Barnet Hill Academy – Year 9

As part of their British Values Studies, a group of Year 9 girls visited Barnet Hill Academy, an Islamic faith school for girls between the ages of 11 to 16 years.

The girls introduced themselves, noting the similarities between names such as Miriam and Maryam. A starter activity, where the girls answered questions such as ‘The place where I feel happiest is…’ showed that they shared many of the same thoughts and feelings. On whiteboards, they wrote down what they did during the day and compared notes. Again, there were a lot of similarities. They were able to spend time with each other; chatting about their hobbies, their friends and their lives in general…in fact, they could not stop chatting! There was supposed to be a video, but it buffered! This did not halt the activities as a break with kosher snacks for all beckoned.

After the break, each girl drew a picture of something that represented her, then put it in a box and passed the box around. The pictures were then drawn out, and students had to discuss what they saw in the picture and tried to guess who the picture belonged to. Our girls also had a tour of Barnet Hill Academy: there are 44 girls in this secondary school which shares a site with a small mixed primary.

The Building Bridges morning was very successful, demonstrating that there is much more that unites us than divides us. Thank you to Mrs Abecasis for organising Tuesdays event, and to all the girls and their exemplary behaviour.

Resilient Schools Award

As one of the pilot schools for the Resilient Schools Award, the well-being team from Hasmonean High School for Girls, comprising of Mrs L Waugh, Miss M Abecassis and Ms W Farron, were invited to the Barnet Resilient Schools Award Celebration at East Barnet School on Wednesday 26th June.

They had the opportunity to listen to and learn from a range of interesting speakers. There was also an opportunity to network and share ideas with other Barnet schools. They were among the first to sign up to learn about the brand new Qwell service, this is available to school staff in Barnet as part of the Resilient Schools Programme. This is a free online Mental Health and Well-being Support service, available 7 days a week. (Watch this space for further information). The photograph is courtesy of Miss Giannopoulou, who kindly agreed to attend as photographer.

Board of Deputies of British Jews

On Friday the 21st June, the Year 8 girls were honoured to have Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews as their guest. Ms van der Zyl, who is an employment lawyer, took on the office of President of the Board of Deputies on 1st June 2018 and is only the second woman to hold the role.

Ms van der Zyl spoke to the girls about her background. She grew up in Woodford, Essex, and went on to study Law at The University of Liverpool. Her experiences of being at a school and a university with very few other Jewish students, helped to forge her strong Jewish identity. This would eventually lead her to her prestigious position at The Board of Deputies.

As a member of both the Mill Hill and The West London Synagogues, Ms van der Zyl spoke about the importance of volunteering within the community and giving back. Ms van der Zyl was very interested and pleased to hear about the various volunteering programmes that the Hasmonean girls are involved in, such as volunteering at Jewish Care.

The girls heard all about the work of The Board of Deputies focusing on building good inter faith and communal relations with all parts of the community.

Her presentation was followed by some very intelligent questioning. The session was very informative and the girls gained so much from hearing from such an eloquent and prestigious communal speaker.

Editorial – 27/06/19

Dear Parents,

Shelach Leacha

20/20 Vision

Imagine two friends going for a walk one afternoon. They meet at Golders Green station and walk all the way down Golders Green Road to the North Circular bridge and back up again to the station.

On their return, you ask them what they saw. The first describes the amazing variety of food stores in Golders Green. He describes the busy restaurants, the various kosher grocery stores and all the delicious delicacies displayed in the many bakeries as well as the enticing aromas that emerge from them.

The second boy is a born businessman. He is less interested in food but notices the currency exchanges at the money changer, which shops have sales or special offers, the latest gadgets and how many properties are for sale or to let.

The same walk, the same street but two very different reports.

Rashi tells us that the spies saw the inhabitants of the land burying their dead. Hashem had intended to distract them from noticing twelve spies touring the country but they interpreted it differently. They said Eretz Yisrael is “a land that devours its inhabitants” (Bamidbar 13:32), a dangerous and inhospitable country.

