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  1. Challenging Homework: A Recipe for Academic Growth

    Challenging Homework


    Challenging Homework: A Recipe for Academic Growth   

    Many parents report feeling frustrated when their child says: "I don't 'get' my homework - we didn't do this kind of question in class." That frustration, however, can be curbed with the following insight: students are actually best served when they are both encouraged and challenged - yes, to the point of not 'getting' their homework (at first!) and facing feelings of being 'stuck.' Indeed, research shows that these kinds of "I don't 'get' this" moments are actually the key ingredient in the recipe for students' academic success.

      What does this all mean? 

      Progressive teachers who are up to speed on both cutting-edge pedagogical research and the science of learning and success know that homework assignments should be split between questions that: A) Give students an opportunity to reiterate and reinforce skills and techniques that they have learned in the classroom (to this point), demonstrating that they have understood the materials and bolstering their confidence in their developing mastery of the subject; B) Challenge students to tackle problems that go a beyond what they have learned (or seen demonstrated) in the classroom (to that point), requiring that they make creative use of the skills and techniques they have learned in order to see and solve problems from a new perspective.   

    As a result of this two-pronged approach, students are NOT expected to get every question correct on their first attempt(s). It is important that students, especially gifted students, are challenged, and that means getting stuck on certain questions, getting certain questions incorrect, and returning to rethink certain questions more than once. As recent studies have shown (see below), the experience of taking several attempts to master a new skill/solve a new problem not only encourages children’s academic growth, but also bolsters their self-reliance, resilience, creativity, and flexibility in the face of intellectual challenges. Children with such a “growth mindset” view challenges as “energizing rather than intimidating” because “they offer opportunities to learn” (Dweck 2015). These "growth mindset" students go on to be more successful at any academic endeavours in comparison with their peers.  

    At Brain Power (the SRC's unique after-school enrichment learning centre - check out: www.brainpower.ca), for example, when students receive weekly homework feedback from their professor (before their next class!), they are expected to make another attempt at solving the questions they got incorrect and actually revel in the challenge (and parents should not feel obliged to “step in” and explain the question to their children). At the beginning of each class, once the students have had the opportunity to work through difficulties on their own, the instructor reviews all of the homework questions, taking extra time to explain those that students found particularly challenging. Students are encouraged to ask questions, so that they will leave the classroom feeling that they have a grasp on the question and the skills/techniques necessary to solve it. In this way, students get the benefits of both A) struggling to solve the problem on their own, and B) having it explained by a professional instructor. Voila! A growth-mindset is nurtured in this way.  

    So if a child 'gets' all of his/her homework with ease - maybe it's not so wonderful after all. In such cases, I encourage parents to ask their child's teacher for more challenging homework to balance out the relatively easy work received.  

    For more information on developing a “growth mindset” in gifted children, see: 

     Dweck, Carol S. “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids.” Scientific American. (Jan. 1, 2015). https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-secret-to-raising-smart-kids1/  

    Post, Gail. “A life lesson for gifted children: failure.” Gifted Challenges. (Aug. 9, 2013) https://giftedchallenges.blogspot.ca/2013/08/a-life-lesson-for-gifted-children.html  

    Written by the SRC's Education Expert: 
    Dr. Karine Rashkovsky-Tomas (B.Sc., B.Ed., M.Ed., Ph.D.)
    Founder & Director
    Brain Power Enrichment Programs Ltd.  

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  2. #MyJCCStory: All heart!

    Kaylee



    #MyJCCStory: All heart!

    For some art is a hobby, for Kaylee painting provides a sense of pride and accomplishment & allowing her to feel as though she can do anything. It is also the main reason she continues to come to the Schwartz/Reisman Centre (SRC).

    Kaylee is a resident of Reena, and she walks to the SRC to participate in an art class every Thursday. Painting is a way for Kaylee to express herself and the SRC community can always spot one of Kaylee's pieces.

    "I have lots of hearts in my art. That is who I am...it is what I do for my signature and people know my signature."

    Beyond support in her artistic endeavours, Kaylee loves her weekly visits to the SRC as it provides her with a sense of community, interacting with fellow members and staff and picking up new techniques to incorporate into her painting. It is also where she came up with her signature heart – a symbol that truly encompasses her spirit.

    Kaylee’s JCC Story is about empowerment through art and the heartfelt creations developed each Thursday.



    Watch Kaylee tell her story

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  3. Suzanne Metz at the SLATE Atrium Gallery in Vaughan City Hall

    Suzanne Metz



    Artist Suzanne Metz is celebrating a career milestone. The Thornhill, Ont.-based artist has a one-woman art show now running at the SLATE Atrium Gallery in Vaughan City Hall.

