The Mordecai and Monique Katz Academic Building

120 West Century Road, Paramus, New Jersey, 07652

Tel: 201-267-9100 Fax: 201-261-9340 Auto Info: 201-487-2830

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shiriyah has left me virtually speechless

Those of you who have grown accustomed to my long letters will be happy to know that this week of Shiriyah has left me virtually speechless. What an extraordinarily wonderful bunch of young men and women!

Just want to briefly share an idea I mentioned to the kids yesterday at Mincha: The seniors' section of our magnificent new Shiriyah mural, if you haven't yet seen it you really must come to school and see what used to be the blank wall between the two entrances to the Beit Midrash, depicts the Mitzvah of Hakhel, the commandment to convene an assembly of all of Israel--men, women, children, even infants-- during the Sukkot festival following a Shemittah year to hear the Torah being read by the King. Why include little children who are incapable of understanding a word of what is being read? Writes the Malbim that certain experiences have such extraordinary sensory and emotional impact that just being part of the experience imprints itself on one's being in a way which far transcends mere words and concepts.

I am not, God forbid, suggesting any lack of understanding on the part of your/our children: Shiriyah was replete with insightful and inspiring Torah scholarship researched and depicted verbally and artistically by each grade. But it's the experience of Shiriyah, of being part of that dynamic atmosphere of family and community, of older kids sharing with younger kids, of students who didn't yet know one another all that well pooling talents to create visual, auditory, and spiritual beauty, of the outburst of Ruach and good feeling that explodes at the conclusion of Shiriyah, which Frisch students will carry with them long after the details of teams and themes or of subjects and syllabi have faded from memory.

The faculty, those of us who get to step back and watch and admire as our kids magically transform not only the corridors but themselves, feel privileged to play a little part in Shiriyah.

The above has left me virtually speechless.

Dr. Kalman Stein

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Some Torah Study Opportunities

As we experience the last seven hours before tonight's Shiriyah celebration we just want to inform you of two Torah Study opportunities for adults and teenagers.

If you are in Teaneck this Shabbat afternoon you are invited to hear:

From the Furnace to the Future of Am Israel: Galut Mitzrayim--Reasons and Ramifications presented by Mrs. Yael Goldfischer, Chair of The Frisch School's Humash Department, at Cong. Beth Abraham 5:15 pm

You are invited on Tuesday evening April 12, 8:00 p.m. to our Pesach Adult Education Program presented by Associate Principal, Rabbi Eli Ciner, and Assistant Principal, Dr. Shira Weiss

Stay tuned for the schedule of Tikun Leil Shavuot programs in various communities.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shiriyah @frischschool: The school is rocking

We began Shiriya yesterday--after the kids had seen and thoroughly enjoyed Rabbi Goldfischer's extraordinary film featuring much of the faculty--with a Shiur by one of the Rebbe'im to each grade on its theme. School is rocking today: Spirited Minute to Win It competitions; planning meetings for banner, mural, stomp, video, band and song; lots of painted faces; distributions of incredible amounts of art supplies; Tzedakah activities; a lot of noise.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What a Day by Rabbi Eli Ciner

What a day. Watching the kids cheer for their peers in deafening fashion. Hearing the thunderous chants by the Seniors. Every adult in the building similarly remarked: the energy was palpable. As I mentioned to the students, Shiriyah is a time where we have a simply magical existence in our Yeshiva. Everyone cultivates his or her talents, finds that bit of tzelem elokim in each of them, and allows it to come forth. Please let me know if, for any reason, your child is having difficulty find their place. Looking forward to seeing everyone on Wednesday night.
-Rabbi Ciner can be reached by email at

Congratulations to JV Debate on their First Place Victory!

Congratulations to our JV Debate team and their coach, Mrs. Beverly Geller, on their 1st place team victory in the North Jersey Debate League.

