on Almore Avenue. In 1993, the community celebrated the addition of a new Beit Midrash with a Hachnasat Sefer Torah and the building was renamed the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Torah Centre to honour Saul and Henrys parents. Recent additions include a state-of-the-art gym built in 2006 featuring a regulation-sized basketball court and a new multi-purpose room.

    But what about the girls? Shortly after Yeshivat Or Chaim opened its doors, Phil Schwartz began yearning for a similar version to accommodate his eldest daughter, Adrienne. So did Aron Frankel, whose daughter Esty was also about to enter high school.

    I couldnt envision my sons getting a Religious Zionist education while my daughters would have to go to a Haredi-type high school where secular studies were an afterthought, says Phil. Thats why Aron and I began pushing for a girls school similar to Or Chaims model.

    Ulpanat Orot opened its doors in September 1974 in a house in Thornhill with 23 girls enrolled in grades 10 and 11. The girls - many of them now parents and grandparents - still laugh about davening in the living room and attending classes in the master bedroom with its sunken bathtub. Two years later, the girls moved to the schools current location on Canyon Avenue. In 1980, a new wing was built, featuring additional classrooms, a gym and a swimming pool.

    As word spread of Torontos new Modern Orthodox high school, parents and students from across Canada and the United States started to take notice of the schools important role beyond the Toronto community. Bnei Akiva Schools is an inspected private school of the Ontario Ministry of Education and affiliated with the UJA Federations Centre for Jewish Education. Combined enrollment currently stands at 200 students, including children of the early graduating classes.

    After Bnei Akiva Schools, our over 1600 graduates have continued to thrive.

    Almost all graduates choose to spend a year or more studying in Israel after high school, with most attending yeshiva or seminary to solidify the Jewish education they received in Toronto. Some of these students enlist in the Israel Defense Forces or volunteer for Sheirut Leumi where they devote a year or more of service to Am Yisrael bEretz Yisrael.

    99 per cent of graduates who apply to college or university are accepted into their first or second choice.

    Graduates are successfully employed as rabbis, teachers, accountants, architects,

  • yeshivat or chaim / ulpanat orot inside bnei akiva schools 2014-20154

    doctors, entrepreneurs, fitness trainers, journalists, lawyers, nurses, paramedics, real estate agents, social workers, and a host of other professions. One-in-four graduates - about 400 students - have made Aliyah.

    Currently, Rabbi Seth Grauer holds the role of Rosh Yeshiva / Head of School. Rabbi Grauer joined our schools after over a decade as a distinguished educator in New York. He previously served as teacher and Rav at Ramaz Upper School, Assistant Principal at Yeshiva University High School for Girls and Associate Rabbi at the prestigious Fifth Avenue Synagogue.

    Bnei Akiva Schools has a rich tradition of Roshei Yeshivot in whose footsteps I now have the honour of following in, says Rabbi Grauer. The buildings are filled with excellent, hard-working educators who use their unique talents and strengths to excite and enrich their students daily. The Rabbanim and Judaic studies faculty strive to find new ways to encourage positive religious growth towards living lives of learning Torah and observance of mitzvot, with a strong emphasis and unwavering commitment to our founding principles

    of instilling within our students a love for Religious Zionism.

    Rabbi Grauer works with his team of administrators and teachers, with a keen focus on professionalism, current educational practices and academic excellence, while simultaneously ensuring that the Bnei Akiva Schools maintains its warm and welcoming environment.

    Though the founders originally thought small, they are extremely proud of how far the school has come and are delighted that the next generation of parents and students are committed to taking Bnei Akiva Schools from strength to strength.

    The school has achieved everything we dreamed about. says Saul. Our graduates have remained dati, excelled at university, succeeded in their professions, and many have made Aliyah. Bnei Akiva Schools has strengthened Modern Orthodoxy in Toronto. Though it wasnt easy getting a new school off the ground 40 years ago, one look at our graduates and there is no doubt that we made the right decision. Henry, Phil and I are so very proud of them, and I know that Aron zl and Nachman zl would feel the same.

    Ulpana is not like every other school. When i come throUgh the doors i feel like i am part of a

    loving home and family. With all the many different things Ulpana has to offer, i cannot Wait to see

    What Will come next in my experience here! - Alexandra Lipson, grade 12 UO student

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    mr. mordechai sabetiDirector of Education, General StudiesMr. Mordy Sabeti served most recently as a Department Head of Mathematics at TanenbaumCHAT. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Science (Pure Mathematics), a Bachelor of Education (Secondary Education) and a Master of Education (focus on mathematics learning, technology integration and teacher education) from York University. In addition, he holds a Graduate Diploma in Mathematics Education, as well as Honours Specialist Qualifications in Mathematics Education. As an advocate for teacher training, Mr. Sabeti mentored teacher candidates from York University and the University of Waterloo, and has led professional development workshops and seminars in the areas of student assessment, technology integration, and pedagogy at the middle school, high school and university level. Mr. Sabeti oversees the general studies programme at both Yeshivat Or Chaim and Ulpanat Orot.

