Emunah Bat Mitzvah Tour

So, how did you spend half-term? Five Year 7 students were among participants of the Emunah Mother and Daughter Israel Tour 2020. The trip made a powerful impression on the girls and their mums, who enjoyed activities, sightseeing and visiting some of the charity’s welfare projects, including residential care homes for children who can no longer live with their own families.

“I liked it when we went Emunah to in Afula. The children looked happy, even though they had problems. It showed how strong people can be in even the worst situations,” said Maya. Her mother, Jenny added: “Emunah’s Mother and Daughter Tour was as important for me as it was for Maya. The best bit was learning what Emunah does and going to the homes and centres – these are the things that you don’t normally see in Israel.”

At the Afula petting zoo, they learnt that animal therapy is an effective way of helping children who are traumatised or distressed. They enjoyed playing with babies at an Emunah day care centre, but it was at an Emunah high school that everyone was truly shocked. They learnt that some students arrive hungry and that Emunah provides their only hot meal of the day.

Jenny hopes that the trip will help Maya “to appreciate what she has and not to take anything for granted. Emunah does an amazing job and we feel really connected with the charity. The reality is just heart-warming. They are saving lives.”

British Emunah Director, Sharon Dewinter, said: “The next Mother and Daughter Tour takes place from 16 to 21 February 2021. It is suitable for pre and post Bat Mitzvah girls in Years 6, 7 or 8.” To find out more, call 020 8203 6066 or email sharon@emunah.org.uk

Article written by Sue Rifkin (Levy)
PR & Marketing Consultant to British Emunah

Jewish News Competition

The Jewish News, PJ Library and Wizo ran a story writing competition with the theme of ‘Perseverance’. The prizes and the event was sponsored by Mamilla Architecture and Design, a Borehamwood based company.

And the winner was… Ariella. Ariella is a Hasmonean student, who was encouraged to enter by Mrs Jacobson, the Director of Learning for English. Her 300-word essay took the theme and applied it to her own experience of competitive swimming.

The prize of an iPad for Ariella and another iPad for the English department was presented by the author Miriam Halahmy.

Editorial 27/2/2020

Dear Parent,

The Board of Trustees is currently reviewing the ethos and vision statements for the Multi-Academy Trust and from there will outline its strategic objectives for the next 3-5 years.

In my editorial this week, I would like you to be aware of some of the objectives that we are working on in the meantime and which we will be finalising before the end of the academic year.

Firstly, we have been reviewing the senior leadership team and the standards/ pastoral teams at both schools with a view to ensuring that we have the best structure and sufficient capacity to increase our focus on:

1. Torah values being at the heart of all we do
2. The safety, wellbeing and pastoral needs of students
3. Ensuring that students meet the highest expectations in regard to uniform, conduct, punctuality and engagement
4. Teacher development

The more capacity we have to focus on these areas, the better our learning environment.

Secondly, we are in the process of reviewing the curricula at both schools to ensure that they are well-designed to support the needs of all our students. We are keenly aware that we need to offer rigorous and inspiring Kodesh and secular curricula at each school alongside British Values, Religious and Sex Education and sufficient physical activity. Our proposals will soon be discussed with each local governing body and with the MAT Trust Board before being shared with parents to elicit your views.

We will give you further updates on all of the above areas in due course.

With kind regards,

Mr A McClusky
CEO, Hasmonean Multi-Academy Trust

Equine Therapy

Hasmonean High School for Girls have recently collaborated with the non-profit charitable organisation called Strength in Horses (SIH). Strength in Horses provides equine assisted therapy to children in order to promote personal growth and development, as well as improve their mental wellbeing.

On Wednesday 12th February, some of our girls attended their first session. They were introduced to the horses and had a very enjoyable afternoon, spending time in a rural environment and reconnecting with a more natural way of life.

Our programme will run for 6 to 8 weeks and is designed around the needs and challenges of our students. Our students will learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviours, and patterns. Our pupils work on the following targets:

  • Relational difficulties including building effective communication and trust
  • Problem solving, team work and developing more helpful interactions with others
  • Specific skills development including supporting engagement in education and work settings (e.g. listening, persistence, and patience)
  • Engagement with the therapeutic process
  • Confidence building, assertiveness and increased self-awareness
  • Emotional difficulties in particular aggression, emotional volatility, low mood and anxiety

This provision is a very rewarding and stimulating therapeutic experience for our pupils and is organised by our school’s SEN Department.

