Logo tagline - where extraordinary things happen

News RSS Feed
What's in an Imaginarium?

RHA's Imaginarium was featured in the Canadian Jewish News on August 23, 2018 in the Community Feature.



Makerspaces are the hub of creative learning in schools. We’ve taken this STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning space beyond and created a live exchange with students in Israel to build understanding and connection. Thanks to our “Building Original Minds” capital campaign, it’s the newest space at Robbins Hebrew Academy (RHA) where our students put the four C’s (creativity, collaboration, curiosity and critical thinking) into action. 

The Imaginarium is the latest renovated classroom space at RHA. Also called a makerspace, the Imaginarium provides the tools and materials to foster inventiveness, exploration and multi-disciplinary learning. Students draw on knowledge from science, engineering, design, music and language to build and test their ideas. There is a plethora of materials like Lego, cardboard, containers and crafting supplies – as well as concrete training including coding, robotics and electronics. The maker movement has taken the world by storm, championed by the belief that the personal act of making, modifying or mending is intrinsically worthwhile and also of value to society and the economy. Some observers call the maker movement the fourth wave of movements involving technology including the Luddite, Arts and Crafts, and Hacker movements. 

Spearheaded at RHA by Jenny Sumerlus, technology integration specialist, the Imaginarium develops a comprehensive understanding of programming, information literacy, and design thinking. What makes RHA’s Imaginarium so unique is that it also links students in live time to Israel. 

The Imaginarium has connected with a twin classroom in Israel through the Global School Twinning Network, broadening the use of this space to create a global connection to Jewish peers. Our STEAM program builds meaningful exchange and connects students with a school in Israel through the lens of robotics, coding and technology skills. Combining effective use of a Makerspace to bring “Israel Engagement” to life has been a rewarding experience for the whole school. 

“Students across the Diaspora are connecting through chat, robotics, live conferencing about the commonalities in their lives – hobbies, personal interests and the technology in which 21st century students are fluent,” Sumerlus says. “A greater understanding of Jewish peoplehood and a real connection are being created within the Imaginarium, going far beyond the boundaries of being a makerspace alone.” 

The impact of this teaching space and twin school program has been wide-reaching. Students are able to work to synthesize STEAM learning in a purpose-built environment with cutting-edge instruction from Sumerlus. At the same time, they are forging connections and building meaningful relationships in Israel, benefitting from the STEAM initiatives taking place in Israel’s classrooms. It is truly a win-win programme, using STEAM to catalyze a greater person-to-person understanding of Israel. 

Needless to say, RHA students wait patiently to have their turn in the Imaginarium with Sumerlus. They experience fulfilment, shared purpose, a sense of discovery and are acquiring the tools critical to being successful citizens of the world. In just its second year, the future is very bright for the Imaginarium.

To read the full CJN Community Feature, please click here.


Claire Sumerlus wins UJA's Israel Engagement Award

TORONTO, June 8, 2018 /CNW/ - Claire Sumerlus, Head of School for Robbins Hebrew Academy (RHA) was awarded the prestigious Israel Engagement Award on June 6, 2018 at the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of Greater Toronto13th Annual Volunteer Awards Night.

This honour recognizes Claire's dedicated leadership and volunteerism in integrating Israel into the fabric of curriculum and student life at Robbins Hebrew Academy and in Toronto. One of RHA's core values is "Israel is in our hearts and in our souls."

Alan Perlis, Chair of the Board of Directors, comments, "Volunteerism is a defining trait of Toronto's Jewish community. RHA is delighted that Claire's contributions to connecting Israel so meaningfully at our school and within the community are being recognized by the UJA Federation."

Some of the groundbreaking initiatives led by Claire include becoming an early adopter of the Shinshinim Program, which brings two young Israelis within the school community to become part of daily life and create a live exchange of culture and a deeper understanding of Israel. The students live with host families and undertake a wide variety of activities within the school and community.

Earlier this year, Claire attended the first Head of School Mission to Israel, reimagining Jewish day schools' relationship to contemporary Israel. Through Claire's vision, RHA has also integrated STEM exchange with a twin school in Israel, bringing cross-cultural learning into international classrooms in real time.

Jenny Frisch, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors states, "Claire's commitment to enriching RHA through Israel Claire Sumerlus, Head of Schoolengagement allows our children to appreciate and love Israel in many forms."

Claire is a highly respected educator in Canada. She has been Head of School at Robbins Hebrew Academy since 2009. Previously, Claire was Head of School at Balmoral Hall in Winnipeg, and has served as the President of the Canadian Association of Independent Schools (CAIS).