    rabbi dr. seth n. graUerRosh Yeshiva and Head of SchoolPrior to joining the Bnei Akiva High Schools, Rabbi Grauer served as the Assistant Principal at Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central) in New York, where he played an essential role in managing the day-to-day operations for this 300-student girls high school. Before that Rabbi Grauer was a leading educator for 9 years at Ramaz Upper School (Ramaz) in Manhattan, NY. In addition, for eight years, Rabbi Grauer worked with teenagers at various summer camps in a leadership capacity. Most recently he served as Camp Rabbi and Director of Education at Camp Lavi and Rosh Kollel and Head of Chinuch at Camp Moshava (Wild Rose). Rabbi Grauer was trained in teacher mentorship and supervision through the Jewish New Teacher Project and has a certificate in Israel education from the Israel Center of Education. Rabbi Grauer also received the prestigious Grinspoon-Steinhardt award for excellence in Jewish education. In addition to his roles in educational institutions, Rabbi Grauer served for five years as the Associate Rabbi at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan.Rabbi Grauer studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush) in Israel for two years, served as their Director of Alumni Affairs for nearly five years, is a member of their Board of Directors and is the current Chair of their Rabbinic Committee. Rabbi Grauer was also honoured as the Yeshivat Har Etzion Alumnus of the Year in 2010. Rabbi Grauer received his B.A. in history (honours) from Yeshiva University and was a founding member of their varsity golf team. Rabbi Grauer received smicha from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University and received his doctorate in Education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University. He also earned a J.D. from Fordham Law School and served as editor of the Environmental Law Journal. Rabbi Grauer was a Rabbinic Court Intern (summer) at the Beth Din of America and a Legal Intern (summer) at the New York State Supreme Court and the New York State Office of the Attorney General. Rabbi Grauer lives with his wife, Leba and his three children, Yonina (11), Yosef (9) and Gila (7) in Thornhill, ON.

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    rabbi yair spitzMenahel, Yeshivat Or ChaimRabbi Yair Spitz joined the administration of Bnei Akiva Schools in July 2012. A third generation Bnei Akivanik, Rabbi Spitz was born in the U.S. but grew up in Efrat, Israel, after making Aliya at a young age. Rabbi Spitz studied for eight years at Mercaz HaRav affiliated Yeshivot five years in Dimona and three years at Kollel Meretz, Mevaseret Tzion and obtained his Smicha from Rabbi Riskin through the Rabbanut Hareishit. He holds an M.A. in Jewish History and a B.A. in Jewish Education. Rabbi Spitz served in the IDF artillery corp, including a tour in Lebanon. He holds the rank of First Lieutenant and, until recently, served as a battalion chaplain in the reserves. Before joining the Bnei Akiva Schools, Rabbi Spitz served as the Executive Director of The Shoshana Educational Campus under the tutelage of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. Rabbi Spitz has over 15 years of extensive experience working with and giving Shiurim to North American teenagers in Israel and North America. At Or Chaim, Rabbi Spitz focuses on our Judaic Studies curriculum, Tefilah, mentoring our new Judaic studies teachers, and providing religious and Israel guidance for our students.

    mrs. nicky kaganAssistant Principal, Yeshivat Or Chaim and Head of English and Social Sciences DepartmentsOriginally from South Africa, Mrs. Nicky Kagan has lived in Toronto for over 25 years. She has taught at Yeshivat Or Chaim since 1999, and has held an administrative role for the past 9 years. Mrs. Kagan runs YOCs day-to-day operations, overseeing attendance and discipline, as well as other administrative matters. She continues to provide career and post-secondary education guidance for our Grade 12 students. Mrs. Kagan teaches English, as well as being the Department Head of English and Social Studies. In 2006, she received a Teacher of Excellence Award. She has principal certification and guidance qualifications. In previous years, she has also taught History, coordinated the Model UN team and prior to that, oversaw the yearbook committee.

    mr. gerald lazarDirector of Student Life and English & Social Sciences TeacherMr. Gerald Lazar has worked at Bnei Akiva Schools since 2007. For the past four years, he has also acted as the Student Services Coordinator at Or Chaim. This year, his role involves overseeing student activities, some guidance responsibilities, managing the e-newsletter / social media initiatives and assisting with admissions. In previous years, Mr. Lazar supervised the yearbook committee and the Model UN team. Mr. Lazar has an Honours B.A. in History and Religious Studies, a B.Ed., and an M.A. in History. Over the summer, Mr. Lazar continued to work toward Guidance specialist certification and during the school year, he is participating in Yeshiva Universitys Lead course. An active volunteer at Shaarei Shomayim, he has been involved in several committees. Known for his ability to multi-task, Mr. Lazars office is often full of students working on multiple projects.

