12/07/2017 04:41 PM Posted by: David Cohen
Vayeishev - [Jacob] Settled
Genesis 37:1−40:23
"Jacob now settled ... in the land of Canaan."

As with the story of Jacob's dream, his wrestling with the emissary of God, and the imagery of the iconic ladder to the heavens - this week's portion also contains some of the most memorable narratives in the Torah. We not only read about the continuing sagas of the many wives and all the children of Jacob, but also, we are presented with the famous story of Joseph and his brothers.  

Joseph is so important a figure in our history because he is all at once our link to Egypt, our link to the return of the Jewish people to the promised land, and our link to our earliest example of what it means for an Israelite to succeed in the midst of a foreign culture only to see his descendants marginalized by that same culture.  We read all of this and more through the story of Joseph, so it only makes sense to take a look at how his story actually began.

In so many stories from our tradition we look at human flaws and learn how those flaws relate to our own lives.  We don't even see a momentous story of liberation and slavery unless we first read about a group of brothers - the sons of Jacob - who turned on each other.  They were ripe with jealousy for a brother they felt held the favor of their father - and a brother who seemingly did not let them forget it.

This theme of sibling rivalry is so relevant to the work we do as educators and parents, not only because it does happen but because of where it came from in this story.  There is no question that Jacob favored Joseph and his mother over the other siblings and their mother.  We read about why in previous passages, but there is no evaluation of it's outcome until we get to this portion.  Veyeishev tells us about the outgrowth of jealousy, favoritism and boastful pride.

The learning in this portion of course comes from the opposite values from those just listed.  Contentment, fairness, and humility are at the core of what it means to be a decent person.  We all can fall into those negative traits on occasion, as we are once again presented with a cautionary tale in our weekly teaching.  One way to better understand the more positive course of action for this family is to look at the Kabbalistic teachings of the Omer - the reflective process we use just after Passover on our way to Shavuot. When we count the Omer we are presented with 7 different human attributes to examine and we are to ask ourselves how in balance are we with them all.

For example, love is an amazing attribute, but when Jacob shows too much love for Joseph, that creates an unfair situation for the whole family - an imbalance - and we can see the damage that can cause.  Who would have thought one could love too much?  This is a story that shows us how powerful love is and how careful we need to be when putting it on display.

So, one could look at this as a story of sibling rivalry, or one could look at it as a story about the immense power of love.  One could look at it as a story about Joseph's amazing power of seeing the future, or one could look at it as a story about staying modest, even when one has an amazing gift.

Whichever way you choose to see the family of Jacob, see both their amazing role in our history and their role in teaching us valuable lessons about life, family, and personal growth.
Useful resources on the weekly parsha:

Categorized under:  Torah

04/07/2017 09:53 AM Posted by: Ricki Komiss
Meredith Diskin, Class of 2001, is featured in the latest issue of HaYidion, the PRIZMAH magazine.

Dear Friends of Shlenker,

It is with much pride that I share this article with you.  Meredith Diskin, Anne Diskin’s daughter, was a student at Shlenker through fifth grade, graduating in 2001.  It is a story that could be told over and over at The Shlenker School, a story of frustration, concern, support, hard work, and success of a child.  It is a story of one teacher of many in Meredith’s educational career who helped her become who she is today, a doctoral student in Marine Biology! 

This article was published in the first Prizmah magazine, HaYidion.  Prizmah is the new organization representing all Jewish Day Schools, and Shlenker was asked to provide an article for this first issue!  It is a momentous occasion for us to be represented here.  Congratulations to Meredith, her mom Anne, Judy Zainfeld, and the many teachers coming after Judy who gave Meredith the opportunity to go for her dream!

Best regards,


A printable version of the article is at this link. The complete issue of the magazine is found here.


If you are a Shlenker graduate or know of a Shlenker graduate making news, we'd love to hear from you!


Categorized under:  Elementry EducationPreschool

03/09/2017 01:26 PM Posted by: Ricki Komiss
Saturday April 1, 2017 7:00 PM Congregation Beth Israel

The Shlenker School 30th Anniversary Soiree

Honoring Rabbi Samuel E. Karff with the 2017 Spark Award

Saturday April 1, 2017

7:00 PM

Congregation Beth Israel

Honorary Chairs:
Sherrie and Alan Eisenman
Roslyn and Ricky Haikin
Sabria and Kevin Lewis
Beth and Craig Lieberman
Rosalyn and Barry Margolis

Event Chairs:
Jeryl Golub
Jen Halpern

Rock with The Spazmatics

Attire: Rock your 80's or cocktail attire

For more information or to reserve your table, please email or call Judy Danziger: 713-270-6127 x619



Categorized under:  Elementry EducationPreschool

02/10/2017 10:44 AM Posted by: Ricki Komiss
We are pleased to welcome David Cohen to Shlenker beginning July 1, 2017.

I am delighted to announce that David Cohen will be joining our Shlenker Administrative Team as the Director of Jewish Learning for the 2017-2018 school year.  David will be on the Shlenker staff beginning July 1, 2017!   Mr. Cohen is currently the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Sinai Congregation in Toronto, Ontario.  He is a native Bostonian and is looking forward to coming to our warm climate and great city, synagogue, and school.   David has been involved in directing all aspects of Pre-K -12 programming as well as adult education programming in his current position at Temple Sinai.  He is currently supervising a full time pre-school director, full time education office manager, part-time program coordinator, part-time Hebrew coordinator, an assistant pre-school director and over twenty part-time teachers.  David currently manages a half-million dollar budget that includes securing grants and direct gifts.  Additionally, Mr. Cohen collaborates with the local federation, the local Reform Educators Council, and partners with numerous agencies and synagogues to create community programming and strategic initiatives.  He also engages with non- Jewish organizations on inter-faith, inter-cultural, and social justice related issues.   Additional work experiences for David include work with the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia where he directed Israel Advocacy initiatives.  David also served as a public school teacher for eight years, was an Associate Director for the Anti-Defamation League of Boston MA, and has served as a non-profit consultant, helping to guide many boards and agency leaders in strategic planning, communications, and community outreach.  We look forward to having Mr. Cohen interfacing with the Beth Israel clergy for services, learning opportunities, and collaboration across the campus We are fortunate to have David Cohen join the Shlenker staff for next year and look forward to some new, exciting opportunities in our Hebrew and Jewish Learning classes and offerings! 

Warmest regards,


Categorized under:  Elementry EducationPreschool

02/10/2017 10:36 AM Posted by: Ricki Komiss
A draft of the 2017-2018 Academic Calendar has been posted. Click HERE to access the calendar.
Categorized under:  Elementry EducationPreschool

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