Editorial 19.05.2022

Dear Parent,

The first exam season for three years is successfully underway and we hope for a good outcome when the results are published. It seems from their general demeanour, that for most of our students, the arrival of exams has actually come as a relief. This is hardly surprising as we have a tendency to exaggerate the awfulness of an event which we are dreading. We play it through in our mind and imagine the worst so the reality is often a pleasant surprise. This tendency to catastrophise has been made much worse by the pandemic. This makes the celebration of festivals like Lag B’Omer all the more important. It was lovely to see boys and girls taking time out in the sunshine to relax and have a good time and focus on something other than academic work for a few hours.

Wishing you all a Good Shabbos.

Mrs K Brice
Headteacher
Hasmonean High School for Girls

Editorial 12.05.2022

Dear Parents,

This week’s parsha, Emor, teaches us that the holiness which we should aspire to reach is not a stable state of being: on the contrary, it is an elevated status that needs to be safeguarded and sanctified. We can only be holy as long as we behave accordingly. Hence, as long as the Kohanim maintain their holiness and they protect the mishkan, Bnei Yisrael stay holy. With the great power of being holy, comes the even greater responsibility not to defile the holiness.

This is a message that we reiterate to our students regularly: we each have the power to sanctify our time and space, every day and in every way. The day may be mundane, the daily grind of school may be difficult but we have the power to make our day and our experiences holy.

We were honoured to welcome an Israeli farmer to the Boys’ School this week who spoke to the students about keeping shemitah during this year: the boys thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the farmer’s ‘spiritual’ experiences.

Have a wonderful Shabbos.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs D Lebrett
Headteacher
Hasmonean High School for Girls

Editorial 05.05.2022

Dear Parents and Carers,

Making Our Days Count

Chazal teach that the period of Sefiras Ha’Omer is meant to be one of introspection and growth.

I once heard an insightful question on the Omer from Rabbi Zev Leff shlita. Rabbi Leff noted that there seems to be a contradiction in the way we count. We count the days at the beginning of each day and the weeks at the end of each week. To be consistent we should either do both at the beginning or both at the end.

Rabbi Leff answered that the way we count teaches us a lesson of how to best use the Sefira. Often when we embark on a journey of teshuva or spiritual growth, we take too big a jump. Mechanchim in the kiruv yeshivos discourage rapid movement as it is difficult to maintain. It is far better to make small, concrete strides.

Our counting each day reflects this. We count at the beginning of each day to show that each day is a separate small unit. We want to improve but recognise that the best way to do so is in small strides.

However, in order not to become despondent by the seemingly small successes, it is important to sometimes take stock of our achievements. We therefore look back at the end of each week and assess our progress. That is why we count at the end of each week. Slowly, slowly, the small successes add up to something quite substantial.

Take Daf Yomi. Each day another page. But not before too long, many perokim and masechtos are covered.

The way we count, therefore, guides us as to how we should utilise the precious days of the Sefira. Counting at the beginning of each day reminds us to make small goals and counting at the end of each week encourages us to take stock and hopefully look back with pride at our achievements.

The summer term is a time for just this. We can take stock and pride in the accomplishments of the tumultuous two previous terms but plan to move forward with concrete, realistic and at the same time ambitious goals for the period ahead.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi J Golker
Menahel

Editorial 28.04.2022

Dear Parents and Carers,

Some time ago, I commissioned an independent review of our provision for students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) with the aim of improving this area to ensure that we are prioritising the needs of students with SEND and are a fully inclusive institution.

To fully abide by our ethos of Torah im Derech Eretz, we need to be a fully inclusive school that considers the quality of the children with SEND’s experiences across all areas of their school life and supports them to the extent that they need it. To become the best that we can be in this area we need to undergo transformational change, for example in regard to how we allocate funding and resources, the quality and breadth of our provision, our learning and teaching and, most importantly, our attitudes and values and our partnership with parents.

I’d like to thank Dr Alexander-Passe for his work as SENDCo up until this point and wish him well with his future endeavours. He has now left Hasmonean for what he hopes will be a better home-work balance and we are grateful to him for everything he has given to the SSU.

We will soon be advertising a new enhanced role that will incorporate the role of SENDCo, Inclusion and Inspiration to ensure that SEND is given the status it deserves in the MAT and that children with SEND have an ambassador at a more senior level. We will be inviting in the person who undertook the independent review to be part of the interview process for this new role, alongside a representative from Barnet Local Authority and a panel of parents who have children with SEND. The person who undertook the independent review will be assisting with their induction and will be supporting them to review the staffing structure and the action points from the review.