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    mrs. yael gelernterAssistant Principal, Ulpanat OrotMrs. Yael Gelernter previously taught Chumash, Navi and Jewish Philosophy at Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls (SKA), in New York. She also coordinated their admissions office and recruitment efforts and played a significant role in many student activities and student programs. Mrs. Gelernter has also been a Camp Director and teacher in numerous other formal and informal institutions. Mrs. Gelernter has a Bachelors degree with honors from Stern College at Yeshiva University and a Masters of Science degree with honors from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University. Most recently, Mrs. Gelernter successfully completed an advanced program in educational leadership from the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education. At Ulpana, in addition to teaching, Mrs. Gelernter oversees student activities and admissions, as well as focusing on the positive spiritual and religious development of our girls.

    mrs. sara mUnkAssistant Principal and Director of Judaic Studies, Ulpanat OrotHead of Tanach DepartmentMrs. Sara Munk has distinguished herself as a leading educator in Judaic Studies curriculum, new teacher mentorship and pedagogy. She holds an M.A. in Secondary Jewish Education and Administration from Azrieli Graduate School and a B.A. in Jewish Studies from Stern College. Mrs. Munk taught at the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School for nine years, teaching Tanach and Jewish History. She also created curriculum, acted as Israel Guidance Counselor, ninth grade advisor, and coached the basketball team. She has also worked in camp settings, as a division head and chinuch specialist. In addition to teaching, Mrs. Munk oversees the Judaic studies curriculum at Ulpana, as well as providing guidance to our girls in advance of seminary applications.

    mrs. shari WeinbergAssistant Principal, Ulpanat Orot and Head of the Art, French and Physical Education DepartmentsMrs. Shari Weinberg has been a vital part of Ulpanat Orot over the past 29 years. She has held an administrative role for the last 12 years while continuing to teach Physical Education and Careers. At Ulpana, Mrs. Weinberg oversees the running of the day-to-day operations, providing guidance to our girls on a daily basis and especially in advance of their post-secondary academic decisions. She is also head of the Phys Ed, French and Art Department. Mrs. Weinberg has also been instrumental in the introduction and success of the Youth Philanthropic Initiative (YPI) program, as well as alumni and career days. Mrs. Weinberg has principal certification and is a Specialist in Guidance Education. Her door is always open, as students and staff alike seek her guidance and level-headed decision making skills.

    or chaim has been a part of me for as long as i remember, Whether its my school or shUl, or chaim

    is a place i call home; its a place that develops a sense of family that cannot be foUnd anyWhere else

    - Yoav Shumacher, YOC 14

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    ms. miriam bessinAthletic Director and Limudei Kodesh / Physical Education Teacher and Grade 12 MechanechetMs. Miriam Bessin was born and raised in Toronto. After graduating from Ulpana, Miriam spent a year pursuing Judaic Studies in Midreshet Harova in Jerusalem. She returned to Toronto where she completed her B.A. (Honours) in Religious Studies as well as a B.Ed. in Education at York University. She recently obtained her certificate in Experiential Jewish Education from Yeshiva University. She is in her sixth year with the Bnei Akiva Schools where she teaches Tanach and Physical Education and is the Athletic Director at Ulpana. Lovingly referred to as Prof by her students, she also serves as the grade 12 Mechanechet.

    mrs. sarah chesesLimudei Kodesh TeacherMrs. Sarah Cheses just moved to Toronto from Connecticut, where she served as the Co-Director of the Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) at Yale. In addition to her role at Ulpana, she continues to work with university students as a part-time JLIC educator in Toronto-area universities. She is a graduate of Nishmats Yoetzet Halacha Program, and holds a Masters degree in Public Health from Columbia University and a B.A. in Biology with Honors from Yeshiva Universitys Stern College for Women. Sarah has previously taught at Maayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in Teaneck, NJ, and has been involved in informal Jewish education through Camp Stone and NCSY. In her free time, Sarah enjoys making jewelry and experimenting with healthy baking. She is very excited to join the team at Ulpana, where she will be teaching Navi, Halacha, and Jewish Philosophy.

    mrs. sara erlichHead of Ivrit DepartmentMrs. Sara Erlich graduated from Telma Yelin School with a degree in Musical Studies, and obtained her Bachelors degree in Hebrew Literature and Philosophy from Tel Aviv University after completing her military service. Prior to working at Bnei Akiva Schools, Mrs. Erlich taught literature and language to grades 7 to 10 in Israel. In addition to teaching, she has held administrative positions at Maccabi Health Services and Bank Leumi, with responsibilities ranging from employee recruitment and training to lecturing at seminars. Before arriving in Canada, Mrs. Erlich received an award for Above and Beyond achievements at her workplace in Maccabi. Currently in her 8th year teaching at Bnei Akiva Schools, Mrs. Erlich is the head of the Ivrit department and teaches Hebrew classes. Over the past few years, Mrs. Erlich has developed the curriculum for her department, incorporating important elements of the Hebrew language. Sara has a great passion and devotion for the Hebrew language which she enjoys passing on to her pupils, emphasizing the language to be a fundamental requirement at B.A.S. She has had many students contact her from Israel thanking her for the level of Hebrew mastery which she has been able to instill.