As my father always told us when we were growing up, we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.

Chazal tell us that the Meraglim had “negios”, personal interests. What exactly they were needs much investigation. But whatever they were, it is remarkable how the same people can see the same things and perceive them so differently.

Even someone as great as Dovid HaMelech needed to be taught this lesson.

Hashem delivered a parable to Dovid through the prophet Nosson. A rich man had many sheep and a poor man only had one sheep. This poor man exerted much effort in caring for his one sheep. When a guest arrived at the rich man’s house; instead of slaughtering one of his own sheep, he stole the poor man’s sheep and fed it to his guest. Dovid HaMelech ruled that the rich man was guilty.

Nosson then told Dovid that he was actually the rich man as he had many wives and despite this took Uriah’s wife. Dovid responded by saying “chotosi” – “I have sinned”.

Why present a parable? Just say it straight!

The answer of course is that when presented with a parable you are objective. There is no bias or instinctive defence barrier.

The lesson is clear. As human beings we have to recognise our innate subjectivity. Consulting others, seeking objective advice is a strength not a weakness.

In an effort to constantly improve Kodesh at Hasmonean, I regularly speak to Heads of Kodesh of other schools and try to visit them and their schools as often as possible. Last May I was in New York for a wedding of a former student and used the opportunity to consult with peers in some of New York’s finest Jewish high schools.

And I am also keen to hear from you, the parent body as well as students, all of whom were recently invited to complete a Kodesh survey. The overriding objective is to consult broadly and continue to strive for excellence to deliver outstanding Kodesh at Hasmonean.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi J Golker


Step Up Day

Both schools reverberated to the sound of over 250 Year 5 students from a range of feeder schools enjoying their Step Up day at Hasmonean. At the Girls’ School, Textiles, Maths, Jewish Studies and Teambuilding was on the agenda, demonstrating the range of subjects on offer. It was fantastic to see over a hundred girls in attendance that were so highly engaged. The intake for 2020/21 looks like it could be our biggest yet. Our Year 7 and Year 9 students superbly helped the Year 5 visitors and were a real credit to the school.

At the Boys’ School, there was a wide array of activities taking place from Art and Science to Modern Hebrew and History. All of the students enjoyed the workshops and got a real feel of the pride that it gives to be a Hasmonean student. We look forward to welcoming many of the boys as Year 7 students in just over a year’s time!

Thank you to Ms Liley, Rabbi Obermeister and Mr Dabinett for their superbly smooth organisation!

As we approach the Transition days for the incoming Year 6 students, Rabbi Obermeister and Ms Liley are busy visiting the Primary Schools that feed into the schools. We are hugely excited about the students that will be joining us in September.

David Breuer-Weil Art GCSE

Artist, sculptor and alumnus David Breuer-Weil spoke to the GCSE Art students at both the girls’ and boys’ school on Monday 24th June to give a talk about his work. The students were engrossed and engaged by an artist who was able to discuss the themes of Judaism, imagination and creativity. He showed pictures of some of his sculptures, including Alien and Brothers, when they had been displayed in Marble Arch and near Euston Station. By the end of the sessions the students were incredibly inspired and couldn’t wait to begin working on their own coursework. Mr Breuer-Weil enthused them with creativity and eagerness to develop their own talent.

Rabbi Manning

Rabbi Anthony Manning, Co-Director of Midreshet Tehillah gave shiurim in the Midrasha this week. He posed two questions: What are your Rabbis not telling you? Dealing with Difficult Questions in Haskafa and Thinking Jewishly – can everyone really be right? The Sixth Form really enjoyed his refreshing approach to serious questions, as well as having a taste of the seminary experience.

Rabbi Manning is quite an exceptional character, having graduated from Oxford with a Masters, and had a successful legal career as a partner in a London law firm, before choosing to make Aliyah and become a Rabbi and teacher. He and his family live in Alon Shvut. His children have completed their National Service: Asher in an IDF combat Unit and Yael in Sherut Leumi working with special needs children.

