Editorial 25th February 2021

Dear Parents,


The Gemara in Megilah (16a) tells us that when Haman looks for Mordechai to carry out King Achashverosh’s reward of riding on the king’s horse, dressed in royal clothes, he finds Mordechai in the Beis Hamedrash teaching hilchos kemitzah. Hilchos kemitzah are technical laws involving flour offerings.


Why hilchos kemitzah now?


A well-known public speaker once told me that he tries to throw in the word “relevant” in the first 60 seconds of any of his talks as a means of engaging his audience.


Hilchos kemitzah? The first Beis Hamikdash has been destroyed and the second has yet to come. There is no Beis Hamkidash, no flour offerings and no kemitzah? Hardly relevant or pressing!?


The answer is that Mordechai is teaching a powerful message. Klal Yisrael are in deep trouble. The noose is tightening around their neck. A date for state sanctioned genocide has been set. Mordechai does his hishtadlus, he makes every effort to guide Esther and together with the rest of the Jewish people, he fasts and prays. And then he teaches hilchos kemitzah.


In so doing, he is telling Klal Yisrael the message of last week’s haftorah that we read before Purim every year – נצח ישראל לא ישקר. Mordechai is saying we may be in a precarious state, but we will get through this, we will prevail. There will yet be a Beis Hamikdash and Kohanim will once again perform the avodah and take a kemitzah.


A timely and timeless message for Purim 2021. Our world has been turned upside down but we should take comfort in the message of Purim.


As I wrote to parents earlier this week, despite everything, there is a huge amount going on over Purim (all of course online and Covid friendly) and I thank all the Kodesh teachers and HIPE educators for ensuring the spirit of Purim reaches our students.


And there is a very direct way to thank HIPE and ensure their long-term future at Hasmonean. Students are collecting for 19 charities associated with Hasmonean in their HIPE UNITE campaign, but we are turning to parents and to the community to help HIPE via the Chomesh L’Chinuch campaign.


Please click on the link below, enjoy the fabulous song, donate generously and share the link as widely as possible.



Wishing you and your families an enjoyable, meaningful and safe Purim.



Rabbi J Golker


UKMT Intermediate Maths Challenge

Once again, Mr Munteanu has shared the amazing results for the UKMT Intermediate Maths Challenge 2021: 160 students took part in this challenge, and a phenomenal 56 students received certificates.

Congratulations to all the students who found the motivation to participate under these stressful conditions.

Ariella G, in Year 11 deserves a special mention. Not only is she the best in school with score of 123 points, but she also completed this challenge from the US. The best at the Boys’ School was Nochi Z with a score of 116 points. The Year 11 boys did very well as they received 8 GOLD Certificates out of a total of 14 awarded this year.

In all, 16 of our students have qualified to the follow up round of the maths challenge Kangaroo and Olympiad.

Thank you to everybody who helped to organise the UKMT IMC 2021 on both sites.


Professor Chain of Imperial College

Professor Chain of Imperial College kindly agreed to speak to Dr Whyte’s Year 13 Chemistry classes.  Professor Chain has worked for many years in immunology and is now a investigating the use of computational immunology to understand the data from genomics into defining immunological responses.

He explained the science behind vaccines from initial concept proposed by Ehrlich in the mid-1800s until today, focusing on the development of the current COVID-19 vaccine.

The students thoroughly enjoyed listening to Professor Chain and asked some excellent questions. Professor Chain in turn was very impressed by the intellect behind their questions. For her part, Dr Whyte was super-proud of her Chemistry classes.

Oxford Practical Ethics

Three students from Hasmonean High School for Girls (Ariella G, Batsheva S and Rivka M) signed up to the Oxford University Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and Responsibility competition in December, as it seemed like it would be an interesting thing to do during a lockdown!

For the competition, the girls had to send in a video about how responsibility plays a role in a practical ethics situation. After a lot of discussion, they decided to create a video about how and why responsibility plays a role in society being vaccinated against coronavirus. This subject was chosen as Ariella said: ‘Our Judaism commands us to consider our actions thoughtfully, rather than go through life on autopilot. Practical ethics strives to provide the philosophical tools needed to actualize this commandment and love our neighbours as ourselves.’ They sent the video in and were notified on the 4th February that they had made it to the semi-finals.

The girls are ecstatic about their achievement of reaching the semi-finals and these will take place virtually on March 23rd 2021. As part of the semi-final stage of the competition, they will be joining a day of presentations and activities organised by researchers and staff at Oxford University. The main focus of the day is on debates between the student finalists. There will be two rounds of debate: each team will take part in a semi-final debate, and the winners of those will face one another in the final.

The event will include an Exhibition debate on the topic of ‘Responsibility and Addiction’, and an activity for the students on: Slippery Slope arguments. Following this, the semi-finals will take place in breakout rooms, and the final will be after lunch.

Our girls have the following topic for their semi-final debate: People under thirty have a responsibility to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They will be standing against the motion. Should they make it to the final, the motion will be: Social media companies are responsible for the content their users post online. Again, they are standing against the motion.

