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November 9, 2007     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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November 9, 2007
 

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 9, 2007 By Jessica Lander Jewish Federation Intern Sometimes, following one's first instinct is not always the best road to take, for while Lynne Shefsky was hesitant at first to accept the position of executive director at the Hebrew Day School, it turned out to be one of the smartest moves she ever made. "I really didn't want to put my hat in the ring," said Shefsky of her initial feelings. However, when she finally decided to accept the offer, things worked out better than expected. "I guess I surprised myself at how well things went and how good I was at certain as- pects," said Shefsky. "I never had to be in the fundraising aspect, and the budgeting, and the financial, and those were things that I didn't re- ally think were strengths, but I surprised myself, and they were." Shefsky, who's happily married with two children and two grandchildren, says she's been working in Jewish day schools her whole life. She was the assistant Head of School for two years at the Hebrew Day School, which Lynne Shefsky made her transition into ex- ecutive director easy because she was already familiar with the teachers, students, and community. She is now going into her thirdyear as executive director, where she has helped the school grow into a top educational institution. One of her proudest mo- ments occurred this year, when the school was accred- ited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools, which Shefsky describes as a 'very difficult accreditation to receive. The school, which has about 250 students in grades kindergarten through eight, offers small classes and dif- ferentiated learning to fit the needs of all students on different levels. Shefsky feels that this, among many other things, makes the Hebrew Day School superior to other schools in the area. "Many of my teachers have taught in the public schools and left, and the difference is extraordinary," said Shefsky. "The environment, and also I think in the way of supplies, and trips, and things like that, we really offer a lot more." Furthermore, while the school built new facilities just four years ago, it has under- gone more recent advances in technology. Every student from third through eighth grade has his or her own lap- top, and each classroom has its own Smart Board, which is an interactive white board hooked up to the teacher's computer. The school also ordered class sets of iPods for the upcoming school year, allowing a teacher to sync in lesson plans or activities to each student's iPod. Yet, while the school is much more technology-savvy than most, it is unique in cancer awareness Get Connected, the Jew- ish Federation of Greater Orlando's women's outreach program designed to connect women of all ages to the Jew- ish community, met for lunch on Oct. 11. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the group heard presentations by Marjie Aloni, executive director of the Florida Breast Cancer Coalition and Re- search Foundation, and Renee Bolusky, a South Orlando resident and seven-year breast cancer survivor. The lunch was held at the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congrega- tion, with catering by Golde Finkler. Aloni discussed the in- cidence of breast cancer in American society and other pertinent statistical informa- tion about the disease. She also elaborated on FBCCRF's advocacy efforts, which in- clude lobbying local, state and federal elected officials on the importance of continued funding for breast cancer re- Renee Bolusky search and treatment access. Attendees had the opportunity to sign up for e-mail alerts and to get involved in the organization's activities. FBCCRF is a grassroots organization that mobilizes in three areas: Legislative and public pol- icy work: For a long time, the group has advocated legislation that will increase funding for breast cancer research, ensure equal access to quality health care for all and protect patients' privacy rights. FBCCRF also advocates in Tallahassee, and as a member organization of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, it is aligned with the NBCC's federal legislative agenda. Outreach and education: FBCCRF sponsors confer- ences and workshops; as well as community events to edu- cate Florida residents about breast cancer. Scientific research: FBC- CRF funds scientific breast cancer research, as well as pre- doctoral candidates at Florida research institutes. Renee Bolusky spoke about her experience as a two-time breast cancer survivor. She discussed her course of treat- ment and her experience as a breast cancer advocate. Other attendees shared personal stories and relevant informa- tion as well. i~ii:i:::,iiiiiiil No tricks, just treats Children from the Orlando-area Crisis Nursery visited the residents of the Kinneret Apartments for some Halloween treats. The visit was facilitated by Jewish Family Services. another way, being the only Jewish day school in Central Florida where Hebrew, tef- ilah (prayer), and Israel are all integrated into the daily curriculum. "Our children can be Jew- ish the whole time they are in school," said Shefsky. "At the holidays, they come into a school where they get to celebrate Chanukkah, but outside the school, there is Christmas everywhere, and this is really the only place where they can feel comfort- able being Jewish." Responsible for all of the operations that go on in the school, Shefsky is proud to be running such a success and glad that she didn't let her previous doubts take her in the wrong direction. "I guess I should have known I was stronger," said