Hannah attended TT from KG to Gr. 6. “I appreciated learning Hebrew there (and even a little French), which has served me well since I moved to Israel and made Aliyah in 1999. Hannah’s last two children were born in Israel and are Sabras. Her youngest son, Avi, 19, went to kindergarten at TT and was taught by Robin Marcus. He is serving in the special forces combat unit of the IDF Nahal brigade.” Her daughter, Liat (who also attended TT with Ms. Soifer and was elected mayor of her Grade 2 class - twice!) recently married and planning to join Hannah in Israel. Her middle son graduated from the Technion university in Haifa in their engineering program. “Our eldest daughter made Aliyah with us at 16 years old. She married her ‘prince” - a music composer and video producer, and they have 5 beautiful children, all living in the mountains of Judea.”
“I appreciate that I received a Jewish education at TT, as well as a love for Israel and it laid a good foundation for me in my life. I have been self employed for the last 20 years as an advocate for Israel in the nations Canada, U.S., Poland and Japan, as well as online now over social media. I teach Torah studies online (parashat Hashavua) and have authored several books on Biblical subjects. I also volunteer teaching classes to women who have been victims of domestic abuse at a women’s shelter in the Negev. I am also involved in animal rescue in Southern Israel as a volunteer.” Hannah is currently living in the Negev and loves the “peacefulness of the desert”.
I loved learning about the culture and enjoyed picking up a few Hebrew phrases. The community was welcoming and inquisitive. Honey showed me what it meant to be a teacher; how to bring out the best in each student (build the relationship first, teach them second), and she modeled how to welcome and mentor new teachers into the profession. She said, “We’re a team and I hope we can plan and implement our program together.” And that’s what we did – she shared everything with me, and honoured and used my ideas too. I never forgot that.
The JH program at TT was established in 1997 and the next year, 1998, Lesley Heppleston and I became the JH Core teachers. I learned so much from Lesley, an experienced and highly skilled teacher and we became a dynamic team. That year, September 1998, there were Gr. 7 and Gr. 8 students enrolled, and we built from there- WE being staff, parents, Board Members, the community.
I taught in the JH program for 6 years and it was undoubtedly a highlight of my 30-year career. One of those six years, we maxed out our JH student enrolment with 65+ students representing all 3 grade levels. It was exciting to be a part of building something from the ground up with such dedicated and passionate people. Some of those students I taught for 3 years – grades 7, 8 and 9; I am still connected to many of them online. I learned a lot about the Jewish religion, culture, and community. I participated in school cultural celebrations, attended Bar mitzvahs and Bat mitzvahs, and accompanied two groups of students, along with Hebrew Curriculum Coordinator, Nurit Reshef, to Israel for their Gr. 9 trip.
During my 6 years with the JH, I taught English Language Arts, Social Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Drama. Teaching drama alongside a parent, Michelle Miller, and learning from her was another gift I received at TT. Over the 7 years I taught at TT, I worked with 5 Principals (Phyllis Levine, Honey Weinlos-Issacs, Tom Davey, Scott Miller and Pat March) and many wonderful staff.
I was asked to share favourite memories, some which I have woven in; there are so many wonderful memories that it’s difficult to pick but I’ll highlight a few.
I left Talmud Torah with mixed emotions at the end of the 2003 -2004 year. It was hard to leave a place and a community that I loved. A new opportunity presented itself and everything aligned in my favour.
“Our lives are fashioned by our choices. First we make our choices. Then our choices make us.” – Anne Frank
I’m forever grateful that early in my career I chose to teach at Talmud Torah. The school and the community will forever hold a special place in my heart. With fondness, Debbie Jackson