Fifth Graders Celebrate the Transition to Their Study of Neviim.

Fifth grade students and parents enjoyed an interactive Shiur B’Neviim, which celebrated the transition from the formal study of Humash (The Five Books of Moses) to studying Neviim (The Prophets).  Together they analyzed text from Chapter 1 of Joshua, discussed the challenges that Joshua faced replacing Moses as leader of a new nation, wrote journal entries from his perspective, and created maps showing how the land was to be divided amongst the twelve tribes.  To conclude the program, the children each received their own tikkun, a book used to prepare for Torah reading, as a gift from the school in memory of Deborah Kaplan Phillips (z”l), whose three children are Schechter alumni and whose grandchildren currently attend the school.  What makes this gift even more meaningful is that Schechter fifth graders learn how to chant from the Torah as part of their tefillah study.

Super Bowl Science Scores Big at the Lower School

Lower Division Science Specialist Steve Lechner kicked off the week with a lesson in Super Bowl Science. Steve set up five different stations: Reaction Time, Field Goal, Momentum, Rolling Football and Google Earth, where students investigated various aspects of football. Students started with testing Reaction Time. To test this, one student held a strip of paper in his or her hand, while another student tried to catch the paper as the first student dropped it. Next was the Field Goal station, where students were able to measure the angle at which it is easiest to kick a field goal-close to the goal, far away, or somewhere in between. At the Momentum station, a metal ball was rolled down a ramp with a wooden block at the end. The students used different ramp angles to measure which one moved the wooden block farther. Students in the higher grades did some math, determining how many third graders it would take to equal the weight of the heaviest Patriots player along with other football-related math questions. At the Football Rolling station, students measured which way a football rolled farther, laying flat or on its end. Finally, students used Google Earth to find Gillette Stadium. Starting with the whole earth, they zoomed right into the stadium, as if they were standing in the middle of the stadium.


Airport Code SSDS K-1: How the Lower School Got Its Own Airport

by Sondra Kaminsky (Kindergarten Teacher)

It began when were walking from the music room to the science room, up the back staircase.  There was nothing on the walls and I said it seemed very plain in there. One child said it was empty.  Another said it was boring. I said it reminded me of getting on an airplane from the terminal….and that was it. One of the children suggested we make an airport.

We began by making a mural of airplanes up in the sky. Then someone said that we needed a terminal. We began to work on the terminal, the check in, the security, the restaurants and shops, the baggage claim. Next we needed planes taking off from the runway… We were clearly not finished!

We had to have people watching the planes take off from the terminal. I emailed parents to send any photos of the children over vacation time if they were going on an airplane or in a terminal (we have a photo section). Then we needed a control tower and one of the children said we needed some maps to show where the airplanes go… So we made a map. The children even made things from different places to put on the map like oranges in Florida, the Eiffel tower in France, tea in Seattle because one of our Grandmas lives in Seattle and she likes to drink tea… One child said “Wherever we go, we have to keep Schechter in our hearts.” and that became the caption on the map.  We wrote books and poems and signs for important things to remember at the airport (no liquids, gate numbers, fasten your seat belt, etc.). The project had a life of its own over a two month period. The children chose to spend time during their free choice/play time. I was beginning to wonder what they were imagining and whether it would meet their expectations…

We had an opening ribbon cutting ceremony (also suggested from the children) and we invited the other kindergarten class. The K-1 children were the tour guides. We even served refreshments in the form of airplane cookies. We also had tours with the first grade classes and the children brought their parents through the airport. I thought we were finished but I heard from parents on Friday that their child said “we are not finished, we can always add more!”

What I especially love about the whole project is that it was child initiated, every step of the way. The children were so excited and worked so well together as a community to produce this airport. We used all our curricular areas to have this developmental based unit come alive. I am sure they will remember this for a long time and every trip to the airport will bring a reminder of this happy learning time with their kindergarten friends.

Snowy Science Storms Kindergarten

by Steve Lechner (Lower Division Science Specialist)
I started my “Snowy Science” unit with the kindergarteners last week by reading The Snowy Day, followed by showing the students my snow collection, which they had to sort and classify to find the reason why NONE of my samples were actually real snow. I then discussed the concept that snowflakes have six sides or points, and we looked at different shapes to compare and contrast them. I finished up by showing them my snowman that I made last year and kept in my closet all year (he was just water with a hat, scarf, eyes and a carrot nose in it). The students helped me figure out the best place to keep a snowman.
This week we followed up by talking about ice, and demonstrating how warm air will melt ice cubes slowly but their warm hands with melt it really quickly! I then told the students about how I used to be a cowboy, and learned how to ride around in the desert lassoing ice cubes. I made a very tiny lasso and attempted to lasso a very large ice cube (which didn’t work). Eventually I remembered my secret ingredient (salt), which when sprinkled on the ice lowers the freezing point of the ice, allowing the lasso freeze onto the ice cube! Check out a video of this experiment!

