Dvar Torah

“And God appeared to him in the plains of Mamre.” (Genesis 18:1)

The Midrash relates that when God commanded Avraham to circumcise himself and his entire household, Avraham sought the advice of his three confederates – Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Aner told him that the bris would weaken him and render him vulnerable to attack from relatives of the four kings he had just vanquished. Eshkol stressed that the operation itself, with the obvious loss of blood, was life threatening. Mamre, however, told Avraham that having experienced God’s deliverance from Nimrod’s furnace and the miraculous victory over four mighty kings, he should trust in God and follow His command. For this advice, Mamre was rewarded by God appearing to Avraham on his estate – “in the plains of Mamre.”

There are several difficulties with this Midrash. Most importantly, why did Avraham feel the necessity to seek advice whether or not to fulfill God’s command? And if he needed advice, why did he not go to the illustrious Yeshiva of Shem or Ever, where Torah was learned daily? Additionally, why was Mamre rewarded for giving Avraham obvious advice, rather than Aner and Eshkol punished for attempting to dissuade him?

To answer these questions, we must first understand the essence of friendship and the value of a friend. The Sages teach that before God created man, He first consulted with the angels. From this we learn that one should seek advice even from those on a seemingly lower spiritual/religious level and can still view them and respect them as friends.

Everyone’s personal perspective is highly subjective and biased. Therefore, one needs the perspective of someone who is removed from all the subjective biases that cloud one’s vision, and could offer advice without having to contend with a similar strong desires. The purpose of a friend’s advice is to provide an objective view of the issue at hand. Therefore the friend must not introduce his own biases, emotions and subjectivity. His task is not to imagine himself with the same dilemma, but rather to ask himself, “If I were he, without his subjective bias, what would I do?”

Aner and Eshkol did not give him bad advice. In fact, the Midrash never says explicitly that they advised him not to perform the mitzvah. Rather, they considered what they would do if faced with a similar command and advised Avraham accordingly. Mamre, by contrast, projected himself into Avraham’s place and advised him on the basis of Avraham’s frame of reference and experience of Divine protection. For freeing himself from his own subjective perspective, Mamre was rewarded by God’s appearing in his portion. Objectivity is the precondition for recognition of the truth, i.e. the recognition of God Himself. (Rabbi Zev Leff)

This Dvar Torah is inspired by my awesome SIHA Team! Collaborating with all of you daily is my greatest honor and privilege.
Thank you so much for being a part of the modeling and searching of truth!

Shabbat Shalom,

Chana Uzhansky Ed.D.
Head Of School

Programming News

Dear parents.
Thank G-d, we had a wonderful week at Siha!
Students are working on washing Netilat Yadayim in the morning as well as each time they eat any kind of bread.
Contest charts will be due on Nov 3rd.
Looking forward to seeing many filled out Netilat Yadayim charts!
There will be prizes for every child who fills out their chart, as well as exciting raffle prizes.

Shabbat Shalom!
Enjoy your weekend.

Best Regards,
Miss Dershowitz
Mrs Ferber


Kindergarten and First Grade
We baruch Hashem had another great week in Kindergarten and first grade judaics!
In aleph-bet, the kindergarteners really mastered the letter “vet” and learned how vet vacuumed the bouncy balls out of the letter bet! They also had lots of fun making the letter with playdough and macaroni and playing a funny game of “pin the ball on the vet to turn it into a bet”!
The first graders finished reviewing all the letters of the aleph-bet. Once they know all the letters inside out, they’ll begin to learn how to read!
Monday was the yahrtzeit of our matriarch Rachel. We learned how she is the mother of all of us and is constantly praying for us. We also made a delicious food project depicting the place where she is buried, Kever Rachel.
In tefilla, the kindergarteners are learning the words of the shema prayer which we say at night and in the morning. We made a shema sign to hang near our beds and have an exciting contest for when we say shema at home! The first graders are busy making their very own siddurim! They’re learning the words of the ma tovu prayer and are doing a great job!
In parsha, we learned how Avraham Avinu loved to do the mitzvah of hachnasas orchim – inviting guests. We learned from him the correct way to host, and that “the guest gets the best”!
Looking forward to another great week!
Morah Chavi