The team won a very impressive 10 out of 12 debates.
Congratulations as well to Eddie Maza (10th Grade) on his 2nd place speaker award and to Eliana Pickholz (10th Grade) on her 3rd place speaker award.


It is our great pleasure to invite the entire
Frisch School Community to


The culminating evening of our week-long Shiriyah begins at 7:30 p.m.
on Wednesday evening, March 30, 2011, in our Zayat Athletic Center

Our corridors, each of which is decorated by one of the grades,
will be open for visitor viewing at 6:30 p.m.

Dear Parent:

Shiriyah is not just a celebration of Frisch spirit, not just an excuse for all of us to have some fun—actually lots of fun—in the midst of the school year. Shiriyah is an integral part of the intellectual religious and communal life of the more than 700 teenagers and adults who spend their days at Frisch. It is an opportunity for each Frisch student to develop and demonstrate his/her talents and skills: leadership, artistic/musical/dramatic/choreographic creativity, Torah study and scholarship, and so much more. Shiriyah also brings grades together in friendship, teamwork and camaraderie. The best part of Shiriyah is the part parents don’t get to see: It’s the incredible sight of hundreds of kids working together, enjoying one another, older grades helping the freshmen, for hours each day and night and all day on Sunday as they prepare for Wednesday night’s performances.

This year the theme of Shiriyah is Jewish Leadership. Each grade represents one of the four prototypes of Jewish leadership discussed in Massechet Sanhedrin, the Gemara we are all studying this year:

Freshmen - Dayanim (Judges)
Sophomores - Kohanim (Priests)
Juniors - Nevi’im (Prophets)
Seniors - Melachim (Kings)

Throughout the next week our students will be learning about these concepts in special Shi’urim and learning to express them in song, art, Torah study, and in their daily interaction with one another and with their Rebbe’im and teachers. We hope you’ll be with us on Wednesday evening to see the culmination of their efforts, to tour each grade’s specially prepared corridor, and to share the incredible Ru’ach which will undoubtedly bust forth as it does each year.

Shiriyah is such an important part of life at The Frisch School that it would never occur to us to sell tickets of admission. But Shiriyah is very expensive. Just setting up the seating, audio-visual arrangements, and decorations in the gym is quite costly as is the extraordinary amount of material which goes into the kids’ transformation of the building into a Shiriyah theme park. Please consider making a contribution—online at or by check—to help sponsor this very worthwhile and exciting event.


Dr. Kalman Stein

Special Thanks

Throughout the years, Dr. Charles and Mrs. Rella Feldman have been major supporters and benefactors of The Frisch School. This year they have provided us with copies of a brand new edition of the Haggadah, Rabbi David Silber's A Passover Haggadah: Go and Learn, for each member of the senior class and for each member of the Torah Studies faculty. We know that our students and their families will gain much from studying Rabbi Silber's notes and commentary with the special sensitivity to textual nuance for which he is so well known. Each Haggadah will include a book plate recognizing the Feldmans' generosity.

From Jewish Action: Technology in the Classroom - by Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky

Below is an article from the Spring 2011 edition of Jewish Action written by Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky, Director of Educational Technology at Frisch.
You can read the entire article here.

Technology in the Classroom

Teachers often bemoan the fact that students who have been in yeshivah their entire lives often have difficulty deciphering a pasuk in Chumash. However, while all teachers agree that Hebrew reading skills are important, they rarely devote significant class time—especially in high school—to this important skill. The reason is simple. Teaching reading is boring and time-consuming. In the traditional yeshivah environment, where many hours are devoted to chavruta-style learning, perfecting reading skills in the majority of students may be an achievable goal. However, in a typical Jewish day school where classroom instruction is divided into forty-minute periods, teachers cannot spend time calling upon multiple readers without tuning out the rest of the class.

