Tiyul 2018 - Days 3 and 4: Yom Ha'Zikaron & Yom Ha'Atzmaut

by Naomi A., Jaden K., Corey R., and Nate W.

On Yom Ha'Zikaron we went to Yad Vashem where we were welcomed by our tour guide and given headsets. We headed into the museum’s massive triangular structure and started by watching a video showcasing Jewish life before the war. We walked through the many exhibits commemorating victims of the holocaust. At the end of the museum we witnessed an outstanding view overlooking Jerusalem and then ended our tour at the children's memorial. The children's memorial was powerful because it represented the 1.5 million children who died with 5 candle flames. As we walked through, we heard the names of the children being read in three languages: Hebrew, English, and Yiddish. I was struck by the fact that our tour guide has never heard the same name twice. 
After lunch our group divided to three tracks:
Yad Sarah - We began our tour by entering Yad Sarah and sitting in a screening room. Yad Sarah, a rehabilitation facility in Israel unlike any other in the world, is an amazing dot in Israel’s long list of inventions that make the world a better place. At Yad Sarah they let any person, old, young, not from Israel, borrow medical equipment no matter the price. From wheelchairs, crutches, breathing machines, breastfeeding equipment for new moms, to special chairs to help anyone who needs help stand up, Yad Sarah has it all and for no price at all. We continued our tour being led by a virtual guide, a famous Israeli actor, ending with building crutches in teams of two. Overall it is was amazing to see such a great invention and I hope to see something like this in America in the future.
Culinary tour - During the tour we had the chance to walk around Jerusalem and learn about the local restaurants. At each restaurant we visited we were taught the history of the place and were then able to try some of their delicious food. Afterwards we got a tour of the famous Israeli market called the shuk.

Geopolitical tour - We were welcomed by our tour guide, Israeli journalist Elchanan Miller, who took us to several different stops. The first place that we stopped at was an outlook over Bethlehem and the West Bank. After taking pictures and learning about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we went to a checkpoint. We saw the checkpoint and walls separating Israel and the West Bank. We learned about the history of the borders and walls surrounding it.  After, we went to Rachel’s tomb. It was interesting to see the concrete walls dividing the West Bank from Israel. Overall, the geopolitical tour was very interesting and educational.
Before Erev Yom Ha'Atzmaut our guides and counselors led a Transition Ceremony for us. As the day transitioned, we moved from sadness into joy. We learned that we can't have the party and Independence Day without the people who gave their lives for Israel. That is why the two holidays are back to back. 

That evening we walked from our hotel to a restaurant where we excitedly waited for the party to begin. After eating, we walked to a very crowded street with music, trinkets to buy, and thousands of people partying along side us. Many of us bought silly string and took part in a brawl between groups. We then went dancing in the crazy outdoor dance party and were able to meet kids on a trip from Cleveland and another group of kids that traveled from South Africa. At the end of the party we walked back to the hotel and, beyond exhausted, passed out on our beds.  What an amazing day!!

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Posted on: 4/19/2018 10:57 AM Comments (2)

Tiyul 2018 - Day 3: Yom Ha'Atzmaut Photos

Check back here for a full post and montage tomorrow, but enjoy these photos of the group celebrating in the streets of Jerusalem on Yom Ha'Atzmaut. 

Posted on: 4/18/2018 5:07 PM Comments (0)

Tiyul 2018 - Days 1 and 2: Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem

by Hannah G.

Hey Parents, Grandparents, and Anyone Else Interested in our Tiyul!
Today was a tiring yet eventful day "1.5".  From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, radish-picking to somber ceremonies, we covered it all. 

This morning, after a yummy Israeli breakfast, we split up into our "Chesed Options." Some kids went radish picking for Leket Israel. The radishes will eventually go to Israelis living with food insecurity. While they were walking the fields, my group and I went to "Save a Child's Heart." They house kids before and after heart surgery, which they also provide. We got to play with kids ranging from ages 1-14 from Zanzibar, Ethiopia, Romania, and others. Their smiles could not be stifled by the difficulties they all face:) We played cards, catch, did acts and crafts, and laughed with them until we sadly had to leave.

We then went to the Kastel but first both groups got a surprise stop to buy some Israeli food! The Leket group went to Aroma while the Save a Child's Heart group went to a gas station and bought "chocolate logs" (or Mekupelet, a very popular Israeli candy). Then we were on to the Kastel to picnic and hike up to the top. We got to have our first schnitzel! It was delicious! Then we split into groups and hiked up to the Kastel look out. We took part in team-building stops along the way as well as learned about the battles fought there in 1948 during the War of Independence. At the top, we stood at the overlook and could see the hills surrounding Jerusalem and the outskirts. 

