The last remaining founder of the State of Israel passed away this week.  Former Israeli President Shimon Peres was 93 years old when he died on September 28. For nearly 60 years, he loyally served the citizens of Israel in many roles including as Prime Minister, President, Defense Minister, and Minister of Foreign Affairs.  In 1994 he and Yitschak Rabin won a Nobel Prize for their efforts to secure peace in the region.

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Peres, but the circumstances were unfortunate.  During the summer of 2014, my wife Rachel and I paid a shiva visit to the family of the Ethiopian soldier, Moshe Malko, who had been killed in the war in Gaza.  Coincidentally, we had been renting an apartment one floor above Mr. Peres’s apartment in Talbea (Jerusalem).  We had heard that the Molkos had few visitors and decided to pay a shiva visit in their community in Neve Ya’acov about twenty minutes north.

The large immigrant family was sitting shiva in the social hall of their neighbourhood synagogue; their house was too small to accommodate even a modest group of comforters. Those who came to comfort the boy’s parents and siblings stood in line to share a wordless expression of sorrow.  We sat down on folder chairs across from them in silence.  What does one say to a family who sacrificed their son so that we can live in safety and security?

Towards the end of our shiva visit, President Shimon Peres and Mayor Jerusalem Nir Barkat entered the room. Here was a humble Ethiopian family who prior to all of this wasn’t known by diplomats, dignitaries, or politicians.  Now, some of the most important people in Israel made the time to express their sympathies.  Peres extended his hands to embrace the deceased soldier’s mother.  I could feel the warmth and empathy he was expressing (see photo).

That summer, Mr. Peres announced his retirement (read his most moving farewell address  At 91 he was the oldest living head of state in the world.  He was a noble soldier and a pursuer of peace.  He was a visionary and inspiring speaker.  He also had a disarmingly self-deprecating sense of humor.  If you haven’t seen the four-minute parody that he made about his search for employment after leaving the Presidency, take the time and watch it.

He was also a great optimist.  Aviva Klompas, a former speechwriter for UN Ambassador Ron Prosor and current Israel strategist for the UJA of Boston and daughter of our recently retired TCW Guidance Department Head Margaret Klompas, captured Peres’s uniqueness in her blog post two weeks ago.

She wrote:

In addition to being a father of the Jewish state, Shimon Peres was a father of possibilities. At a time when nobody thought that peace was possible between Israel and its Arab neighbors, he helped negotiate peace with Egypt and with Jordan.

This champion for peace was also a realist who said, “I don’t say that peace is perfect, but we prefer an imperfect peace to a perfect victory or a perfect war.” (

Shimon Peres dealt in hope.  He was a man of dreams.  In a TED talk, Mr. Peres shared some wisdom that is appropriate for the High Holiday season. He said: “In the evening, I make a list of the mistakes I made during the day and the people I insulted, and I look for ways to correct it.  In the morning, I make a list of the dreams I have and try to realize them.”

In a strange way, I feel like an orphan.  Mr. Peres was the last living connection we had to the generation of courageous leaders who launched the rebirth of the modern State of Israel and the historic ingathering of the Jewish people.  May his ever-flowing optimism inspire all of us to dream dreams that will help build a more secure future for our homeland and our people.

May Shimon Ben Yizchak V’Sarah rest in peace.


I’m often asked how TanenbaumCHAT prepares students for university and beyond.  I, myself, can think of many answers to that question, and in a future blog post, I’ll share my observations.  In the meantime, I asked a few TanenbaumCHAT graduates who are now enjoying the fruits of their labour on a university campus to share their reflections.  Here is what they said.

Maxwell Charlat, class of 2015 and a student at Yeshiva University, zeroed in on time management as one of the key ways in which TanenbaumCHAT prepared him for university.  “TanenbaumCHAT teaches students that time is valuable. TanenbaumCHAT offers so many amazing extracurricular activities while expecting high academic performance from each student. With a jam-packed schedule and limited time, TanenbaumCHAT teaches students to be productive and maximize the limited time they have.”

Mark Freeman, class of 2011, independently echoed Maxwell’s thoughts and added  leadership development as a valuable benefit of a TanenbaumCHAT education.  He put it this way:  “TanenbaumCHAT’s dual curriculum challenged me as a student to improve my work ethic and time management, while giving me exposure to a wide variety of subjects and inspiring me to develop broad academic interests. As a fairly small school, it’s also one in which opportunities to take on leadership roles are plentiful, with all the opportunities for personal growth that these things entail. When I got to university, where learning, leadership, and diligence are so crucial, I found myself ready to grapple with the challenges I faced there that required a strong command of these skills. Of course, these skills are so broadly applicable in life that I haven’t exactly outgrown them since graduation!”

Kevin Jacobs, Class of 2012 who is currently doing a Master’s of Information at the University of Toronto, said that what he gained most from TanenbaumCHAT was the confidence to succeed. “Confidence is certainly important for success in undergraduate studies. That confidence allows alumni to feel like they belong where they are and to avoid the ‘imposter syndrome’ so common amongst students at a higher level of education. As I begin my Master’s degree, I feel like I can do it because I was able to maneuver through the challenging and exciting double curriculum at TanenbaumCHAT.”