Enter Voicethread. Voicethread  is a free web-based application that allows one to record himself without using any special software. The teacher can post a piece of text and assign students to read it for homework. The student then logs in and, using a computer and a microphone (virtually every laptop today comes with a built-in microphone), the student reads the text back to the teacher. The teacher can then grade each student individually on his or her reading, even on a nightly basis, without taking a moment of class time.

What’s a Wiki?

Wiki is another great example of how web technology can be used in the classroom. Hawaiian for quick, wiki lives up to its name as a fast and easy way to create web sites that allow users to add and update content. The most famous example of a wiki is Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia collaboratively created by thousands of volunteer contributors. At The Frisch School, where I serve as the director of educational technology, we use Wikispaces ( to create wikis for each grade level focused around a common theme. The goal is to tear down the classroom walls by fostering collaboration between different classes. Pages are edited by multiple teachers who post content from various classes related to the particular theme. 
Such online discussions are more than just homework assignments; they are valuable forums for students to flesh out their ideas about religion and life.
Therefore, a typical page can have material posted from Chumash, Navi, English and science classes. 

Students interact with the wiki primarily through discussion forums included on each page. These forums promote student reflection, participation, and interaction. In a typical classroom discussion, students have little time to reflect. Many thoughtful students who require more time to process information are sometimes left out of classroom discussions. In an online discussion, however, students can think over a question before composing a carefully crafted response. Some of the most profound responses have come from students who rarely speak up in class. Such online discussions are more than just homework assignments; they are valuable forums for students to flesh out their ideas about religion and life in a safe educational setting.

Continue here: link

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Course Selection Forms

Course Selection Forms for incoming juniors and seniors have been e-mailed to parents. If you have not received the form, please email

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

MSG Varsity Video Channel @FrischSchool

You might remember earlier this year that The Frisch School was featured as the School of the Week on MSG Varsity. You can watch the video here.

What you might not know is that The Frisch School has a channel on MSG Varsity with many other videos. The Frisch School Channel is embedded below or you can access it here. Some recent features include an interview by Alex Eagle of Jenna Kershenbaum, a Frisch student who donated her hair for cancer patients in Israel, and an interview by Yael Fishel of Jordan Anhalt about his involvement in Student Act Together (S.A.T) a student run organization that donates SAT books to needy students.

Frisch Goes Green: Earth Day Fair, Friday, April 29th 11:00AM-1:00PM

SAVE THE DATE: Friday, April 29th 11:00AM-1:00PM
Several vendors will be coming to The Frisch School to sell their "green" products.
Special "green" foods will be available at the Cougar Café as well!
So tell your friends to join you on April 29 at the Earth Day Fair.
Don't forget that things will be sold. Bring money!
Check out what will be sold 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Frisch on MSG Varsity's "The Challenge" - Tomorrow, 3/22




Don't miss The Frisch School on
Round 2 of MSG Varsity's "The Challenge"

Tuesday night, March 22, 2011

5:30 PM

MSG Varsity
Cablevision IO Channel 14 (on-demand channel 614)
(check your local listings)

Go Cougars!


Monday, March 14, 2011

An Evening of the Arts!


Frisch students & families, grandparents, aunts, uncles & friends!

Don't miss out on an exciting


Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

at The Frisch School

Join us

6:30 PM for the Art Exhibit


Art, Fashion, Photography & Sculpture


7:30 PM for Performances

Jazz Ensemble, Performance Ensemble, Jazz Singers, Concert Choir & Stage Right

Details to follow!




Reminder: Purim Adult Education Program



Please join us for our




Tuesday, March 15th, at 8:00 P.M.


Taanit Esther: Why is this Fast Day Different from all other Fast Days?

Presented by Rabbi J.Z. Spier


Megillat Esther: Insights into Jewish Identity, Observance and Nationalism

Presented by Mrs. Rachel Besser


The Frisch School

The Henry & Esther Swieca Family Campus

The Mordecai & Monique Katz Academic Building

120 West Century Road, Paramus, NJ


Refreshments following the presentations


Media Bias @frischschool

Last Thursday, the seniors participated in a presentation by Matthew Ackerman of The David Project on Israel and the Media. The dual goal of the program was to demonstrate how even reporting "the facts" is often colored by the reporter's pre-existing agenda and that a noticeable anti-Israel bias does exist in certain media outlets.