Robbins Hebrew Academy (formerly USDS or United Synagogue Day School) was founded in 1961 and is Toronto's first Jewish day school accredited by CAIS. RHA provides a full integrated Judaic and General Studies program to students from Nursery through Grade 8.

For more information: https://jewishtoronto.com/volunteers/israel-engagement

National Bible Competition Results

Every year RHA sends a team of students from grades 6-8 to participate in the Regional Bible Contest held in early March.

Those who pass the Regional Contest, advance to the National Level which takes place in May.

RHA would like to congratulate the 18 students who participated this year.

A special Mazal Tov to the following students who reached the National Semi-Finals: Samara Golger, Rebecca Bloom, Noah Garmaise and Zoe Zusman 

We are extremely proud of Zoe Zusman, who placed first in the Grade 7-8 Division.

Kol Hakavod and Yashar Koach.

RHA Debate Team Results

Sixteen enthusiastic members of the RHA Debate Team participated in the Eighth Annual Jewish Debate Tournament on March 19. This was the climax of a season of hard training and dedication. Two of our four teams were undefeated, and our top team placed third in a field of 28 teams. More important, we gained skills, confidence and critical thinking tools that will last a lifetime.

RHA Students Win Writing Awards from the Royal Legion

RHA students never cease to amazing us.  Our kids are committed to showcasing their talents, and more importantly using these talents to make a difference.

In November, several of our grade 8 students submitted pieces for the Royal Canadian Legion’s Youth Remembrance contests, which seeks to foster remembrance through creative art and writing.

We now would like to say a big Mazal Tov to Noa Garmaise, whose essay, “The Goal of Remembrance,” won 1st place at the local branch level.  Her essay moved on to the division level, where she placed an impressive 2nd place.  Noa is to be commended for her efforts.  And that’s not all!  Rebekah Bloom, whose poem, “We Remember,” also won first place at the local branch level, while Sloan Avrich placed 3rd at the local branch level with her poem, “Over the Top.”

We thank all our students who took part in this meaningful endeavour, which is so much more than a contest.  Congratulations to Noa, Rebekah, and Sloan; we are so proud of your achievements.

Building Bridges

A group of grade 7 students participated in the Second Annual Bridge Building Competition on Tuesday, February 6 along with other Jewish Day Schools in Toronto and students from a school in Eilat, Israel.

The students had to build bridges using popsicle sticks and glue with the requirement that a car would be able to pass over. The judges strapped weights onto each bridge to see how many kilograms the bridge could hold before collapsing. All the bridges were built very well and were designed creatively. The RHA teams did us proud and enjoyed the day immensely.

Prior to the competition, all the grade 7 students built bridges in science class using popsicle sticks and glue. The criteria was different, as they measured how many books could be stacked on the bridge before it collapsed. The number of sticks they could use and the length of the bridge were also different. This activity gave the contestants the opportunity to understand the principles of bridge building for the competition.


RHA's Book Fair - Feb 7 & 8

book fair

Join Us at the Piano Lounge - March 22


Click here to purchase tickets or to learn about sponsorship opportunties. 

Calling All Alumni

Did you go to USDS or RHA? If so, fill out this survey so we can keep our alumni database current!  Please share the link with your friends who went to USDS/RHA! 

Calling all alumni

JK and SK Learn to Skate

Every Monday for nine weeks, our JK and SK classes head to Forest Hill Arena for skating lessons. Not only do they learn how to skate, but they work on their balance, control and agility!

JK Students learning how to skate

Register for Summer Camp 2018

Summer Camp at RHA 2018

June 25 - July 13 
July 16 - August 3 
August 7 - August 24

Cost Per Three Week Session:
Morning: $685 (9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.)
Full Day: $1150 (9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)

Cost Per Individual Week: 
Morning: $250 (9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.)
Full Day: $415 (9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)

Free Before Care (beginning at 7:30 a.m.) and After Care (until 6 p.m.) 

