A Walk Through the Halls

Our classes have been in full swing for quite some time now for the 2014-2015 school year. As usual, the first few months of school have flown by quickly. We have celebrated so many meaningful holidays, and we already have our sights on Thanksgiving and Chanukkah! (Mitzvah plug: All parents should have received flyers asking if you would like to participate in this year’s projects for the Jacksonville community, such as donating money/food for Thanksgiving baskets, if you would like to sponsor children for holiday gifts, if you can send in gift cards for families/children who would otherwise not be able to celebrate the season. Please call the office if you would like more information.)


I am always amazed at all the wonderful learning that takes place within or walls. Right here in the Jacksonville Jewish Center, we are so blessed to have an entire academy from which to choose the path that is best for our families and children. Only nine, yes NINE, schools in North America have the luxury of educating children from age one through eighteen within their own synagogue, which offers financial and institutional support.


As I walked thought the halls in a given week, I saw our youngest students in the DuBow Preschool learning about Noah’s Ark and how to treat animals through the Jewish lens. Those lessons led up to an in-house petting farm visiting our campus. I walked through the lower grades of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School and heard lessons on space, Earth, Judaic studies about G-d and Creation, all leading up to a visit to the IMAX theater to see a 3D movie about outer space. Meanwhile, the middle school students were on their annual retreat to Camp Ramah Darom to bond, study, pray in nature and experience Judaism outside of the Academy walls.


Visiting the halls on a Wednesday afternoon gives me even more students to see! The Bernard and Alice Selevan Religious School is full of excitement with their newly-designed program including cooking, art, music, prayers and field trips. (Did you miss Hazzan dressed as Noah at the Jacksonville Zoo??) A few hours later in the day, the synagogue welcomes our older students for Hebrew High and USY activities and learning. They have had traditional learning, such as discussions about being thankful or about Israel, and they also have social action, such as making blankets to send to Israel.


Oh, and don’t forget, we have scouts of all ages! Girls and boys are here on our campus several different days of the week for indoor and outdoor scouting experiences. Our Setzer Youth Education component includes camping, youth groups, scouting and Hebrew High, so there is something for almost all ages of our community.


Galinsky Academy offers something for everyone. Even on Shabbat, our students have programming from preschool age through middle school, and high schoolers are always welcome to come lead some prayers, show us what you’ve learned, and keep those davening skills sharp! (Of course, we welcome younger participants as well!)


As a reminder, your lay and professional leaders are always here for you and welcome your feedback. We are especially fortunate to have our new Head of Schools, Rabbi Jim Rogozen, leading the Galinsky Academy this year and into the future. We have many years of greatness behind us, many wonderful leaders among us today, and under Rabbi Rogozen’s direction, we will continue to teach our Jewish leaders and adults of tomorrow.


For the 2014 – 2015 school year, your Galinsky Academy Education/Youth Cabinet consists of:

Voting Members of the Cabinet (except where noted):

Officers of the Education Cabinet:


Chair of Committee on Trustees – Alyse Nathans


Vice Chairperson/

Co-Chair of HSE – Lynn Maiman



Chair of Budget/Finance Comm. – Josh Shilts


Standing Committees & Positions (in addition to those listed above):

Immediate Past Chair – Mauri Mizrahi

Development – Andrea Mail

Head Support and Evaluation – Jon Israel

Day School – Gabrielle Bubis

Preschool – Lynda Gridley

Religious School – Stacy Leach

USY/High School – Faye Mizrahi

PTA President – Yakov Feig

Executive VP of the JJC – Rick Plotkin

Youth VP of the JJC – Dave Bielski


Members at Large:

Jesse Bannon

Rachelle Gottlieb

Karianne Jaffa (non-voting)

Erica Jolles

Debby Kaye

Dan Leveton

Penny Marks

Sheri Weiss

Morrie Zimmerman


Non-Voting Members of the Cabinet:

Head of Academy/Head of MJGDS- Rabbi Rogozen

Religious School Principal – Lois Tompkins

Preschool Principal – Shereen Canady

USY High/Youth Director – Steven Resnick

Rabbi – Rabbi Lubliner

Rabbi – Rabbi Tilman

Hazzan – Hazzan Holzer

JJC Executive Director – Don Kriss

JJC President – Fred Pozin

Past JJC Vice Presidents of Education


Summary of business from the October Education/Youth Cabinet meeting:

DuBow Preschool:

We currently have 7 classes. Our staff is working hard to achieve a 5-star rating in the Guiding Stars of Duval Program. We are so proud to share that in our first assessments, our classrooms scored among the highest in Duval County! These fall assessments determined our baseline scores and will be used to set mentoring and improvement goals for the year.   Our final scores will be determined by the final assessments performed in the spring. We are creating a curriculum/program  guide that will be ready for prospective families for the upcoming admissions season. **We have a BIG preschool anniversary year coming: 2017-2018 will be our 75th anniversary year!  We would like to start a steering committee that would help us to plan for a year full of events beginning September 2017.**

Bernard & Alice Selevan Religious School:

We have 76 students, with Kindergarten and first grade numbers having doubled from last year.  In preparation for this year, Lois and her team restructured the Hebrew School programming.  The same curriculum is being taught through a new and more exciting program called “Judaism through the Arts.”  The students have shorter classes, switch classes, and learn in fun ways and through art. Additionally, a Madrichim program has begun where Galinsky Academy students from 8th – 12th grades volunteer their time to help tutor children, take attendance, and keep the groups organized during classroom changes.  We are looking to increase the participants in the Madrichim program (in which High School students can earn community service hours).  Parent participation has increased significantly this year, and there is a positive, supportive atmosphere in the school.

