This has been wonderful week of learning. Not just for the students, but for the staff as well. We began the week with a staff development day focused on Leader In Me. We spent most of our time on our current mission and vision of VTHS and where we are headed in regard to bringing in this framework of leadership for our students and staff. Later in the week, Mr. Joseph, Mr. Rodgers, Rabbi Semmel and I went down to High Tech High in San Diego to see project-based learning in action. This was our second staff trip. Rabbi Felt, Mr. Paradzik, Rabbi Samuels and I went last time. This trip was organized by the I.D.E.A. Schools Network of which Valley Torah is a founding school and is generously funded by a grant from the Joshua Venture Group. We spent time with the C.E.O. Larry Rosenstock, met students and teachers, saw amazing classes and engaged in discussions with representatives from YULA, Shalhevet, Kohelet and Yeshiva Lab who were in attendance. A special thank you to my co-founder of the network, Tikvah Wiener who made this trip happen. In both of these learning experiences culture was a prominent theme. Specifically, a culture that promotes growth, change and innovation is critical to success. However, to support this culture you must focus on, as Dr. Todd Whitaker says, the people not the programs.
On the top ten list of what parents and teachers have to watch out for is not losing their credibility. When a parent threatens a child with a consequence and doesn’t follow through or when they make a promise and can’t carry it out – they lose credibility. That leaves a child without the security he needs from his parents. It also results in children having diminished respect for their parents. Both the need for security and the need to respect one’s parents are critical in a child’s development.
The Torah highlight the importance of maintaining credibility even in a situation that appears to be harsh. Parshas Tezaveh is unique in that from the first time Moshe Rebbenu’s name is mentioned in the Torah, his name continues to appear in each parsha until the final Parsha of Vezos Habroacah. Yet, in this weeks Parsha Moshe’s name is not mentioned at all. The commentaries explain that after the sin of the golden calf Hashem wanted to destroy the Bnei Yisroel, Moshe had to plead with Hashem to the extent that he begged Hashem to forgive them and if not “than erase my name from the Torah” (Shmos 32:32). Once Moshe made that declaration to be erased from the Torah even though Hashem did forgive Bnei Yisroel however, because of the rule “Tzadik Gozer V’Hashem Mekayaim” that what a righteous person decrees Hashem fulfills – his pronouncement to be erased from the entire Torah had to be at least, partially fulfilled.
All Boys Division students and alumni are invited to our Annual Purim Chagigah on Wednesday night, March 4 starting at 10:00 PM. Our chagigah is 0% alcohol, but 100% simcha. See for yourself below:
This is the latest segment of the weekly video series from Rabbi Stulberger – You’ve Been Called to the Dean’s Office. It’s a short (four minute) message on a timely Torah topic. This week’s message: “The Human Factor.”
This rare video taken before the start of the First Kennisiah Gedolah in 1923 shows the saintly Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, entering the event (0:56).
I was reading an article this week entitled “Passion takes a teacher from being merely good to great” written by Adrian Furnham for The London Telegraph. In it he argues, “Teachers can, and do, change lives. They can light candles in the darkest mind. They can mold beliefs and behaviors, setting an example to follow. They can determine choice of university and degree course. They can have a direct impact on careers”. He then asks, “So what makes an inspirational teacher? First, there is the enthusiasm, even passion, for their subject. They show the thrill and pleasure of acquiring skills and knowledge in a particular area. And they are able to communicate this. Indeed they cannot hide it. You can’t easily fake passion – or at least not over a sustained period. All great teachers are passionate”.
This idea is alluded to us in this weeks parsha when the Torah drops the letter “yud” in the word Nessiim. This weeks parsha talks about the different items donated for the building of the Mishkan. The Torah lists the “Avnei Shoam and Avnei Miluim” the precious stones that adorned the Eiphod, last. These stones were the most valuable and expensive items donated to the Mishkan, nevertheless, they are mentioned last, as insignificant, because of how they got there.
The commentaries explain that the Nessim, who brought them, had declared that they will provide anything that was needed that the Bnei Yisroel didn’t bring. The Torah tells us that the Bnei Yisroel’s response to provide material for the Mishkon was overwhelming and the only thing that remained missing were the Anei Shoam and Avnei Miluim. While the Nesiim’s intentions was justifiable and one could argue even noble, they were still called to task for it.