Second Grade
We had a wonderful week in 2nd grade as we discussed our Hebrew names. We did a worksheet where we had to fill in the missing letter of our classmates Hebrew name. We are excited to be learning all about the special day of Shabbat and of course we learned Parsha. In this weeks Parsha we learned about two fundamental Jewish traits. Bikur Cholim-visiting and calling our friends who are sick and the mitzva of Hachnasat Orichim, the mitzva of inviting guests to your home. Talia told the class how she shares her games when her friends and cousins come over and other students shared how they and their families invite guests over. Shabbat Shalom! Morah Spiegel

Third Grade
My thoughts of this past week keep making me smile! Third grade is really learning and growing.
Our davening is so pleasant and beautiful to Hashem. It makes me so proud.
We are working on our handwriting of the script Aleph Bet. It can be tricky but third grade is writing really neatly.
Our dikduk quiz was such a delight to mark. The boys and girls really know how to differentiate a Zacha or Nekaivah word. We are moving right along with plurals- Rabim and Rabot. They are really catching on quickly. We are also learning the Ivrit numbers for Zachar and Nekaivah which they can sing and tell you the numbers really well! Keep it up!
Sarit Lunger taught a wonderful and practical middah that we should practice. “Don’t get angry easily”.
This Pisgam the third graders can sing as well! It’s truly amazing how well they learn.

Have a restful Shabbat!
Morah Ferber

Fourth Grade
Dear Parents,
What a fun filled week it was. There is a lot to talk about.
In our beautiful Tefilla, we spoke about an escalator. We spoke how an escalator bring us up high, so too our Tefilla lifts us up. The Tefilla the children are doing is really inspiring. The way Josh and Ariella Daven is surely remarkable.

In our Chayeinu lessons we are really mastering the Nekudot. We had different lessons and the children are really understanding them. Today we had “catch the Nekodah in the fish. It was really fun. Matthew and Ethan really know the Nekodot and can say them really clearly.

One day we divided the class and had two teams. One team was the Yankees and the other was the Mets. The teams got points by Davening and learning well. Do you know who won? It was a tie.
Happy Birthday to Mia Factor. May Hashem, give you have a long happy with loads of good things.
We spent time this week talking about how much fun School is. We started our famous song “fourth grade is fun”. It is so much fun in school with all our friends. Let’s all keep up the great work.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Berelowitz

5th and 6th Girls
Dear parents.
Thank G-d, we had an incredible week at Judaics!
We continued learning the first blessing in Shemoneh Esrei. This is the prayer where we ask Hashem to help us in the merit of our forefathers Avrohom (Abraham), Yitzchok (Isaac), and Yaakov (Jacob.)
We spoke about following in their footsteps by being kind; by being strong and doing the right thing no matter how tough it is; and by recognizing G-d’s love for us and accepting His plan during difficult times.
We also spoke about our special privileges. Every Jew has a spark of Hashem inside of them, no matter where they are or how religious they are. (Ella definitely thinks it is rainbow colored, but that is debatable:) )
Every Jew can also reach out to Hashem no matter where they are or what they’re doing, in any language and at any time. And G-d listens to us!
We also continued on in our Chumash – Torah – lesson. We learned about the power of learning Torah and the tremendous joy of following the Torah.
It is the sweetest and happiest life!
We began Megillat Esther, which is the story of Purim. We will be learning it twice a week.
We continued learning the first Ani Maamin – Principal of Faith. G-d created everything and controls the world each second.
We learned Parshat Vayeira. Remind your daughter to tell you the Shabbat story – it is amazing!
We watched an unbelievable Shabbat video about Sam the Cyclist and Jacobo Sharim and the earthquake. Your daughters can clarify for you.
One thing we’re all clear about is ..
“Ki Eshmera Shabbat Kel Yishmereini.
If I watch the Shabbat, G-d will watch over me.
“A symbol of His love for us it will always be…”
The girls had a great time singing (and dancing) the Shabbat songs. Make sure you have them sing for you on Shabbat.
Shabbat Shalom!
Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend!
Best Regards,
Miss Dershowitz

5th and 6th Boys
Every day the boys are getting better and better at remembering to wash Netilat yadayim properly on their own
The boys took a test on Hashkamat Haboker-Laws upon awakening in the morning
We delved into Parashat VaEIra in Shmot [not to be confused with Parashat VaYera, this week;s Parasha
which we covered in much detail.
We have completed the first segment in Mishna, with words, translation and notes on the subject.
Mazal tov to;Brandon Sanders and Lenny Koza upon their new Tzitzit .
The boys were inspired by our demonstration and discussion thereof.
There is always more
in store.

