Editorial 26/11/2020

Dear Parents,

I am delighted to announce that, after a long wait, our Chromebooks have started to arrive. A global shortage of these devices meant that we had to source new suppliers for many of the devices. Had we not done so, we would have had to wait until February for most of them to arrive from our original supplier. The additional costs incurred for the same devices with the same specification have been covered by the schools. Heartfelt thanks to those parents who paid for some of the children whose families could not afford to buy Chromebooks to receive them. If other families would like to sponsor further Chromebooks, please do contact the Headteachers to let us know.

We should have all of the Chromebooks that have been ordered in school by the end of this week and we will be spending next week registering them to their new owners and uploading software onto them. We hope to be able to hand them over to students very soon.

Once students have their devices, teachers will then be able to start using them in lessons to experiment with new pedagogical approaches and to introduce a variety of different apps to enhance students’ learning and augment more traditional approaches to classroom learning. It will also mean that students are well-equipped to access learning from home both outside of school time and during school time should they need to self-isolate.

We are also now about to advertise roles to take charge of and implement our digital learning strategy. The aim is to:

1. Harness the very best practice from other schools in this country and abroad
2. Cascade blended leaning through our learning areas
3. Curate a bank of digital resources within each learning area
4. Support all staff members with training and development

This will, with further staff training and development, enable us to build on our learning during lockdown and, over time, achieve our ambition of transforming our provision.

On a separate note, I would like to apologise for the frustration that some parents had at the online Year 12 and 13 Boys’ parents evening. The provider of the platform to enable parents and teachers to meet experienced a technical glitch which regrettably prevented some teachers from joining meetings for part of the evening. Alternative meetings are being arranged to ensure that those parents can be updated about their children’s progress. We are also reviewing the meetings to ensure parents and teachers have a sufficient time for discussion.

With kind regards,

Andrew McClusky
CEO, Hasmonean MAT

Senior Maths Challenge

Last week a number of our students participated in the Senior Mathematical Challenge aimed at students across the UK. Hasmonean did very well in the competition and produced some extraordinary performances.

One of our students achieved a score of 116 and qualified to the British Mathematics Olympiad 1, which makes him one of the top 1000 students in the country. Another student scored 95 and also managed to qualify to Senior Kangaroo.

A special mention is also due to two Year 11 students who were both awarded Silver certificates, which is a remarkable result.

Well done to all of our fabulous mathematicians!

Chidon HaTanach UK

Hasmonean Girls’ swept the board at the Chidon HaTanach.

Thursday 12th November saw the English rounds of the annual Bible Quiz, otherwise known as Chidon HaTanach. Being a year with a difference, it was zoomed from Rabbi Fachler’s office rather than a live event. Covid notwithstanding: this Bible Quiz continued regardless and what a quiz it was!

Jewish high school students from around the country applied and three schools were selected for this: Yavneh School in Manchester, Immanuel College in Bushey and Hasmonean High School for Girls.

The winners would be able to participate in the World Finals in Israel.

After nine rigorous rounds of intense questions, the winners were as follows:

• Junior winners – Shani J (1st), Rebecca R (2nd) and Maya D (3rd)

• Senior winners – Orly M (1st), Sara S (2nd) and Leah K (3rd)

ALL of the winners were from Hasmonean High School for Girls!

Well done and special thanks to Rabbi Silverman for his legendary coaching. This is a truly phenomenal achievement. It is not just the knowledge of Tanach that Rabbi Silverman imbues his students with- it is also a love of Tanach.

We are as always grateful to the Maerovits family for supporting this amazing event.

Editorial 18/11/2020

Dear Parent,

Due to the increase in cases of COVID-19 within schools, we would like to remind you of our procedures if your child develops symptoms or tests positive, as well as the guidance from Public Health England, with whom we are working closely.

Current Restrictions
In general, you must not meet with another person socially or undertake any activities with another person. However, you can exercise or meet in a public, outdoor space with people you live with, your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person.

You should minimise time spent outside your home. When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).

You must not meet socially indoors.

What to do if your child develops symptoms of COVID 19
If your child develops symptoms of COVID-19, they must not come to school and should remain at home for at least 10 days from the date when their symptoms appeared. You must inform the school by contacting Mrs S Fine at the Boys’ School (s.fine@hasmonean.co.uk) or Mrs M Palmer (m.palmer@hasmonean.co.uk) at the Girls’ School, who will then advise you how to proceed and the date of your child’s return to school.