    Suzanne regularly teaches at both the Schwartz/ Reisman Centre and the Prosserman JCC.

    Born in South Africa, Suzanne Metz graduated with an Honours BA (fine arts) degree in 1980 from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She emigrated to Canada in 1986. She has been teaching art and painting professionally for over 25years. Suzanne is the recipient of numerous accolades and awards, her work having been featured in solo and group art exhibitions, including Toronto and New York art expos and the Artist Project Toronto. Her work is housed in private and corporate collections in Canada and internationally.

    Website: www.suzannemetz.com

    Learn more about her upcoming show here: http://www.cjnews.com/culture/artists-urban-graffiti-welcomed-inside-vaughan-city-hall

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  4. Jews of Iran

    Jews of Iran



    Jews of Iran
    by Elizabeth Katchen, Programs Department



    Did you know that there are still Jews living in Iran today?

    The Jews of Iran event grew out of my surprise in discovering this information. My curiosity was a catalyst to weeks of research on this community and on the Persian Jewish community in North America.

    What started as a small talk has evolved into a full evening celebration of the culture, heritage and history of the Jews of Iran. As well, a cross-cultural and bridge building initiative with the greater Iranian community has come about thanks to this community’s incredible support of the event. I encourage you to join us Tuesday October 24th. The evening promises to be an enlightening and informative opportunity to learn and celebrate through art, music, imagery, refreshments and discussion.

    To register, please click here

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  5. The Mosaica Project - A Recap

    Goyfriend dinner



    An exciting revival is taking place in the world of Jewish culture. Keen to incorporate their heritage into their work in a manner that is relevant to their generation, young musicians, performers, chefs and bloggers are using age-old cultural traditions as a springboard for creativity and innovation.

    Over the course of the past year, we presented a three-part series in collaboration with the Ashkenaz Foundation to explore new developments in Jewish music and culinary arts, which are at the forefront of this renewal. The goal of the project was to provide a platform to showcase contemporary artists who are interlacing traditional and contemporary influences to produce unique sounds and flavours.



    Goyfriend

    The first event, hosted at A Yiddishe Mame restaurant in January, featured Russian and Eastern European Jewish culture. Lively conversation filled the room as guests noshed on a multi-course Russian-style meal, including specialties such as beet borscht and potato perogies. Afterwards, they were treated to a spirited performance by Goyfriend, a musical collaboration between the klezmer band Litvakus and the renowned Latvian-born Yiddish singer Sasha Lurje, which explores the image and representation of Jews in the folk culture of their Eastern European neighbours over 600 years of common history.



    Aveva Dese

    Following this, we hosted a Shabbat dinner at Temple Har Zion in March to celebrate the unique cultural contributions of Ethiopian Jewry. Guests enjoyed a musical Kabbalat Shabbat services and a traditional Ethiopian meal, after which everyone adjourned to the sanctuary for a special performance by Aveva Dese, an Ethiopian-Israeli singer and songwriter. Aveva expresses her life experiences through her music, which features stimulating African groove and traditional Ethiopian sounds combined with a touch of the fresh urban beat of Tel Aviv. Through a moderated conversation in between sets, Aveva also shared stories of her family’s difficult journey from Ethiopia to Israel.



    Leah signing books

    The third and final event of the series took place on September 17 at the Schwartz/Reisman Centre. Based on the theme of fusion and innovation on tradition in contemporary Jewish culture, the program featured an outstanding performance by Sandcatchers, a quartet that blends the Middle Eastern trope of the oud with the dreamy, Americana infused textures of the steel. The music accompanied a brunch made up of a curated selection of recipes by culinary personalities Leah Koenig and Bonnie Stern, including borscht crostini and smoked salmon hash. After the meal, Leah and Bonnie led an engaging conversation about exciting trends and new directions in the Jewish food movement.

    If you missed out on these events (or if you were in attendance but want to relive the sounds and flavours!), we invite you to check out the following resources:
    Listen to a sample of Goyfriend’s music on their website
    Hear about Goyfriend’s origins in this podcast interview with Avi Grenadier
    Enjoy a sample of Aveva Dese’s music on her website
    Experience the music of Sandcatchers’ on their website
    Try a recipe from The Russian-Jewish Cookbook: Recollections and Recipes of Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (published in Hebrew)
    Learn about Ethiopian Jewish cuisine in this article about the Beta Israel
    Read about Leah Koenig’s unique twist on Jewish cuisine in this article about her book Modern Jewish Cooking/

    This series was sponsored in part by JCC Association’s Making Music Happen Centennial Grant Initiative, funded by a grant from Marvin J. Pertzik and the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation.



