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Showing posts from November, 2015

ECE and Elementary Open House

On Sunday, November 15th our ECE and Elementary Divisions held an Open House for prospective and current parents to experience a Day at the MHA. Parents got to paint and play with blocks and learn first hand the type of educational activities our students do every day. Please watch the video below that highlights some of the many things that makes the MHA so special.

Countering Challenges to our Claim to Eretz Yisrael - Parashat Toldot 5766 - November 13, 2015

In this week’s parasha, Toldot, Yitzchak is faced with a challenge that his father, Avraham, had faced in the previous generation – famine in the land. Whereas Avraham left Israel and sojourned to Egypt in search of food, Yitzchak is commanded by Hashem to stay in the land. Hashem reassured Yitzchak that He will be with him and that he will be blessed.

As Yitzchak grows in stature and in wealth, the local Philistines become jealous of his success. The pasuk says, “and he (Yitzchak) had flocks of sheep and cattle and a great deal of crops and the Philistines were jealous. And the Philistines closed up all of the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of his father Avraham and filled them with dirt.” Avimelech, the king of the Philistines, told Yitzchak to move. Complying with his wishes, Yitzchak moved on to Nachal Gerar. In this new location, Yitzchak uncovered wells that Avraham had dug but that had subsequently been covered by the Philistines and renamed them. Yitzchak …

Parenting Assists in a Parent's Personal Perfection - Cooper Invitational 2015 - Parashat Chaye Sarah - November 6, 2015

What an exciting Shabbat for the Memphis Jewish Community! We are so happy to welcome the 15 teams from Jewish High Schools around the country who are in Memphis to participate in the ninth annual Cooper Tournament. Thursday’s competition was fierce and Thursday night’s program - dinner, speaker and a movie – was engaging. All of the competition will be held at the Memphis Jewish Community Center – come out and cheer on the Macs!

Thursday night’s program featured Raheem Shabazz – a local trainer who works with high school, college and professional athletes. Mr. Shabazz told his story of growing up as a star athlete in Chattanooga who earned his way to compete on The Ohio State University football team. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury during his college career and ended up dropping out of school. Out of school and father of a two-year-old son, Mr. Shabazz was destitute. He was living in his car with his son, could not provide basic needs for himself or for his child and did not hav…

Celebrating our Students' Accomplishments

We want to share with you the news of two very impressive accomplishments by our students.

First, ​Dovid Yehoshua Samuels has received a ​Letter of Commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Out of 1.5 million annual applicants nationwide, only ​34,000 letters ​were awarded.

Second, Efraim Wiener ('17) was one of three students from all of Memphis chosen to speak at Monday night's annual banquet for Facing History and Ourselves. He addressed an audience of 750 people regarding the impact that Facing History—a wonderful global organization dedicated to eliminating racism and anti-Semitism—had on his life as a Jewish student at the MHA. A link to the video of his speech can be found below, and on YouTube at

Special thanks to Mrs. Talya Tsuna who works as the MHA's liaison to Facing History.

On behalf of the entire MHA Community, Mazel Tov to Dovid Yehoshua and Efraim as well as their entire families.

The Power of a Group - Parashat Vayera 5766 - October 31, 2015

In this week’s parasha, Avraham Avinu is told of Hashem’s plan to destroy Sedom and its four sister cities. The Torah describes these cities as places of decrepit morals populated by denizens of corrupt values.

The Torah recounts that Avraham asked Hashem to preserve the cities on account of the tzaddikim – the righteous people – who lived in the cities. Avraham inquires whether Hashem would destroy the cities if there were 50 righteous people. Hashem responds that He would not. Avraham then inquires whether Hashem would destroy the cities if there were 45 righteous people. Hashem responds that He would not. Avraham then inquires about 40, 30, 20 or even 10 righteous people. Hashem responds that in any of these cases, He would not cause destruction.

Our chachamim address a number of issues related to this interaction between Avraham and Hashem. One question that they address is why Avraham chose to inquire about 50, 45, 40, 30, 20 then 10 righteous people. What was Avraham’s l…

Yerushalayim-City of Justice and Peace Under Attack - Parashat Lech Lecha 5766 - October 23, 2015

This week’s parasha, Lech Lecha, introduces us to our patriarchs, Avraham and Sarah, and shares with us their early encounters in eretz Canaan. After successfully retrieving his nephew Lot from capture, Avram encounters Malki-Tzedek, king of Shalem and priest of Hashem. In this encounter, Avram takes a tenth of his possessions and gives them as a gift to Malki-Tzedek – presumably to assist him in his work as a priest of Hashem.

The Midrash tells us that Malki-Tzedek is none other than Noach’s righteous son, Shem. Furthermore, our mefarshim (Ramban and others) teach us that Shalem is none other than Yerushalayim. What lesson is the Torah teaching us by using pseudonyms for Shem and Yerushalayim? Why doesn’t the Torah simply refer to Malki-Tzedek as Shem and Shalem as Yerushalayim?

The Torah seems to be teaching us a fundamental idea about the purpose of Yerushalayim from its very origins as a city. Malki-Tzedek means “king of justice”. Shalem is a variant of Shalom - “peace”. Pe…

Our Mitzvot Are Our Offspring - Parashat Noach 5766 - October 16, 2015

We are all dismayed by the daily reports of random violence against Israeli citizens and military personnel and concerned about the victims and their families. Let us continue to pray for the speedy recovery of these victims and for the end to these heinous acts.

