Bernard Zell Blog

A Message From Abby Aloni, Head of Early Childhood
Abby Aloni, Head of Early Childhood

Each morning when I arrive at school, I take a peek at the state of the construction of our new building. To be quite honest, I know there is a lot of work happening but it isn't the type of work that gets the same amount of attention and excitement as when a structure begins to pop out of the ground. What is being built right now is the foundation. And a building cannot be strong if this vital step is skipped and is not approached with attention and intention. 

Read More about A Message From Abby Aloni, Head of Early Childhood
Using Design Thinking to Solve Real-World Problems
Candace Chesler
by Rachel Jury, 5th Grade Teacher
How do you prepare students to be problem solvers in the real world? You teach them the steps of Design Thinking and then allow them to practice those skills until they can independently apply those mindsets. Through Design Thinking in Middle School at Bernard Zell, we offer invitations into the complexities of the world and afford students opportunities to become empowered to solve real challenges that exist. We believe that with repeated practice students can strengthen their Design Thinking muscles and learn to view challenges as opportunities for which there are a multitude of possibilities.
Read More about Using Design Thinking to Solve Real-World Problems
Recent Graduates Share What Bernard Zell Athletics Means to Them
Candace Chesler
by Allison Dunn & Adam Lewis, Class of 2018

As 8th grade went on, it was amazing to see how each and every one of us had grown as an athlete, including myself. In volleyball and softball we won several games. We were only able achieve success because we worked as a team. Since last year, we have learned how to better work as a team to achieve our goals.
Out of all the fun, there were some struggles though. Being the least experienced, it was hard for me to keep up sometimes. There were two main ways I overcame this. The first one is that I tried to always take the advice from my coaches to improve myself. I also practiced in the off-seasons. For softball, I went to the batting cages, and for volleyball I practiced passing with my family. From this experience, I have learned that to get better, practice is necessary. People always say that “practice leads to perfection.” and, to my surprise, they’re right, you may not reach perfection, because that is impossible, but you can make yourself the best you can be. This does not only apply to sports. For example, if you’re a slow reader and you want to get faster, the best way to do this is to practice reading. The experiences I went through in the athletics program will help shape my future, because it taught me to always work hard, and that you can succeed, if you try. I know that in forthcoming events I will try hard even if I make a mistake, I will continue. I will persevere, even if it is hard to do so. I would like to thank all of the parents who helped drive, purchase supplies, and support the student athletes.
I would like to thank all of the teachers who understood why we came a little late to our first period class, or gave us time to leave early when we had away games. I would also like to thank all of the coaches, for being supportive and always helping us strive to be better athletes. Without them, there would not be Bernard Zell Athletics. But most importantly, I would like to thank all of my teammates, who made the athletic community what it is today.
We jumped up and down as a team. We played as a team. We scored as a team. We won as a team. The blood coursing through our veins, the sheer happiness of achievement. Although we are saying farewell this year to one another, these emotions are what gives us motivation to continue on as team.
 Adam Lewis, Class of 2018
Back in seventh grade, our basketball coach, coach J, handed all of us a book after one of our games. The book was written by the Head basketball Coach at North Carolina - Dean Smith. His book was about how he ran his team with confidence and friendship. His book was not only about Basketball, but it was about friendship and being a leader, whether that’s in life or in the workplace. Of course, I never actually read the whole book, but the fact that my coach went out of his way to buy us all books - that was very thoughtful and special. I think that the best part of Bernard Zell (BZAEDS) is the coaches. The coaches at bernard zell are inspired to fulfill everyone on the team’s needs, as well as having fun and getting outcomes such as winning games. The hardest job on the team is the coach. They have to make hard decisions. A team would not be functionable without a coach. Another story I have is when I was in sixth grade, Ms. Lederer, my first BZAEDS soccer coach, would always yell at us to charge the net. At first, this seemed to be an indifferent statement, and I would just charge the net anyway. But in games, I realized that people do not charge the net as much as I thought. I later learned that she always tells this to her soccer teams, and it is always something everyone has to learn.
But there is so much more in Bernard Zell Athletics. My favorite part of Bernard Zell athletics is the spirit that comes with it. In sixth and seventh grade volleyball, there were only five or so people from the class of 2018 participating. But because of the spirit that surrounds BZ athletics, we were able to convince enough people to have 14 8th grade volleyball players on the roster this year. The people who joined the team were willing to take the risk of trying something new.
Some things I can take away from the experience is how to be a good person and a good sport. These ideas were started when in lower school during PE classes, where we were taught basic lessons on sportsmanship. But in middle school athletics, we learn from each other and develop deep friendships. We have opportunities to become leaders. That is what sets us apart from everyone else. I think that BZ athletics has prepared me very well for high school sports, and I will keep the lessons I have learned at Bernard Zell with me forever. I think that I will miss the close relationships I have made and the openness of the teams that I got from Bernard Zell Athletics. I will remember what I learned about sportsmanship at Bernard Zell, and bring it into my high school athletics career.
Read More about Recent Graduates Share What Bernard Zell Athletics Means to Them
The Essence of Jewish Identity
Candace Chesler
by Tzivia Garfinkel, Director of Jewish Life and Learning

After discussing this idea and inviting each student to identify the three legs they would choose, we asked them this question: If you were to suggest a sixth leg to the table, what would it be? Here are some of their suggestions: 
  • Community
  • Tzedaka
  • Values
  • Jewish Education
  • God
  • Knowledge
  • Faith and Hope
  • Tikkun Olan
  • Tolerance
  • Prayer
  • Devotion
  • Empathy
  • Pride in being Jewish
These suggestions are an expression of the many facets of Jewish life that our students have explored and experienced during their years at Bernard Zell. We firmly believe that developing strong Jewish identities in our students provides the best foundation for the next generation of Jewish Americans and forecasts a stable “table” for the future of the Jewish community. 
Read More about The Essence of Jewish Identity
Tiyul 2018 - Days 8 and 9
Candace Chesler
by Caroline H., Ella K., Arielle P., Eva S.

