Editorial 28.10.2021

Dear Parents,

Rabbi Akiva was once giving a shiur when he noticed his students were struggling to stay awake (some things never change!). In order to re-engage and revitalise them, he asked his students a question:

Why did Queen Esther merit to rule over 127 kingdoms?

Rabbi Akiva answered that it was because Sarah Imeinu lived for 127 years.

So says the Midrash at the beginning of this week’s sedrah. The Midrash is clearly puzzling. What do Sarah’s 127 years have to do with the number of kingdoms Queen Esther ruled over?

The Chiddushei Harim gives a wonderful explanation. Rabbi Akiva was trying to teach his students the importance of time.

Imagine, said Rabbi Akiva, if each year of your life was like a whole country. A month would be like a huge city. A week like a big town. A day like a large village. An hour like a whole street. And a minute like a house. If we truly appreciated that we were being rewarded with vast wealth for every moment of serving Hashem, we wouldn’t waste time.

Rabbi Akiva therefore used a comparison of material value to convey to his talmidim the tragedy of wasting time. Sarah’s 127 years were lived to the full and every moment reaped eternal benefit.

In a way, the objective of the successful vaccination programmes at both schools, is to try to help as many students as possible stay in school, be educated and inspired, and use their time fully and productively.

Thank you to everyone involved in this project.

Wishing everyone good health as well as happy and productive use of their time.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi J Golker

Interview with Michal Oshman

HIPE created an unusual and exciting event with Michal Oshman, Head of Company Culture, Diversity and Inclusion at TikTok Europe and formerly responsible for international leadership and team development at Facebook. Throughout her career, Michal has trained and coached hundreds of tech leaders. She has three university degrees in psychodynamic and systemic thinking, sociology and anthropology.

Mrs Friedman interviewed Mrs Oshman, asking her the following questions:

Can you tell us a bit about your professional background, as well as your journey towards becoming religious? As a teenager, Michal was lost in her life. She tried too hard to be perfect all the time. Her career trajectory certainly mirrored her desire for outward perfection, gaining three degrees and working with the most cutting edge companies. Her work includes team development. This means that if you are clear about who you are in the workplace, you are more likely to inspire others around you. She joined TikTok a year ago where her role seems to be to establish the values of TikTok and how people in the company experience those values. She also helps people deal with challenges in life and make them feel that they belong to the company.

Where does Judaism / spirituality fit in? – Until age 38 she suffered with her own mental health. The lack of spirituality in her childhood, growing up in secular North Tel Aviv meant that she had no awareness of what Judaism had to offer. Years of therapy and medication did not really help. She did not even have any idea that she had a soul until she was 38. Michal was searching- literally searching Google as she typed in: anxiety/ depression/ Judaism. That last was a stroke of luck or a Heavenly hand. The articles of a Chabad professor (Freda Lowenthal) popped up and began to lead her on her journey of Jewish self-discovery.

How did that discovery change things? – Michal reconnected to her faith and heritage. She was curious. What does Judaism have to offer me? She realised that the deep ideas, once you allow them into your system- work. There is nothing more complete than a broken heart. She felt damaged and broken and learned that the best part of being broken is that you can mend yourself. You do not have to be perfect. Cracks are good.

Not looking for G-d but finding yourself – The big realisation was that it is not all about me. As a Jew, you are part of something which has been there for thousands of years. Michal found her answers in Chasidic wisdom.

Why do you end each chapter the same way? ‘If you change nothing, nothing will change’. Can you explain this? – You need to do this. What is the thought in your head which is not helping you? Can I get rid of it? If I don’t change it how can I help myself? One way to change is to admit that I make mistakes.

One chapter is about making space for others – most self-help books are about me not we. Her book is different as she posits that you could make yourself less so you can make more space for others. By reducing your own ego you can have more sensitivity to others.

Making mistakes is a sense of completion- what was your ‘best’ mistake? She thought one boyfriend was ‘the one’ but on the day she thought he would propose he said ‘I know we are being serious, but if we were to go to a desert island I would not take you’. At the time it broke her- she felt she would never be loved and was like that for two years. He broke her heart and her confidence. But now she is here with her husband and four children. ‘This too shall pass’ – please G-d we should all have a long life and we have to believe that the things which seem to break us will eventually pass.

After the interview, ice coffee, grapes and rogelach were on offer, as well as the chance to buy HIPE ‘merch’ such as a card holder that goes on your phone case which says: ‘Feel like you will achieve, and you will achieve’ .

The second part of the event was a guided learning session, using sources about the ability to achieve. Sixth Form students worked with girls from Years 10 and 11 to delve into the texts to understand the Torah perspective on confidence.

It was a fabulous, inspiring morning for all the students. Thank you to our HIPE team, Mrs Friedman and to Michal Oshman for facilitating this unique event.