7th and 8th Girls
What an accomplished week!
We davened beautifully.
We learned a lot about this week’s fact filled Parasha.
We finished our first segment in Yehoshua
We learned a new look on Tzniut
We are in middle of an interesting Holocaust book titled Mengele’s 301st
We celebrated Maddy’s Bat Mitzvah c/o Miss Dershowitz Mazal Tov Maddy!

7th and 8th Boys
Dear Parents,
What a fun filled week it was. There is a lot to talk about. We start our day talking about a Mitzva. This week we started a new Miztvah. It is the Mitzvah of Tzedakah-Charity. We started collecting money. We learnt that there are priorities who to give the money to. One of the priorities is poor people of your town. We decided we will give the money to poor people in Staten Island. We already have a nice sum of money.
In Gemara we are Shteiging all about when the Pasuk says something what is the Pasuk coming to exclude. The students do their notes and say the Gemara with such enthusiasm. There are people in the school that come, watch, and enjoy the class learn with such enthusiasm.
In Halacha we started learning about the Mitzva of Mezuza. We had questions about what happens if you have 2 doors to a room do they both need a Mezuza.
We had a competitive row game this week. The winners were Kobe Shabat, David Papirov, Ilan Abramov and Oren Dery.
7th and 8th grade boys are really excelling,

Topics from the Parsha:
Hashem came to visit Avraham on the third day after his Bris.
Hashem made it a very hot day so that no guests would be able to travel. Avraham was sad that he couldn’t invite guests, so Hashem sent 3 Angles to be his guests.
1 Angel was to tell Sarah that she would have a baby boy. The third Angel came to destroy Sedom.
Hashem told Avraham that Sedom would be destroyed because of their terrible Middot and sins. Avraham started to daven right away to ask Hashem not to destroy Sedom.
2 of the Angles went to Sedom and were greeted by Lot who insisted that they come eat and sleep in his house, even though it was against the rules of Sedom. Lot had learned about the Mitzva of inviting guests from Avraham.
Lot, his wife and 2 daughters followed the Angles out of Sedom. They were warned not to look back and see the wicked getting punished. Lot’s wife was very curious and didn’t listen. As soon as she looked back, she turned into a pile of salt. (Why salt?)
Yitzchok was born to his mother Sorah (90 years old) and his father Avraham (100 years old) just like the Angle had promised.
Akeidat Yitzchok – the tenth and final test. Hashem told Avraham to bring his only son Yitzchak to Har Hamoriah and bring him as an offering. Even though he didn’t understand why, Avraham began quickly with excitement, and didn’t listen to his evil inclination who was telling him not to go. At the last second, an Angle called out, “Avraham Avraham” Don’t hurt your son at all, you passed the test since you were ready to do it.
The Angle told Avraham to bring a ram as an offering instead. This is the reason we blow a Shofer from a ram on Rosh Hashanah, to remember this great Mitzva that Avraham and Yitzchak did.

Keep it up,
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Berelowitz

Thoughts from Mrs. Hazen

“Well, it’s been one of those weeks–”
I think that I am luckier than most people, in that I get to do what I love. I don’t usually get to say the above phrase, but I know it is frequently said. Even here, sometimes, we have one of those weeks.
The best part of teaching is that no two students, no two classes, and no two weeks are alike. That’s also the worst part of teaching. What worked great for one class may not work for another. Some weeks are stellar, and some weeks have their challenges.
I see it in the students, too, at all levels. It’s not easy being a fifth grader, or an eighth grader. Of course, they are shielded from all the various adult problems by their loving parents, their caring community, and even us. Despite that, it’s not easy growing up. It’s not easy discovering oneself and one’s own abilities, and most importantly, it’s not easy discovering the limits of one’s abilities.
Students have ‘those weeks’ too, frequently for reasons not under their control. They don’t have the benefit of adult experience that can tell them what is less important and what is more important. A stumble may feel to a kid like a fall they will never recover from. A skill they have to work on can seem like an irredeemable flaw.
Of course, it’s precisely in these moments that students grow. They do overcome their challenges, every day – in school, at home, and personally. They learn and they grow, and all of them want very much to grow into good people and to make their families and community proud.
I wish I could tell them that they will make their families and communities proud. They don’t always believe these things, especially when adults tell them.

