Top 10 Questions We've Been Asked

Over the years, we’ve been meeting with parents and peers in a variety of settings – focus groups, garden parties, coffee shop queues… 

We compiled a list of the ten most popular questions that folks have asked us.

Where will ADRABA be located?

In pre-COVID times, we were located in the CSI Annex (720 Bathurst). It’s a 5 minute walk from the Bathurst TTC stop on the Bloor Line.  However, to provide a little certainty in “these uncertain times,” we’ve decided to be located online for 2020-2021.

What kind of student would fit in well at ADRABA?

A student who is passionate about learning will fit in beautifully at ADRABA.

A student who relishes a challenge will see ADRABA as an opportunity.

A student who wants to grow familiar with and literate in Jewish traditions, history, languages and literature will flourish and be challenged in ADRABA’s inclusive setting.

A student who understands and embraces failure as an integral part of learning will succeed at ADRABA.

A student who is a self-starter and interested in pushing the limits of what can be accomplished and learned in an academic cycle will thrive at ADRABA.

And, finally, a student who wants to integrate technology in their learning will revel in ADRABA’s focus on blended learning.

What is ADRABA's hashkafah (perspective)?

Hashkafah (lit. “perspective”) refers to one’s Jewish worldview and guiding philosophy. 

ADRABA is an inclusive institution.  We welcome Jews from all denominations and inclinations.  We will work together as a kehillah to understand and accommodate each other’s needs and practices.  We will strive to make everyone as comfortable as possible in our kehillah.   We acknowledge that, inevitably, there will be disagreement and discomfort.  Most importantly, we will share the discomfort – and work through it together as a kehillah.

What do you mean by Jewish literacy and Yiddishkeit?

Literacy is more than an ability to read and write.  It challenges the individual to engage with knowledge – and do something with it.  Signs which used to blend into the background now transmit information.  Books which may have steadied wobbly tables or adorned shelves in living rooms now impart knowledge. 

Jewish literacy presents a similar challenge to the individual – especially when it comes to Yiddishkeit.

Yiddishkeit begins with a feeling of pride and connection with other Jews in our kehillah and all over the world.  It involves action and doing things with other Jews.

Yiddishkeit is a rich trove of texts (from the Hebrew Bible to Heschel), traditions, values, ideas and languages. 

Yiddishkeit also frames the way a Jew looks at the world and finds their place in it.

A literate Jew is able to access the many aspects of Yiddishkeit, asking deep questions, exploring answers with a critical eye and finding meaning in Torah, tradition, history and community.  Most importantly, a literate Jew actively engages with Yiddishkeit on his terms.

Your child may never opt to shake a lulav and etrog on Sukkot, but she will know what they are, what blessings are recited over them, how to hold and shake them and the traditional sources for the ritual.

What about the social experience of going to a traditional high school? What about extra-curriculars?

ADRABA is different in the way it structures space and time.  However, what ADRABA provides, like all traditional schools, is a place for teens to gather and interact.  Our space will be configured as a learning space and also a place for the kehillah to spend time together.  ADRABA’s space will be designed as a place where kids will want to hang out even when they’re not in class.

As for extra-curriculars, like band or swim team or Model U.N., many are beyond ADRABA’s capabilities at this early stage. However, because time and learning is structured differently at ADRABA, students are able to pursue many of their passions and interests as part of their learning.  In other words, “extra-curricular” can be part of the “curricular.”

Who's supporting ADRABA?

Everyone!  Every single person we’ve talked to about opening a different Jewish high school for Toronto responded with enthusiasm and support.  (Yes!  EVERY.  SINGLE.  PERSON.)

In a more formal (and financial) way, the Avi Chai Foundation (avichai.org) was an early supporter of ADRABA’s vision.  They provided us with support to help ADRABA move from the purely theoretical into the realm of the possible.

The Jack Weinbaum Foundation took the first step in making ADRABA a reality.

Why should I trust you with my child? Who are you anyway?

That’s an excellent question!  (By the way, they all are!)

ADRABA’s founders (Dan Aviv, Sholom Eisenstat and Frank Samuels) have been researching and planning for ADRABA’s launch for seven years.  Between them, they have 83 years of experience in Jewish education, general education and how best to use technology to advance both.

Dr. Dan Aviv always wanted to be a Jewish educator.  He started out teaching in a supplementary school, and went on to teach in practically every setting where Jewish learning happens.  His doctoral thesis in Jewish education grappled with the provocative question: What can chefs and cooks teach Jewish educators about the practice of teaching?  The short answer (and ten kilos later) is: A LOT!

Sholom Eisenstat studied for his MA in Jewish Studies at McGill and Hebrew University.  He began his career teaching Jewish Studies and Tanakh in Winnipeg and Toronto.  After brief stint in the nascent desktop publishing industry, he returned to teaching in the public school system, spending 25 years teaching Computer Studies, software, programming, hardware engineering and design tools in high schools. He has been an evangelist for technology integration in Jewish Studies since the early 1980s when computers maxed out at 64KB of RAM.  He regularly studies and teaches Torah.

Frank Samuels brings three decades of administrative experience to ADRABA.  He served as Principal of Yeshiva College of South Africa, the Hamilton Hebrew Academy, the Bnei Akiva Schools of Toronto and General Studies Principal at Eitz Chaim. His vision of a different educational future began the process that, together with Dan and Sholom, led to ADRABA.

Why aren't other schools doing "blended learning"?

Other blended learning schools are doing blended learning!  Blended learning has been a successful part of the educational landscape in North America since the late 1990s.

Traditional schools cannot blend learning effectively because the way they are structured cannot accommodate the kind of thinking and doing that blended learning demands.

At best, traditional schools can integrate some aspects of blended learning, “flipping a classroom” here and there, or introducing project-based learning on a limited basis.  The change does not go deep enough to effect real transformation.  Such a thing would require rewriting traditional schooling’s DNA – or starting from scratch… which is what ADRABA is doing.

Will there be teachers?

Yes – and robots.  😜

ADRABA’s staff consists of a team of professional, highly educated Master Teachers, Onsite Educators and Madriḥim.  In many respects, they are just like the teachers you’ll find in a traditional school.  They are just as committed to teaching as well as to your child’s learning.  However, they are different in how they advance your child toward learning goals, their outlook on educating for the 21st century, and their relationship to students, learning and work-life balance.

Will my child be in front of a screen all day?

In a word, NO.

At ADRABA, technology is the engine of learning.  It is a tool we will learn to use together in a powerful, thoughtful and judicious manner.  We will also learn to use other learning tools, the most important of which is each other and the members of our extended kehillah.  This involves talking, thinking together, hashing out ideas, arguing respectfully, and working toward a common goal.