experiments, instruments & measurement book

A Request from the Grieving Widows & Families

Posted by Ben Alpert in In the News


Our hearts are heavy with the images of praying rabbis wrapped in talitot and tefillin being slaughtered in an Israel synagogue. As we enter Shabbat, the words of their families can help lead us to healing and hope. Below is a letter from the Levin, Goldberg, Kupinksy, and Twersky families:

A request from the grieving widows and families:

From the depth of our broken hearts and with tears over the murder of the holy victims, the heads of our families, we turn to our brothers and sisters, every Jew, wherever you are, and request that we all join together as one, to bring heavenly mercy upon us. Therefore, let us accept upon ourselves to increase our love and brotherhood with each other, between each of us, between different groups, and between different communities.

We request that each person endeavors this Friday afternoon before Shabbat Parshat Toldot to sanctify this Shabbat (Erev Rosh Chodesh Kislev) as a day of causeless love, a day on which we all refrain from talking about our differences and grievances against others, and refrain from any slander or evil gossip.

Through this may there be a great merit for the souls of the fathers of our families who were slaughtered for the sanctity of God.

May God look down from above, and see our grief, and wipe away our tears, and proclaim ‘enough with the suffering!’, and may we merit to see the arrival of the Messiah, may it happen speedily in our days, Amen.

Chaya Levin, and family
Brayna Goldberg, and family
Yakova Kupinsky, and family
Basha Twersky, and family

Translated by Rabbi Pini Dunner, Young Israel of North Beverly Hills

Jewish Mothers’ Amulets – Not Enough

Posted by Ben Alpert in In the News


By Cyd Weissman

This week we are one in sadness. I heard people on the right, left and even the “I don’t even give a damn” spectrum, express sadness for the murders of three teenage boys hitchhiking home from school. A friend who almost never discusses Israel texted: “A silent prayer for Gilad, Naftali and Eyal.” At work we were told no posting on social media. When laughter was heard at work, it was followed by the awkward, “no laughter today please,” pause. No one spoke politics. Today we were all parents, siblings and cousins of three murdered Jewish teens.

In our ears we can hear their mothers’ voices that morning they left for school the last time: “Did you take your coat? Be careful, have a good day, love you.” These are the cadences of Jewish mothers.

Rabbi Henry Cohen taught that Jewish mothers used to say phrases like, “button up your coat,” or “eat another bowl of soup” as regularly as “good morning” because their children were sent into an unsafe world. Past the front door, a mother had no control of hoodlums, pogroms or conscriptions. So the extra dose was protection, an amulet, for a world cultured in seeking out Jews, the different ones, as targets for hatred.

In times of quiet, when Jews think they are just like their neighbors, a mother’s learned amulet, passed down from generation to generation, doesn’t go away.

Mothers call out:

“Don’t you think you’ll need a sweater?”
“Don’t go with strangers.”
“Call me when you get there.

Children hear these amulets and roll eyes:
“Don’t you think I know when I need a sweater without you telling me?”

Today’s headlines are a reminder that the world we live in is not so quiet and it is not always safe to be a Jew. Today we remember that we are all Jews, regardless of our political hankerings. Today we stand together in loss.
As my friend texted: a silent prayer for three teenagers who loved basketball, singing and baking, who walked out from their homes into an unsafe world and now have left this world.

And let me ask for a not so silent prayer: this feeling of oneness shared today will hover a little longer so we can work together to make the path beyond our children’s front door a little safer and a little more peaceful.

Hear together, today and tomorrow Rachelli Frankel as she spoke her last amulet to her son
at his funeral, “Rest in peace, my child.”

Ideas on Wheels

Ideas on Wheels
Posted by Ben Alpert in In the News, Jessica Rothbart


By Jessica Rothbart

When thinking about Jewish education, do you start with the problem or do you get stuck with the obvious solution? Hopefully, wherever you are more comfortable starting, you end up in a more innovative and creative place than you thought you would. We’ve heard about thinking outside the box, and in the Coalition of Innovating Congregations, we talk about thinking beyond the classroom. In the book Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity by Keith Sawyer, he asks you to take a problem and before you try and solve it, try to formulate your question differently 10 times. Do you come up with different questions than you thought? Hopefully. But most importantly, it’s a first step in challenges the assumptions that each of us make when answering questions.