Shefsky. "About eight years ago I had breast cancer, and I worked the entire time, I did chemo and radiation, and I guess maybe that was the big turning point when I realized how strong I really was." Southwest Orlando prepares kids and families for the future By Krista Davis Located at 11200 S. Apop- kaVineland Road since 1994, the Southwest Orlando Jewish Community Center's Early Childhood Learning Center will soon be named in honor of Jack and Lee Rosen. The ECLC is under the original direction of Brenda Sher, who brings a commitment to preschool education to the Southwest Orlando community. The Southwest campus started with one teacher and 32 students aged 3 and 4. Today the school has 103 children who range in age from 18 months to 5 years. Sher holds her teachers to high standards, as dictated by the National Association of Education for Young Children. She also has a notable tenure record for teachers: Most have been there five or mote years. One teacher, Mrs. Bindell, has been teaching at the ECLC for 13 years. The best form of adver- tising for the school has been word of mouth from parents. Some parents new to the community have been asking around for pre- school references and have found that the ECLC comes highly recommended. The Early Childhood Learning Center is a recipient of the Diamond Seal of Excellence Award from Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc. Currently there are limited openings in the 3-year-old program, and a waiting list for the other classes. Another reason behind the word-of-mouth phenom- enon is the high involvement of parents in the ECLC. This was the standard even before the latest research correlated educational success with pa- rental involvement in learn- ing. The ECLC has many events for children and their families in which parents volunteer regularly. The ECLC also offers en- richment programs, called Giant Steps, which include music, drama, tumbling and creative arts. These classes are very popular and more variety is added each year. Most important, the chil- dren are prepared to enter kindergarten. Many schools receiving JCC graduates report that these students test well, are ready for kin- dergarten academics and are socially well-adjusted. The children at the ECLC are also taught the value of community and giving. Programs of ongoing charity include organizations such as Ronald McDonald House and the Coalition for the Home- less. The children are directly involved in the food drives and various other events that benefit the community. The future looks bright for the ECLC, since it will be part of the first phase in the new Jack and Lee Rosen Southwest Orlando JCC to be started in the near future. In addition to the commu- nity center, there will be ten state-of-the-art classrooms, and a large playground. The commitment will still be to providing excellent pre- school education for children aged 13 months to 5 years. Although the building will be new, the classic blend of family and school will remain. The ECLC will offer the community open enrollment on Feb. 6, 2008 for the fall term. The JCC also offers summer camps starting June 16. Children ages 2 years through the fifth grade can experience fun and learn- ing under the guidance of experienced and nurturing camp counselors. The older elementary students will enjoy camp at Turkey Lake Park with swimming, field trips and sports. For more information, call 407-293-7411. @ announces new Ramah Darom proudly announces the appointment of Geoffrey B. Menkowitz as Camp Ramah Darom's new director. Menkowitz replaces Rabbi Loren Sykes, the camp's founding director, who left the organization at the endof September after 11 years. Before coming to Camp Ramah Darom, Menkowitz served at Hillel's international headquarters as director of the Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently pursuing an Ed.D at the Jew- ish Theological Seminary of America's William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education. Menkowitz has extensive experience as an educator and Jewish professional, includ- ing positions with the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the National Ramah Commission and as assistant director of Camp Ramah Da- rom from 2002-2004. He grew up attending Camp Ramah in the Poconos and served there as a counselor, retreat coordi- nator and division head. Ramah Darom's President Geoffrey Menkowitz Lori Kirschner and Chief Executive Officer Frederick R. Levick expressed the or- ganization's excitement about Menkowitz's qualifications: "Geoff's extensive background in working with college stu- dents and his experience with the Ramah camping move- ment, make him ideally suited to work effectively with staff and campers alike. In Geoff we believe we have found not only one of the most dynamic new talents in Jewish camping but also someone who under- stands our community, values our camp traditions, and has the creativity to experiment with and develop new ways to make the camp experience fun and exciting." Menkowitz, his wife Elana and their son Sam will be relocating to Atlanta, Ga. to officially begin his new duties early this month. Camp Ramah Darom is affiliated with the National Ramah Commission and works in partnership with institutions of the Conserva- tive Movement throughout the Southeast United States. At Ramah Darom, the camp program is offered in a dy- namic Jewish environment. In addition to sports and arts programs, campers find a caring, encouraging ap- proach to personal growth, and an individual and com- munal religious experience. The informal atmosphere and immersion of the Ra- mah experience provides the perfect complement to the formal and informal educa- tion that young people receive throughotit the year. For more information, visit www.ramahdarom.org.