Register Here

  • Staffed by qualified Early Childhood Educators, experienced assistants and counsellors. 
  • Fully licensed by the Ministry of Education. 
  • Kosher, nut free, healthy food provided. 
  • *A minimum number of campers per session is required. 
Celebrating Global Math Week
On October 11, the students at RHA participated in Global Math Week, where over one million children from across the world celebrated math learning.
The students in grades 4 to 8 investigated numeration using the Exploding Dots formula.  This is a new way to think about numbers using different base systems.  The students at RHA focused on the base 10 system as this was their first experience exploring this intriguing program. They learned a new way to think about numbers where they use place value when adding and subtracting numbers. Learn more about Exploding Dots by clicking here
The students in JK to grade 3 completed a hands on activity from Inspirational Math which was created by Jo Boaler, a professor of mathematics at Stanford University.  The activities were based on the premise that mathematics should be open, creative and visual.  The different tasks are chosen so that students see math as a broad, interesting, and visual subject that involves deep thinking. Students learn skills that will help them feel confident, try harder, persist with open and difficult problems and embrace mistakes and challenges. 
At RHA, we are always trying to find new ways to teach our students the skills to think critically. Partipicating in Global Math Week is just one way we are able to introduce new methods and techniques to learn math.  

Special Friends and Grandparents Day - November 3

PAW Patrol Visits RHA

Join PAW Patrol Chase, Marshall and friends for live music, entertainment, prizes and food! 
Tickets are $15. Buy here! 

Welcome Back to RHA!

It's a new year at RHA. We have new teachers, new programs, new families and lots of new students! We can't wait to see what this year brings!

First Day of School 2017

First Day of School 2017

Congratulations to the Graduating Class of 2017

Mazal tov to all of our graduates! We wish you much success as you continue your education. 

A Year in Review: Annual Corporation Meeting

At this year's Annual Meeting, we showcased our accomplishments from the last year. Our Student Council Co-Presidents were the emcees, our Rikudiyah dancers performed and some of our Middle School students gave presentations. RHA teachers were also honoured with Reena Cohen receiving the Teaching Excellence Honour for General Studies and Nava Shnitzer receiving the Teaching Excellence Honour for Judaic Studies. Each year we also honour a volunteer and this year we acknowledged Shelly Markel and her dedication to RHA's Board of Directors.

End of Year BBQ

RHA celebrated the end to another great year with our annual BBQ this week. Even though we moved it indoors because of the rain, that didn't stop the fun! Thank you to the Parents' Association for organizing such a great event with so many fun activities for all the students!


The Amazing RHACE - Middle School Edition

The Amazing RHACE really was amazing!

First off, the 44 students that participated raised $7,300! Can you believe it?! Some tactics the students used were door to door, lemonade stands, family guilt and some kids sold things on EBay! All the money raised is being designated to Tuition Assistance to help other students receive a Jewish Education. The winners of the fundraising challenge were Ethan Perlis, Charly Warwick, Justin Levy and Jacob Cloth raising $1,900. They are the winners of iPhone 6’s. Honourable mention goes to Harley Malamed, Billy Benoliel and Charlie Gutmann for raising $1,200!

Now the race itself – the Middle School students ran 5K around the hood (it was beyond impressive) and in the rain!! They completed Pit Stops such as Relay Races, Egg Toss, Crosswords, Math Tests, Scavenger Hunts and Kangoo Skip Rope! At the end it was down to a security footage finish – the tapes were checked and the winner announced! We would like to congratulate Davis Valencia, Benji Switzman, Daniel Merkur and Koby Tick for winning the race – they all received Bose Electronics!
We would also like to thank all the volunteers that stood in the rain for two hours managing the Pit Stops (beyond good sports)! Click here to see more photos of the Amazing RHACE.

Community Yard Sale - June 11

RHA's Community Yard Sale June 11


For her grade 10 Personal Project, RHA alumna Hannah Sandler created the website, #SmileForSmiles and a Facebook page to create a "movement" focused on smiling and what makes people smile. Read about it here and how Jacob Trossman's smile was the impetus for the project which officially launched today.

We encourage you to join this initiative! Share a Smile to Spread The Happiness.




RHA Wins First Place at National Bible Contest

UJA Creative Writing Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners in the 2017 / 5777 UJA Creative Writing Contest:

Name Grade Lang. Subject Teacher
Austin Warwick 1 E My Letter to an Israeli Soldier Marni Foster
Aliyah Sandler 3 E How This Little Act of Kindness Changed the World Bonnie Mones
Kaylie Ezer 3 E What Makes Friday Night Special For Me Bonnie Mones
Shira Granovsky 4 E What Makes Friday Night Special for Me Jason Stern
Nina Weinstock 4 E What Makes Friday Night Special For Me Jason Stern
Samara Golger 5 H What Makes Friday Night Special For Me Galia Hart
Ellie Joseph 8 H What Being Jewish in 2017 Means to Me Hana Macmull


Yom HaShoah

The grade 8 students planned and presented a meaningful commemoration for Yom HaShoah for their parents and grandparents and students from grades 4 to 7 today. The theme this year is Restoring Their Identities, and our students focused on the children and youth that died during the Holocaust, remembering their stories and lives. Families were invited to light a candle in memory of loved ones and reflect on those that endured suffering and loss as a result of the Holocaust.