Thank you, Schechter!

A note from alumni parents Marcia and Alan Leifer:

This fall we celebrated the wedding of our eldest daughter Jessica ’02. Our joy was shared by the Schechter community that grew up around us since the day 23 years ago that we dropped off Jessica in Naomi Katz Mintz’s kindergarten classroom. The hora was filled with concentric circles of classmates of Jessica and her three Schechter siblings (Becca ’04, Ben ’07 and Veronica ’12); Schechter parents who became the closest of friends as our kids grew together into emerging adults and as we embarked on our own Jewish journeys; and Schechter Board and Committee members who worked alongside us in our volunteer efforts to help Schechter grow from “Good to Great.” Schechter has given the Leifer family a gift for the generations and we are humbled and honored to have the opportunity to say thank you.

When it was time for us to update our estate plans, we thought about what it would take to ensure Schechter’s vitality for generations to come. And with that, we are proud to share that we intend to leave an endowment gift to sustain our annual gift to Schechter in perpetuity and to significantly expand The Marcia Siskind Leifer Fund for The Creative Arts and Sciences. We hope to inspire passion for art and science in Schechter students for generations to come.

Schechter takes in kids whose parents flock to Boston from all over the world and sets them up to be effective “Jewish bridges.” Bridges to our American Jewish friends and family who are less comfortable with tradition. Bridges to our Israeli mishpocha (family) who thirst for connection to America. Bridges to Americans of all stripes who value tikkun olam (repairing the world) and their spiritual connection to the Holy Land.

As such, Schechter is a vital institution of Boston and American Jewry and should be supported by all of its stakeholders – parents and grandparents, alumni parents, and community leaders.

The Generations Campaign supports our commitment to providing our students with a dynamic 21st century education, infused and enhanced by Jewish learning and values, to prepare our students for informed and active engagement in the Jewish community and the broader world.As of November 2016, Schechter’s Generations Endowment Campaign has raised $9,581,166 toward our $12.5 million goal.To learn more, contact Natalie Matus at or 617-630-4617.


Ani Ma’amin – Sarah Cohen ’07 Shares Message of Derech Eretz

Alumna Sarah Cohen ’07 spoke to Schechter middle school students as part of our Ani Ma’amin speaker series: a forum for guests to share what they believe in. Sarah’s message was one of derech eretz. She spoke about listening to others who hold different views, and suggested that while we might not agree with everyone, we can try to understand.

Sarah discussed her most recent position as a field operation organizer for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Florida. She described the different cultures between southern and northern Florida, and the challenges she faced, including  witnessing homes with Confederate flags. Although she felt that this can be off-putting, it was more important to her to be decent and reach out to people.  

Here is a recent article Sarah published online where she writes more about her experiences on the campaign trail.  

Schechter is always looking for community members who would be interested in sharing their experiences. If you would like to speak to Schechter students about your experiences and beliefs, please contact Shira Lewin at


Fourth Graders Visit Boston Archaeology Lab

by Evie Weinstein-Park, Grade 4 General Studies Teacher


This past Tuesday, our fourth graders visited the City of Boston’s Archeology Lab, in West Roxbury, to have a tour with the city’s chief archaeologist. This trip reinforced one of our social studies “big ideas,” that objects tell stories. This trip came about because fourth graders were so interested in an article we had read in class about a recent archaeological find in the North End that we contacted the City Archaeologist. We were lucky that he wrote back to us and that we were able to meet him and visit the lab. During our visit, we were able to see the very artifacts we had read about being sorted and catalogued. The artifacts and history we had read about in the newspaper literally became real for our students. In fact, seeing a variety of objects — an ancient spearhead, a very old piece of the Native American fish weir that used to lie beneath what is now the Back Bay, some cannonballs from the Battle of Bunker Hill, part of a shipwreck from 19th century Boston and even a piece of parchment with Hebrew scripture from the African American Meeting House when it was home to a Jewish congregation, among others – and learning about them from a passionate expert all made history come alive for our students. Our students saw that new chapters of history get told, at least in part, through the discovery and interpretation of newly discovered artifacts.