This is a huge achievement for these three young women, who have been inspired by the ethical striving of the Hasmonean community. We wish them every success in the finals.

Please click on the links to see the girls in action:


(also known as bit.ly/3ugmGiY) or https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk2P1JGcQvli4Ny4hfecKVw


Years 10 and 11 Girls, Anxiety and Wellbeing Sessions

This week Melissa Abecassis, our Wellbeing Practitioner, ran two PSHE sessions for Years 10 and 11. She focused on anxiety and wellbeing, giving the students an understanding of what anxiety is and strategies which can help when they face it.

Melissa also reminded the students that she is available for individual sessions if they are feeling overwhelmed or need a place to chat. Thank you to Melissa and all the pastoral team who are offering help and support to all our students right now!

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021 Poems

As part of the Holocaust Remembrance Day, we gave our students the opportunity to participate in the HRD Poetry Contest 2021. Well done to our two Year 7 girls who were selected as winners and thank you to the English Department for judging the contest.

Editorial 12/2/2021

Dear Parents,

It has been a tough few weeks for everyone and I hope that you will all get the chance to decompress and get away from screens during half term. It can be easy to get depressed at the news of virulent mutations and the ever-receding possibility of taking a foreign holiday. However, I have been taking solace from the signs that spring is nearly here, despite the current arctic weather. Daffodils are pushing up through the grass in the parks and camellias are already in bloom. They are a reminder that all things, even the darkest days, pass in the end.

The other thing, which gives me hope, is the resilience of our young people. No one would have chosen the events of the past year and we would all wish it had been different. However, to see the creativity that has emerged which the HIPE teams demonstrate so magnificently has been heartening and even inspiring. From challah and pizza bakes to the project of some older girls to translate the Yiddish memoirs of Parysow, our students are showing how they can adapt and make the best of a strange situation. The learning which is going on is not always of the conventional kind, but we are all developing more skills in the digital world and these will be long term benefits which will help us as we return to a more familiar model of teaching- hopefully not too far in the future.

Wishing you a good Shabbos and a restful half term.

Mrs K Brice


Hasmonean High School for Girls

Jack Petchey Regional Finals

This year’s annual Jack Petchey regional finals of the Speak Out competition came with a difference. Rather than sitting in the hall of a local school, every competitor was at home, presenting their three-minute speech via Zoom. The Girls’ School candidate, Alegria, took her name as the inspiration for her presentation. After all, we all need some happiness in our lives.

She did herself and the school proud, winning the Regional Final to progress to the Semi-finals.

The link to watch the speeches, the link can be found here: https://speakoutchallenge.com/recent-speeches/

Thank you to Mrs Jacobson who ran the competition at the Girls’ School, setting up the initial training day, running the Speak Out Challenge in school before the end of last term, and coaching Alegria to a very high standard.


Girls’ School Sixth Form Societies

Green Society

Hasmonean’s alumni body rose to the challenge of the call for speakers. The first was Ilana Goodkin, who became the inaugural guest speaker at The Green Society, a school club run by Sixth Formers, Hodaya and Hannah.

Ilana spoke about the challenges we face to lead a sustainable life and combat climate change. Ilana wrote: ‘I just saw the email about the Green Society looking for speakers at their monthly sessions. Firstly, I just want to say that I think this initiative is AMAZING and it’s so great to see that Hasmo is making an effort to boost environmental awareness! I left Hasmo in 2013, studied Geography at UCL, and I’m now doing a masters at Tel Aviv University in Environmental Studies. While I don’t have anything specific that I’m researching for me to talk about, I would love to share some of the material I’m learning in my course at the moment. One course is on environmental health, and the other is on sustainable food systems (the material in both these courses is often tied to how climate change will affect both these areas).’

She led a very informal yet lively session, with the girls being as excited about her green credentials, as well as the fact that she is studying in Israel.

Art Club

Chedva S and Liat S, two of our Year 12 students have set up an after-school art club – a great way to unwind after a day of studying online. The picture below comes from the last session on calligraphy.


Editorial 5/2/2021

Dear Parents,

This has been a week of highs and lows. The news about the vaccination programme is really positive and I am really hopeful that the first glimmers of hope to an end to the events of the past year are beginning to show themselves.

We also heard the very sad news about the passing away of Captain Sir Tom Moore. A national treasure, an inspiration, tough, gritty, and a powerhouse. Some of the many terms used to describe an incredible man who will be much missed. In a week where there were sad events in the community and the wider world, it is incumbent on all of us to look at the legacy of people who have passed away and to show gratitude for the amazing things that they did in their lives.

In this week’s parsha, Yisro advises his son in law, Moshe, to set up a hierarchical leadership system in order to lead the Jewish people. It is sometimes hard to delegate but it is shown to be of vital importance in the parsha. This then enables society to become even more connected, even more successful and even more collaborative. All essential to building a legacy for the next generations.

Wishing you a good Shabbos.

Mrs D Lebrett
Hasmonean High School for Boys