    judaic studies faculty

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    mrs. ofra gemaraLimudei Kodesh Teacher and Grade 11 MechanechetMrs. Ofra Gemara has taught hundreds of boys and girls over the past 32 years in Israel and Canada. She has been teaching at Ulpanat Orot for 19 years and in recent years at Or Chaim as well. After military service in the Nahal Airborne unit, she studied at Orot Elkana Collage in Israel. She was among the first graduates of the College, which was founded by Rabbi Yehuda Felix, who was the founder and the first Rosh HaYeshiva of Bnei Akiva Schools of Toronto. Mrs. Gemara holds a teaching certificate for teaching Jewish studies and English at the secondary level from the Ministry of Education in Israel, and holds a B.Ed. from Orot Israel College. Mrs. Gemara has eight children who studied in Or Chaim and Ulpana, and six of them are graduates of the Bnei Akiva Schools. For the last eleven years, Mrs. Gemara prepared our students who participated in the Chidon Hatanach program, and every year at least one or two of her students have achieved one of the top places. As a result, they represent Canada in the International Bible Contest held in Jerusalem. Some of them became Chatan Hatefutzot, or reached the final level of the competition. Last years International Chidon HaTanach champion was Eitan Amos, a 2014 YOC graduate.

    rabbi moshe goldbergLimudei Kodesh TeacherRabbi Moshe Goldberg was born in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Telshe Yeshiva High School Chicago Branch, and afterwards Telshe Yeshiva, Wickliffe, Ohio where he received smicha from Rav Mordechai Gifter and Rab Boruch Sorotskil His career began as a Rebbe in Miami Beach in the Mesifta program, and in Rabbi Yochanan Zweigs Yeshiva. He moved to Toronto in 1984, teaching at Yeshiva Yesodei Hatorah, then at the Mesifta of Yeshiva Gedola Zichron Shmayahu, where he continues to teach today. He has taught the senior class at Yeshivat Or Chaim since 1996. Rabbi Goldberg has authored the Seforim Bikurei Moshe on the Shas and on the Torah UMoadim.

    mrs. lori grysmanLimudei Kodesh TeacherDuring the week, when Mrs. Lori Grysman is not teaching her Monday Mishpacha class to the Grade 12 girls at Ulpanat Orot, she is teaching Chumash and Navi in the middle school at Netivot Hatorah. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba, a teaching certificate from the province of Manitoba, and a Master of Arts degree in Hebrew Literature from New York University. She is proud to have been in the first Gemara class taught to women at Stern College, and was profoundly influenced by her Torah studies in Israel with Nechama Leibowitz, zl. Mrs. Grysman is also active in adult education and teaches a weekly Torah class.

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    mrs. rachel JavaskyLimudei Kodesh Teacher and Grade 9 MechanechetPrior to joining Ulpanat Orot, Mrs. Rachel Javasky taught at Tiferes Bais Yaakov and Torah High for three years. Mrs. Javasky also worked for Bnei Akiva as well as led Birthright trips to Israel. Mrs. Javasky has a Bachelors degree from Queens College in Psychology and a Masters of Science degree from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University. She looks forward to her second year teaching Gemara and Halacha at Ulpana this year.

    rabbi Josh koperWasLimudei Kodesh TeacherRabbi Josh Koperwas, a graduate of Bnei Akiva Schools, moved back to Toronto after receiving his Bachelors in History from Yeshiva University; Masters of Jewish Education and Administration from the Azrieli Graduate School; and his Rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (REITS) in New York. Rabbi Koperwas has also served as a fellow at Ramaz High School in New York, as well as Rabbinic Educator and Educational Coordinator at the Manhattan Jewish Experience. This year, Rabbi Koperwas will be teaching courses in Jewish History, Philosiphy, Gemara, and the Modern Middle East Conflict.

    rabbi elan mazer

    Limudei Kodesh Teacher and Mashgiach Ruchani, Yeshivat Or ChaimRabbi Elan Mazer comes to us with his family from the Old City of Jerusalem, where he had the incredible opportunity to both live and learn at Yeshivat Hakotel. Rabbi Mazer is well-versed in a wide range of Judaic subjects, from in-depth Gemara to Jewish Philosophy, to Tanach. While completing the steps towards Rabbanut Smicha and a Bachelors of Education at Lifschitz College of Jerusalem, Rabbi Mazer was an integral part of the Hakotel staff, guiding the students through the morning Gemara shiur, preparing many insightful shiurim, and connecting to the students on a personal level. In addition, he taught Jewish Thought and Parshat HaShavua at Baer Miriam Seminary for girls. Living in the Old City also enabled him to meet, host, and work with a wide range of Jewish people, from students on birthright trips to the weekly Rova womens shiur. Rabbi Mazer has also served in the Combat Engineering Corps of the Israel Defense Forces. Rabbi Mazer, a Shaliach and Limudei Kodesh teacher, is devoted to instilling a passion for Torah and deep connection to Eretz Yisrael in the hearts of the students at Bnei Akiva Schools.

    mrs. daniella michaeliIvrit TeacherMrs. Daniella Michaeli arrived in Toronto two years ago from Jerusalem. Mrs. Michaeli taught Middle East History and other Judaic Studies at the Dekel Vilnai High School in Maale Adumin. She also completed a course for teaching Hebrew as a secondary language to students from abroad at Hebrew University. Mrs. Michaeli has a Bachelors Degree in Middle East History and a teaching degree in history and citizenship. She herself completed high school at the Bnei Akiva Ulpana in Kfar Pines and served in the IDF as an army teacher and officer.