We finished at another stop overlooking the whole city of Jerusalem called the tayelet (I've found there are lots of look-out points in Israel). They blindfolded us as we walked off the bus so many of us could see the Old City in person for the very first time. We sang shehechuyanu and took pictures. Then we boarded the buses and drove into Jerusalem to our hotel. We quickly put on our white shirts, ate dinner, and drove to a Yom Ha'Zikaron ceremony targeted for people who made Aliyah (and was conducted in English).  

This ceremony completely showed the tone change in Israel. From normal, busy daily life to a somber and reflective tone. We heard the siren at 8:00 p.m. which brought all the feels. We then listened to stories of those affected by terrorism on Israelis as well as Knesset member Michael Oren. At the end, we sang a slower rendition of Hatikvah which brought us so much pride, a few shed a tear. We walked back to the hotel, had a quick debrief, and are now going to bed. Tomorrow is sure to be an interesting day, with Yom Ha'Zikaron during the day and Yom Ha'Atzmaut at night, so stay tuned!  

Tired but enjoying it all,
Hannah G.

Posted on: 4/17/2018 1:23 PM Comments (0)

Tiyul 2018 - We Have Arrived

by Leehe Matalon

Boker Tov from beautiful and sunny Israel!  
We had a really smooth travel day and the kids have been truly excellent!  Most slept at least a little on the flight and are ready to begin our day.  We are off to have some lunch and then explore the Old City of Jaffa.
Stay tuned for more updates from the blog. Sending lots of love from Eretz Yisrael!

Posted on: 4/16/2018 10:05 AM Comments (0)

Tiyul 2018 - We Are Ready!

by Leehe Matalon

Our 8th graders have spent these past few weeks preparing for their Tiyul experience.  Their boot camp has consisted of exploring the itinerary, packing challenges, hiking challenges, learning about shekels and bargaining, meetings with their point person, and all around RUACH! 
Here is a snippet of some of our girls preparing for Yom Ha'atzmaut! They learned Yisrael Sheli - a new folk dance created especially for this year's Israel @ 70 celebration. Our students' video, along with those of hundreds of others performing the same dance, will be shared on Yom Ha'atzmaut for celebrations around the world. The students hope to see themselves on the big screen in Jerusalem when the community dances in the streets! 
Be sure to check out the Tiyul blog for regular updates from our 8th graders about their adventure in Israel! L'hitraot!

Posted on: 4/11/2018 1:08 PM Comments (0)

Design Thinking Project: Homan Rails

by 6th Graders Alix M., Eli K., Ella H., Jack D., Kate S., Michael J., Noa K., & Sam F.

Throughout the year, our class has been learning about food insecurity. Food insecurity is when people are unsure of where their next meal will come from. People who are food insecure sometimes have to rely on unhealthy food to eat, because there might not be fresh food available for them.
Over the course of the year, we have been working on a design thinking project to help out a community garden called Homan Rails. The garden is located on the south side of Chicago. The garden is almost always exceedingly sunny and hot, especially during the early fall and summer. In late September, our class visited Homan Rails community garden to get the full experience of what it is like to work at a community garden, and to grow fresh fruits and vegetables that will help out lots of people in the future.

In design thinking, which is where we come up with a cost efficient solution to solve a real-world problem, we needed to come up with an idea to help the garden. As we thought of different ways to help the community garden, we remembered how much sun there was and how difficult is was to plant things with the sun beating down our back. So, we decided to come up with a solution to solve the lack of shade problem at the garden. We thought that if we created some sort of tent, then everyone would be able to plant seeds without having the sun on their backs.
The only issue about this wonderful garden is that not very many people know about it. As we thought in our design thinking groups, our group decided that the best way we could help the garden was to create a tent with a Homan Rails sign advertising for the garden. This way, we can help advertise for the garden, while keeping the the learning circle nice and cool so that everyone there will have an enjoyable experience helping out with the garden without having the sun beating down on them.

Posted on: 3/15/2018 10:47 AM Comments (0)

Bernard Zell’s Math Program and the MAP Assessment

by Jen Levy, Math Instructional Leader

Why does Bernard Zell use the Measures of Academic Progress assessment (MAP)? One reason is because it is a norm-referenced quantitative way to look at students’ math skills growth over time. Another reason is it helps us look on a macro level at our school’s math program. But how does our school’s philosophy on math instruction and the MAP relate to each other? To better understand the relationship, let’s start by better understanding each of them individually.