Girls’ School Choir

The first Jewish secondary inter-school choir festival was hosted by Hasmonean School for Girls on the evening on Wednesday 12th February. Girls from schools such as Tiferes, Beit Jacob and Menorah High joined a rousing chorus of united young women’s voices to create a wonderful atmosphere of achdut. Hasmonean Girls’ sang two songs: ‘One Day’ and ‘Esa Einai’ with vigour and enthusiasm.

Thank you to Miss Simmonson and all of the informal education team for organising the festival and for training our girls.

Yom Iyun

As winter fades into spring, it’s time for a superbly planned Yom Iyun focusing on the Torah and the Environment.

Rabbi Bennett created 6 different tracks for the girls to follow, bringing insights, inspiration and illumination with authentic Torah learning to brighten up the end of this half term. He gave a superb shiur about looking after the world Hashem gave us, integrating words of Torah with clips from Greta Thunberg’s speeches. This was followed by chabura based learning about the Jewish view of ecology and the environment, using sources from Midrash Tanchuma, Rav Shimsom Raphael Hirsch and Talmud Bavli Shabbat 77b.

Around the classrooms, students used a source sheet to investigate the Torah sources on friendship, such as the saying in Kohelet that ‘two are better than one’. There was a wonderful atmosphere of collaborative learning as the girls discovered that wellbeing began in the Torah. The sessions concluded with a short cartoon about ways to create friendships which nurture and support.

Up in the library, GIFT ran sessions about the GIFT of giving back with humour, magic and a lot of fun. Magician Martin Rees demonstrated his skills and explained how he uses those skills to break the ice when he visits families. The message for the students was to take your talents out into the world to do good!

Rabbi Silverman ran the sem track of more intensive learning, weaving Shackleton’s tale of endurance with sources about perseverance and effort. This text based approach proved very stimulating and very popular!

Year 7 also enjoyed a session about Jewish History. Lively discussion showed that this is a topic which really engages the girls, as they all contributed ideas to the class. They were given a timeline task to test their knowledge of Jewish History and to guide them to further study.

All of these sessions took place in a three lesson window, minimising disruption to the regular timetable and certainly maximising authentic Torah learning.

Table Tennis

On Friday 7th February, the Sixth Form leadership team organised a table tennis tournament for the school in order to raise money for One Child Ghana. Hasmonean has built up its relationship with this wonderful charity over the years and we are proud to have raised almost £300 for them to spend on good causes for school children in rural Ghana.

Raffi Berg, Guest Speaker

On Tuesday 11th February, students in the Sixth Form had the honour of attending a fascinating speech by Raffi Berg, an author of an amazing new book about the Mossad secret operation. To evacuate thousands of Ethiopian Jews who had been languishing in refugee camps and the spiriting of them to Israel, the Mossad opened a new luxury holiday resort. Catering for divers, it attracted guests from around the world. Little did the holidaymakers know that the staff were undercover spies!

Raffi wrote this book in collaboration with operatives involved in the mission, endorsed as the definitive account and including the commander who went on to become the Head of the Mossad.

Our Sixth Formers were thoroughly mesmerised by this remarkable event!

Editorial 13/20/2020

Dear Parent,

I was honoured to attend two events recently run by the Jewish Book Week organisers. Together with the sixth formers and various members of staff, I heard Norman Lebrecht speak about his new book: ‘Genius and Anxiety’ and Raffi Berg discuss his book: ‘Red Sea Spies’. It was a truly inspirational experience to hear two intelligent, academic individuals passionately discussing their subjects and a real honour for Hasmonean to host them.

The Boys’ school has also been honoured to host a number of representatives from a range of Yeshivas who are coming into the Beis programme to meet the boys in preparation for next year. The Rabbonim speak during the morning and the entire Beis Programme are able to benefit from the illustrious guests.

We know how important it is to broaden our students’ experiences and to help them to understand how valuable it is to appreciate different facets of humanity. It is only then that we can really educate them to be tolerant and respectful of everybody in society.

Wishing all of our students a wonderful half term. School begins on Monday 24th February at normal time.

Have a peaceful Shabbos,

Mrs D Lebrett

Visit from Bar Ilan University

Some of our Year 12 and 13 girls attended a talk from a representative of Bar Ilan University on Thursday 6th February.

Miriam Blum spoke to our girls about the university and how they cater to international students. The girls who attended asked insightful questions about the courses available and the modes of study.

Miriam was able to speak to the girls about how the university offers a comprehensive religious education, alongside a rigorous academic curriculum. It was a good opportunity for our students to gain insight into the options available to them after Seminary and ways of doing Aliya.