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    rabbi hartley perlmUtter

    Limudei Kodesh TeacherRabbi Hartley Perlmutter returns for his second year teaching with Bnei Akiva Schools. Prior to that, he taught Limudei Kodesh at SAR Academy, in Riverdale, NY. This year, he will be teaching Gemara, Chumash and Halacha. Rabbi Perlmutter has extensive experience in the world of informal Jewish education including NCSY (Canada, Central East, New York and New Jersey regions), Camp Moshava Ennismore, and NCSY Summer programs. This past summer, he was Rosh Chinuch at Moshava Bair Toronto. Rabbi Perlmutter holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from York University, and Smicha from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (REITS), as well as an M.Sc. degree from Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University. Rabbi Perlmutter brings energy, engagement and excitement to both the classrooms and hallways.

    rabbi aviad pitUchey chotamLimudei Kodesh TeacherRabbi Aviad Pituchey Chotam is very excited to be joining Bnei Akiva Schools family after a wonderful year of teaching Hebrew and other Judaics at Hebraica Hertzl-Bialik school in Caracas, Venezuela. Prior to that, he coordinated a Tanach program in Yeshivat Har Etzion, Alon Shvut and was a counselor in Gesher Educational Center for study and dialogue of Jewish identity and Israeli society. Rav Aviad has also taught in Alon Shvut Elementary School and in OTS Neve Shmuel Yeshiva High School. Rabbi Aviad has a B.Ed. and M.Ed. in Education.

    mrs. hodaya pitUchey chotamLimudei Kodesh and Ivrit TeacherMrs. Hodaya Pituchey Chotam taught Ivrit and Judaic Studies at the Hebraica Hertzl-Bialik School in Caracas, Venezuela. She was also a counselor for overseas students in Midreshet Eshel in Jerusalem. Prior to that, Mrs. Pituchey Chotam taught Judaic Studies at Am Yisrael Echads schools. She served in Sheirut Leumi at the Halabi Syrian community in New York as well as Coordinator of the Israeli branch of Bnei Akiva.

    mr. binny schapiroShaliach, Yeshivat Or ChaimBinny Schapiro has extensive experience volunteering and as a counselor in Israel, as well as North America. He has worked at Camp Stone and as a MASA program counselor scout, among several other experiences. He learned in a pre-army program, Mechinat Harava, at the Negev, as well as Yeshivat Hesder, Ahavat Yisrael. A graduate of a Bnei Akiva high school in Israel, Binny looks forward to his role both inside and outside the classroom at Or Chaim.

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    rabbi noah sonenbergHead of Gemara DepartmentRabbi Sonenberg has been teaching at Bnei Akiva Schools for eleven years and has taught: Torah, Halacha, Philosophy and Gemara. He is the head of the Gemara department and is currently working on writing and implementing a four year curriculum which works on developing the students ability to learn independently. Rabbi Sonenberg has a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a focus on genetics. He studied in Yeshivat Bircas Hatorah in Israel after completing his university degree. Rabbi Sonenberg is passionate about learning and teaching Gemara. In addition to our school, he also teaches adult Gemara classes in the community. Rabbi Sonenberg is married to Mrs. Rifka Sonenberg, who teaches at Ulpanat Orot and together they have three children: Tamar, Boaz and Yishai.

    mrs. rifka sonenbergLimudei Kodesh Teacher and Grade 10 MechanechetMrs. Rifka Sonenberg was born in Israel and grew up in Toronto. She holds an Honours B.Sc. in Chemistry from York University and a teaching certificate from Michlalah in Jerusalem. Mrs. Sonenberg and her husband, Rabbi Noah Sonenberg, spent a number of years living and learning in Israel, during which she completed Nishmats Keren Ariel (Yoatzot Halacha) program. In addition to her role as a Jewish Studies teacher at Ulpanat Orot, Rifka is a beloved kallah teacher and a popular speaker, both locally and in the United States. The Sonenbergs have three children.

    mr. tom stopnicki Limudei Kodesh TeacherMr. Tom Stopnicki has been involved with the Bnei Akiva Schools for a number of years. A graduate of Or Chaim (94) Mr. Stopnicki went on to Yeshivat Or Dovid in Israel and then York University. Throughout his years working in Real Estate, Mr. Stopnickis involvement in the school never waned, regularly coming back as a substitute teacher in the Judaics Department. Since 2011, Mr. Stopnicki has been a permanent member of faculty, initially teaching Gemara. This year, Mr. Stopnicki teaches a Contemporary Halacha course, as one of the grade 11/12 options, as well as a grade 12 Chabura. Mr. Stopnicki continues to be excited about his involvement with the school and the opportunity to build lasting relationships with our very special student body. Mr. Stopnicki lives in Thornhill with his wife, Amy and 4 children, two of whom are students at Or Chaim.