Our school’s philosophy on math teaching and learning is based on current research. Bernard Zell’s balanced math program provides the combination of factual/procedural fluency, conceptual depth, and problem solving skills that allows our students to succeed at high levels in school and beyond. We believe factual/procedural fluency (facts and skills) should stem from conceptual understanding rather than rote memorization.  In the 21st century, it is important for our students to develop number sense and be thinkers and problem solvers on top of mastering certain factual and procedural fluency.

Bernard Zell’s Balanced Math Program



            Procedural and     Conceptual          Problem

            Factual Fluency    Understanding     Solving

The MAP assessment, created by NWEA, is a norm-referenced, computer-adaptive assessment that is aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The assessment is focused on skill growth over time. Students receive a RIT score: A number designed to measure student skill achievement and growth over time. The RIT (Rasch Unit) scale is a stable equal-interval scale (like inches to measure your child’s height). It can compare a child’s skill proficiency relative to national proficiency and growth norms.

So, how do our math program and MAP fit together? What is their relationship? Consider our math program’s three-pronged focus on procedural and factual knowledge, conceptual understanding and problem solving. The MAP assessment is one snapshot in time focusing on one of those three components - procedural and factual knowledge or skills. Is this important to us? Yes, of course! We want our students to master necessary math skills and make steady progress in this area. To this end, we have increased the amount of distributive review and skills-focused work in all grades.

But the MAP assessment does not provide us with a full picture of our students’ math thinking and understanding. For insight into our students’ conceptual understanding and problem solving, we need to look at classroom work and assessments. Math educators nationwide lament the lack of a large norm-referenced assessment to do this. At Bernard Zell, we are continually seeking to improve our formative and summative assessment use in these areas. We are using a number of resources with greater consistency across classrooms such as “The Problem Solver curriculum,” “Formative Assessment Lessons,” “Problems of the Month,” and “MARS Tasks.” (For  more information on any of these tools, please reach out to Jen Levy.)

Another important element to note is our school’s belief that skills should stem from conceptual understanding rather than rote memorization. Our MAP scores in the younger grades typically reflect this belief. Instead of covering a lot of material quickly and superficially, we work to develop strong understanding of the mathematical big ideas. One example is the work we put into helping Lower School students understand the process of regrouping in subtraction, rather than immediately teaching them the steps to the traditional algorithm. In Middle School, instead of going right to memorization of procedures for operations with fractions, we seek to first develop students’ reasonable thinking.

At Bernard Zell, our philosophy on math assessment must reflect our beliefs about math teaching and learning. We must seek to understand our students’ growth in all three areas - conceptual understanding, facts and skills, and problem solving.  The MAP assessment is one piece of the puzzle we have to help us understand our students’ growth and needs as well as reflect on our program and instruction.

Research to Support Bernard Zell’s Philosophy on Mathematics Teaching and Learning

Posted on: 11/27/2017 4:28 PM Comments (0)

Then They Came for Me: Lessons Learned from History

by Tzivia Garfinkel, Director of Jewish Life and Learning

This week our 4th graders visited the Alphawood Gallery in Chicago to learn and explore the meaning of an exhibition called: Then They Came for Me. The subject of the exhibition was the United States government’s establishment of internment camps for Japanese Americans following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The title comes from a famous quote by Pastor Martin Niemuller, a German, anti-Nazi theologian and Protestant pastor, who wrote:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
As the students examined the photographs in the exhibition, guided by gallery docents as well as their own teachers, they began to recognize the injustice and the inhumane treatment of 120,000 Japanese Americans carried out by the U.S. government. The students asked questions in an attempt to understand a time when this shocking practice was official. They were stunned to think their country could once have acted in this way.
Learning along with our students, I realized that I had an additional layer of history attending my vision. It was one that assaulted my self-understanding as an American citizen. It seemed to me that America had absorbed Nazi practices and made them American in this regard. A series of stages were created that were designed to: (1) identify; (2) limit civil rights; (3) deny education and occupation; (4) isolate; (5) gather; and (6) relocate and incarcerate Japanese Americans in controlled areas. Thankfully, it was not with the ultimate intention of mass murder. But the strategies leading to camps like Manzanar could have been taken directly from a Nazi playbook.
I am writing this today, November 9, 2017, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. On November 9 - 11, 1938, a massive pogrom took place which escalated the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis. It is called Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” because of the immense destruction of synagogues, homes, and businesses that resulted in broken glass in cities all over Germany. This video gives a brief introduction to the significance of Kristallnacht.
As Americans, as Jews, as educators, as people who care, we have a responsibility to acknowledge and challenge injustice whenever we encounter it. This too, is an expression of our commitment to Tikkun Olam.

