Editorial 25/6/2021

An Attitude for Gratitude

The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (5,19) contrasts the talmidim of Avrohom Avinu and those of Bila’am. Whilst the talmidim of Avrohom Avinu have עין טובה ורוח נמוכה ונפש שפלה, a good eye, a meek spirit and a humble soul, the talmidim of Bila’am have עין רעה ורוח גבוה ונפש רחבה, an evil eye, a haughty spirit and an arrogant soul.

After the mishna lists the three differences, it then continues to ask a seemingly strange question: what is the difference between these students?

מה בין תלמידיו של אברהם אבינו לתלמידיו של בלעם הרשע
תלמידיו של אברהם אבינו אוכלין בעולם הזה ונוחלין בעולם הבא…

But haven’t we just listed the differences? And what is the meaning of the answer “the students of Avrohom Avinu enjoy this world and also inherit the world to come”?

The Gemoro in Arachin (16b) speaks of the importance of not changing your travel lodgings. This is learned from Avrohom Avinu. Despite becoming wealthy in Mitzrayim, he stayed at the same lodging as he did on the way down to Mitzrayim.

And how far does this go? Take a look at the Gemoro – very far! According to Rav, only after the host attacks you can you move elsewhere. According to Shmuel, only when he throws your cases out.

Why should a guest have to endure torment from his host rather than move his lodgings elsewhere?

The answer is that the Gemoro is teaching us the importance of הכרת הטוב. Gratitude is critical. Avrohom Avinu felt so grateful to those who hosted him on his descent to Mitzrayim that the last thing he wanted to do was to offend them by staying elsewhere on his return. He could have afforded a five star hotel, but his desire to show gratitude was more important.

Bila’am was the opposite. He focused on the here and now and ignored the past. He therefore lashed out at his donkey and ignored years of prior service.

The difference between someone who has הכרת הטוב and someone who doesn’t is אוכלין בעולם הזה ונוחלין בעולם הבא. Aside from the spiritual rewards that await, it makes life in this world more pleasant.

Interestingly, academic studies show that gratitude is a key to happiness. And the good news is that gratitude is a trait that can be learned and developed. You can cultivate gratitude and happiness by consciously focusing on being appreciative for what you have.

In addition, the more you express gratitude—through reminding yourself of all you can appreciate, by writing down what you are grateful for or by sharing your thanks with someone else—the more happiness you’ll feel.

Chasing happiness is elusive and unlikely to succeed, but focusing on others, contributing to the community, being appreciative for what you have and expressing this appreciation, all create significant positivity and contentment.

One of the first Midrashim in the Torah says that the world was created for the mitzvah of bikkurim. The Alshich explains that this is to highlight the centrality of hakoras hatov – the message of bikkurim – in our avodas Hashem.

Perhaps this is what Chazal mean in Pirkei Avos. The difference between someone who has הכרת הטוב and someone who doesn’t is אוכלין בעולם הזה ונוחלין בעולם הבא. Gratitude is the key to happiness in this world and the next and is another timely and timeless lesson from our parsha.

Rabbi Golker

Year 8 Bar Mitzvah Extravaganza

The Year 8 boys all celebrated their Bar Mitzvahs together in a unique way on a one day at the Bar Mitzvah Extravaganza. Due to the fact COVID has seriously impacted their Bar Mitzvah year, the HIPE team decided to step in and give the boys a day they would never forget.

The students started the day with a minyan for Shacharis and a special breakfast. From there they were straight off to enjoy a morning of trampolining followed by Aqua Bounce UK for a splash of fun!

After this very active and busy day, the students were then sent home to get dressed in their suits. They returned to the transformed Hasmonean boys’ school hall, which had been decorated to present the Bar Mitzvah Seuda of a lifetime. Each boy had his own Mazal Tov board for friends to sign. There was also a photo booth, and arcade games galore were stationed around the hall.

The entertainment didn’t stop there – there was a live DJ, high tech lighting, silver service waiters, and a BBQ dinner. The boys were also privileged to hear Divrei Torah and words of Chizuk from Rabbi Golker, Menahel of the School. The boys had the time of their lives, able to celebrate freely and thoroughly enjoy themselves.

A huge thank you must go to all the generous sponsors who contributed to make the event possible, to Mrs Lebrett for actively supporting the programme from the onset, Rabbi Muster and Rabbi Golker for their support, and the HIPE team for all their hard work and planning.

Jewish News Young Writers Competition

One of our Year 9 student, Maya, has been selected as the winner in the secondary category of the Jewish News Young Writers Competition. This is an annual competition where students are asked to write a short story with a given title. This year, the title was ‘Article – The Gauntlet – Entry for Jewish News Young Writers Competition’, and Maya wrote a moving essay based on her own experience.

