Spring Term Return to School Arrangements

Dear Parents,

Spring Term Return to School Arrangements

As you will be aware, yesterday, the Government announced that for the first week of next term, January 4th– 8th 2021, secondary schools would open only for:

  • Students in Year 11
  • Students in Year 13

In addition, the school will be open for:

  • Students in all year groups whose parents are critical workers
  • Students in other year groups who have an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP)
  • Students in all year groups who are vulnerable

Definitions of which students fall into the categories in italics above can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision


If your child is in Years 7-10/12 and falls into the italicized categories and may therefore attend school, please complete the Google form below by 23rd December so that we can make appropriate arrangements. Unless, you register your child using this form we regrettably will not be able to admit them as we will not be able to open safely.



Teaching for Year 11 and Year 13 and Other Students in School


  • As previously advised, teaching will begin at 10.30 am on January 4th, other than Beis at the Boys’ School
  • Year 11 will have regular lessons as normal.
  • Year 13 mocks will continue as planned.
  • BTEC exams will continue as planned.
  • Beis will run will as usual for Years 11 and 13 from 7.20 am on Monday 4th
  • All students in Year 7-10 should bring in their Chromebooks and Year 12 should bring in laptops where possible, fully charged and a set of headphones. Those students in Year 7-10 and Year 12 in school will be taught via Google Classroom by the teacher in the same way as those at home.
  • The kitchen will be providing meals for those in school for this week.

All students who are in school will be expected to follow the normal uniform guidelines.


Teaching for Year 7-10 and Year 12

The provision for Years 7-10 and Year 12 will be the same for those at home and those in school. Students will follow their normal timetables but please take note of the following points.

  • There will be a pastoral check-in at 10.20 am with Year Leaders on Monday 4th January for Year 7-10. Students should login to their pastoral check in classroom.
  • As previously advised, teaching will begin at 10.30 am on January 4th Years 7-10.
  • Beis for Year 12 will run as usual but online.
  • Sessions will be slightly shorter than usual to account for the fact that teachers will be having to leave traditional lessons in school to go to a different room to deliver online lessons. Students should logon onto the relevant Google classroom and wait for the teacher to let them into the Live Meet.
  • The majority of sessions will involve ‘live’ teaching and will also involve teachers setting independent work during these sessions, as they would in live lessons. Some sessions will involve pre-recorded or uploaded materials.
  • Free School Meal vouchers will be sent to those who are eligible to receive them in January.
  • Information regarding Sunday school at the boys’ school for Sunday 10th January (Years 7 to 10 and 12) will be sent out during the first week of term.
  • Important – Year 10 Science and Year 7 Modern Hebrew have timetable changes. Students need to go to SMHW/Satchel:1 for timetable information.


You will also be aware that there are plans for rapid testing of school students and staff. More information will follow at the beginning of January.

Students from all year groups will be expected back in school on January 11th unless we are directed otherwise by the Government.

If there is any further information in regard to these matters, we will update you in due course.

With kind regards,

Mr A McClusky                Mrs D Lebrett                   Mrs K Brice

CEO                                     Headteacher – Boys       Headteacher – Girls


Boys’ School – Day 5 of Chanukah

The 5th Day of Chanukah saw another action packed H.I.P.E fuelled day, full of Chanukah treats.

It started with a Year 9 Chanuka online interactive quiz, brilliantly led by Nethanel Kind during Period 1.

From Period 4, the school gates opened wide as THE SLICED MEAT MOBILE BURGER VAN made its way to the edge of the carpark, where it stayed for FIVE hours, feeding every hungry school boy in carefully staggered times, according to the bubble system. Over 700 portions were sold!

Then, during Period 7, the HIPE team hosted their own take on ‘Deal or No Deal’and it was Year 9’s turn to play the famous game and leave with a free doughnut each.

The H.I.P.E team have been essential in keeping our students entertained and have fun.