Cole Galloway, a researcher in the infant lab at the University of Delaware faced the problem of mobility in children with cognitive and physical disabilities. His mission is to fill  “’an exploration gap’ — the difference between typically developing children and those who suffer from mobility issues due to conditions like cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.” So he made being mobile a little more fun! Instead of using motorized wheelchairs for children younger than five, he is adjusting kids motor cars for every day functionality. The article, which you can read HERE, features a picture of a child who is driving the Disney film Cars’ Mater the tow truck (with improved safety precautions).  This creative solution in action isn’t just cute, it’s inspirational. The next time you’re stuck on a problem, try thinking about it from a different angle or questioning the assumptions you’re making about the solution. Or maybe just take a walk around a Toys “R” Us.


Looking Out for One Another

Looking Out for One Another
Posted by Ben Alpert in Holidays, In the News


By Susie Tessel

the barrel

Click to read The Barrel


Lot of things have been coming to mind recently about the importance of looking after each other. One core value of Judaism and a tenant of the Purim story is:  “Everyone is responsible for one another. ” This value is illustrated in The Barrel story by Rabbi Steven Z. Leder from Three Times Chai: 54 Rabbis Tell Their Favorite Stories. In the story each member of the village assumed they could get away with filling the barrel with water instead of wine. Plenty of examples have been seen throughout history of one’s tendency to turn a blind eye, not take action, or not do their part – assuming someone else will – especially when they are just one of many. We were reminded of one such event this week on the 50th anniversary of the murder of Kitty Genovese, a case made infamous for no one responding to her cries for help. Psychologists studied this tragic event and dubbed it, “The Genovese phenomenon,” or the Bystander Effect, when everyone assumes someone else will take action so they do nothing. In her case, as in many others, no one was prepared to assume responsibility. Judaism has plenty of its own stories to demonstrate this necessity of assuming responsibility. In the Purim story, Esther puts the needs of her people before her own safety. She is not sure whether King Achoshverosh will kill her when she tells him that she is Jewish, but after she decides the needs of the whole are greater than protecting herself, she is rewarded with safety for herself, her people, and the destruction of her enemy, Haman. What opportunities do you see as an educator to instill these values?


Young Pioneers Award 2014

Young Pioneers Award 2014
Posted by Ben Alpert in In the News


Do you know someone who is inspiring today’s Jewish children and teens? Is one of your educators a Jewish education change-maker?

The Jewish Education Project will once again recognize five emerging “Super Stars” from Greater New York, who are bringing Jewish education into the 21st century with the 3nd annual Jewish Education Project Young Pioneers Award.

Click here to access the nomination form!
Application deadline: Tuesday, January 28th, 2014!

Winners will be chosen based on:

  • A commitment to new ideas and innovation
  • Proven use of technology or other innovative approaches to inspire students and families
  • Engaging and motivating colleagues and leadership to also embrace new ideas
  • Designing or implementing new educational initiatives


  • Applicant must work with children or teens (ages 18 or under) in a Jewish educational context, including but not limited to: Early Childhood Education, Teen Engagement, Congregational / Complementary Learning, Day School Education, Family Engagement, or Jewish Camp
  • Applicant must work in New York City, Westchester or Long Island
  • Applicant must be age 36 or younger (by application deadline)
  • Applicant can be nominated by a supervisor, colleague or other professional contact

Winners and their organizations will receive:

  • $360 Professional Development stipend for the award winner
  • Opportunities to connect with other innovative Jewish educators
  • Public recognition at the Young Pioneers Award event and in agency marketing materials


Winners will be recognized at a reception following the 5th annual Jewish Futures Conference held at the New York Academy of Medicine on the evening of May 21st, 2014. Winners and their nominators should ensure their availability on this date.

YPA 2013_3

Learn more about last year’s Young Pioneers Award recipients!

Tikkun olam Creating Unexpected Impact

Tikkun olam Creating Unexpected Impact
Posted by Ben Alpert in In the News


By Jessica Rothbart

How much does congregational education and Jewish Camp influence your life and the lives of others? One’s Jewish educational experience can foster life long relationships and spread tikkun olam world wide.

For this girl, learning to give away her old clothing gained her some very unexpected national recognition when one of her old Bat Mitzvah giveaways ended up in Sub-Saharan Africa 20 years 

toonieslater. Her story was featured on NPR  (listen to the story below) and getting interviewed for  JTA. Today, celebrating someone’s bat mitzvah has turned into a different mitzvah – charity to those in need! Congregational learning really produces mensches!


Gotta love those Bar / Bat Mitzvah shirts!

Gotta love those Bar / Bat Mitzvah shirts!


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