Articles From October 2016

Montessori and Mesorah: Darchei Noam Montessori Expands into Lower Elementary


Picture a school where the students move around the room freely, choosing work that interests them and sitting or standing to complete it, totally focused and engaged. Imagine a classroom where the teacher never lectures from the front of the room, but moves from student to student, observing their progress, encouraging, suggesting, and guiding. At one table, the teacher gives a kriah lesson to a few students while another student learns math concepts by manipulating a trinomial cube. The work is hands-on. Everyone learns at their own pace.

For many families, this sounds like a dream, but for the past seven years, this scene has been a reality at Darchei Noam Montessori. Until now, this educational experience has been reserved for a few lucky three- to six-year-olds, but starting next fall, Darchei Noam will expand into first through third grades.

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Little Helpers


Having little helpers in the kitchen means spending quality time with little ones while teaching them so many things. There’s math – if half a cup is called for, but I can only find the one-cup measuring cup, how much do we need? How do we double a recipe, etc.? There’s real-life responsibility – oops, I dropped the peanuts all over the floor, how do we clean that up? There’s real-life problem solving – I don’t have any black beans, what can we do? (Use red beans? Leave it out? Ask a neighbor?) And one of the most important lessons in my mind – hey, I really like you and want to spend some time with you (and I think you’re clever and important and can help me figure this stuff out). (Disclaimer: there might be a tad bit more of a mess to clean up.)

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A Student’s Question: A Goldmine


Parents frequently complain: “How are we going to address and meet all our children’s needs?” “It’s so hard to be a parent today.” “How do I make my children happy?” Teachers complain: “Why is he/she so difficult?” “Always with questions, what about answers?” “Some of his/her questions are like attacks on Yiddishkeit, Hashem, or what I’m teaching!”

I address all of these complaints with the following two premises:

Premise #1: We know very little of how and what our students are thinking.

Premise #2: We know very little about our students’ true needs.

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Quality Jewish Early Childhood Education


As a Jewish early childhood educator with many years of experience, there is one thing that I love to do when visiting another area or school, and that is to visit the early childhood classroom when no teachers or children are present. Just looking at the room setup gives me many clues of what goes on when the children and staff are there.

I survey the room to see how the interest areas (blocks, dramatic play, table toys, art, music, library) are set up. In each area, is there enough room for children to play, bearing in mind that play is children’s work, and play is the way children learn? I look to see if each activity area (blocks, trucks, etc.) are set away from quiet areas such as library and table toys. Is each area clearly defined, separate from the other areas? Does each area have sufficient room in which to play? Can children move easily from one area to the next easily without interfering with play?

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Finding Your Klal


The school year is well underway, despite the start-and-stop feeling created by the chagim. The fall is often a time when the Jewish community comes back together; old school friends are reunited, many hours are spent at shul and at Yom Tov meals, and the rest of the year is before us.

For many families, though, the start of the school year is a time when they feel disconnected from the community. These are families for whom the smiling back-to-school photo barrage on Facebook and Instagram is a painful reminder that their child is not donning a uniform or joining the neighborhood carpool this year. There are many reasons why, but it seems that every year there is a significant number of Jewish children in our community who are not attending Jewish schools.

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A Where What When Exlusive Interview :My One-on-One Meeting with Governor Larry Hogan :


After Rosh Hashanah ended, I checked my emails, as I always do after a Shabbos or holiday, to find out what I missed during the two-day Yom Tov of restricted access to the outside world. I was rather shocked to receive an email dated October 3, 2016 from Governor Hogan’s press secretary asking me, “Can you come to the State House in Annapolis for a 15- to 20-minute in-person interview with the Governor this Friday, October 7, at 2 p.m.?” You may ask why I was surprised to receive this email. Precisely, it is because I had been requesting an interview with Governor Hogan since early August for the September edition of the WWW. However, the Governor’s staff informed me that he would not be available for an interview until some time in October, which led me to believe that perhaps the interview would never take place. I later learned that Governor Hogan was preparing to travel to Israel on a trade mission in September, which had not yet been made public. The Governor’s staff wanted to schedule the interview with the WWW for after his return from Israel so that he could discuss the highlights of the trade mission during the interview.

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To the Shadchan


To the Shadchan:

My older daughter got married a few years ago. The whole shidduch process went very smoothly for all of us. She was a typical kind of girl. She went to a typical seminary in Israel, came back, and started to work and go out. She had lots of friends like herself, and she wanted a typical type of boy.

My second daughter now wants to start dating. She is more of a loner, who does not have a lot of friends. There is something a little atypical about her. For instance, she doesn’t seem to be aware of fashion. (She likes to wear hats in the winter, which makes her “different,” silly as that may sound.) She also tends to be moody and emotional.

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Better Your Health with Beets


Beets are back! Beets are the “hot new superfood,” claims a recent article in the LA Times. And with consumers wanting quicker and easier access to their versatile properties, many companies have been producing beets in an ever-increasing variety of forms, including vacuum-packed, peeled fresh beets and beets jarred in vinaigrettes. The vibrantly hued vegetables have become more popular than ever as an ingredient in colorful salads and side dishes. They have even found their way into dessert recipes, such as chocolate fudge cupcakes.

If you’re familiar only with red beets, you’ll be delighted to learn that beets can be found in array of shades. According to Molly Watson of, “Beets come in a range of colors and sizes, from red and yellow to stunning candy-cane-striped Chioggia beets.”

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Beltway Shmeltway, Oyvay!