• Anyone with symptoms will be eligible for testing and this can be arranged via https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
• All other household members who remain well, must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. This includes anyone in your ‘Support Bubble’.
• Further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
• The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
• Household members should not go to work, school or public areas and exercise should be taken within the home.
• If you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, or walking a dog, you should ask friends or family. Alternatively, you can order your shopping online and medication by phone or online.
• Household members staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.
• If you are able, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period.

What to do if your child tests positive for COVID 19
If your child receives a positive COVID-19 test, we are asking parents to use the link on our website or the link here: https://forms.gle/AvbtNEunDx4MrM9A8 to inform us. All information will be dealt with confidentially.

We will use the information gathered from the form to contact identified students to let them know that they must isolate and also advise you of your child’s return date.

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:
• a new continuous cough
• a high temperature
• a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

If your child does develop symptoms, you can seek advice from the nhs.uk website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms/. If you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, or they are worsening you can seek advice from NHS 111 at https://111.nhs.uk/ or by phoning 111.

How to stop COVID-19 spreading
There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with COVID-19

• wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
• use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
• wash your hands as soon as you get home
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
• put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

Further Information
Further information is available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Yours sincerely

Hasmonean Multi-Academy Trust

HIPE Bat Mitzvah event

Our first HIPE Bat Mitzvah event took place on Wednesday afternoon in a packed-out hall, recognising those who had had their bat mitzvahs in the first part of this year.

The evening began with an engaging talk from Shira Druin, followed by the Bat Mitzvah girls receiving a book from Rabbi Golker. These girls were given a large photo of themselves which the whole year group signed, feeling special on this important occasion of their lives.

This was followed by a painting activity, led step-by-step by the talented Suri Neufeld, and every single girl was fully engaged. The girls then enjoyed a surprise pizza delivery.

The importance of these celebrations at the moment are hugely significant, as restrictions prevent anything like this taking place outside of school. On both a wellbeing level and as part of their Jewish journey this was a tremendous success.

The laughter and fun was felt by all. Special thanks to the staff who stayed after school and supported this wonderful event and to Kevin, Michael and Carmel, our amazing site team.

It was so wonderfully organised, the girls were so engaged and really enjoyed the HIPE Bat Mitzvah celebration.

Bar Mitzvahs at the Boys’ School

As the shuls/synagogues are closed at the moment, we have hosted some beautiful Bar Mitzvahs at the Year 7 school minyan in the gym in order to offer the boys involved the opportunity to lein from the Torah.

Thanks to Rabbi Fachler and Rabbi Muster for enabling this to happen and to the HIPE team for injecting much joy into these mornings.

Editorial 12/11/2020

Dear Parents,

This week has been an extremely sad one for the entire Jewish community. The news about the passing of both Rav Dovid Feinstein o’’h and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks o’’h culminated in a collective outpouring of grief from the Jewish world. People have felt individually and profoundly affected: these were two shining examples of personalities having a huge impact, far beyond their own countries. In fact, far beyond their own religious sphere.

It has been profound and humbling to read the moving statements which have been released from so, so many members of British society following this week’s news about the passing of Rabbi Lord Sacks. The Hasmonean community are planning our own programme of reflection which will take place at the end of the sheloshim period. More details to follow.

It is very pertinent that this week’s parsha starts with discussing the life of Sarah; it is clear that she had a powerful impact over her family during her life and over our entire nation to this day. She raised Yitzchak during his formative years, nurturing him to become a future Jewish leader. Interestingly, the parsha begins with the death of Sarah but it is her legacy which she left behind which dominates the narrative. In the words of Rabbi Lord Sacks, in his own commentary of the parsha: ‘It is future-orientation that defines Judaism as a faith…First build the future. Only then can you mourn the past.’

Yours sincerely,

Mrs D Lebrett
Hasmonean High School for Boys

Black History Month

As part of Hasmonean High School’s commitment to life in the UK, we proudly celebrated Black History Month by dedicating lessons for an entire day to this important and special cause. Last month, students were taught about contributions made by Black people to British life, both past and present, in all of their lessons. Among other things, students learned about contributions made by Black people to the fields of literature and science, learned about the history of the Civil Rights movement, learned about the geographical displacement of Black people and about different Jewish African communities in Madagascar and Nigeria, and learned about the lives of Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

Rabbi Michael Pollack also spoke to the Year 10 boys on the subject of: ‘How should Jews react to the murder of George Floyd.’ He explored and discussed racism in the USA and the Jewish response to that racism.