There will be an in-person awards ceremony for winners and runners-up from both categories and their families in October.

Congratulations to Maya!

Girls’ School Bat Mitzvah

The hall was decked out to befit a true Simcha: the annual Year 7 Bat Mitzvah event. This year it was even more special as so many girls have not been able to have their usual celebrations. Mrs Naylor and HIPE created a beautiful event centred on the theme of growth; which included filling gratitude jars, making sweet trees and giving the girls seeds to grow at home. The evening also included a photo booth, dancing and a crepe stand, as well as a speaker from GIFT.

Thank you to Mrs Naylor, HIPE Team, Mrs Epton, Mrs Brice, Ms Liley, Ms Gelley, Miss Simonsson, Ms Sprei, and all the school team for supporting and creating this lovely evening.

Biology Olympiad

Congratulations to everyone who took the Intermediate Biology Olympiad but in particular to:

Sarah E and Dov S- Commended

Talia G, Chaim S and Noam D – Highly Commended

Gabriella S and Avital L – Bronze medal

Reuven Simcha G – Silver medal

Aliza W and Avital O – Gold medal!


This is a huge achievement for our students. Thank you to the Biology Department for their dedication and support.


Girls’ School Year 11 HIPE XTREME

HIPE really pulled out all the stops for our wonderful Year 11 girls. They were treated to the most amazing range of activities, under the banner of ‘keeping your balance’.

The week opened with a trip to the Lea Valley where they revelled in the glorious sunshine; enjoying Aqua Bounce and boating and getting thoroughly wet! On their return to school, Jteen spent time talking to the girls, who had been provided with special booklets containing Tephilla, the schedule for the week and space to make notes about ‘keeping your balance’.

Tuesday saw them at Grafham Water, cycling round the lake, as well as bouncing around in Kangoo shoes and creating artwork for GIFT in the late afternoon. Of course, there was pizza!

Thorpe Park beckoned on Wednesday with rides galore and the splashdown thrills of Loggers Leap.

The final event was climbing the O2- a spectacular challenge and finale to the week’s adventures. In the evening there was a Q&A session and a barbeque.

Thank you to all the HIPE team, Mrs Paster and all the staff who accompanied the girls. They all really appreciated every moment of the week.

Editorial 17/6/2021

Dear Parents,

The last few months have been a mystery to all of us and it is certainly the case that we are a long way from feeling confident about how the world will surface from this pandemic. We have all been faced with unforeseen events which have taken us out of our comfort zone. This week’s parsha, also looks at laws which are chukim: a law without understanding or rational explanation.

In essence, what we think we understand is still not fully understood by all of us. Rabbi Berel Wein writes that, actually, the nature of all life is a chok. Every layer of scientific discovery and advance unearths more mysteries and facts on which we are unaware. The wonders of the world are infinite and mysterious.

On a positive note, as a result of the pandemic, we have been treated to four wonderful virtual Music concerts over recent months courtesy of Mrs Algranati and the music concert. It has been an inspiration to see our students cope with a whole new way of performing, out of their comfort zones and in an uncertain world. The talent and resilience of our students has been both inspirational and heart-warming. Nevertheless, we are obviously very much looking forward to hosting live concerts again in the near future.
Wishing you a peaceful Shabbos.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs D Lebrett
Headteacher – Boys’ School

Editorial 11/6/2021

I once heard the following anecdote which is no doubt more fiction than fact, but the message is certainly relevant to this week’s sedra of Korach.

The President of the United States of America and his wife, the First Lady, received a rapturous welcome when they returned to the First lady’s home town. As the presidential state car made its way down the main road, hundreds of locals were enthusiastically waving their national flags; nostalgia filled the air as old and young wanted to catch a glimpse of “their” little girl who had become so famous.

The presidential convoy passed a building site and a builder wearing his hard hat and florescent jacket waved from the top of a scaffolding. The First Lady looked up and, recognising the builder, waved back.

“Who’s that?” asked the President.

“That’s a childhood friend. We grew up together and our families were close friends. Our parents always thought we were going to marry each other. I haven’t seen him for years!”

The President felt a little uncomfortable and sitting up straight said to his wife: “Aren’t you pleased you didn’t end up marrying him and instead married the President of the United States of America!?”

Without missing a beat, the First lady replied: ”You fool! Had I married him, he would have been the President of the United States of America!”

The Gemoro in Sanhedrin (109b) tells us that it was Korach’s wife who instigated his rebellion against Moshe and contrasts her with the wife of On ben Peles who saved her husband’s life by preventing him from becoming involved in the rebellion.

