Dr Mett Farewell

Last week Hasmonean said farewell to Dr Mett, who has taught A-level Maths for the past 40 years. He joined Hasmonean as a second form pupil back in 1957, skipping a year and rising to the fourth form. The friends he made at Hasmonean have remained his lifelong friends – indeed, as he flew to Israel on Monday to begin his new life in Jerusalem with his children and grandchildren, an old school friend was on the same plane. Dr Mett and his contemporaries have all given to the community; they include R’ Gershon Hager, Judge Jonathan Weingarten, R’ Binyomin Moscovits of Midrash Shmuel, and R’Oppenheimer of Gateshead.

After leaving Hasmonean, Dr Mett learned in Gateshead, and then took up a place at Gonville and Caius to read Mathematics. He shared rooms with another former Hasmonean alumni, Michael Weiselberg. There weren’t many religious Jews in Cambridge in the 1960s, but there were enough to support each other and enjoy the canteen at Thompson’s Lane. From Cambridge, Dr Mett completed a PhD in Physics at the University of Surrey.

So, how did Dr Mett end up teaching at his alma mater? He had a full time job lecturing at the Open University, which was based in Milton Keynes. His Department Head encouraged working from home, which meant that there was time in his schedule. In 1978 he was called by Mr Stanton as the school needed a Maths teacher for the Sixth Form. He joined on a temporary basis…which lasted 40 years!

Although not an accredited teacher, with his ‘vintage’ degree and with maths being a shortage subject, Dr Mett, as he said in our interview ‘got away with it’. It was not a difficult transition as the boys in his classes tended to be more mature and motivated. One of his stand out moments was when a former pupil, Rabbi David Meyer, became his boss! He has always loved teaching, crediting his success as being due to the fact that he has always taught what he is enthusiastic about, and he hope that he has passed this enthusiasm on to his students. When his teaching was observed, his colleague, Mrs Epton said he would always humbly ask how he could have improved his teaching. The response was that his teaching was exemplary and very little needed improving. The lessons were always outstanding. Two of his most recent students, Noga B and Zara A-P said that ‘Dr Mett is a wonderful teacher who always goes to great lengths to ensure we understood all the material. We looked forward to each of his lessons and were very lucky to have been taught by him.’

Now that he has retired, Dr Mett intends to keep up his learning with his existing Chavrutot via Zoom and to enjoy his family in Israel.

Rabbi Golker remarked that ‘I am a “talmid chaver” of Dr Mett. A student turned colleague. But it is not just in school that I have learned to respect and admire Dr Mett. He is a stalwart of our kehilla leading many worthy communal enterprises with dignity and dedication. Perhaps the most famous is the Netz minyan which Dr Mett has run for decades, which at the height of summer means a 4am start!’ He continued: ‘Dr Mett is a role model in integrity, humility, dedication and yiras shomayaim (fear of heaven) and will be sorely missed not just in the Hasmonean family, but in Anglo Jewry as a whole.’

Mr McClusky said at the farewell event that his career since 1978 spans eight UK Prime Ministers (since James Callaghan) and a similar number of Hasmonean Headteachers or Executive Headteachers. The fact that his life as student was spent at Hasmonean means that his whole life has been dedicated in one or way or another to the institution. This is a truly remarkable achievement.

He is held in the highest esteem even until today by students and the whole Hasmonean community owes him an immense debt of gratitude for his lifetime of service.

Girls’ School Year 11 Shabbaton

Our Girls’ HIPE team are really something very special. Last Shabbat, they organised a wonderful Shabbaton for our Year 11 girls. With the aid of our exceptional Kevin, the hall was transformed into a banqueting space. The HIPE team also utilised the girls’ skills to create welcome packs, decorate the hall, create games, serve meals, and do the all-important toranut. With a theme of balance, they achieved the balance of the girls enjoying Shabbat together, as well as being invested in the entire experience.

Highlights included games led by Year 11 students, Rabbi Birnbaum and his family walking from Edgware to run a programme, and Rabbi Golker and his wife walking up to present a Q&A session and to speak at Seuda Shlishit.

The staff who attended on Friday night were phenomenal, losing a night’s sleep to ensure that Friday night was calm. Thank you to the night shift, which included Mrs Canoville, Miss Gelley, Miss Simonsson and our HIPE team.