The day was an incredible success with teachers planning outstanding lessons and students being fully engaged in the learning, discussions and debates that were held across their lessons. It was so wonderful to see the entire Hasmonean community come together to deal with such an important topic and we are confident this is just the beginning of our commitment to celebrating wider British society.

Thank you to Mr Kalley, Mrs Abecasis and all the staff who created this interesting, innovative event.

Editorial 5/11/2020

Dear Parents,

When is the first time the word אהבה (love) appears in the Torah?

The answer is this week’s parsha: קַח נָא אֶת בִּנְךָ אֶת יְחִידְךָ אֲשֶׁר אָהַבְתָּ אֶת יִצְחָק. Hashem instructs Avraham to take his son Yitzchak, “whom you love” and offer him up as a sacrifice.

The second time the word אהבה is used in the Torah is in next week’s parsha: וַיִּקַּח אֶת רִבְקָה וַתְּהִי לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה וַיֶּאֱהָבֶהָ. Yitzchak marries Rivka and “loves her”.

The third time the word אהבה is used in the Torah is in the parsha after that in describing the love of Yitzchak and Rivka for their children:וַיֶּאֱהַב יִצְחָק אֶת עֵשָׂו … וְרִבְקָה אֹהֶבֶת אֶת יַעֲקֹב.

My brother-in-law Rabbi Jeremy Finn has recently published another wonderful sefer on the Parsha. He cites Rabbi YY Jacobson who makes an insightful and powerful observation.

As Yitzchak had been the recipient of love, he knew how to love others. Since Avraham had shown love to Yitzchak, Yitzchak was able to show love to Rivka and because she received her husband’s love, she, in turn, was able to love her son Yaakov.

The Torah is teaching us that if we want our children to grow up as loving, productive and well-balanced members of society, we need to show them love. Our children will not know how to love unless they have experienced being loved.

This needs effort and needs us to be proactive in our relationships. Showing our children that we love them will not only build them, but will help them in their relationships too.

Wishing you all a wonderful Shabbos.

Rabbi J Golker

Dear Parents,

As you are aware, we have a number of students who are having to self-isolate at the two schools.

We have been trialling hardware such as graphic tablets, headsets and webcams to help teachers deliver lessons to students isolating at home. Our order of these items has now arrived and we would like to train all teachers in how to use it so that more of them have the facility to livestream their lessons to those who are isolating.

To this end, we would like to close the schools to students at 2.45 pm on Tuesday next week so that staff can be trained period 7/8 before the Year 11 boys’ parents’ evening. It will mean that most students miss one lesson as there are very few period 8 lessons on that day.

We are confident that the net impact on education will be positive as the training will enable more teachers to be ready and able to livestream lessons.

We are expecting the Chromebooks which parents have ordered to arrive in November. We make regular enquiries about a delivery date but have not yet received one. When we have, we will update you accordingly.

With sincere thanks in anticipation of your understanding in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Mr A McClusky
CEO, Hasmonean MAT


HIPE: Girls’ School Years 12 and 7 Events

Wednesday was a wonderful double bill of events. The day kicked off with a breakfast and speaker for Year 12. The common room was transformed thanks to the HIPE team and the girls really felt as if they were in a grander venue with small elegant tables with flowers and individual breakfast boxes for each student.

Psychologist Yaakov Bar was welcomed to the breakfast to speak to the students about accepting their individual life circumstances. The action continued with a range of team building activities out on the fields. The laughter echoing out of the school certainly showed that these games helped the girls to bond after what has been a very challenging few months. Thank you to the staff who gave up their lessons so the girls could let loose and bond with one another.

The second part of the day saw Year 7 enjoy an in-house Achdus Trip. They also completed a different set of team building activities, enjoyed a treasure hunt around the school followed by a social distanced dancing session and, of course, finished off with a pizza delivery!

Every part of the day was perfectly organised by the HIPE team: your energy and creativity are an inspiration to us all. We are blessed to have you in our school.

Thank you to our temporary site team who took care of all the logistics and furniture moving to make the day run smoothly.