Editorial – 20/06/2019

Dear Parents,

The Parsha opens with Hashem’s instructions to Aharon Hacohen to light the menorah in order to ‘raise light’ for the Jewish people. The Menorah as an icon is profoundly significant – Midrash Raba discusses the fact that the offerings in the Beis hamikdash were only extant for the life of the temple whilst the lights of the Menorah continued to burn during the Chanukah story and to this very day.

The Midrash continues to say that, when a person builds a home, he makes the windows narrower on the outside and wider on the inside so that the light from the outside should illuminate the interior of the house. However, the Menorah of the Beis Hamikdash (and all subsequent Menorahs) emanates light to the outside in order to illuminate the world.

We are very proud that Hasmonean’s symbol is the Menorah – we aim to always teach our students that they are part of this important concept. Our actions and deeds need to illuminate the world wherever and whenever they are perceived. This is essential and a really important lesson which we can learn from the Parshah.

I hope that you will be able to join us at our own festival of light: The Boys’ School Celebratory Afternoon next Thursday 27th June at 3.30pm in order to share in our nachas and joy.

Have a wonderful Shabbos,

Mrs D Lebrett
Hasmonean High School for Boys


On Friday afternoon, the Year 8 girls had a very interesting speaker, Nathan Servi from the CST. He gave the girls a powerful insight into what exactly is meant by “antisemitism”. He introduced the subject by presenting the historical aspects of the blood libels and Church imagery from the Middle Ages. This led him to explore Nazi propaganda and the cartoons of the 1920’s and 1930’s, which drew inspiration from earlier anti-Semitic tropes. He concluded by demonstrating that similar themes still present themselves today and spread through social media. He also discussed the dangers of internet radicalisation and extremism.

We heard about the practical work that the CST does in the community and across many different schools, not just Jewish schools. We also heard about practical steps we should take when “out and about” to avoid confrontation and what to do in the event of seeing or hearing any anti-Semitic incident.

It was a very interesting presentation which was interjected with some excellent points from the Year 8 girls, as well as some very poignant questions.

Editorial 13/06/2019

Dear Parents,

I am very pleased to announce that we now have a new governance structure in place for the Hasmonean Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) with Mr A McClusky as the CEO of the Academy Trust, Mrs D Lebrett as the Headteacher of the Boys’ school and Mrs K Brice as Headteacher of the Girls’ school. I have accepted the responsibility to act as the Chair.

The role of the MAT, under the continued guidance of the Electoral Rabonim, is to guide Hasmonean’s mission by:

  • Setting the ethos, culture and vision
  • Making decisions about policy and strategy
  • Overseeing and scrutinising organisational performance
  • Ensuring organisational accountability

In addition, each school now has its own Local Governing Body (LGB) which will focus on its day to day operations, in particular raising the standards of both Kodesh and secular teaching and learning for our children. I am very grateful to Mr S Blumgart & Mr J Halberstadt for agreeing to chair the Girls’ and Boys’ LGBs respectively.

This is an exciting time for the schools as the new organisation allows us to renew the vigour of both the Trustees and Governors. To this end, I would like to broaden the base of the schools’ Governors and encourage you to get involved. As a minimum we need six new Governors for the new structure which provides you with a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of your children and our community, and to build its foundations for years to come. In particular we would like to hear from individuals with experience in the areas of Mental Health and Well-being, Human Resources, Public Relations and experienced Education Professionals. Please see the school website for the full organisation chart, , the direct link can be found here here .

Parents who are interested in becoming a Governor at either the Boys’ or Girls’ School should be in contact with Mrs L Oskis to let her know that you are interested in becoming a Governor for one of the schools.  Please outline why you think you would be suitable and what skills, experience and qualifications you would bring to the role.

The parent election process can be found here for the Boys’ School and here for the Girls’ School.


Best wishes,

Mr G Swabel
Chair of Hasmonean Multi-Academy Trust Board