The poem this most makes me think of is Invictus, by William Ernest Henley. It ends on a very memorable pair of lines:

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
Mrs. Hazen

Elementary School

This week kindergarten learned the letters P, I, J, and W. Some students were excited to try writing a sentence using the letter of the day and they did an amazing job. They continued to practice spelling and reading cvc words and this week they learned how to read and spell plural cvc words. In math they learned how to sort and classify objects and the difference between left and right. They thought it was really funny to take their shoes off and sort and classify their shoes by different attributes. They took their first math test this week and I am so proud of the students and how well they did on the test. In science they reviewed the five senses by doing a fun experiment with popcorn. They also learned about weather and how to measure temperature. They were fascinated to see how a thermometer works by experimenting with reading the thermometer in hot and cold water. In social studies they talked about how to recognize and express different emotions. They picked one of the emotions they learned about and then they made a mask showing that emotion.

First Grade
The first grade continues to be amazing. This week we discovered different types of sentences. Students enjoyed creating statements, questions, and exclamations about their classmates. They also had fun playing a Grammar game wherein they added punctuation marks to the ends of sentences.
In Social Studies, students discussed the importance of leaders and rules. Our first graders created posters about the people they most admire. (Most of them chose mom and dad!) Finally, we began a Science experiment to see if there is air pollution near SIHA. Students smeared cards with petroleum jelly and placed them both outside and inside the classroom to see if we can “catch” any particles in the air. The first graders predict that it is much dirtier outside than inside. Let’s hope they are right! We will see on Monday.

Second Grade
This week 2nd grade had our first grammar test. It was on types of sentences, the subject and predicate of a sentence, and other parts of a sentence. The class did very well over all! In math we are learning how to add and subtract with 3 digit numbers, and we are also learning how to solve word problems. In the pictures, you can see Sophie Braun working on a word problem at the board, as well as Talia Abramov working on a subtraction problem. In social studies, we wrapped up our first unit on people and places.
In science, students learned about the life cycle of a plant; what do we get from plants and how important they are in our daily life.
During science class students were able to look under the microscope at the mushroom that they collected outside after a rainy day.

Third Grade
This week Grade 3 students continued to read their novel Love That Dog. They were able to see Jack finally be a bit less resistant towards poetry after he read The Tiger! by William Blake. During our Grammar lessons, we practiced identifying complete subjects within sentences along with the verbs that begin the predicate. During our Math lessons, students continued their study of place values with the concentration towards how many thousands, hundreds, and tens there are within a four digit number. We also continued to develop our skills in reading and using charts and graphs such as a bar graph to solve word problems. Students also worked on ordering and comparing numbers of different values using symbols <, >, and = … with the occasional Ally the Alligator and her friend Bob illustrations. During our Social Studies lessons, we concentrated on the elements of a map and how to read different types of maps. Students were able to use Venn Diagrams to compare and contrast different types of maps as well as a compass and compass rose. Students also had a chance to create their own maps, which included elements such as a map key and compass rose.
Miss Sasha

Fourth Grade
This week in ELA students combined sentences with compound predicates. Corrected run-on sentences. Used time order words in their short writing. Students are continuing to improve their writing skills through daily writing activities.
In Math this week students worked on order of operations. Solved equations with addition, subtraction , division and multiplication using PEMDAS. Reviewed for the the upcoming test next week.
In Social Studies kids read, discussed, defined vocabulary words, and answered questions on the features that form regions and why regions are important.
Please note that it’s extremely important for kids to memorize the multiplication table in order to do well with the 4th grade math curriculum.

In science, students explored how water travel through the stem’s plants during a “Celery Experiment”. A lab report will follow up next week.

Students also were able to explain the food-making process in the leaf’s plant and explained the process of photosynthesis.

Fifth Grade


5A and 5B finished their first chapter. They have been working hard on finding factors of numbers, prime factorization, exponents, and multiplying & dividing numbers by 10s, 100s, and 1000s. The students took their first test of the year and they all did amazing! 

In ELA we learned all about complete subjects and predicates as well as simple subjects and predicates. We read non-fiction texts and we practiced finding the central idea and key details to support our central idea. We also continued to read our class novel, Maniac Magee. We had some amazing class discussions over our novel!

In social studies we learned about how the earliest people came to the Americas. We learned about the challenges they faced when they first settled the land and about how agriculture changed their lives.