Back in Tiberias we got hyped up for Aqua Kef, an inflatable water park on the Kinneret. We were supposed to be there for only 45 minutes, but our generous hosts let us stay if we “agreed” to promote the park on social media (“Ugh, as if”). Us crazy kids ran, or should I say swam, around the park, jumping off of the highest platforms we could find, and trying not to get pushed off by our friends, teachers, or counselor Yair. Speaking of Yair, after lounging on a beach neighboring the water park, we headed over to his place to see what an average Israeli household looks like. Once we’d poked around for a bit we drove back down to the shores of the Kinneret, to hop on a boat. Not only did we get to coast across the Kinneret, but we also participated in a drum circle and dancing lead mostly by Yair. When we got back onto dry land we finished up our day with shopping and dinner in Tiberias. All things considered, it was a pretty good day.
Going on the Majrase water hike has been for sure one of the highlights of the trip so far. The hike was not only exciting and unique, but the scenery was amazing as well. The hike started with the water up to our ankles. We hiked through rocks, branches, fallen trees, basically everything found in a river. We had to watch our step because one small step on a slippery rock meant getting soaked from head to toe! The hike was around 45 minutes. At the end of the hike, the water was all the way up to our waists. And or course we had to splash and dunk each other because what else would we do? We definitely splashed the teachers as much as each other! Can"t wait for more hikes and fun!
The Archaeological Dig was definitely nothing short of an amazing experience. We were given a sense of what Jewish life was like some 2000 years ago during the Maccabean period through artifacts we found while digging in caves. When we entered the cave, our tour guide gave us directions on how to dig and what to look for. The cave is mostly made up of chalk rocks which we needed to sift through. This is something we would put in the rock bucket, such as pottery shards, charcoal, and bones. These are common things found in the cave that regular people like us found. My group found three large pieces of pottery which was insanely cool as, for all we know, it could have been a dinner plate 2000 years ago. The biggest find of the day was Tamar’s; she found a coin! This coin can tell us what materials they were using, a time period, and the ruler. Definitely a highlight for our group. Finding these artifacts made me realize how cool the Jewish life really was. A blast from the past!
When we arrived at Kiryat Gat all of our mifgash friends were there waiting for us. We were so happy to see them since we haven’t seen them in months. When we got there we did a scavenger hunt around Kiryat Gat and then went swimming in a community center. After we went to dinner and had schnitzel, fries, and salads. When it was time to go to our families houses I was anxious at first, but when I got to their house I felt at right at home. They were so welcoming and asked us if we needed anything. They offered us a lot of food and I mean A LOT of food. The family I stayed with was so nice and made sure I had a blast. In the morning they gave us snacks for the day and other goodies. When we had to say our goodbyes it was so sad because they were so comforting. Then we met up with everyone in the morning and did some activities. It was so sad saying goodbye to everyone, but we will remember all the fun times we had.
Read More about Tiyul 2018 - Days 8 and 9
Tiyul 2018 - Days 6 and 7: Northern Israel
Candace Chesler
by Talia A., Maya C., and Lucy G.

Today we hiked Mt Bental. Mt Bental is on the northern border of the Golan Heights. We started off by going into a real Israeli bunker that would be used if conflict arose. There we had a discussion about the relationship between Israel and Syria. After that we climbed to a lookout point where our tour guides pointed out the border to Syria, which was less then a mile away. We were all blown away to see the country that we have heard so much about in the past few years. It was unreal to hear the gun shots, explosives, and fighting going on in real time out into the distance. The most eye opening part was talking about the people that are hurt every single day by the fights that we were witnessing, and that it is our responsibility to end this conflict and stop harming millions of innocent lives.  I"m really glad we had the opportunity to go there because I felt that this was such an interesting and eye opening part of this trip.
We started the first hike of our trip, the Arbel, by hiking up to an overlook in our bus groups. Standing on top of the overlook we saw mountains, the Kinneret, and a little bit of city life below. After taking photos our tour guide sat us down to discuss fomo, the fear of missing out, and the importance of living in the moment and fully experiencing this unique and wonderful trip we are on. From there we started our descent down the trail until we stopped at a point where we hiked down a cliff. We went in groups of seven and a teacher down the cliff. It was nerve racking to do but exhilarating when finished. Part of what made that specific part extremely special is that as you were climbing down the cliff, other classmates who had already made it down cheered you on. After finishing that challenging portion of the hike the entire eighth grade, teachers, and Keshet staff made our way to the end of the trail where we saw cows! This experience was a highlight of the trip because as a grade we supported each other and pushed our selves out of our comfort zones, while witnessing Israel"s beautiful scenery.
Read More about Tiyul 2018 - Days 6 and 7: Northern Israel