Editorial 21.10.2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

I want to make you aware of some very exciting developments that we will be bringing to fruition during this academic year and the next:

– To affirm Kodesh at the heart of everything we do, we are working on how best to organise the school day to integrate our JS, Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 formal, informal and enrichment curricula at both schools
– We have created a new role, Director of Personal Development, the purpose of which is to ensure pupils feel safe, understand risks and dangers and that they have the skills and knowledge to confidently navigate the modern world. Mr Marcus, who has been appointed to this role, comes with a wealth of experience in these areas having worked in a number of senior leadership positions in a variety of Jewish schools
– We will be re-evaluating the key stage three curriculum at each school to enliven and rejuvenate it in a way that fully engages and inspires students. We’re looking into the very best practice across the country to enable us to create our own 21st Century dynamic curriculum for our youngest students
– To ensure that student feedback is taken into account in all areas of the school we are investigating new ways to elicit this important information to enable us to direct our attention and resources where they are needed most
– And finally, to support our staff to be the best they can be, there will be a renewed focus on their continuing professional development. The opportunities to improve subject knowledge, the understanding of pedagogy and pastoral care and leadership and management are all being mapped for all new and existing staff. We will invest in our team to increase the quality of teaching, strengthen succession planning, and improve recruitment and retention.

As you can see there’s a lot happening to ensure that Hasmonean is the very best place for all Jewish students (in the 21st century). I will provide you with updates on this exciting and dynamic agenda as things progress through the course of the year.

With kind regards,

Mr Andrew McClusky
CEO, Hasmonean MAT




Dear Parents and Carers,

Re: Communication Guidelines

Please be aware – if you are not already – that the MAT’s schools have guidelines to provide a platform for effective and positive communications between staff and parents/carers. Parents/carers are entitled to expect courteous and timely communications from school staff just as staff are entitled to expect courtesy and respect from them.

This extract from the guidelines outlines the rationale behind them:
Research consistently finds that children achieve more when schools and parents/carers work together. However, the unique relationship that a parent/ carer or teacher has with a child might at times lead to differences of opinion as to what is best for the child. Both parties need to appreciate and respect the special skills and insights that each brings to their relationships with a child and understand and appreciate each other’s perspective.

Tension in the parent/staff relationship can arise when both parties are strongly motivated to do the best for the child but occupy fixed positions about how to achieve this. The ability to voice differences of opinion, respectfully and with understanding, is key to a successful relationship and to minimising conflict.

A link to the guidelines, which have been shared with staff, can be found here: https://hasmoneanmat.org.uk/multi/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Communication-Guidelines-Oct-2019.pdf

Staff have been asked to only contact you by their school email address or phone and to address you formally about school matters (even if they know you socially) and we would appreciate if you would do this same to maintain a clear division between the social and professional spheres.

We hope that all members of the Hasmonean community will find these guidelines helpful.

With kind regards,

Mr A McClusky, CEO, Hasmonean MAT
Mr Y Halberstadt, Chair of Local Governing Body Committee – Boys, Trustee of Hasmonean MAT
Mr S Blumgart, Chair of Local Governing Body Committee – Girls, Trustee of Hasmonean MAT


Boy’s School Football News!

The first match of the football season was played last week by a strong Year 8 team against Saracens High School in the U13’s Barnet Cup. Hasmonean were victorious with a 3-1 win.

This week, our school was represented by the Year 9 team for the U14 Barnet Cup vs Archer Academy, Finchley. Hasmonean were again triumphant with a 4-3 win! Well done to our footballers!

200 students at Beis

It was lovely to see over 200 students at Beis on Monday 18th October.

Jack Petchey “Speak Out” Challenge!

This November, two of our students reached the 2021 Grand Final of the Jack Petchey “Speak Out” Challenge! Over 9,000 young people participated this year, and only 15 make it to the Grand Final.

Alegria B won the Barnet Regional Final outright with her original and humorous study of her own name and the challenges which it can present to some. In addition, as a semifinalist, Natan B, whose subject was “Is Big Tech a Force for Good?” was also invited to compete.

The Final will take place on Wednesday 29th November at the Cambridge Theatre. Congratulations to both Alegria and Natan for reaching the Final. Thank you to Mrs Jacobson and Mrs Serfaty for supporting our students. It is a remarkable achievement for two students from the same school to have reached the Final.


Editorial 14.10.2021

Dear Parents,

We had our Open Evenings this week which provide an opportunity to reflect on what we are seeking to do as a school (or legally two schools). What came out in speech after speech was that achievement is great and we celebrate and encourage it, but what is really fundamental is how we nurture the character of our young people.

We measure our success in the impact our students have on the world around them. Some will get brilliant university results and will have prestigious careers, but all of them can seek to help those around them, to remain true to their values and be a role model for others, taking the principle of Torah im Derech Eretz with them and being ambassadors for the school. Our school reward system is based on the acronym HASMO – honesty, achievement, sensitivity, middot, optimism. We can all reflect on how far we measure up to these values in our own lives.