Students learned and analyzed the parts of the respiratory system functions. Students were able to model both systems on hands-on activity. Mrs. Belli wants to mention Ella Dery, Noilee Oz for doing such a great job on describing and modeling Circulatory and Digestive systems.


5A and 5B finished their first chapter. They have been working hard on finding factors of numbers, prime factorization, exponents, and multiplying & dividing numbers by 10s, 100s, and 1000s. The students took their first test of the year and they all did amazing! 

In ELA we learned all about complete subjects and predicates as well as simple subjects and predicates. We read non-fiction texts and we practiced finding the central idea and key details to support our central idea. We also continued to read our class novel, Holes. We had some amazing class discussions over our novel!

In social studies we learned about how the earliest people came to the Americas. We learned about the challenges they faced when they first settled the land and about how agriculture changed their lives.

Students learned and analyzed the parts of the respiratory system functions. Students were able to model both systems on hands-on activity. Mrs. Belli wants to mention Ella Dery, Noilee Oz for doing such a great job on describing and modeling Circulatory and Digestive systems.

Middle School

Middle School ELA and Social Studies
6th Grade
6th Graders had a good week! In reading, we continued our novel study of Fish in a Tree. We discussed characterization. Students did a great job discussing in class! In grammar, we learned about compound subjects and predicates.
In Social studies, we wrapped up our unit on ancient Mesopotamia. Students wrote a summary paragraph and watched a video on the Assyrian Empire. Mrs. Hazen is impressed with all of her students, but she wants to commend Ruti for being an amazing student!

7th Grade

7th graders had a busy week! In reading, we continued our novel study of Fever, 1793. We discussed imagery and plot, and even got to make some doodles of what we read about. Mrs. Hazen is particularly impressed with Naomi’s drawings and in-class participation!
In grammar, we learned about subject complements. Mrs. Hazen was impressed with Kobe Shabat’s hard work and the 101% he got on his grammar and vocabulary quiz!
In social studies, we started our lesson on Europe before 1492. We learned about the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Mrs. Hazen wants to commend Eva for her excellent contributions to our class discussion!

8th Grade

8th graders had a great week! In reading, we continued our novel study of Lord of the Flies. We delved further into the book and discussed setting and character motivation. In grammar, this week was all about subject complements. We reviewed subject complements and practiced with predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives.
In Social Studies, we learned about the causes and the effects of the Russian Revolution. Mrs. Hazen would like to commend Jeffrey, who is a diligent student and always awesome in class discussion!
Middle School Math
6th Grade
The sixth graders finished their first unit. They have become masters at creating number lines, identifying opposites and absolute values, classifying numbers, converting decimals to fractions, converting fractions to decimals, and converting mixed numbers to improper fractions and vice versa. They took their first test and did a great job!

7th Grade
The 7th grade class has been working on solving word problems requiring them to write and solve two-step equations. The 7th grade honors class has been working on solving word problems that require them to write and solve one-step inequalities.
8th grade
The 8th grade class has been applying their knowledge of ratios and proportions to solve word problems. They also have been working on solving inequalities.

Middle School Science
6th Grade

Students learned features formed by processes that shape Earth’s surface; they created a pop-up landform diagram that allows them to see elevation and relief of each main landform; Students learned, understood, and were familiar with maps.

7th Grade

Welcome Back to SIHA’s finest form of communication regarding the progress of all SIHA students. 7th grade is discovering the ways in which we identify the characteristics of physical properties, the difference between a physical and chemical change and how we determine the various characteristics of matter. Students will watch various videos and conduct hands-on investigations to determine the density of an object.

8th Grade

Students are discovering what it means to be alive! Students will be completing a Scientific Explanation answering the essential question “What does an organism need to be deemed alive?” They are investigating various articles and will watch a few videos to begin their investigation, so they can determine a position and make a claim. Once their investigation is complete, students will make their claim and support it with evidence from the sources they used to complete their investigation.

Jewish History
7th grade Jewish history is getting very exciting and thought provoking as we grapple with questions like what was there before time existed and how exactly did Hashem create the world. We spent some time exploring how our world changed over time as well. Kobi and Ilan had some amazing questions and Asher’s question sent me off to do some research and call my Rabbi for more information! Keep it up!

8th grade is learning in detail about the split in the kingdom of the Jewish people and the events that took place in the kingdom of Yehuda and the kingdom of Yisroel.