My name is Rabbi Golker and I am head of Kodesh at Hasmonean High School, and it is my pleasure to tell you about the fantastic Kodesh developments at Hasmonean in recent years.
Let me first begin by telling you a story.
In 1744, nearly 300 years ago, the University of Virginia offered to sponsor the education of six Native Indians.
The Chief of the Native Indians thanked the University for their generous and well-intended offer, but politely declined it.
This is what he said:
“We have some experience of your education; several of our young people were formerly brought up at the colleges of the Northern Provinces. They were instructed in all your sciences, but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, nor kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly, were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors nor counsellors: they were totally good for nothing.”
“We are however not the less obligated by your kind offer, though we decline accepting it, and to show our grateful sense of it, if the people of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons; we will take care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.”
The point of course is, that different institutions have different educational objectives. The aims of the University of Virginia were very different to those of the Native Indians.
What are the aims and objectives of Hasmonean High School?
What is our mission statement?
What are we trying to achieve?
Hasmonean was founded by Rabbi Dr Solomon Schonfeld, זכר צדיק לברכה, during the Second World War. He dreamt of producing generations of students who proudly live according to the school ethos of Torah im Derech Eretz. Boys and girls who are committed to live a Torah life and are proud and passionate Jews and at the same time are equipped to make their way in this world and engage in the society in which they live.
Many decades later, I am confident, that Rabbi Schonfeld would be incredibly proud of the state of the school today.
I have been in the school for a long time, first as a student, then a Beis Rebbe and, for the past few years, Head of Kodesh of both sites. I can proudly say that the Kodesh provision in this school has never been better.
For details of the Kodesh outline curriculum, I refer you to the “What we Learn at Hasmonean” documents attached. But there is so much more. Kodesh is at the very heart of the school. It is the lifeblood of Hasmonean.
The range of provision, the quality of the Kodesh staff, the desire for excellence and the success of the many new initiatives that we have piloted and are now implementing.
There is a buzz and energy for all things Kodesh at both sites. It is a privilege to oversee and witness:
- The success of the new Active Kodesh programme at the boys school where many boys combine more experiential JS with their regular classes
- To see the exciting improvements at the girls school which offers:
- a range of rigorous textual classes in all years
- an accelerated track to really stretch our most able students
- over 200 girls a week voluntarily attending Kodesh Extra in lunch time and after school
To oversee and witness:
- the Beis, our internationally acclaimed Kodesh programme for boys in years 11 to 13, and the outstanding Midrasha, our Kodesh programme for girls in Sixth Form, in action every day.
- To see our new hugely popular year 7 pre-school Shacharis programme, in the boys school, which is in addition to other two pre-school Shacharis programmes
- To welcome top quality new Kodesh staff to join our Dream Team
- And to receive heart-warming feedback from Sems and Yeshivas, from parents and the community as a whole
Exciting times, but we are not resting on our laurels. Our aim at Hasmonean remains the same: to help each and every child fulfil their potential. To help them become proud and learned Jews who are equipped to lead successful, productive and meaningful lives.
Yes, a lofty aspiration in increasingly challenging times.
But our desire to strive for excellence in both kodesh and chol is something we are doing and succeeding at.