The Visit from Reali – An Eighth Grader’s Perspective

by Rebecca Schwartz

When two girls from the Haifa school Reali came to stay at my house for a week, I realized I was truly in for an enlightening and special experience. On the evening that they arrived, we bonded over ice cream sundaes and the best of Israeli music, and must have talked for hours getting to know each other and our countries. The most poignant part of our conversation was when we brought up the subject of shootings and violence in Israel, which we hear about all too much in the newspapers. The girls’ response surprised and touched me, and is something I keep in mind when the world feels depressing and frightening.  

“We are born to this,” explained the girls. They told me that they had been hearing sirens from the time they were toddlers, and this had become a part of their everyday lives- and this meant that it was also their duty to contribute their efforts to stopping violence and hate, truly giving me a better understanding of Israeli society and Tikkun Olam.

The rest of the week presented plenty more opportunities to get to know the other young ambassadors from Haifa. When we went to Project Adventure together, I was placed in a group with five Reali students I hadn’t spoken with earlier. But by the end, after supporting each other through various climbing activities and bonding exercises, I felt as though we were, at the very least, close and trusted acquaintances. As the mifgash continued, I found myself at the Blue Man group, a fabulous performance that we spoke about for days afterwards, and the highlight of the whole visit for many of the kids. When we attended Shabbat dinner at a friend’s house the day after, the Schechter Kids and the Reali kids formed a group together that acted like just as close of friends as I am with my American classmates- laughing at ourselves and with each other, talking about average teenage things.

Before the Reali kids’ visit, I had been nervous that we would have nothing in common, being from different backgrounds. But on the very last night we had together, the Farewell party, I found myself standing onstage with a microphone, right beside a girl from Israel. We were singing the same song together, screaming out the lyrics, and at that point it didn’t matter where we were from originally, all that mattered was that we were in the same place now, finding real friendship that spanned any cultural differences, all within that one short week.


Life Lessons From Second Grade Summer Reading

Lower school Art teacher Susan Fusco-Fasio is integrating our summer reading into a life lesson. In the second grade summer reading book, Donovan’s Word Jar, a boy visits his grandmother at a senior residence where he mistakenly leaves his word jar in the lobby. The residents dip into the jar and the word collection inspires memories, combating their boredom and bringing them joy.

Susan shares that students created paintings “to help trigger memories and bring happiness to older adults in a future art display at a senior residence/nursing home. Artists make thoughtful and sensitive decisions in their watercolor paintings. Students engaged in memory exercises with my random object collection and wrote down what memories the object triggered. Following class, we looked at a few paintings to see if memories could be evoked. Students commented that not all memories are happy ones, and how that is fine too. We decided to think of our own good memories to help come up with ideas for painting subjects. Some of the ideas that came up included the students own memories of vacations to other countries, ball games at Fenway and birthdays. Other students suggested weddings and baby births – memories that an older person might recall.Students took selfies with an iPhone to attach to their artist bios where they wrote about themselves and why they chose the subject in their painting.”

Look for these paintings at the Shaller Campus in the next few weeks, while Susan looks for a senior residence at which to showcase the exhibit.


Making Popcorn the Slow Way

by Robert Jaye, Intermediate Division Science Teacher

Last spring, fourth-grade Science students began making popcorn in class. The children were very excited about the idea and wanted to know if there was butter, salt and drinks to go along with the snack. Each student was handed a few kernels (seeds) along with soil, a cup and water. The making of the popcorn began with a lesson: planting seeds, observing germination and discovering how to grow plants indoors.  In just a few weeks, the young plants began to outgrow their soil cups. During the warm sunny spring days, students were outdoors during Science class, prepping the garden and then planting the young corn into the organic raised garden beds in the front of the Shoolman Campus. We set up an Israeli technology drip irrigation system used on Kibbutz En Gev to use minimal amounts of water to keep the plants healthy and growing over the summer.

When the the former grade 4 students returned last month as fifth graders, we began Science class outdoors, measuring the plants, counting the ears and learning the different parts and function of the plants from their roots to the tassel. The students were now learning about plants which they germinated from tiny seeds that were taller than them!

Last week on a beautiful sunny autumn afternoon, we harvested the ears of corn and pulled the plants out of the top soil. When the students experienced difficulty pulling the stalks out from the soil, it  emphasized and proved how the roots provide support (and water) for the plants. The ears of corn are currently drying out for a few weeks until they have the right moisture content to make them ready to pop and eat.

Check back for photos of the yummy finale. This is a slow, but delicious way to make popcorn!

Corn Fun Facts

  1. Did you know the tassel on the top of the plant releases the pollen?
  2. Each strand of silk at the end of the ear is (wired) connected to an individual kernel (seed). The silk (at a microscopic level) carries the pollen to fertilize the individual kernel.