Rashi tells us that the flaw in their reasoning was it demonstrated a lack of enthusiasm and passion to have a part in the building of the Mishkan. Rashi commenting on the missing Vav in their name says, that since they were lazy (we will discuss “lazy” in a future blog) the Torah dropped a letter from the word Nesiim. R’ Chaim Shmulevitz explains that the laziness they displayed stemmed from a lack of altruism which stemmed from them not valuing the cause. R’ Chaim says if the Nessim would have been passionate about giving to the Mishkan, then even though they had a good reason for holding back their gift (So they can give whatever was missing) they would have not been able to, they would not have been able to sit idly and wait until after the Bnei Yisroel had finished giving their donations. The Nesiim as leaders failed their people by not modeling and promoting a passion for Torah and Mitzvos and as a result their gift was relegated to the bottom of the list.
Mr. Furnham at the end of his article highlights something we as parents can take away. He asks “And why are inspirational teachers the way they are? Intelligence, knowledge, a variety of skills or all of the above. But most say they became teachers or lecturers because they themselves had an inspirational teacher. So it’s not genetic… but it certainly is passed on”. This is what we as parents can pass on to our children – we have to become passionate about living a life as a Torah Jew and with Hashem’s help we will then be able to pass that on to our children.
If you want your children to do something that is not so natural for them to do you need to show them how to do it? The most effective way to show them is for you to become passionate about it. Find areas that you can become passionate about and display that enthusiasm. It is contagious. Lets take Teffilah an area that is extremely difficult for most teenagers – if we as parents show some passion for it can spread it to our children. Look for a part of davening that talks to you, that is meaningful to you and talk about it, let it spill out of your mouth as if you can’t control your excitement about it- If we can do that, our children will be able to too.
This was a jam-packed week of learning, professional development for the administration, a visit from a congressman and a beautiful Rosh Chodesh Davening with a fun and entertaining Rosh Chodesh Adar breakfast. There are so many things about this week that I want to share and will hopefully share some of it in future posts. However, in the spirit of Adar I chose to focus on our school spirit.
This Wednesday the Wolfpack dominated their first playoff game and we are all proud of their accomplishment. Now, as many of you know, I have tried to get us to “howl” more at games to support the team. Some of you have howled and some of you have not. Why isn’t everyone howling? Well, it dawned on me that maybe howling is too hard. So, I decided to do some auditions from the animal kingdom to see if we could come up with a better howl. I videotaped the auditions for all of you to see and, in the end, the winner was clear. Hopefully, now we will realize that there is no alternative to the classics and we should all continue to support our team on the road to the CIF with a strong howl! Good Luck Wolfpack and whatever happens we could not be prouder of the season you are having.
Here are the auditions:
Valley Torah Girls celebrated Rosh Chodesh Adar by spending Thursday afternoon in the park. The girls enjoyed a delicious lunch and had fun playing a school-wide game. Thank you to Mrs. Shira Pollack and to the Rosh Chodesh Committee for planning such an enjoyable afternoon. Chodesh Tov!
This is the latest segment of the weekly video series from Rabbi Stulberger – You’ve Been Called to the Dean’s Office. It’s a short (four minute) message on a timely Torah topic. This week’s message: “Mandatory or L’shma… or Both?”
The Boys Division celebrated Rosh Chodesh Adar with a breakfast extravaganza. Scrambled eggs, donuts, bagels and chocolate milk helped nourished the boys’ appetites, while divrei Torah, singing, awards and a special surprise performance satisfied their souls.
Valley Torah up 13-3 with 4:00 in 1st Q.
VT leading 17-3 with 3:15 in 1st. Max Leibowitz makes a free throw.
25-3 with 1:00 in 1st
End of first-quarter Valley Torah leads 28-3.
2nd Q begins: we lead 31-3 with 6:00 left in the half.
35-8 with 4:00
40-10 with 2:00
End of the first half, Valley Torah leads 45 to 10.
Second half, VT leads 50 to 12 with 5:45 in third Q.
54-14 with 3:45
63-14 with 2:08
End of third-quarter, Valley Torah leads 67 to 19.
Fourth quarter: 69-19 with 6:00 in the game.
73-21 with 3:45
Final score: Valley Torah 81 – Newbury Adventist 24.
The VTHS Varsity Basketball team will be playing Newbury Park Adventist tonight in game one of the CIF Section 5A Playoffs.
The game will tip off at 8:00 PM at Bell-Jeff High School in Burbank. There is a $10 admission fee.
For those that will not be able to physically attend, you can virtually join us by following the live blog of the game here at http://www.vths.org.
Valley Torah is seeded 7th in CIF Division 5A. The first playoff game is scheduled for Wednesday. Click on the brackets below for a printable version.