    When i think of my time spent at or chaim, i remember the great times i shared With my friends,

    the close relationships i forged With my teachers, and the genUine learning opportUnities that Were

    open to me. bUt most of all, i remember a place i enJoyed being, a bUilding that i looked forWard to

    visiting every day and a setting Where i felt at home.- Gideon Blinick (12)

  • 13yeshivat or chaim / ulpanat orot inside bnei akiva schools 2014-2015

    ms. adina anderScience and Biology TeacherMs. Adina Ander is excited to be joining the Bnei Akiva Schools after a year of teaching Science and Physical Education at TanenbaumCHAT. Ms. Ander holds a Bachelors of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and a Bachelors of Kinesiology and Physical Education from the University of Toronto. She is looking forward to teaching grades 10 and 11 Science and Physical Education at Ulpana and grade 11 Biology at Or Chaim this year.

    mr. bryan balkissoonChemistry TeacherMr. Balkissoon is in his first year of teaching and eager to begin his career in such a dynamic and dedicated community. Mr. Balkissoon is teaching Chemistry at both schools; he is also qualified to teach Biology and Mathematics. Outside of the classroom, Mr. Balkissoon enjoys running and playing board games.

    mrs. rachel belzbergScience and Mathematics TeacherMrs. Belzberg is in her fourth year teaching at Bnei Akiva Schools, currently teaching Science and Mathematics. After earning an Honours Bachelors of Science from York University, she went on to complete a Masters of Science in Education. Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Belzberg can be seen talking to students, running with Ulpanas Running Club, participating in student programs, or decorating the school bulletin boards.

    mrs. monica chocronHead of Science and Mathematics DepartmentsMrs. Chocron earned a summa cum laude Licentiate of Education degree from The University Andres Bello (Caracas, Venezuela) with a specialization in Physics and Mathematics. For the first 14 years of her teaching career, Mrs. Chocron taught at the Colegio Moral y Luces Herzl-Bialik in Caracas (where she studied herself ) teaching in the classroom and working as the Physics Department Chair. She received a special recognition for uninterrupted service and a prize for excellent teachers performance given by Keren Chinuch Caracas. In 2002, she and her family moved to Canada, and she worked for 7 years at Associated Hebrew Schools. Since 2009, Mrs. Chocron has been teaching Science, Physics, and Mathematics at both Yeshivat Or Chaim and Ulpanat Orot. This past year, for the second time in three years, her Physics students won the Weizmann Safe Competition and competed in the finals in Israel.

    general studies faculty

  • yeshivat or chaim / ulpanat orot inside bnei akiva schools 2014-201514

    mrs. sharon fixlerEnglish TeacherMrs. Sharon (Weltman) Fixler has been teaching English (Grades 9-12) and Writers Craft at Ulpanat Orot for ten years and is also a graduate of the school. Mrs. Fixler earned her Honours B.A. and B.E.d. degrees from York University, where she also completed an M.A. in English. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Mrs. Fixler initiated and continues to run the popular school-wide public speaking contest, now in its ninth year. As well, Mrs. Fixler spearheaded the Ulpana Intergenerational Book Club with senior citizens from the Bernard Betel Centre. Mrs. Fixler has also given shiurim and been an invited speaker at various events throughout the Toronto Jewish community.

    mr. Joel grahamMathematics TeacherMr. Joel Graham has been teaching Mathematics at Bnei Akiva Schools since 2011. He studied Philosophy in Montreal, and was certified to teach in Toronto at OISE. A committed educator, he is most interested in alternative education programs and the effect of technology on learning today. Mr. Graham is proud to have started his career in such a great community. An avid chess player, he has started chess clubs at both schools. He is also the coordinator for the Model UN at Bnei Akiva Schools.

    mr. peter lang Mathematics and Computer Science TeacherWith an Honours degree in Math and Statistics and a Microsoft Certified Professional qualification, Mr. Peter Lang has taught at Bnei Akiva Schools for nine years. Overseas teaching and education experience, a business background, a passion for teaching and knowledge of the education system are powerful assets to Mr. Langs teaching role at B.A.S. He understands the importance of a students education for lifelong success and is always willing to assist students, even outside the classroom. A personalized, caring approach by Mr. Lang helps students meet their unique learning styles and academic needs.

    dr.shlomit levyScience and Biology TeacherDr. Shlomit Levy has taught Science at the Bnei Akiva Schools since 2007 and has passionately engaged in science education for the last twenty years. Prior to her move to Toronto, she taught Pathology and Anatomy in the New York/American Program at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine in Tel-Aviv University. Dr. Levy received her B.Sc. with honors from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Honors M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Anatomy and Pathology from Tel-Aviv University, M.B.A. with distinction from Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, and authored articles in peer reviewed journals. In Ulpanat Orot and Yeshivat Or Chaim, Dr. Levy conducts microscopy and dissection classes, field trips to leading research institutes, prepares her students for the national biology contests, and aims to inspire the next generation of scientists by making science exciting, relevant and fun.