This week’s parsha is Noach. The sedra opens with, “these are the generations of Noach. Noach was a perfectly righteous man in his generation. Noach walked with Hashem”. Rashi seems to be bothered an apparent redundancy – the Torah had already introduced us to Noach and his children in last week’s parsha. In fact, last week’s sedra concludes with the pasuk, “and Noach found favor in Hashem’s eyes”. Why does the Torah find it necessary to reintroduce us to Noach’s offspring and say, “These are the generations of Noach”?

Our Rabbis teach that the good deeds of righteous people are considered their offspring. Rashi explains that the generations of Noach referred to in this week’s parsha are not his children but rather his …

Improving Our Tefilot - Parashat Beresheit 5766 - October 9, 2015

Leading up to the holidays, I kept hearing the same refrain again and again – Sukkot is wonderful in Memphis. I can attest to the fact that Sukkot is wonderful in Memphis! There were so many outstanding community programs and get-togethers. Simchat Torah was so lively. There were so many guests in town. The weather was also very nice for most of the holiday. What a great week!

Over the past number of weeks, I spent a lot of time praying (as I’m sure you did, too). I also spent a lot of time reflecting on prayer. Often, we measure the quality of the tefila experience from how we were affected or how we feel during the experience of davening. These types of measures are certainly important, but they are not the only measures of a quality tefila experience. This week’s parsha introduces an important perspective in considering what makes a good prayer experience and, more specifically, what makes a good prayer.

Adam and Chava gave birth to Kayin and Hevel. Kayin was a farmer and …

Operational Campaign Dinner 2015 - September 25, 2015

Each of us has our reason for contributing to the Operational Campaign. For some, it is appreciation for what the school has given us. For some, it is an investment in the future. For some, it is a feeling of responsibility to the community. There are as many reasons as contributors. Each of these reasons is praiseworthy and laudable.

Beyond the individual reasons why each person gives, this focused initiative of the entire community over the course of only two weeks itself conveys a message. I want to share two inspirational messages that I am taking away from the Operational Campaign.

I will present the first message from what I readily acknowledge is an odd perspective.

Like it or not, we can learn a lot about ourselves by studying how our enemies see us. Through their criticism and even venom, our enemies often provide a window into our deepest held beliefs in ways that escape our self-awareness.

How did one of the Jewish people’s greatest archenemies view the strength of…

Fulfilling Our Jewish Responsibility - Parashat Nitzavim 5765 - September 11, 2015

The MHA/FYOS was abuzz this week in preparation for Rosh HaShana! The Boys and Girls High Schools each held a day of learning dedicated to Rosh HaShana topics. Elementary students learned special tefilot, songs and lessons. The bulletin boards and classrooms were decorated. The Early Childhood students made Rosh HaShana cards for the older members of our community. The Kollel MiTzion had its inaugural program. Each element of the school did its part to prepare for Rosh HaShana.
On Thursday night, I had the honor of speaking at the Kollel MiTzion night of learning.  I presented the following idea which relates to this theme of each person doing his or her part.
This week’s parsha,Nitzavim, describes Moshe’s inducting b'nei Yisrael into a covenant with Hashem.  Moshe Rabbenu begins, “You, all, are standing (nitzavim) here today before the Lord your God.  Your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, even all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger …

Tzedakah Makes Us Happier - Parashat Ki Tavo 5765 - September 4, 2015

This week saw the arrival of two Bat Amishluchot– Hinda Leah Felberman and Yocheved Morgenstern. Immediately upon their arrival, Hinda Leah and Yocheved began making an impact on the school community – meeting our students and quickly acclimating to their important role at the MHA.  Please help welcome them to Memphis!  This week also saw the final three Upper School overnight trips.  GMSG went on a rafting trip on the Spring River (CYHSB went the previous week), the Junior High boys camped at Meeman-Shelby State Park and the Junior High girls had a unique “lock-in” program at the Midrasha.  Thank you to the teachers and staff who helped organize and supervise each of these outstanding programs.

This week’sparasha, Ki Tavo, describes the blessings and curses that HaShem will visit upon b'nei Yisrael in response to our adherence to or disobedience of themitzvot.  One blessing that the Torah assures us of is, “HaShemwill command the blessing withyouinyourbarns, and in all thatyouputy…

The Impact of Sending Away the Mother Bird - Parshat Ki Tetze 5765 - August 28, 2015

What a great first two weeks of school!  

After a summer of major renovation, MHA opened with a Chanukat Beit Sefer program in which we inaugurated the school by affixing newmezuzoton the main entrance and on other doorposts in the school.  Teachers, parents, students and community rabbis attended this special program.  That same day MHA hosted a well-attended Back-to-School Barbecue for all of our families.  The students have quickly adjusted to the school routine – it is such a pleasure to walk the MHA halls to see students learning and teachers teaching!
In this week’s parsha, Ki Tetze, the Torah outlines the mitzvah ofshiluach haken– sending away the mother bird before taking its chicks or eggs from the nest.  The Torah writes, “When you will happen upon a bird’s nest on the way in any tree or on the ground – with chicks or eggs – and the mother is sitting on the chicks or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the children.  Surely send away the mother and the children you can ta…