Mr. Ackerman pointed out that one powerful technique that various news stories employ is the framing of a story. Framing refers to which aspects of the story the journalist chooses to highlight and accentuate while relevant details or context are often left out, giving an otherwise factual report a particular spin. Another method used is priming, that is, reporting repeatedly about one event. If a story is given a disproportionate amount of coverage, it can impact the general perception of the events it is describing. Mr. Ackerman then empowered the students by telling them ways that they can impact the news: by either writing letters and op-ed pieces, using social networking sites to spread articles they feel are unbiased, or simply by not supporting news organizations that they feel are unjust in their coverage.

At the conclusion of the program, Rabbi Sher, our AISAC advisor, stressed that the techniques displayed in the presentation can be used to detect traces of bias in all forms of media, on both the right and the left, and that students can now employ these techniques to uncover the slants inherent to media and hopefully arrive at some form of the truth.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Congratulations to Hannah Lebovics and Ariana Schanzer(Grade 11) whose poster presentation took first place at the Northern New Jersey Junior Science and Humanities Symposium at the Rutgers University School of Engineering this week. Hannah and Ariana followed up on their summer work at Rutgers and their junior-year research elective with a presentation on Identification of the Cox19 Genome in the Duckweed species wolffia australiana.

Congratulations to Rachel Reichner and Ariana Schanzer who placed in Junkyard Challenge and to Zachary Flamholz and Jason Fischman who placed in Tower Building at this Sunday's BJE Science Olympiad.

Our entire contingent placed fourth in a field of twelve schools. Everyone loves to win, of course, but we are very pleased that this group for whom preparing for the Olympiad is not near the top of their list of extracurricular activities did so well in our second year of participation.

Last week, in a masterful combination of science and Torah, Moshe Lewy-Neuman presented a wonderful Chaburah Shiur on Halakhic issues involved with heart transplants to more than 100 students from all four grades.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fate and Free Will: The Grade Nine Integrated Day of Learning