“Would a thinking human being drive on the Baltimore beltway?” asked a neighbor. “Would a non-gambler gamble?” was the response. Sometimes, however, “ehn brerah” (there is no choice). Whenever my vibel Shirley joins me for a trip involving the use of the beltway (aka as Route 695), her reaction shifts from panic to near hysteria. Nu, she’s right! Let me explain.

To enter the beltway you must increase the speed of your car from 40 miles per hour to 60 mph within a few seconds! This feat is accomplished on a narrow ramp leading to this raging river of cars, and as you enter, approaching vehicles keep you from moving into any space. The average speed on the Beltway is about 70 miles per hour. It is therefore in your best interest to have patience and wait for the traffic to ease up, when you will have a few seconds to act or to vehr tsuzetst (go bananas) waiting for the next opportunity to enter the race course.

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Advocating Successfully for Your Child

school child

So here we are, back at school, with excitement and dread all mixed together. As parents, we begin the year (not unlike the children) hoping for a teacher who’s a “match” for our child and will create the setting for healthy growth and learning. We daven for our child to be successful, to keep up with the work, and to feel socially and academically adept. And, as always, we think about the optimum ways to help this happen: How can we become a true partner in our child’s education? What happens if we have concerns? Is it best to keep quiet and hope things work out by themselves? Or is it better to be proactive? Is there a “best way” to advocate for our children?

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A Tuesday Morning in September

nine eleven

As I walked out of my apartment in Queens, I was struck by the beauty of the cloudless and sunny Tuesday morning. Normally, I took the bus or subway to work. Both would drop me off right in front of the vast bustling World Trade Center Plaza around 8:45 a.m. I would then walk across the Plaza to my office in the World Financial Center, directly across the street from the World Trade Center Towers, and arrive at my desk slightly before 9:00 a.m. That particular Tuesday morning, I decided to hop on an express bus to the World Trade Center. The clear skies made the express bus an attractive commuting option, since there was no rain in the forecast. I had scheduled my first meeting for 9:30, rather than 9:00 since the recitation of selichos at shul that morning would slightly delay my arrival at the office.

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A Family United Reunites : The Scheinerman Family Reunion

familoy reunion

Last Purim, when Tom and Gloria Golbert of Princeton, New Jersey, came to their daughter and son-in-law’s Purim seudah in Long Island, they did not know that they were about to experience their own personal Purim miracle.

“If I were a good mother, I would have been in the kitchen helping my daughter; instead, I stretched out on the couch and picked up a magazine on the coffee table,” relates Gloria. “It turned out to be Jewish Action, and as I was idly thumbing through it, it almost opened itself up to page 36, where I saw the words, ‘Peretz Scheinerman,’ and I shouted, ‘That’s my great-uncle!!’”

Gloria, was so excited to see the article, “Unbroken Faith: American Jewish Families Who Defied the Odds” [Spring 5776/2016] that she immediately contacted her children. When she spoke to her son, Bob, who lives in England, he told her, “Mom, I can’t believe this! I have never seen or heard of Jewish Action, but today it was in my mailbox. I saw the article and said to myself, Peretz Scheinerman is my great-great uncle!”

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Where Have All the Doctors Gone? New Realities at the Hospital


Any hospital stay, especially an unexpected one, can be a time of great stress. It’s bad enough that you are not feeling well and are stuck in this strange place rather than at home, where you are comfortable. On top of that is the vulnerability you or your family experience by not being sure of the outcome of this episode. Unfamiliarity with the health care staff, who are (hopefully) attending to your needs, creates another layer of anxiety. It’s confusing to even know “who’s who.” Is this person entering the room a PA? Intern? Resident? Nurse? Doctor? Mickey Mouse? (If you see Mickey Mouse, you may need an adjustment to your medications.) Even when you feel you are receiving excellent treatment, it is obvious you are not the only patient your doctor or nurse needs to tend to, and understaffing can be a problem.

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Retooling the Diet Mindset

diet food

Once upon a timegoing back to the 13th century, actually the word diet meant much more than the food we consume. It derived from the Greek word diaita, which signified a way of life that comprised not just food but the entire gamut of healthy living, including exercise and other healthy habits. Fast forward to the 21st century, when the word diet is more popularly used as a verb and now typically refers more to the foods we don’t eat than those we do. How did this happen, what are its implications, and how can we change this mindset?

Unlike in our grandparents’ time, we live today in an age of excess, in which food is all around us all the time. We eat more and move less. And so we gain weight, plain and simple. To reverse the effects of weight gain, we occasionally restrict our food, until we lose some weight. We either meet goal or give up. Either way, we eventually resume our “normal” mode of eating, and the weight we lost soon returns, often in spades. And the cycle inevitably resumes, so that dieting becomes a yo-yo activity with no end in sight.

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Dreams Come True : Journey to Netanya, The Aliyah of the Lehman Family


When I think of Netanya, my mind’s eye goes straight to its beautiful beach. The blue sky, warm sand, sparkling water, and, of course, the waves – crashing against the shore one after the other, each one in harmony with the next but coming in at a different angle. Recently, I had the privilege of spending Shabbos with a most incredible family in Netanya. Similar to the waves of the ocean, the Lehman family has found a home in the welcoming community of Netanya, yet remain distinct.

I meet Dina Lehman by the boardwalk on erev Shabbos. I assume she frequents the beach quite often, but she laughs and says, “People have to bring me out.” When the grandchildren visit, she enjoys the ocean’s beauty with them, but life is busy, and she doesn’t always have the time to relax by the beach. As we sit on a shaded bench next to the boardwalk, with paragliders cruising along the cliff line like giant kites, Dina shares her aliyah story.

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