The Gemoro cites the possuk in Mishlei (14:1):

חַכְמוֹת נָשִׁים בָּנְתָה בֵיתָהּ וְאִוֶּלֶת בְּיָדֶיהָ תֶהֶרְסֶנּוּ
The wisdom of women can establish the home
And the foolish woman destroys it with her own hands.

Throughout our history it has always been the Jewish women who have guided us on the right path. It was in their merit that we were redeemed from Egypt, they knew not to participate in the sin of the Eigel Hazahav (the Golden Calf) or that of the Meraglim (the Spies).

The Gerrer Rebbe once told Rav Yecheskel Sarna, the Chevron Rosh Yeshiva, that the greatest Torah personality in the previous generation was not the Chafetz Chaim or the previous Gerrer Rebbe but Sarah Schenirer, the founder of Beis Yaakov and the mother of Jewish education for women today.

As this week’s parsha tells us, the role of the Jewish woman is critical.

Good Shabbos.

Rabbi J Golker


Message to all members of the Chomesh L’Chinuch (‘CLC’) kehillohs :- GGBH, Hendon Adass, Beis Yisroel (“Dayan’s”), Beis Shmuel, Edgware Adass and Beis Yissochor Dov (“Hagers”)

Chomesh L’Chinuch is a NW London kehilloh-based project encouraging Shul members to prioritise and allocate one-fifth (a ‘Chomesh’) of their Tzedokah distributions to the local schools their children attend.

Chomesh L’Chinuch members can either allocate their donations to specific schools or towards the general CLC fund. Over the years, Chomesh L’Chinuch has raised over £1,000,000 for our NW London Schools.

Chomesh L’Chinuch have informed us of two important events taking place this coming July:

a. CLC is now conducting their annual shul survey to assess the schools attended by the members’ children and grandchildren. This survey directly impacts the amount of money that our school will receive. The funds allocated to our school from each shul depend on how many children in that shul attend our school. We therefore strongly encourage you (as parent or grandparent) to fill out the Chomesh L’Chinuch survey for us to receive these much-needed funds. The survey response date has been extended to 6th June.

b. CLC are offering each new CLC member a special sign-up bonus worth up to £1,000. If you (or your family/friends) set up a standing order with Chomesh L’Chinuch and select our school as the sign-up bonus beneficiary, you will be making an important contribution to our school’s financing. Therefore, we encourage all parents, grandparents, and alumni, to sign up to Chomesh L’Chinuch and to please select OUR school for the sign-up bonus. Please find a poster below which provides further information regarding this special sign-up bonus.


Dear Parent,

PaJeS, the go-to organisation in the community for supporting Jewish Schools, is launching their Power of Partnerships Matched Funding campaign. Whilst we ask our parents to always prioritise donations to the school, PaJeS works very closely with our school and we are happy to endorse this campaign.

Around 60% of children in our community attend Jewish Day Schools. PaJeS plays a critical role in representing our schools at government level and meeting the range of needs of the Headteachers, teachers and governors who lead Jewish schools. PaJeS has been at the forefront of developing our best school leaders, helping our children face the challenges of this past year and been a powerful advocate for Jewish schools at local and national government level. A partnership with PaJeS means greater collaboration between schools, excellence in school leadership and schools being more financially efficient and sustainable.

Please help to raise much needed funds and help ensure that Jewish schools continue to provide the best possible education for our children. Every donation is doubled so whatever you can give will have twice the impact.

Click here to donate.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs K Brice Headteacher
Hasmonean High School for Girls


Trip to Thorpe Park

Eighty-four students from Years 7-9 were rewarded for their high level of attendance at optional after-school kodesh EXTRA learning sessions. Their reward was a day at Thorpe Park, and the glorious sunshine made it extra special!

Their dedication to Kodesh is wonderful: thank you to the Kodesh team for inspiring our students and to the Kodesh EXTRA team for delivering this programme.

The girls had a wonderful day in the sunshine: Eliana A said that she ‘had a whale of a time, particularly enjoying the more stomach churning rides!’ Malka G enjoyed the Zodiac Ride, which was somewhat hair-raising, since there were no seat belts!

The accompanying teachers: Miss Simonsson, Miss Liley, Mrs Epton, and the HIPE team also had a great day in the sun with the girls.

Trip to Gateshead

The impossible became possible thanks to HIPE and Gesher. Year 12 girls were able to go to Gateshead for a Shabbaton! It was a weekend packed with activities, including the thrills of a theme park!

As per tradition, the girls spent the Shabbat meals with the families of the Gateshead community.

It was a wonderful weekend, made all the more special by being so eagerly anticipated.