Principal: Suzanne Hersh
As a congregant, student, artist, educator and activist, my Jewishness has found
dynamic and varied expression over the years. Becoming principal of the Jewish
Heritage School in 2017 has offered me a wonderful opportunity to pursue my devotion to Jewish education and continuity, endeavouring to connect children and families to the many inspiring dimensions of Jewish life.
Since graduating from Queen’s Artist in the Community Education Programme, I have taught children and adults in various settings, from federal prisons to public and parochial schools. For eighteen years I taught elementary French (FSL) at Bialik Hebrew Day School. I continue to work at Holy Blossom Temple as a B’nei Mitzvah tutor and a Shabbat and holiday children’s break-out group leader. I began teaching at Habonim’s Jewish Heritage School in 2012. Alongside my career as a teacher, I am also co-artistic director of an independent theatre company, Threshold Theatre. For Threshold, I have acted in, directed and produced a range of productions, workshops and programs.
When my kids were young I would tell them that there are three things which I hope will always be part of their lives: Judaism… and fruits and vegetables. And I want this for your kids too! While I can’t predict what their eating habits will be after graduating from our school, I am committed to ensuring that, while there, your children will develop skills and knowledge that enable them to participate meaningfully in Jewish life.
B’nai Mitzvah Program Director: Adi Barel
Adi moved to Toronto from Shoham, Israel in 2005. She studied Psychology, Education and Jewish Studies at York University, and is currently a Jewish Studies homeroom teacher at Bialik Viewmount. She enjoys exploring new places and hopes to visit a fair bit of the world before retirement.
Adi joined Habonim in 2014, and was highly immersed in other formal and informal Jewish settings for as long as she can remember. She is keen in helping youth strengthen their Jewish identities and is a true believer in student-led, inquiry-based and project-based learning. Adi received the Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Award during her high school years, and has since committed to enhance her students’ experiences through community involvement as well.
The main focus of the Bnai Mitzvah Program is Tikkun Olam, a value that asks us to act to achieve an ideal society via acts of social justice and Tzedakah. Through research, collaboration, art projects and volunteer work, the Bnai Mitzvahs will embark on a journey that will challenge them to explore and enhance their connectedness with Judaism, while pondering about the new responsibilities they will assume when they undergo the Gil Mitzvah rite of passage.