Girls’ School – Project ImpACT

Special thanks go to Rabbi Gaffin, together with Light Up a Life and Project ImpACT, as our Year 9 girls spent Thursday, period 1, wrapping lots of boxes of chocolates to be distributed to NHS workers in the London hospitals and care homes in time for the winter holidays.

Each student also wrote a personal note of thanks to staff, which was attached to the wrapped gift. The project was aimed at showing gratitude to medical, nursing and support staff for their tireless dedication to looking after us in very challenging circumstances.

Students from Hasmonean High School for Girls, as well as pupils from Hasmonean High School for Boys (see last week’s eNews article and picture), Immanuel College, JFS, Yavneh and JCoSS participated so that almost 1000 Year 9 students from Jewish schools took part in this initiative. Rabbi Gaffin is planning to run more events with Project ImpACT as the year progresses.

Chanukah Yom Iyun – Girls’ School

Not only were the girls treated to an amazing week of HIPE activities to enlighten the physical joy of Chanukah, they were also inspired by a fascinating Yom Iyun created by the phenomenal Rabbi Bennett, which was based on the theme of finding light and meaning in the darkness.

Year 7 enjoyed an interesting presentation on the light of the Menorah compared to the evil of the Nazis. The girls learned in Chavrutot about the origins and halachot of Chanukah. Zara and Amalia remarked that ‘it was a really interesting way to learn’. They liked ‘going off into little groups’ and having a ‘whole year experience’. The link between the Holocaust and Chanukah was particularly effective, as Rabbi Bennet used the image of the Posner’s Menorah juxtaposed against the Swastika banner in Kiel in 1932. The Nazis are no more, but the descendants of the Posner family are flourishing in Beit Shemesh.

Year 9 were treated to a Shiur with Rebbetzen Aimee Sandler, Director of Aish Essex, and Year 10 had the choice of Rabbi Gideon Goldwater, Director of Aish on Campus, or Rabbi Daniel Fine of the Beis and Stanmore Synagogue.

They also had a special learning session on ‘Yavan, Beauty and Tzniut’. Mrs Abecasis spoke of the descendants of Yefet, who became Yavan, a nation of beautiful people who worshipped outer beauty. The influence of Yavan was so great that even the Cohen Gadol at the time became a Hellenist. Moving on, through a revealing video, the Year 10 girls saw how perceptions of beauty have changed over time. The Greeks associated external beauty with internal beauty. Judaism is clearly the opposite as ‘Hashem sees into the heart’ (Shmuel Aleph). Following the PowerPoint presentation, Year 10 learned in Chavrutot using Pesukim from Eishet Chayil, which explore the importance of the internal beauty of women such as Bat Sheva and Ruth.

Rabbi Fine gave an in depth Shiur to a small group of Year 10 girls with Mefarshim, based on the Gemara in Shabbat 21b ‘What is Chanukah?’ He quoted R’Yonatan MiLunille who actually said that the main miracle was the war, and this was why the festival had to be eight days, as the victory should be celebrated for as long as our longest festival. The main miracle was the war- had we been defeated, that would have been it. By winning, the Hasmoneans were able to keep the Jewish people, religion and state alive. Rashi prioritises the miracle of the oil. WHY? This was the thrust of the shiur- discussing revealed and hidden miracles.

Years 7-9 also had a special learning and craft session centered on the Tefilla of Al HaNissim. During the GIFT session, the students considered the importance of the Torah value of Chesed and made care packages of NHS and key workers in Barnet Hospital.

All of this action took place between periods 2-4 on Wednesday morning, turning the school into a hive of Chanukah activity and learning. Having dipped into a number of these sessions, as a teacher and as a parent, I can really testify to the value of a Yom Iyun- a real chance for the girls to grapple with the issues, ideas and inspiration of Chanukah.

Covid Catch-Up

All of Hasmonean’s teachers have been very keen to ensure that students are able to catch-up after a summer of distance learning and a somewhat disrupted autumn term. We want to share with our parents the number of ways our teachers have been educating and helping your children.

To help pupils catch-up on missed education, the Government provided schools will additional money.