    Making Music Happen

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  6. New D.A.N.I CHALLAH POP UP at the Schwartz/Reisman Centre

    Challah bun

    D.A.N.I Students



    New D.A.N.I CHALLAH POP UP at the Schwartz/Reisman Centre

    When young adults with disabilities finish high school at the age of 21, they have few options. D.A.N.I helps them transition to adulthood in a warm, safe and stimulating environment. We practice skills that have been learned while teaching new practical ones for daily life and emphasize vocational skills for employment opportunities.

    Our adults want the same lives as their peers or siblings. However, the route may be modified or different. D.A.N.I assists the adults in creating their own goals and vision of their lives while becoming self-advocates.

    D.A.N.I relies upon fees for service and other fundraisers and an annual gala. Two years ago, D.A.N.I started a pop-up café selling various foods to local offices and public spaces. This way, these adults can practice their kitchen, organizational, social and financial skills while creating community connections.

    Starting on Friday, September 15th, D.A.N.I CHALLAH POP UP will be at the Atrium at the Schwartz Reisman Centre. The pop up will sell delicious ( in taste and meaning!) home made, parev, COR challah buns.

    Please come and meet the participants on Friday, September 15th. Take home some delicious buns as well as the knowledge that your actions made a difference.

    Challah Bun: $0.50 each
    Large Challah: $3.50

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  7. Blessing for a Solar Eclipse

    Solar Eclipse



    Blessing for a Solar Eclipse
    By the Mandel Centre for Jewish Education



    If you’ve been following any news source (right, left,” fake,” or otherwise) you surely know there is a total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017. An appropriate Jewish question to ask is which bracha, or blessing should one recite? (There is an entire set of brachot, or blessings for witnessing a natural phenomenon (e.g., thunder, lightning, a beautiful tree, a rainbow, an ocean, etc.). It turns out it’s not that simple.

    According to the Babylonian Talmud, a solar eclipse is a bad omen for the world and a lunar eclipse is a bad omen for the Jewish people (Sukkot 29a).   

    "Our Rabbis taught, When the sun is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for the whole world… when the moon is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel, since Israel reckons by the moon and idolaters by the sun."

    Mostly, this would seem to be based on a variety of verses from the Tanach, or Jewish Bible, describing the darkening of the sun as part of God’s punishment. For example:

    Isaiah 13:10
    "The stars and constellations of heaven/Shall not give off their light/The sun shall be dark when it rises/And the moon shall diffuse its glow."

    Ezekiel  32:7
    "When you are snuffed out/I will cover the sky/And darken its stars/I will cover the sun with clouds/And the moon shall not give its light. " 

    Joel  2:10
    "Before them the earth trembles/Heaven shakes/Sun and moon are darkened/And stars withdraw their brightness." 

    Later, the same Talmud passage interprets a solar eclipse as a warning; depending on the eclipse’s features, it warns of different things.

    "If it is in eclipse in the east, it is a bad omen for those ho dwell in the east; if in the west, it is a bad omen for those who dwell in the west; if in the midst of heaven it is bad omen for the whole world. If its face is red as blood, [it is a sign that] the sword is coming to the world; if it is like sack‐cloth, the arrows of famine are coming to the world; if it resembles both, the sword and the arrows of famine are coming to the world. If the eclipse is at sunset calamity will tarry in its coming; if at dawn, it hastens on its way: but some say the order is to be reversed."

    This is why Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the last Lubavitcher Rebbe (1902-1994) explained the eclipse as warning offers, “…Opportunities for increasing prayer and introspection – as opposed to prompting joyous blessings, [and so] we do not recite a blessing when witnessing one.”

    Still, this seems to run counter to the general approach of the Jewish system of bracha, which is designed to alert people to attend to the world with gratitude, even when we witness something sad (e.g., Baruch Dayan Emet, Blessed is the True Judge, recited upon hearing of a death or passing a destroyed synagogue). It’s hard to argue why a comet gets a bracha and an eclipse doesn’t; they are both natural wonders and part of God’s creation. This attitude also contradicts Jewish thought’s mandate to recite brachot as often as possible (a target of 100 brachot daily is given) during our waking hours  (Babylonian Talmud Menachot 43b).