First a brief preamble: When we tell educators in other schools about Frisch's integration days, they invariably ask how we're able to get all of the teachers to collaborate and to prepare special lessons for the days, lessons that are not necessarily part of the standard curricula. As Mrs. Tikvah Wiener has worked with her colleagues to create these educational experiences we have been gratified (but not surprised) that not only do we not have to motivate our teachers to participate, even teachers who don't necessarily have to be involved volunteer their help.
The members of the Frisch faculty throw themselves into the preparation for these days, researching their topics in depth, creating new PowerPoint presentations and Smart Board lessons, and suggesting wrap-up segments or other ideas. Moreover, a real sense of camaraderie builds among the faculty, as they all prepare a unit with the same theme. 
The lessons prepared for the freshmen today all centered around the theme of fate and free will, a topic being explored in Biology, which has just finished a unit on genetics, and in English class, in which students are spending the second semester occupied with works that question how much of our behavior is destined and how much is of our own making.
The day actually began yesterday: In Biology class, students completed a survey on  the school wiki which asked them to design their own babies. This morning they watched Gattaca, a dystopic science fiction film about a society in which one can succeed only by having been genetically engineered at birth. The main character describes the 'genoism' that permeates his world: Society has turned 'discrimination into a science.' Thanks to Mr. Douglas Dunton, our resident science fiction expert, for introducing the genre of science fiction and the film to the students.
During the last many hours students have been busy attending five different sessions on the theme of fate and free will:
English: Dr. Anne Berkman, Mr. Douglas Dunton, Mrs. Meryl Feldblum, Mrs. Tikvah Wiener
The English department is analyzing Gattaca with the students. So many of the film's motifs pertain to the notion that despite one's perfect or imperfect genes, 'there is no gene for the human spirit,' as the tagline of the movie states.
Biology Lab: Dr. Marie Conroy, Dr. Mindy Furman
Having completed their unit on Genetics in Biology class, the freshmen today are heading to the biology labs, where Dr. Conroy and Dr. Furman are having students 'make their own babies.' (Be ready for a new addition today when your child comes home!). Students are carefully deciding on character traits for their babies, being careful to prevent as many harmful diseases as possible and having to deal with the consequences of their genetic choices.
History:  Mrs. Rhonda Leibowitz, Mrs. Phyllis Waterstone
In their integrated course on Ancient/Classical Civilization and Jewish History students learn about Early Christianity.  Today they discussed the Christian doctrine original sin and whether that theological   approach removes a person's free will? How does Classical Jewish thought compare to emerging Christian doctrine? 
Talmud: Rabbi David Sher, Rabbi JZ Spier, Rabbi Joshua Wald
Rabbis Sher, Spier and Wald discussed some of the Halakhic issues pertaining to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), the technologies which can be used to create designer babies. The Rebbe'im showed the students how modern Poskim extrapolate  Halakhot involving the latest medical technologies by looking back at ancient, medieval and modern sources and applying them to today's reality. The lesson is a fascinating one, as the rabbis demonstrate how Torah is a living, dynamic entity, constantly adapting and growing to meet new realities.
Jewish Philosophy: Mrs. Yael Goldfischer, Rabbi Gedaliah Jaffe, Ms. Racheli Weiss, Dr. Shira Weiss, Mrs. Shaindy Zudick
Prepared by the head of the Jewish Philosophy Department, Dr. Shira Weiss, today's lesson on the Jewish approach to fate and free will began with the question of whether the  hardening of Pharaoh's heart in Sefer Shemot or of the hearts of the Jewish People in Sefer Yeshayahu is incompatible with free will.  The presentation included Rambam's, Rav Joseph Albo's, Prof. Nechama Leibowitz' and the Rav's views of fate and free will and ended with the Rav's message that though man may be inclined towards indulging his negative traits, he must learn to use his destructive tendencies in service of his constructive ones.
Wrap-up: The day's lessons are concluding with a wrap up that includes a clip from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It is in book two of the Harry Potter series that Harry realizes he shares many of the same traits as Voldemort, the darkest evil wizard of the magical world. At the end of the movie, Professor Dumbledore reassures Harry, however, telling the young wizard that it is not the similar characteristics that Harry shares with Voldemort that are important; it is the actions that Harry chooses to do in the world that will distinguish him from his malevolent nemesis.
At the wrap up students are being surveyed again about designer babies and will weigh in on whether they would change their selections based on what they've learned throughout the day.
The lessons for the program, particularly the Jewish Philosophy session, are important ones for the freshmen to hear as they embark on their high school career and are faced with many challenging decisions to make. Therefore, Rabbi Ciner is ending the wrap up with an exhortation to the students to use their free will in healthy ways that benefit themselves and the world around them.
The wiki and PowerPoint presentations:
For the last two periods of the day, each student has been paired with a classmate and will be working on a PowerPoint presentation that will be the two students' reflections of what they found most meaningful from their sessions. All the information from the day can be found on the ninth grade wiki, on a page, made especially for the program, entitled Fate and Free Will. 
Thanks once again to everyone who contributed to today's program!
And remember: 'Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.'  -- Jawaharlal Nehru