The Maths department decided to use the catch-up funding first to target a number of our Year 7 students and provide valuable intervention lessons. Every week, three different small groups have been taught parts of the course which have been missed. From January 2021, our Year 11 boys will also be offered intervention sessions. The Year 7 and 11 intervention is planned to run for a total of 20 weeks. Our Year 13 students had 8 hours of catch-up during the November half term and will have another in February. As Maths is a core subject, the department is working hard to ensure all students are up-to-date and do not miss out.

In the English Department, staff have undergone training for the Lexia Core5 Reading programme which supports educators in providing differentiated literacy instruction for students of all abilities. Years 7 and 8 are the key focus groups, but the scheme will also be used to support selected Year 9 -11 students. Lexia provides explicit, systematic, personalized learning, targeting skill gaps as they emerge, and providing teachers with the data and student-specific resources they need for individual or small-group instruction. Again, every effort is being made to target those students who need additional help and provide this. The English interventions will be up and running from January 2021.

Our Science department has been working hard to ensure that MyGCSEScience is set-up to support our Science students, and more textbooks have been ordered as well. With the Year 11 mock exams taking place over the last 2 weeks of term and the Year 13 assessments starting in January, the Science department will be able to highlight which students require extra tutoring and in what specific areas. Interventions will be implemented in early 2021 for both Years 11 and 13, and then catch-up help will be filtered down towards Years 10 and 12 at a later stage.

The Jewish Studies department intends to use some money to fund Hebrew Reading in Year 7. Year 7 is where the building blocks are set to prepare for the remaining years in school, so the focus is being placed on buying additional software and books for our new cohort to really stand them in good stead.

Finally, our Business and Economics department have created a wonderful plan which includes using I Marcouse A-Z business online sessions, having additional staff tutorials, providing focussed exam technique sessions with selected pupils, and delivering a number of other refresher courses.

Thank you to Hasmonean’s wonderful staff who have gone well above their obligations in ensuring that our students are able to realise their potential.

Editorial – 10/12/2020

Dear Parents,

The number eight is central to Chanukah. The festival itself lasts for eight days and we light an additional candle each night, culminating with eight candles. Chanukah itself comes to a climax on the eighth and last day which is given the title “Zos Chanukah” – “this is Chanukah”, suggesting the number eight is wrapped up in the essence of the festival.

What is special about the number eight and what is the link to Chanukah?

I once heard the following explanation from Rabbi Pinchos Roberts. The Greeks espoused a philosophy of rationality and denied the possibility of “l’maala min hatevah”, the concept of the supernatural.

This was the target of the three edicts the Greeks decreed against Klal Yisroel. Shabbos, Milah and Chodesh. Each represent an aspect of l’maala min hateva.

Tell a shopkeeper who shuts his store early that this act of mesiras nefesh will actually bring blessing. As the Maharal notes, the very number eight represents “beyond nature”. The number six represents the physical, seven is injecting spirituality into the physical and eight is the level beyond nature. That is what milah is – on the eight day. And “chodesh” represents a Supernatural Power governing the solar system.

The very purpose of Chanukah is to counter that philosophy. To proudly declare that HKBH runs the world and proclaim the message of number eight. “Zos Chanukah” – this is Chanuka, this is the very essence of what Chanukah is about. The eighth day epitomises the concept of “l’maala min hatevah”, the supernatural.

Chanukah is of course linked to the word “Chinuch” – “education” and is the festival of the original Hasmoneans. I often feel that what we achieve at Hasmonean is “l’maala min hatevah”.

In today’s world it is harder than ever to impart spirituality to young people and yet here at Hasmonean we continue to strive for excellence in both kodesh and chol, achieving excellent exam results when so much of the school days is dedicated to kodesh. And most importantly, to produce students who are rooted in Yiddishkeit and are learned and passionate Jews who can also make their way in this world and live productive and meaningful lives, contributing to the society in which they live.