One very important part of this process of transformational change will be to ensure that we are getting regular feedback from children with SEND and from their parents to ensure that our ambitious plans for this area are having demonstrable impact on our students’ opportunities, happiness, wellbeing and progress. I look forward to sharing with you the impact of those changes over the coming months.

With kind regards,

Mr A McClusky
CEO, Hasmonean MAT

Editorial 07.04.2022

Dear Parent/Carers,

It is the end of another term and, as is often the case, this means we have to say goodbye to some members of staff.

Mr Lindall, our Director of Science, is taking up a new post at Saracens as Assistant Principal. Mr Boxer, who has been both an English teacher and in charge of Years 8 and 9 at the Boys’ School, is taking on a new challenge as Assistant Head at Pardes House. We wish both Mr Lindall and Mr Boxer well in their new roles, they will be much missed at Hasmonean but we are grateful to them for what they have achieved in their time with us.

For the past two years, a huge number of our communication with you has been dominated by covid. We are now in a period when we are learning to live with the virus. This means we are no longer giving out tests and, if your child does test positive, they only need to isolate for 3 days provided they are feeling well and do not have a high temperature.

These changes are a reminder that life is never static, there is always some new challenge to be faced. Sometimes challenges can seem overwhelming and that may be how some of our Year 13 and Year 11 students are feeling. One of the Year 12 girls shared her way of dealing with obstacles, she said she broke them down until they were in manageable chunks, usually with the help of others and that team work was what got her through.

This seems a good message as we prepare for Pesach.

Wishing you all a chag sameach Pesach.

Mrs K Brice
Headteacher
Hasmonean High School

Editorial – 31.03.2022

UPDATED INFORMATION ON CATERING SUPPLIERS – 05.04.2022

Dear Parents/Carers,

We are delighted to inform you that our catering supplier has decided to retract their notice to terminate their contract with us. We will work together with them to try and make it more financially viable for them to continue supplying to our schools.

As a result, when we return after the Pesach break, there will be food supplied by Signature both in the morning and lunch breaks.

Wishing you all a chag kasher v’sameach.

Mrs D Lebrett, Headteacher, Hasmonean High School for Boys
Mrs K Brice, Headteacher, Hasmonean High School for Girls
Rabbi J Golker, Menahel, Hasmonean MAT

 

Dear Parents/Carers,

We regret to inform you that our catering supplier has decided to terminate their contract with us. Rising supply costs have meant that it is no longer financially viable for them to continue supplying to our schools.

As a result, when we return after the Pesach break, there will be no food supplied by the school for either the morning or lunch breaks.

As a result, all students will be required to bring in a packed lunch daily going forward, and a snack for break time if they would like to. All food and drinks brought into the school must of course be kosher.

We will be sending out information regarding students who receive Free School Meals over the next few days so that they continue to receive what they are entitled to.

Please be reassured that we are looking into other providers of school lunches ready for September 2022 and we will keep you updated as soon as we have more information to share with you.

We are sorry that this will cause you inconvenience but unfortunately this is due to circumstances beyond our control.

With best wishes and good Shabbos,

 

Mrs D Lebrett, Headteacher, Hasmonean High School for Boys
Mrs K Brice, Headteacher, Hasmonean High School for Girls
Rabbi J Golker, Menahel, Hasmonean MAT

Editorial 24.03.2022

Dear Parents and Carers,

Re: Communication Guidelines

We would like to remind you that Hasmonean has 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.

It would be very much appreciated if parents and careers could avoid cc-ing a staff member’s line manager or superior (or a governor) into emails unless there is a specific and valid reason to do so. For routine queries or concerns it would also be helpful if you contacted the relevant member of staff to deal with it rather than starting further up the school’s organisational chain. This not only gives the staff member closest to the matter the opportunity to resolve it but it also prevents bottlenecks further up. However, if the matter relates to a serious concern or requires a middle manager, senior or executive leader to deal with it, then by all means address the query or concern to them. If the Executive Leadership have not managed to resolve your query or concern, then please contact a member of the relevant governing body via l.oskis@hasmonean.co.uk

A link to the guidelines, which are also shared with staff, can be found here: https://hasmoneanmat.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Communication-Guidelines-March-2022.pdf

The contact details for staff can be found on the individual schools’ websites:

https://hasmoneanboys.org.uk/contact/

https://hasmoneangirls.org.uk/contact/

We hope that all members of the Hasmonean community will find the 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

Editorial 16 03 2022

Dear Parent,

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 2022. Covid turned our world upside down and we slowly emerge to find a world at war.