    If you consider yourself bound by halacha, or Jewish law, it’s a bit of a sticky issue, for reciting an “unauthorized” bracha is considered a waste and is to be avoided. If you are not bound by halacha, though, this is an opportunity for liturgical creativity.  Since there is no “official” bracha for witnessing an eclipse, you have some options:

    1.Apply an existing bracha which seem appropriate to you (each bracha begins with the same formula):
    Apply an existing bracha which seem appropriate to you



    2. Create a new bracha. Again, you have some options:
    a. Use the historical formula (see above) and simply create a new ending.  It’s OK if the “stem” is in Hebrew and the “tagline” is in English; whomever you want to hear this bracha will
    b. Use your own words to create your own “stem.”  Historically, the blessing formula requires words that do four things:

    1. Name God (Adonai, Elohim, Source of Strength, Rock of Israel,  Compassionate One, OMG!…there are lots of options!) 
    2. Reference the concept of blessing (baruch, blessed, the gift, the benefit of, etc.) 
    3. God’s Sovereignty (ruler, creator, maker, etc.) 
    4. Time (forever, till the end of time, eternal, unending, etc.) understand it.


    (Note: this is how Jews have created blessings through history.  If you do not believe in God, figure out what an appropriate substitute would be. Just because it doesn’t fit the historical/Jewish legal bracha formula doesn’t mean it’s not a bracha! With brachot, intention matters.)



    Beyond brachot, it is also appropriate to recite verses from Psalms, such as:

    Beyond brachot, it is also appropriate to recite verses from Psalms, such as:

    Finally, remember the eclipse, like most phenomena (natural or otherwise), has a beginning, middle, and end. Each presents differently (dimming light, darkenss, growing light). It is appropriate to recognize each aspect of the eclipse separately, even as we reflect on the gestalt of the experience.



    Mandel Center for Jewish Education logo



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  8. THE 2017 JCC MACCABI GAMES AND ARTSFEST

    2017 Maccabi Games & Artsfest



    THE 2017 JCC MACCABI GAMES AND ARTSFEST

    By Andrew Levy, Executive Director of the Schwartz/Reisman Centre and Prosserman JCC



    The lens through which we see the world defines our experiences and our JCCs continuously explore opportunities to strengthen Jewish identity and build community locally, continentally and globally. Last week over 2000 teenagers took part in a powerful and transformative experience in Miami, FL and Albany, NY at the 36th annual JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest. The JCC Maccabi Games brings Jewish teenagers together from around the world to represent their communities by competing in sporting events, while ArtsFest provides talented artists with the opportunity to work with experts in their fields in order to fine-tune their craft. However, the competition was secondary this past week to the celebration of our Jewish heritage and the global Jewish community.

     

    Every year Toronto sends a very strong delegation and this year we were represented by 130 outstanding athletes and coaches, the third largest delegation at the Games. Accompanying them was a large contingent of enthusiastic and patriotic family members who were soaking in the experience with Canadian flags and big smiles.

     

    While the games foster a healthy sense of competition, every aspect of this unique experience is infused with Jewish values. Awards for rachmanus (compassion) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) are awarded in addition to the traditional gold, silver and bronze medals. Lior Cyngiser, who sits on the Board of the Schwartz/Reisman Centre and Prosserman JCC, found the games to be “an extremely powerful and inspiring experience. The JCC Maccabi Games provided great insight into the power that sport, Jewish values and community have not only on the athletes and artists, but for the families, volunteers and the community at large as well. The Games are more than just a sports tournament – they galvanize the community. The passion and Jewish pride from all those involved was contagious and inspiring.”

     

    On behalf on the Toronto delegation, we are incredibly proud of all the young people who took part in this year’s Games and ArtsFest and would like to congratulate them on their many accomplishments. Our swimming team brought home an impressive 71 medals from Miami, the most in Toronto’s history at the games. Toronto was undefeated in hockey, bringing home the gold. Other highlights include a gold medal in girls soccer, a silver medal in boys soccer, a gold medal in girls tennis, and innumerable showings of sportsmanship, teamwork and Jewish spirit along the way.

     

    Lorne Goldstein, Chair of the Schwartz/Reisman Centre and Prosserman JCC Board of Directors, had the pleasure of attending this year’s games and found it be a hugely impactful experience, stating that “This gathering of young athletes and artists from North America, Great Britain, and Israel really provided a unique opportunity for the participants to share and grow their Jewish identity and values under the JCC international banner. Kol Hakavod to our 130 athletes and coaches who competed. A special thanks to our Miami hosts who worked so hard to put these games together and graciously housed our Toronto contingent.”

     

    The games are so much more than a sporting competition. The JCC Maccabi experience is truly one that our athletes and artists will carry with them for the entire lives. It connects on the highest level their passions with their heritage and offers them a deep and meaningful Jewish experience. This is made possible by our incredibly dedicated volunteer coaches and passionate delegation heads. We are so fortunate to have them on our team.  