Holocaust Integration Day @Frisch

I hope all of the parents of eleventh graders will take the opportunity to ask their children about the full-day interdisciplinary study of the Shoah which took place on Monday, March 7, and was created and orchestrated by our extraordinarily talented  co-coordinator of interdisciplinary studies, Mrs. Tikvah Wiener.
The idea for the day originated with the Ivrit Department which in Grade Eleven focuses on the Shoah.  Mrs. Dafna Zilberschmid, Chair of the Hebrew Language department, forged a partnership with Ulpanat Harel, a school in Nahariyah, and the two schools planned our Holocaust integration days together and followed the same curriculum.
To begin the day, the juniors watched Life is Beautiful, a fable about the Shoah. Many of you will remember that the film was somewhat controversial because too many people who had not yet seen it were offended by what on the surface appeared to be a humorous treatment of the Holocaust.  In fact, it is a beautiful and heart wrenching account of the Shoah which, we think, has a poignant message for both parents and children.
After the film students were divided into groups each of which experienced all of the following during the course of the day:
English: Dr. Anne Berkman, Mrs. Ruth Wang-Birnbaum, Mrs. Tikvah Wiener
Last week, students were assigned "The Shawl" by Cynthia Ozick, a short story about the Holocaust, and an essay from Crisis and Covenant about whether one should write fiction about the Holocaust and, if so, who has the right to do so. During today's session, students explored the question more deeply after having watched a kind of "comedy" about the Holocaust and then read interviews by Ozick, who chose to write fiction about the Shoah despite her misgivings,  and by Yann Martel, a non-Jewish, non-European author, who argues that while non-fiction tells us what we need to know about the Holocaust, art helps usunderstand it.
Frisch and Ulpana students already have responses to this topic posted on the school wiki.
American History: Mrs. Betty Kaplan, Mr. Joshua Gotlieb, Mr. Peter Tamburro
American history teachers covered the controversial issue of whether both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the American Jewish Community did enough to help European Jewry during World War II. Although Roosevelt was once seen unequivocally as the Jews' savior, recent research has thrown that idea into question. Go to the Frisch wiki for a look at how much of the Jewish vote Roosevelt received during World War II.
Talmud: Rabbi Yakov Blau, Rabbi Asher Bush, Rabbi David Goldfischer, Rabbi Sheldon Morris
Responsa from the Holocaust are heartbreaking and yet inspiring. Students are shown the incredible level of devotion Jews had to observing Halakha and keeping their faith alive. With our sister school in Israel, we decided to focus on responsa that have to do with  Kiddush Hashem, which fits well with issues students are dealing with in this year's study of Massechet Sanhedrin.
Hebrew Language: Morah Miriam Bar-Oz, Morah Ella Regev, Morah Dafna Zilberschmid, Morah Ronit Cole
Two weeks ago, The Ulpana students went to a museum, Shem Olam, that not only takes one through the experience of the Shoah from an  historical angle, but also grapples with the theological questions the Shoah raises, such as how could God allow the Holocaust to occur and why do bad things happen to good people? The Hebrew Language department began this conversation at Frisch by discussing a poem called "Akeidat Yitzchak," by the Hebrew poet Itzik, who felt, as other Jews did, that God had allowed His children to be sacrificed, and had not replaced us, as He did with Yitzchak in the Torah, with a ram.
Jewish Philosophy: Mrs. Rachel Besser, Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky, Dr. Shira Weiss, Mrs. Shaindy Zudick
Students continue the discussion of theodicy in a session on Jewish philosophy, during which they discovered philosopher Viktor Frankl's and the Rav's responses to suffering: We cannot fully know why or how evil happens, but we can transform ourselves into better people and the world into a better place, by resolving not inflict suffering and working to end it.
The formal portion of the program concluded with a wrap-up session on the importance of free speech as exemplified in a film clip from the movie Skokie, about the neo-Nazis' desire to march in Illinois. Students will also see from the clip that one of the most important lessons of the Holocaust for Jews was that we should balance our respect for free speech with a clear denunciation of hate speech and anti-Semitic vitriol.
During the last two periods of the day, students are using the school wiki page created for the day and working with partners to create Power Points that reflects what they've learned from the integrated sessions.