Israel is a country that is worth devoting a year of life there.  You may have heard me or another  TanenbaumCHAT staff member already say this, but I would like to expand on this point even further.  Over the past ten years between 10-20% of our graduating class has elected to spend a year in Israel after high school. While we are very proud of this achievement, I would like to see even more of our graduates spend their post  high school year in Israel.  TanenbaumCHAT should be a leader in this area.

Promoting a gap year in Israel is not just a TanenbaumCHAT initiative.  We are not alone.  Harvard University was one of the first elite universities to encourage applicants to take a gap year.  Princeton University set a goal of sending a tenth or more of newly admitted applicants for a year of social service work in a foreign country.  The President of Princeton argued that a gap year gives students a much-needed global perspective, adds to their maturity, and gives students a break from academic pressure.

Canadian universities are very open to gap year programs.  In general, students have no problem getting deferrals.  The only snag seems to be if a student defers in order to participate in a gap year program that grants credits.  In the latter case, universities fear this will mean reduced income for them.  Leaving aside their reluctance to grant credits, universities are united on one point:  a gap year experience can make a post-secondary education more meaningful.

I’m a proponent of a gap year in Israel not only because it gives students a year to mature, temporarily exit the self-imposed academic pressure cooker, and discover aspects of themselves unrelated to their future profession.  But also because it will help our students develop a meaningful, enduring, and loyal relationship with Israel.  In the world we live in today, a relationship with Israel cannot be taken for granted.

When graduates spend an extended period of time in Israel, they get a sense of what it feels like to be an Israeli.  They have the opportunity to see Israel with all its complexities and find their place in building an even stronger, more vibrant Israel.

I know spending a year in Israel disrupts the ordinary trajectory of Middle School-High School-University-Career.  I know I am asking TanenbaumCHAT families to think differently.  That’s why I suggest that parents begin the conversation with their child in Grade 9 and not wait till Grade 12.  The TanenbaumCHAT staff are prepared to discuss gap year with any family at any time.  They include Rabbi Eli Mandel, Tamara Rebick, and Margaret Klompas at TCW, and Judith Shapero and Richie Stoll at TCK. At both campuses, families can always feel free to speak to Rabbi Yeres or me.

My goal is to make a gap year in Israel normative and thereby help all of us make a significant impact on our children, the Jewish people, and the State of Israel.


Nine or more years of Jewish day school education have the most staying power of any other Jewish experience.  That’s the conclusion that Professors Jack Wertheimer and Steven M. Cohen arrived at in a recently published article in MOSAIC.

Wertheimer and Cohen re-analyzed the 2013 Pew Survey.  They confirmed that overall, intermarriage rates are increasing, birthrates are falling, and non-Orthodox Jews are less and less affiliated with Judaism and the Jewish community.  However, this is not the case for adults who attended day schools for nine or more years.

What these researchers found was that a Jewish day school education into the high school years led to the highest levels of Jewish engagement compared to any other type of Jewish educational experience.  Adults with nine or more years of a Jewish day school education were most likely to:

  • Marry a fellow Jew.
  • Raise their children in the Jewish religion.
  • Feel a sense of responsibility for other Jews.
  • Participate in religious and synagogue life.

TanenbaumCHAT is one of the many fine Jewish day high schools that is preparing students not only to participate in Jewish life, but shape it too.  At a stage in life when teens question, reject, and challenge some of the most cherished values, Jewish high schools provide a Jewish context for teens to go through adolescence and emerge with a strong, proud Jewish identity.

If parents want their children to have one foot firmly planted in Western civilization and another in Jewish civilization, parents would be wise to provide their child with a sophisticated and sustained Jewish education that provides the best of both worlds.

If parents want to make a positive impact on the size, character, and commitment of the Jewish community and secure a strong future for our people, they should heed the well-documented findings of Professors Wertheimer and Cohen.  They are incontrovertible.

In conjunction with Ben Gurion University, TanenbaumCHAT teachers have planned a curriculum-based experience in Eilat that focuses on Marine Biology.  Students will be working in teams with graduate students learning how to do field research in a range of areas including oceanography, water ecology, and animal behavior.  They will work in laboratories, on the water, and if desired, underwater.  Much of their work will focus on the aqua culture at the north side of the Eilat bay.  Students will also visit key marine institutions and the Inter-University Research Ship.  

The program is aligned with the Grade 10 Ontario Science Curriculum and relates directly to the Biology and Earth and Space Science units where, for example, students examine the hierarchical organization of cells from tissues to organ systems in plants and animals and the impact of natural and human factors on organisms and natural systems.  It also reinforces what students previously have learned about climate change and ecological systems and further develops their scientific investigation skills.  

For a glimpse of how this program will unleash the inner scientist in our students,
watch THIS 50-second clip.

One of the laboratories in which students will be conducting experiments
can be seen HERE.

Our TanenbaumCHAT chaperones are Science teachers Ms. Carr and Mr. Kitchen. Rabbi Buckman will also accompany the students.

The mini-mester will be partially funded and is open to a limited number of students. Departure from Toronto is tentatively set for Sunday, February 8, 2015. Students return to Toronto Thursday, February 19, 2015. The program is scheduled over Family Day Weekend to minimize the number of days students miss school.

Students will be required to do some preparation prior to the mini-mester and will be responsible for a poster presentation at the end. Upon the students’ return to school, their teachers will make efforts to support students catching up.

For more information, come to one of two info nights: 7-8 pm on Monday September 29 at TCW or Tuesday September 30 at TCK. Parents and students are invited.

Please RSVP by noon on September 24 to