Martin J. Gottlieb Day School:

The middle school Ramah retreat took place in early November, and many grades participated in student-led conferences also in early November. Intergenerational Day will be held the day before Thanksgiving. As our new Head of School, Rabbi Rogozen would like to work on several areas, including Judaic studies curriculum, reviewing admissions criteria for K and MS, partnering with other organizations in the community to increase school’s visibility and offer enriching experiences to students. Our marketing message for this year is to focus on our school’s uniquely Jewish identity and to address and dispel myths regarding Day School education. We will focus on transition years—pre K to K and 4th/5th to Middle School. We now have a part-time guidance counselor, who is a JFCS employee. She comes once a week, and she is working with parents, students, and faculty to make sure that everyone is involved and informed on situations and ways to help. We also have a special education professional, who is a JFCS employee. She is currently with us one day a week, but we hope to increase her hours. Jewish Studies grades are no longer pass/fail in the middle school due to a new and exciting opportunity for our students to get high school credits for two years of foreign language!

Setzer Youth Education:

We have so many wonderful staff members and volunteers this year.Our new Youth Director is Steven Resnick, and our Youth Assistant is Sarah Zakikhani (and she also works in the Day School office part time). This year’s Chalutzim advisers are Carrie Bielski and Jaimee Mitzmacher. Kadima advisers are Maura Silverstein and Matty Golub. USY advisers are Amy Shuman & Rosi Iskowitz. We also have very active scouting groups! Overseeing Boy Scouts is Allan Andrew. Cub Scouts is led by Marty Pett. Overseeing Girl Scouts Juniors is Rebecca Fixel. Girl Scouts Brownies leaders are Nancy Davis and Emily Carpenter. Girl Scouts Daisies leaders are Naida Gould, Jaimee Mitzmacher & Tracy Hibert. Rabbi Tilman is overseeing Shabbat programming, as well as the educational portion of Hebrew High. Rabbi Lubliner is overseeing the Siyyum program for our 12th graders. Meanwhile, we are also reshaping the Setzer Youth Summer Camp Program, and that committee is being co-chaired by Gayle Bailys and Melanie Setzer. Our lead staff for Setzer Youth Summer Camp (older than the Preschool age children) will be Steven Resnick and Rabbi Tilman. USY and Kadima conventions have already begun! USY went to Congregation Ohev Shalom in Orlando, and Kadima convention is from November 21st to 23rd at Camp Thunderbird in Apopka. Enjoy!

Institutional Advancement (formerly known as Development, Marketing and Admissions):

We will be placing ads for DuBow Preschool, Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, and Galinsky Academy in the Jacksonville Jewish News, Mandarin News, and Creekline News. We are also starting a Parent Ambassador program, which will provide guidelines and training to volunteers on how to represent the Day School in the community. Our marketing message for the school year is to push our uniquely Jewish identity (i.e.: all private, independent schools offer state-of-the-art technology…we teach your child how to be a mensch as well) and to address and dispel myths regarding Jewish day school education (too Jewish, secular education not up to par, etc.). We also are focusing on a couple of transitions that are critical to our enrollment numbers; namely, the move from Pre-K to Kindergarten, and then from Fifth Grade to Middle School. We are committed to doing a better job of marketing to our DuBow Preschool families, particularly in the Pre-K year. We have refreshed the L’Dor V’Dor mailout brochure, and it will be in the mail in early to mid November, with follow up calls being placed to each recipient thereafter. Our goal is to have 100% parent participation in our L’Dor V’Dor Annual Campaign for Education. We want to send all our Galinsky Academy students out into the wider world proud of their Jewish identity and traditions. Studies show that children involved in Jewish education and synagogue life are more likely to remain Jewishly active in later years. An anonymous donor will generously match your contribution dollar for dollar, so when you receive your letter, please give what you can. Our Jewish adults of tomorrow need us today!

Budget/Finance Committee:

We are reviewing several items, including moving our Day School and Preschool registration dates and financial assistance application deadlines to January (earlier than in the past) to help us better plan our budget for the next school year. We will be strict regarding deadline dates, which will be advertised widely to parents.


Thanks to a Homeland Security grant given to the JJC, we have had 60 additional cameras installed, and all external entrances now have card readers.

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