     

    We look forward to seeing everyone at the 2018 JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest (Aug. 5-10, 2018), to be hosted by the Merage JCC of Orange County and the Alpert JCC of Long Beach in California. For information about how you can join a future delegation, email us at [email protected].



    MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE GAMES:

    “Victorious athletes not only winners at Maccabi Games” – Times Union, Albany, NY

    “Thousands expected at JCC Maccabi Games & ArtsFest in Miami” – Sun-Sentinal, Broward County, FL

    Video: “JCC Maccabi Games Underway” – WBRC Fox 6 News, Birmingham, AL

    Additional coverage can be found on our Facebook page

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  9. Kachol Lavan is Expanding!

    Kachol Lavan Supplementary Hebrew School


    KACHOL LAVAN IS EXPANDING!

    Our school will now have better means to strengthen our student’s Israeli-Jewish identity and connection to Israel

    Founded in 2006, Kachol Lavan is a unique supplementary Hebrew school that serves a diverse community in the Greater Toronto Area. It focuses on nurturing a love for the Hebrew language and a strong connection to Israel and its culture for children starting at the young age of four.


    Since its inception, the school has consistently raised awareness in our community about the value of what we teach and has become one of the leading Israeli supplementary schools outside of Israel.


    Kachol Lavan is committed to maintaining and strengthening the connection between the local Canadian community to Hebrew language, Israel, and Jewish heritage. It achieves this through the cultivation of excellent programs, fostering leadership and social cohesion within an enriching, experimental framework.


    From 70 students in the first year, Kachol Lavan now annually attracts around 250 students each school year. For some classes, there’s been a waiting list due to space limitations.


    From the outset, the school’s vision has always been to provide a valuable resource to the Israeli and Jewish community through its innovative, engaging program that focuses on the educational and cultural needs of families and students with an experiential, dynamic Israeli spirit.


    Kachol Lavan has consistently made our constituents appreciative of what the school contributes to the community, developing a greater interest in and connection to Israel. “This incredible school has filled a significant void in our community by enhancing the teaching of Hebrew, creating a rich connection to Israel, and building a new community” says Merav Munz who has two children at Kachol Lavan. “We are fortunate to be able to give our children the ‘home-away- from-home’ feeling at Kachol Lavan.”


    One of our highlights of fulfilling our dream and vision for Kachol Lavan was the integration of the school into the Schwartz/Reisman Centre and the Prosserman JCC. 


    The success of Kachol Lavan is a major priority for the Schwartz/ Reisman Centre and the Prosserman JCC and significant resources have been allocated for its continued growth.


    Over the past four years, the JCC has been proud to be the home of Kachol Lavan. 


    In order to continue to provide an effective, comprehensive response to the needs of all students and in keeping with our aspirations for excellence, we are pleased to inform you that the school will relocate from the Schwartz/Reisman Centre to Bialik Hebrew Day School, located just across the street, starting September 17, the first day of school.


    This move offers our Kachol Lavan students:

    • A more suitable educational setting
    • Classes with state-of-the-art technology
    • An environment that strengthens the love for Israel
    • An Israeli atmosphere and spirit, that reinforces our roots and tradition, like the Schwartz Reisman Centre.
    • On-site security
    • Drop off and pick up area – parents will be able to enjoy a system similar to the one offered at public schools. 


    Kachol Lavan will continue to hold a number of events and celebrations at the Schwartz/Reisman Centre, as well as classes on Thursday evenings.


    For the convenience of families who live in the central/southern part of Toronto, Kachol Lavan will also continue to operate at the Prosserman JCC for which registration is now in progress.


    We look forward to a meaningful year of studies in both locations and are excited for the move to our new location.



    *Spaces still remain for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year. Click here to sign-up today!
    If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact us at 905-303-5025 or email [email protected]

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  10. We are excited to release the online version of our Fall/Winter Program Schedule!

    Happiness Happens here


    We are excited to release the online version of our Fall/Winter Program Schedule!

    Click Here to view Fall/Winter Program Schedule.

    Please download the guide and browse through it to find all of the new and exciting programs being offered this Spring and Summer.

    Have you created your new website account yet? Get setup today. It's quick and easy!
    In order to take advantage of member value pricing, you will need to create an account on our new website and connect your membership information. We've made it easy to do and you can watch this video walk-through to see the exact process. (Once you've created your account, you never need to do it again and program registration will be a breeze!).

    Click Here to view a helpful video on creating an account and linking your membership.

    How can I register for programs online?
    Registering for new programs is better, faster and easier than ever before! You can register from your desktop computer, tablet or phone with just a few clicks.

    Click Here to view a helpful video on registering for programs.

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