A group of ten alumni (and Mrs Ellerman) walked up towards the end of Shabbat. These older girls spent time schmoozing and learning with the Year 11s – giving ideas about life after Year 11. One of the attendees described the Shabbaton as ‘exceptionally amazing’, running smoothly and creating the perfect balance of guided time and time just to chill.

The HIPE team were thrilled to be able to send off the students with such a positive last ‘Hasmo’ experience, and a well-deserved weekend together after showing such a balanced and positive attitude over the past 15 months.

Boys’ School – Junior Kangaroo Maths

Another set of fantastic results for the Junior Kangaroo Maths 2021. After getting Gold in the JMC 2021, 4 of our students qualified for the Junior Kangaroo for Maths. Three of them have been awarded a Merit Certificate which places them in the top 25% of the students qualified for the Junior Kangaroo.

The three students are:
• Boaz A 103 marks
• Sam T 103 marks
• Shimon W 98 marks

The fourth student is Rafi S, who got 85 marks. This is also a very decent result as it is very close to the threshold for a Merit Certificate.

Congratulations to the students and to their teacher Mr Francos.

Year 13 Girls’ School Shabbaton

The Hasmo Hotel reopened last weekend for some very special guests: the Year 13 graduates.

Mrs Paster, Miss Simonsson, Mrs Naylor, and Mrs Brice were the brave teachers who slept overnight at school. Ms Valencia was with them on Friday night, Miss Gelley walked up in the morning to join the girls, and Rabbi Bennett and his family walked over for lunch.

The theme was ‘Transitioning and Making the Right Choices’, with a group of alumni walking over to learn with the girls on that theme. Shiurim were also given by Mrs Paster and Miss Gelley. There was a novel ‘backwards panel’ where different girls were asked questions about their experiences of Hasmonean.

Thank you again to HIPE team who have really given their all to ensure these girls have had a magnificent end to their time at Hasmonean. Although, as we always say ‘you can take the girl out of Hasmonean, but you can’t take Hasmonean out of the girl’.

Boys’ School Activities Event

The annual Activities Event 2021 kicked off with a range of trips heading out from Hasmonean Boys. Coaches were filled with excited boys from Years 7-10. Five coaches were headed towards paintballing, one to water sports and two to trampolining and mini golf. It was an exciting day full of flips and tricks throughout. The lads were helped by the wonderful weather which ensured that rain did not stop play!

On Tuesday many of the students were hosted by Power League for the football tournament of the century. For those who preferred not to play football, they were able to spend the day on site for Grand Hasmo Day filled with inflatables, music, gaming, cooking and art sessions. Thanks to some of our amazing staff for running these fantastic sessions.

To end it all off we had Sports Day 2021 which was filled with new personal bests, photo finishes and competitive spirit. The boys enjoyed a range of team challenges, as well as the more traditional and highly competitive races. Thanks to Mr Tutty and Mr Sharpe for organising such an exciting day to end off a phenomenal few days!


Girls’ School Activities Event

The annual Activities Event kicked off to a great start on Monday. The girls marched up to Hendon Rugby Club for a somewhat different Sports Day. The first half of the day saw them attempt a range of challenges which included throwing balls into targets, hula hoop relays, netball shooting, obstacle courses, and hockey slaloms. Team leaders from each year group and a host of enthusiastic staff ensured that everyone had a fun morning. After lunch, the more traditional events began: shot putt, javelin and a range of races. Again, the team leaders ensured that as many girls as possible had a chance to compete. And, even if you weren’t competing, it was a perfectly sunny day to hang out in the grass and cheer your friends on!

On Tuesday, the girls enjoyed Theme Park Day: Years 7 and 8 went to Chessington and Years 9 and 10 to Thorpe Park.

Wednesday saw a phenomenal Grand Hasmo at the Girls’ School, with Mrs Jacobson and Mrs Miller deftly organising 357 students into four different slots to do activities such as fencing, mug painting, dance, sculpturing Easter Island inspired heads with Mr Bazen, inflatables, table tennis, football and beginners First Aid. One group of girls were given the chance to decorate Mrs Jacobson’s English classroom with a magnificent Macbeth mural. Thank you to our indefatigable events manager, Mr Tutty who ensured that everyone was in the right bubble at the right time going to the right event! Our Activities Event was more of a challenge to pull off than in past years and it was wonderful to see staff and students enjoying being at Hasmonean in a more relaxed environment.