RHA Takes Second Place at the Debate Tournament

Eighteen enthusiastic members of RHA's debate team competed in the Seventh Annual Jewish Day Schools Debate Tournament held this year at TanenbaumChat (north campus). Our students ably demonstrated their advocacy and persuasive skills taking on competitors from six other day schools (28 teams in all). We are proud of all of them and especially congratulate our team captains, Coco and Claire, whose team led RHA to a second place finish.

debate team 2017

Building Bridges With STEM

On Wednesday, March 15, eight grade 7 students participated in the first ever Jewish Day School Bridge Building Contest.  The event was held at Bialik Hebrew Day School and included students from six Jewish Day Schools in Toronto and a school from Eilat. The event was developed in partnership with UJA's Israel Engagement.  

This initiative was an exciting opportunity to bring students together to participate in an event devoted to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) with a backdrop of Israel Engagement. 

The morning was devoted to bridge building in school teams. The aim was to build a bridge strong enough to hold a very large load. The bridge was also judged for creativity, aesthetics and scientific principles. In the afternoon, the students built metaphorical bridges in cross-school groups, where they discussed bridge building among individuals and countries.

The students from RHA did an excellent job and built two sturdy bridges. They participated actively in the afternoon activities and demonstrated critical thinking in their group discussions. The event was a resounding success and a great experience was had by all.

Bridge Building Contest

Educators Consider Jewish Peoplehood at PD Day

About 800 Toronto day school educators, including Robbins Hebrew Academy, gathered during winter break to ponder an issue that has beguiled Jewish thinkers for millennia - what exactly is Jewish peoplehood? 

Read more about the PD event here

Claire Sumerlus Writes About Cultivating Curiosity in the CAIS Blog

Claire Sumerlus, Head of School at RHA was featured in Making the CAIS, a blog from Canadian Accredited Independent Schools. Click here to view the article, or read it below. 

Mining the Creativity and Critical Thinking in Our Students

by Claire Sumerlus, Head of School at Robbins Hebrew Academy

RHA is a community of thinkers. In fact, our very vision is to produce generations of original minds who lead their lives with courage and compassion.

Our entire curriculum is based on a pedagogy designed to achieve exactly that.

Take, for instance, one of our initiatives with our fourth grade students. We wanted them to understand how design thinking affects their daily lives. How qualities like multi-dimensional thinking, collaboration, and creative problem-solving are essential for coming up with inventive solutions.

So we arranged for them to work with the Ontario Mining Association on the topic of open pit coal mining. First, engineers taught our students about the process of coal extraction and its implications for those most affected by it.

Then the challenge: how can land be reclaimed, when open coal mining has such an enormous impact on the environment, on the health of those living near the mines, and on the landscape itself?

To fully understand open pit mining, the students Skyped with miners in the field. They created 3-D digital blueprints. And then they baked chocolate chip cookies. A non sequitur? Not really. The students had to extract the chips from the cookies with a variety of tools, including toothpicks and chopsticks, and then "reclaim" the cookies so that people would still want to eat them.

Using design thinking and looking at the world through the user's experience, the students had to consider the problem from every vantage point. The process involved analytic thinking, critical thinking, and out-of-the-box thinking.

It was an exciting experience. Our fourth graders loved meeting with professionals from the real world. They were excited to share their project and their findings with their parents in an academic showcase. And they were really amazed to see a live mine.

At RHA, we encourage our students to ask 
why rather than what. The exchange between our students and the Ontario Mining Association was a great way to connect what we do in the classroom with real-world challenges. It was also a compelling way to nurture and cultivate curiosity: in our students, in our parents, and in the engineers who participated.

Middle School's Beit Cafe

Beit Cafe is an annual talent show that Student Council organizes for Middle School. This year’s theme was Outer Space. Auditions were held, the set list was created and decorations were made. Student Council made a playbill and the performers practiced. RHA Middle School students showed off their talents with singing, dancing and instrumental performances! This year, the grade 5 classes were invited to watch the show for a sneak peak into Middle School life. Our students have amazing talent!