  • 15yeshivat or chaim / ulpanat orot inside bnei akiva schools 2014-2015

    i find it extremely gratifying to retUrn to Ulpanat orot as a teacher and a gradUate. i feel very fortUnate

    to have learned from many talented and passionate teachers dUring my time at Ulpana, and i am honoUred to have the opportUnity to pay it forWard, by teaching the

    next generation of Ulpana stUdents. - Mrs. Sharon (Weltman) Fixler (99)

    mrs. rochelle lipsonVisual Arts TeacherMrs. Rochelle Lipson has been teaching Visual Arts at Ulpanat Orot for the past 7 years. She received her Specialized Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from York University. Mrs. Lipson previously taught various courses at Eitz Chaim Schools. She initiated and has continued to organize the Bnei Akiva Schools Art Exhibit with Mr. Pascal, the Visual Arts teacher at Or Chaim, for the past 6 years. Mrs. Lipson has also overseen joint creative projects with other schools. She continues to educate herself and works with various art media in order to grow artistically and pass that knowledge and creativity on to her students.

    dr. Janna nadlerEnglish TeacherDr. Janna Nadler teaches English at Bnei Akiva Schools and is also the Staff Yearbook Advisor. She has a Ph.D. in English from McMaster University and a B.Ed., Honours B.A., and M.A. from York University; all degrees were supported by merit-based scholarships. Before teaching at Bnei Akiva Schools, Dr. Nadler taught Canadian Literature and Childrens Literature at McMaster University and the University of Toronto. Dr. Nadler is also a well-known speaker and book reviewer for book club groups throughout the G.T.A. She is the creator/director of Book Clubs by Janna (www.bookclubsbyjanna.com). Dr. Nadler has three children Maya, Jordan, and Aliza and is married to Michael Nadler, of Central Epicure Food Products.

    mr. paUl pascalVisual Arts TeacherMr. Paul Pascal has taught Visual Arts at every level elementary and high school, as well as adult. He is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, and did post-graduate work at Hebrew University, Toronto Teachers College, and York University. He studied Judaic Arts on scholarship at Brandeis-Bardin Institute in California, and was recommended from there for a scholarship to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. With Specialist certificates in Special Education and Visual Arts, Mr. Pascal began his career in the public school system. He has been teaching at Or Chaim for seven years. In the last six of those years, the Bnei Akiva Schools annual Art Show, which he and Mrs. Lipson have coordinated, has been a highlight of the school year. Mr. Pascals outside pursuits include teaching art at a homeless shelter, and time in his own studio. An amateur genealogist, he has presented research results at international conferences, and particularly enjoys translating Yiddish documents and memoirs.

  • yeshivat or chaim / ulpanat orot inside bnei akiva schools 2014-201516

    mrs. hadassa pertmanSocial Sciences TeacherAn Ulpana graduate, Mrs. Hadassa Pertman received her Bachelors in History from Stern College and her Masters in Social Studies Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She began her teaching career at public high schools in the South Bronx and Harlem, NY. She was a participant in the Jewish New Teacher Project while teaching American and Global History at Yeshiva Universitys High School for Boys. Most recently, Mrs. Pertman taught English and Social Studies at Akiva Academy in Calgary, Alberta. Jewish communal involvement is very important to Mrs. Pertman. Before moving to Toronto this summer, she was a Board Member of Jewish Federation and the chair of UJAs Young Leadership division in Calgary, as well as a committee member of Calgarys Jewish Film Festival. She will be teaching grade 12 Canadian and International Law at Ulpana this year and is very excited to be returning to her alma mater.

    mrs. arlene ripsmanMathematics and Computer Science TeacherMrs. Arlene Ripsman has been a member of the faculty at Ulpana and Or Chaim for the last 8 years, where she teaches Mathematics and Computer Science. Mrs. Ripsman earned her Honours B.Sc. in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Toronto. Prior to joining the Bnei Akiva Schools, she worked for an actuarial consulting firm for 7 years before returning to university to study Computer Science. Mrs. Ripsman received her Honours B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Computer Science from York University. Over the course of her academic career, Mrs. Ripsman had an opportunity to teach at both the University of Toronto and York University. It was through these activities that Mrs. Ripsman discovered her passion for teaching. She brings this passion for teaching to her day to day responsibilities at Bnei Akiva Schools.

    mr. francis robertsFrench TeacherMr. Francis Roberts is currently in his fifth year teaching French at Or Chaim and his first at Ulpana. He has also been teaching at George Brown College in the Continuing Education department since 1998. In addition, he conducts interviews and evaluates future French teachers for the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute at the University of Ottawa. Mr. Roberts possesses an M.B.A. from HEC Louvain-la-Neuve University, Minor in linguistic, TFSL Certification and Masters in Astronomy. Although Mr. Roberts knowledge and credentials extend beyond teaching French, the language is his passion and he enjoys teaching all levels. His goal is to assist the students to be proficient in the French language by the time they graduate from the Bnei Akiva Schools.