But as much as we live and engage in this world, we recognise that there is a concept of “l’maala min hatevah”, and that is felt at Hasmonean, not just at Chanukah but all year round.

Wishing you all a happy Chanukah and a good Shabbos.

Rabbi J Golker

Rabbi Lord Sacks Tribute

To commemorate the sheloshim of Lord Rabbi Sacks, Hasmonean would have held assemblies in both schools, however, COVID-19 guidelines did not allow us to do this. Instead, the Hasmonean Informal Education team created a video to show to all students in the boys and girls school at the same time on Monday 7th December. The video was also released to parents on Monday evening.

To watch the video, please click on the link: https://vimeo.com/487176946

During the 35 minute event, school staff including Rabbi J Golker, Mrs D Lebrett and Rabbi Y Fachler spoke of their personal memories of the former Chief Rabbi, who was a frequent visitor to Hasmonean.

There was a particularly poignant interview with Mrs Joanna Benarroch by her daughter, Ms Benarroch. Mrs J Benarroch worked for Rabbi Lord Sacks for many years and was able to share some wonderful personal memories. The video was interspersed with extracts of music loved by Rabbi Lord Sacks.

Special thanks go to Benji Shebson and Nethanel Kind and all the Informal Education team for organising this.

Wrapping Away for the NHS

On Tuesday, our Year 9 boys spent period one wrapping goodies to be distributed to the NHS workers in the UK in time for the winter holidays. This is a big thank you from all of us at Hasmonean to those keyworkers who have provided care to many during this extremely difficult period and who continue to provide help.

Thanks go to the H.I.P.E team for organising this wonderful event.

Editorial 4/12/2020

Dear Parents,

I have been thinking about heroes lately following a conversation with Rabbi Golker about Maradona which became the focus for my last assembly.  Maradona was a sporting legend but the scenes of grief and the thousands queuing to pay their final respects suggested that this was a man who was more than just a footballer.

When I thought about Argentina during the period when Maradona was growing up, his status became more understandable. The country was ruled by a brutal dictatorship and thousands had disappeared. In 1982, Argentina lost the Falklands war and there was very little for Argentinians to feel proud of in their country. Then a poor boy from a shantytown helped, through his genius, to propel Argentina to World Cup victory in 1986, on the way beating England which came as some compensation for the Falklands defeat. This helped to restore Argentina’s national pride and faith in itself as a fledgling democracy.

We do not live under a dictatorship but the news has been unremittingly depressing for months and we also need some heroes to lift our spirits. Colonel Tom Moore with his aim of raising £10 000 for charity by doing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday was one such. In the end he raised over £32 000 000.  In our daily lives, we can all act as a hero to someone else by an unexpected act of kindness, going above and beyond the call of duty or by quiet thoughtfulness. My hero this week is Mrs Langdon for all her efforts in getting nearly 800 chromebooks out to students, a process which was very far from simple.  I invite you to identify the heroes in your life and to acknowledge them.

Wishing you all a Good Shabbos.


Katherine Brice

PTA PaintNight

On Motzei Shabbos, 28th November, the PTA arranged a Zoom Paint Night with Marian Myers. Seventy-seven participants from ages 8-80 enjoyed a relaxed, social evening in the warmth of their own homes.

Marian herself has two daughters at Hasmonean High School for Girls, which made her perfectly placed to run the event. Her services were kindly volunteered in order to maximise the revenue for the PTA and she was an absolute pleasure to work with.

Marian designed a picture of Shabbat candles, which was inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting.

Everyone was provided with a canvas, which held the outline of the picture, a pack of paints, 2 paintbrushes, and a paper plate as a palette.

Marian is a sought after step-by-step acrylic artist and her company is called JUST PAINT. She has facilitated numerous paint parties, as well as working with GIFT, many shuls, Aish, NHS hospitals, Mercers, and Barclays.

One participant said: “This has definitely been my most enjoyable, relaxing, yet productive Motzei Shabbat in the last 9 months!” All participants had a lovely evening!

This was the third event that Hasmonean High PTA has held this term.