When I think about how best to prepare our students for life beyond school, I ask myself what pieces of my education am I using now as an adult.  Are they not precisely the values our graduates articulated: time management, a strong work ethic, and the confidence to succeed?  The next time someone asks you “Why TanenbaumCHAT?,” share with them at least these three ways our school prepares students not just for the next level of education but for life.

Kevin Jacobs





Maxwell Charlat


Hello class of 2020 and welcome to your grade nine orientation. My name is David Romi-Babany… and I am your student council president….I was born in South Africa, I am a Netivot graduate, I play on the basketball team and soccer team, and I’m also a madrich. So in other words, I’m going to be seeing you guys a lot this year….

2020 seems like it’s a long ways away, but trust me when I say this, these next few years will truly fly by….and the way to reach your full potential at TanenbaumCHAT is to get involved in the amazing opportunities that we offer and encourage you to do. From the little things like accepting the free chocolate on chocolate day, or putting your Raptors jersey on to rep the 6ix for jersey day. To the big things like running a campaign to be your grades student rep, or going full out and dressing up with your YOM AHAVA dates. Getting involved and putting yourself out there is something that is stressed so much here because it is the fundamental ingredient for turning a normal high school into the unforgettable experience that this school truly is.

Take a moment to look to the people on both sides of you. Look at the teachers over there, look at the student council over here, and look at me…. This is your family. We will be with you guys through the highs of the shabbatons, and the lows of the hell weeks. We will be there to show you where main street it, tell you which office to go to, what food to buy at the caf, what sports teams to join and which clubs are best suited for you. Because that’s what families do. And in high school, it’s always helpful to have someone leading the way for you like an older sibling. Someone that you can look up to, someone that you can count on to be there for you, someone that genuinely cares for you and wants you to succeed in every aspect of life.

When I was in grade nine, I was very fortunate to have an older brother who went to TanenbaumCHAT. He was able to give me so many tips on how to make high school an amazing time. The greatest piece of advice that he ever gave me, one that I will cherish forever, was to get involved and do something that people will remember you by. I live by those words, and my job this year, as your older brother, is to pass that same lesson on to you guys….

As you go through the next four years, this school will help shape you into a more passionate, hard-working, and dedicated person. You have been given the amazing opportunity to live by my brother’s words… and if you just put yourself out there, you will see that over the next four years, while this school is shaping you, you too will be able to shape this school.

Get ready for the best four years of your lives.


Click here to see a short video; “What you think TCK is like vs. What’s it’s actually like.”

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When I think of innovation, I think of high-tech companies or some small start up.  I didn’t expect to find an innovation hub on a kibbutz that was founded in the 1920’s.

This summer, I spent a day with a trim, well-tanned 72 year old artist, educator, and Six-Day War hero named Avital Geva.  You might have heard of Avital Geva from Yossi Klein Halevy’s book “Like Dreamers.”  He is one of the seven members of the 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade that fought to liberate Jerusalem in June, 1967.  Halevy describes the evolution of Geva’s political views in the aftermath of the Six-Day War.



In 1977 Avital Geva built a greenhouse the size of a large warehouse on his Hashomer Hatzair Kibbutz Ein Shemer, near Haifa.  It is filled with fish ponds and lily pads, plant nurseries and scientific equipment, a massive rain machine and hundreds of bubbling pop bottles filled with algae.  This greenhouse was the first place in Israel that figured out how to grow vegetables on recycled water (the first hydroponic system in Israel) and the first to grow vegetables in planters filled with lava culled from extinct volcanoes in the Golan Heights.

Geva built the greenhouse originally to stimulate high school students to experiment on ecological projects because “Israel’s future depends on raising young people able to deal creatively with earth, wind, water.”  As he says, “I take a little agriculture, a little ecology, a little education and mix it with coffee; students learn by doing.”


For the past four plus decades he has been bringing Muslims and Jews, Ethiopian kids who are challenged with the regular framework of school and  American students from High Tech High in San Diego and from the Far East to learn, discover, invent, innovate, and experiment.  As well, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Technion, teachers from local schools and those abroad come to teach or conduct their own scientific research.  The magic happens when these naturally curious kids are paired with these high-tech entrepreneurs and scientists.

I saw a new aeroponics unit built by an MIT student.

I heard about the work of a group of high school students who had worked with a big leafy plant from South America where they are proposing that the water-repellent leaves might be the idea for roofing material for people in rural settings.


Avital Geva tells me that he tries to give students “meaningful moments of education.” I saw how he does this.  He created the Start-up Greenhouse in the Start-up Nation.

This week, I shared my experiences from my visit to Ein Shemer with our faculty.  We hold a similar aspiration with Avital Geva:   to stimulate students to develop their curiosity, creativity, and ability to think differently and create “meaningful moments of education.”

That’s our charge at TanenbaumCHAT for this year and every year.  We hope every day is filled with meaningful moments of education.

(For those who’d like to see a short video, narrated in Hebrew, about the Greenhouse, go to