Posted on: 11/9/2017 3:06 PM Comments (0)

Lech Lecha! Setting Out On a Jewish Journey

by Tzivia Garfinkel, Director of Jewish Life and Learning

How fitting it was that a recent fall morning began with a Tiyul meeting whose message was: Lech Lecha! Take yourself - and set out to the land that we will show you. This Bernard Zell tradition began in 1996, but the “lech lecha” tradition really began with Abram and Sarai. For two weeks, our students do leave their land, the place of their birth, their parents’ home, and go to the Land. They set out and travel north, south, east and west and in this way they continue the narrative of the Jewish people. And during the time they are in the Land, they find a second home that is also theirs.
We can see where it all began in B’reisheet/Genesis, Chapter 12. For the first eleven chapters of the book of B’reisheet, there are a series of universal stories. Creation of the world. Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve. Snake. First sin. First forgiveness. First murder. Life goes on. Ten generations pass. Noah. Ark. Flood. Dove looks for dry land. Rainbow. Fresh start of civilization. Tower of Babel. Human hubris. Dispersion over the face of the earth.
And then, we turn the page and we read a brief genealogy that introduces two names: Abram and Sarai. From that transitional moment, it’s much more than simply a new page. It’s the starting point of the narrative of the Jewish people.
It opens with the words: “Lech lecha” - take yourself and start walking! God talks to Abram and gives him a set of instructions. Abram listens and acts. With these first words, God offers the terms of a “brit” or covenant between God and the first family of the Jewish people.
Leave your land, the place of your birth, your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you...I will assign this land to your offspring...
And later the text goes on:
Raise your eyes and look out from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west, for I give all the land that you see to you and your offspring forever...UP, walk about the land, through its length and its breadth, for I give it to you.
One of the standards that guides our study of Tanakh, the Hebrew bible, at Bernard Zell is this: to recognize the Tanakh as the formative narrative of the Jewish people, past, present and future. We teach toward this in our classrooms, and we live it in our journey. We look forward to yet another Bernard Zell 8th-grade class traveling to Israel this spring as their Jewish journey continues.

Posted on: 11/9/2017 2:59 PM Comments (0)

Bernard Zell is More than Just a School – It’s a Community

By Emma Weiss ‘14, Presented at the 2017 Admissions Open House

I love coming back to Bernard Zell because this school is truly my second home. When I was asked to speak today I said, “Of course!” Then I realized I would only have 3-5 minutes – and I thought, “Oh no, how can I speak for three to five minutes when I have hours-worth of amazing things to say and stories to tell about my experiences here?” I will do my best!
I’m currently a senior at the Latin School. Because I’m applying to college now, I’ve been thinking a lot about who I am as a student and as a person and what I will bring with me to the next school I attend. My high school years were great, but I know that I learned all the basics here. Work hard, love learning, do your best, be kind, respect others, give back to the community – be a mensch. That’s how I would sum up what I took away from Bernard Zell.
Bernard Zell is more than just a school – it’s a community. It’s a place where the teachers and administrators really know you and care about you. Everything about being a student here is geared towards preparing you for high school and for life. It’s a really special combination of strong academics, and Jewish learning and values. I can’t imagine a place that could have done more for me.
When I got to Latin, I felt extremely prepared academically and personally. The Middle School experience here was extremely challenging, but 8th grade classes were very similar to the high school classes I encountered. In 8th grade, I wrote a 20-page term paper. It’s still the longest paper I’ve ever written.
One of my favorite things about Bernard Zell are all of the traditions. Two of my favorites are Shabbat Lunch and the 8th-grade trip to Israel. Every Friday, starting in 3rd grade, the whole school gathers in the lunchroom. You are assigned a Shabbat table—I was table 19— and stay with that table until you graduate, again building that Bernard Zell community. And the trip goes without saying, what an amazing opportunity. I had never been to Israel prior to 8th grade, I had just been learning about it for 10 years. When I saw the Western Wall for the first time, I started to cry— it was the culmination of everything I had learned at Bernard Zell.
Standing here on this bimah reminds me of so many Bernard Zell experiences, but one stands out. At 1st grade consecration, my whole grade stood together under a cloth chupah we made with all of our little handprints on it and said the shehecheyanu. At 8th-grade graduation we all stood together under that same chupah, only our hands a lot bigger, and said the shehecheyanu one last time as a group. I won’t ever forget that.
Many of you have very little kids and it’s hard to imagine them when they’re my age. But Bernard Zell really teaches your kids to be smart, collaborative, open-minded, and really kind people. I’m 17 and don’t even know where I’m going to college, but I do know that I want my kids to attend this school because I know what an impact it made on my life and who I am today.

Posted on: 11/8/2017 1:54 PM Comments (0)
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