Wishing you a good Shabbos.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs K Brice
Hasmonean High School for Girls

Young Writers’ Competition – Extract from WIZO Facebook

WIZO, together with The Jewish News and PJ Library in the UK held the prize giving ceremony for their Young Writers’ Competition. The pupils put pen to paper and wrote about the topic ‘Courage’ and the winner in the high school category was Maya G. Ms Brice accompanied Ariella G, who accepted the prizes on Maya’s behalf. Guest judge, Ivor Baddiel, described Maya’s essay as magical. Maya and the Hasmonean English department were each gifted an iPad.

Photo from Wizo FB page:
L-R: Maureen Fisher, WIZOuk CEO, Lauren Hamburger, Director of PJ Library in the UK, Ariella G (rep. of Maya G collecting the prizes on her behalf), Daisy W, guest judge Ivor Baddiel, Daniel S, Annabel Stelzer, WIZO Chair and Fran Wolfisz of The Jewish News


Simchat Beit HaShoevah – Girls’ School

On Thursday 23rd September, Chol Hamoed Succot, the Girls’ School Hall resonated with the sounds of music, laughter and song as around 200 girls (Years 7-8 followed by Years 9-13) had the most fantastic evening.

With waffles on offer and the HIPE team to hand, everyone enjoyed a safe and fun-filled evening.

Thank you to Mrs Paster, Mrs Epton, Mrs Rand, Mrs Friedman, Miss Gelley, and Miss Sprei for joining in the fun. And, of course, thanks to the one and only Kevin, without whom no school event would be complete.


Girls’ School Erev Yom Kippur

The Erev Yom Kippur Yom Iyun was short, yet perfectly formed.

HIPE ran a fun, informative and interactive session with Years 7-9. They explored the three key concepts of Tefilla, Teshuva and Tzedaka. These words are repeated throughout the day, they are both simple and profound and unlock the intricacies of the Yom Kippur Tephilla. They looked at everyday habits, which can be so hard to break, and linked this to the concept of Teshuva. The students were asked to write down aspects of their lives that they could improve upon, ranging from the general ‘ME’ to the more specific ‘to be more careful about how I say Shema’. The third task was to choose a time frame to take on the new habit, such as ‘Once a week I will really focus on my Shema’. This was written on its own small notecard.

Moving onto Tephilla, HIPE presented two options: all the girls agreed that it was unfair that if one person was late to class, the whole class should have detention; most also agreed that if a few girls did well, everyone could have an ice cream party! This suggests that we do want to be a part of a community so we can benefit from the good that so many do. Hence the fact that the language of Tephilla on Yom Kippur is in the plural. To create a practical approach to this, each student was given a bookmark with the words ‘One who davens for another…will himself first be answered.’ On the reverse was a name of another student. Going forward, this markers, in the siddur of each student could focus their Tephilla on another student.

The activity continued with each student tying her notecard to a biodegradable balloon, to be released outside. Rabbi Fachler explained that human beings are the only creation who can look up. We look up to Hashem when we are in trouble, and we look up when we are full of joy. With that, hundreds of pink and yellow balloons were joyfully released.

Parts of the programme were run by the JS staff who explored the theme of appreciating Yom Kippur as a day of opportunity to change and start the new year with a clean slate. The students explored the obstacles to meaningful change based on the writings of Rabbi Dr Avraham Twersky and spoke about how to overcome negative labels that we have placed on ourselves. The session finished with the students filling cards to put in their Machzor with their hopes and prayers for the year ahead.

Years 10 and 11 also heard Rabbi Peretz Goldstein, of SEED in Borehamwood. He wove in a great range of personal anecdotes to show the girls that Judaism is a religion of love. Even though we argue with our friends and family, we do all love each other. Even though we may ‘argue’ with Hashem, He still loves us. He is ‘Avinu Av HaRachaman’; our Father who loves us. However, why is He ‘Avinu’ and not ‘Imenu’- our Mother? The comparison Rabbi Goldstein brought was from a Holocaust story, where mothers had to choose which child to save. A mother’s love is individually focussed on each child, whereas a father’s love is less targeted. We want a father’s love on Yom Kippur as it is unconditional. Yet, we must also fear a father in a way that we do not fear a mother.

He developed the concept of Teshuva by breaking it down into small chunks, using the idea that ‘big ideas define little people and little ideas define big people.’ Start small. Each small step in personal change create huge growth in a person.

The Sixth Form were privileged to hear a very special speaker, Mrs Chavi Teller. Immediately after giving birth, Chavi was placed in an induced coma with Covid-19 pneumonia. They heard the story of her life-changing recovery and why the hospital staff nicknamed her “the miracle lady.”

Thank you to Rabbi Bennett, the HIPE and all the JS staff who created this inspirational programme, taking the girls into Yom Kippur in a way which will empower their Tephilla.