Our trip to Winchester

On Wednesday 23rd June, we went to Winchester. It was fantastic! I must say, before this trip I really didn’t know anything about Winchester: to be honest it really wasn’t at the top of my priority list but, little did I know, it should have been!

On Wednesday morning we were all ready and set to head off. We got on to the coaches and began our journey. Finally, after around two and a half hours we arrived! As we drove in, I was blown away, it was nothing like I had expected: I knew it would be a nice area but I had no idea how just how nice!
You know when you see something and at just one glimpse and you instantly adore it, well that’s exactly how I felt when we made our way to the beautiful park. The grass was a perfect green, not one weed in sight, the gorgeous flowers rustled in the breeze. Their stunning detailed petals floated away, it was like a painting in a fairy-tale book – it was mesmerizing, oh and by the way we hadn’t even started the trip yet! We then split into our groups and started a treasure hunt, searching for different clues found in a booklet we had received about the history of Winchester.

We passed some incredible shops whilst looking for clues, made entirely of wood, and might I add everyone was so friendly. When we had a question about a place we needed to find, we asked a random person who looked pretty knowledgeable and a few seconds into the conversation she and the teacher were having a full blown chat!

Once we had finished our hunt we went back to the delightful park and had lunch there, and we even got some cute little keychains with a picture of Winchester on it! Back to the coach and on to the next place! At this point I had no idea where we were going but, if it was anything like the place before, I was very glad.

As we arrived there was no surprise to me that it was just as beautiful as the place before … if anything it was better! I then saw a sign saying ‘Jane Austen’s house’. Her real house! Wow! So that was awesome but you know what was even more awesome … we got to go in! As I entered I was astonished this place was absolutely delightful! We saw her room, her kitchen, her garden, let me just say that was very enchanting, we even saw her dining room and everything else in her house. It was all so old and most of the things were original, it was just amazing! After a really good look at her charming house, we started to head back.

Another two hours to get back and finally we arrived at school. I’m so glad I went: it was a trip I will never forget – I couldn’t wait to get home and tell everyone about it!

Thank you to Mrs Abecasis for organising this amazing trip and to all the staff who joined Year 7 and Year 8 to make the day such a success.

By Dinah Bernadout Year 8


Girls’ School Event – AJEX

We feel extremely privileged to have interviewed Jewish veterans and family members of veterans who have served or are currently serving in the British armed forces. Through AJEX, this opportunity provided us with valuable insight into the Jewish experience of the British armed forces, and we learned that antisemitism in the army is not as common as one may predict it to be. In fact, other soldiers often demonstrated increased respect and interest for their Jewish colleagues.

This was very interesting to learn, and perhaps a fact that should be shared as a means of encouragement – the veterans interviewed all felt that they represented the Jewish community in the military world. The experiences of those being interviewed were vast. We spoke to a surgeon who practised in the context of battle, and learnt that most wounds he treated were disease and sickness related, rather than injury related. Of course, it was particularly insightful to hear first-hand descriptions of the 6-day war in 1967, and another interviewee spoke of his experiences of living in London during the Blitz.

Many questions were addressed to Dan Fox, who is still serving in the military, and he answered questions regarding confidentiality. He taught us of a 30-year “mark” that should be passed before soldiers share details of their experiences, and described the various rankings of the army and ways in which ranking is prohibited from speaking of their experiences. Another interviewee described his time in submarines and gliders, and revealed that he would often return from missions unable to speak of them to his family. He said that this was difficult, but also very necessary.

Some questions surrounded the veterans’ feelings towards their experiences. A common denominator of all those interviewed was their warm feeling towards their former or current colleagues, who they referred to as their “brothers.” Each of them spoke fondly of their memories, and described the friendships that serving in the British military evoked. Overall, this was a rare and extremely interesting experience, which we found both intellectually stimulating and heart-warming.

Thank you to Mrs Yaros for rising to the challenge of Zoom and creating this event.

Written by Alyssa T, Year 13

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!