But we should take comfort in the message of Purim. We may be in a precarious state, but we will get through this, we will prevail. And just like Purim follows Ta’anis Esther, we hope and pray that light will follow darkness.

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

Rabbi J Golker
Menahel

Editorial 10.03.2022

Dear Parent,

כָל דְּבַשׁ לֹא תַקְטִירוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אִשֶּׁה לַה’ … עַל כָּל קָרְבָּנְךָ תַּקְרִיב מֶלַח

Our parsha tells us that we are not allowed to add honey to a korban (sacrifice) but must add salt. Why?

Even though honey and salt are both used to flavour foods, they each have a very different effect. Honey serves to sweeten and distort the natural flavour of the food whereas salt helps bring out the natural flavour.

Helping each child identify his strengths and weaknesses is a critical role of parenting and chinuch. So is helping the child have the confidence to become who he or she can become and not imitate another.

This is something we really strive for at Hasmonean.

The Gemara (Berachos 17a) tells us that when the Chachomim took leave of each other they would say: “Olomecho tireh bechayecho. May you see your world during your lifetime.” What exactly does that mean?

Rav Shimon Schwab, explained this Gemara as follows. The word Olomecho (your world) is connected to the word he’elomecha (the part of you which is concealed). A person’s world is the part of him which has not yet seen light of day, the part that is still potential. Realising that full potential is the work of a lifetime.

This was the blessing our Chachomim wished each other. May you see the world during your lifetime. May you achieve during your sojourn in this world the full realisation of all the potential Hashem has invested in you.

Realising that potential requires salt, not honey.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi J Golker
Menahel

Editorial 03.03.2022

Dear Parents,

In a week where the external news has been so grim, it was heartening to see the amazing effort put in by so many people to enable us to have our most successful fund raising campaign thus far.

211 teams, 4263 donors and over £1.7 million raised. These are amazing and heart-warming statistics. It was very moving to read the messages of support which came in and to know how much Hasmonean is valued in the community. We are humbled by the trust placed in us to educate the next generation and strive daily to inculcate the values of Rabbi Dr Schonfeld and to produce young men and women of whom we can all be justly proud who will take their place in the world as confident Jews.

We are so grateful to all the donors whose generosity makes it possible to put into practice many of the initiatives we have planned to improve the education we offer even more and to provide timely and effective support to those who are experiencing challenges.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your continued support.

Shabbat Shalom!

Mrs K Brice
Headteacher
Hasmonean High School for Girls

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Dear Parents,

We are delighted to inform you that Hasmonean’s 36-hour fundraising campaign blasted through the initial £1.2m target and exceeded the bonus target of £1.7m.

We are hugely indebted to the boundless generosity and energy of the following people. First, we must pay tribute to Fundraising Chair and MAT trustee Ben Shooter and his wife Katie Shooter who have now raised over £10m for Hasmonean since 2015. This speaks for itself: it is a truly astonishing achievement. Heartfelt gratitude to all that they have given and continue to give to Hasmonean.

Campaign leads Jodi Benaim and Dalia Leaf have worked tirelessly to ensure that this campaign was a huge success. The effort they have put into this campaign from its outset to its end has been phenomenal and the funds raised are testament to this. Enormous thanks to them and their families for the time and boundless energy they have given to this campaign.

Huge thanks go to the rest of the fundraising committee Jackie Benjamin, Steven Blumgart, Daniel Green, Yossi Goldberg, Yossi Halberstadt, Moshe Klajman, Miriam Landau, Dawn Murray, Shira Rabson and Benji Shebson all of whom worked assiduously to ensure the success of the campaign.

We are deeply indebted to all of the school’s trustees, governors and community members who personally provided or secured the matched funding for the campaign. Without their financial backing, this campaign would simply not have got off the ground.
We are grateful to the many, many parents, students and staff members who worked tirelessly either to maximise the community’s donations and to those whose own families gave so generously.

Without the combined efforts of each segment of the community, Hasmonean would not be able to remain the flagship Orthodox Jewish institution that it is today. Thanks to you, Hasmonean will not only continue to survive but will flourish.

With heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this campaign such a fabulous success.

Thank you so, so much everyone!

 

Mr Gary Swabel – Chair of Trustees
Mr Andrew McClusky – CEO