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    mr. gord skarottAthletic Director and Physical Health & Education TeacherMr. Gord Skarott has been a Physical Education teacher and Athletic Director at Or Chaim since 2002. A graduate of Brock University, Mr. Skarott emphasizes fitness and exercise in his classes and his personal life. He has worked as a personal trainer and regularly competes in long distance endurance events such as marathons and triathlons, including three Ironman events. Mr. Skarott takes his enthusiasm and love of physical activity into each class and attempts to find new ways for his students to have fun while being active. He is also very active in extra-curricular activities, acting as the head coach of Or Chaims cross country running team, soccer team in each of the last ten years and has added tennis and flag football when our schedule has allowed. He enjoys being a positive element in his students day and hopes the skills they learn in his class will stay with them into adulthood.

    mr. adam solomonSocial Sciences Teacher and Educational Technology IntegratorMr. Adam Solomon joined Bnei Akiva Schools teaching staff after interning at the school in May 2013, assisting Mr. Lazar with Student Life. He earned his Bachelors of Commerce degree at Ryerson University and his Bachelors of Education at the University of Toronto (OISE), specializing in Business Studies and Geography. Mr. Solomon is teaching grade 9 Geography and grade 11/12 Business this year. He also looks forward to continuing overseeing the very successful Investment Club at Or Chaim. Starting this year, Mr. Solomon will be supporting teacher and student use of technology at Or Chaim and Ulpanat Orot through his role as an Educational Technology Integrator.

    mr. michael tevershamHistory and Social Sciences TeacherFor the past ten years, Mr. Michael Teversham has been sharing his knowledge and sense of humour with students at both Or Chaim and Ulpanat Orot, teaching History and other Social Sciences. Educated at the University of Toronto, the University of Southern California and State University of New York, Mr. T enjoyed a screenwriting career prior to teaching, working on a variety of television shows now only found on YouTube or in Germany. Mr. T strives to instill a love of learning in his students, improve their verbal and written skills and make the classroom experience as fun as it can be. The girls enjoy discussing current events with him in the hallway, and the boys enjoy playing intramurals alongside Mr. T.

  • yeshivat or chaim / ulpanat orot inside bnei akiva schools 2014-201518

    student support staff

    mrs. kendra thompsonMathematics and Social Sciences TeacherPrior to seven rewarding years teaching at both Ulpana and Or Chaim, Mrs. Thompson taught for eight years in the middle school at Netivot HaTorah and one year in her home province of New Brunswick. While at the Bnei Akiva Schools, Mrs. Thompson has taught a variety of subjects including English, Math and History. She has a B.A. and B.Ed. with honours from the University of New Brunswick, an Honours Specialist qualification in history from OISE and an Intermediate math qualification from York Univeristy. In addition to her involvement in the Model UN program, Mrs. Thompson created a girls running team at Ulpana that trains for the 5K Hannukah Hustle in Hamilton and the Sporting Life 10K in Toronto.

    mrs. temima cohenDirector of GuidanceMrs. Temima Cohen has worked as a teacher and a cognitive support worker in Tiferes Bais Yaakov for the last four years. She has also been a Social Work consultant in The Cheder Chabad and has practiced private Social Work within the Toronto community. Mrs. Cohen received an honours Bachelors of Social Work from Ryerson University and a Masters of Social Work from The University of Toronto with a focus on child and family. She is a registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers. Mrs. Cohen is very excited to fill a newly created position in Bnei Akiva Schools, Director of Guidance. She is looking forward to being able to provide educational, emotional, and social guidance and support to both the Ulpana and Yeshivat Or Chaim students.

    dr. marilyn izattDirector of Student ServicesDr. Marilyn Izatt has been working with students, parents, and staff at Bnei Akiva Schools for the past five years as Special Education Coordinator. Nine years earlier, she developed TanenbaumCHATs Remediation program to serve students with learning weaknesses who may not qualify for a more intense Special Education Program. Dr. Izatt received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Toronto. She believes that not only do students need to develop to their full potential, but equally important goals are to gain the skill and confidence to advocate for themselves and to become independent lifelong learners.

  • 19yeshivat or chaim / ulpanat orot inside bnei akiva schools 2014-2015

    my high school experience Was so mUch more than JUst a classroom edUcation. it instilled in me a strong sense of commUnity, and really helped me learn hoW to focUs on

    the important things in life. i love What Ulpana stands for, hoW to be a good person Who cUltivates their talents and

    gives back to their commUnity - Ahuva Goldberg (10)



    Steve Mayerchairman

    Michael Laxvice chairEsther Berglassecretary

    Howard Wassermantreasurer

    Ashira Gobrin

    executive officers

    Aaron Ames immediate past president

    Jeff Shumacherboard of directors

    Steve BalsamDov BegunAvi DalfenLinda Fingerote

    Sybil HershtalElisheva LightstoneJeremy MagenceIsaac MareskyY. Dov MeyerCharly PiwkoSendy ShorserAryella Weisz

    life membersAron Frankel Henry Koschitzky

    Saul KoschitzkyBessie Orfus Kurt RothschildPhil SchwartzJack Weinbaumpast presidentsNachman Sokol Saul KoschitzkyEli RubinsteinBerl NadlerNaftali WinterJeff Shumacher

    executive board

    administrative staffdirector of admissions and community events Mrs. Jennifer Diamond controller

    Mrs. Geoula Osipovcoordinator of special events Mr. Joshua Katchen

    manager, business administration

    Ms. Esther Mendlowitzinformation technology manager

    Mr. Morris Brand

    administrative assistant Mrs. Tali Rabinowitzbuilding maintenance

    Mr. Steve Hystek

    administrative staff Ulpanat OrotMrs. Yael Nir Mrs. Estie Zeifman administrative staff Yeshivat Or ChaimMrs. Basia CharneyMrs. Sandy Cohen