Image collage of Beit Cafe

Ruth Ohi Inspires RHA Students with Vivid Storytelling

RHA students in JK-5 were captivated by Ruth Ohi as she described the process of making her illustrated children's books. She told the students how she got inspiration from her daughter's crafts or the birds and squirrels in her backyard. She would write down all her ideas in a diary and eventually piece them together into a manuscript. She told the kids that she would have to rewrite her stories many times for the publisher, and often had to make at least 15 drawings for the covers! What a fun afternoon!

Ruth Ohi Reading

Anti-Bullying with Anthony McLean
RHA students from JK to grade 8 welcomed Anthony McLean yesterday. He spoke to the students about anti-bullying and diversity. He was engaging, he was funny and the students loved listening to him speak. 
The presentation gave students a good grasp of what bullying is: when someone is being mean on purpose and if they are doing it over and over. If it only happens once, its not bullying. If it was an accident, its not bullying. He also encouraged kids to try to solve problems among themselves before getting a teacher involved.
Anthony also focused on what it means to be a bystander to bullying and gave the students practical strategies to tackle bullying effectively. 
STAND UP to the bully when it is safe
REACH OUT to targets of bullying and isolated peers
TELL SOMEONE when another student is being hurt


RHA Students Awarded by the Royal Canadian Legion

Each year the Royal Canadian Legion hosts a literary and poster contest. The Legion’s goal is to foster the tradition of remembrance in Canadian students. RHA’s grade 8 students submitted work as part of their unit on War and Remembrance.

We are proud of all our participants and congratulate our award winners who won in our local legion branch.

Black and white poster (click on the student's name to see the award winning work)
2nd place – Hannah Damiani
3rd place – Ellie Daien

Essay  (click on the student's name to see the award winning work)
2nd place – Eden Moncik
3rd place – Abbey Stein

Delegation Team from Tali Harei Eilat Visits RHA

As part of RHA’s commitment to Israel engagement, we’re always trying to find new ways to connect our students and teachers to Israel and the global Jewish community.

From December 16 – 21, a delegation team came to Toronto from Tali Harei Eilat, our twin school in Israel and RHA families welcomed the delegation into their homes for Shabbat. We’ve been working with Tali Harei Eilat since June and our grade 6 classes are collaborating with them on a STEM/robotics program.  Currently, RHA students work with the students at Tali Harei Eilat through Google Classroom and other online tools. They are paired into groups with the other school and together they complete challenges – collaborating and problem solving along the way.

The team observed RHA’s grade 6 robotics workshop to see firsthand how we teach robotics. The educators from Tali Harei Eilat and RHA teachers were able to work closely with our students so they could see how the program can be enhanced in both Israel and at RHA.

The visitors from Eilat also spent some time in grade 6 Hebrew Language Arts to see how we teach conversational Hebrew and grade 8 Bible studies to see how RHA implements its Chavruta study.

They also were introduced to a framework for design thinking in a professional development session with Future Design School and some of our teachers.

This exciting initiative allows the teachers from Tali Harei Eilat and RHA to gain teaching insights from each other and how they can implement them. The partnership helps us build a greater connection with Israel and allows both our students and teachers to engage with our twin school in Eilat!

Visitors from Eilat

RHA Supports Heart & Stroke Research

Students at RHA took part in a Jump Rope for Heart event on Monday, December 19, 2016. Staff and students showed amazing spirit by wearing red and by fundraising to help support this important cause. Jumping, skipping, relay races, hop scotch, leap frog are just a few examples of the activities that took place. Many thanks to the grade 6 students who served as leaders for the Early Years and Elementary events. RHA truly has "HEART".

UPDATE:  RHA students raised a total of $9,822.25. Congratulations to everyone who participated!
Collage of Jump RopeJump rope collage

Endangered Species Awareness March

As part of the science unit, "Diversity of Living Things," the grade 6 students made posters about endangered species. They marched around the school to raise awareness and highlight the endangered species they chose. They went into classes from JK to grade 8 to share their information and concerns with the students and to answer questions.

Endangered Species March


Zach Hyman '06 Returns to RHA

Zach Hyman dazzled us at RHA’s Speaker Series for an evening of inspiration! The Toronto Maple Leaf player and RHA alumnus fondly remembered his time at RHA and spoke about the power of community involvement and positivity on his path to the NHL. RHA hockey fans excitedly took the opportunity to chat and take a photo with Zach, encouraging a new generation of RHA students to shoot for the stars!

The UJA put together an amazing video of the evening. Click here to view it. 


Can I Capture Movement in Sculpture?

This Middle School project started with a piece of wire. First students learned to construct a wire figure. They then discussed ways to capture movement in sculpture. The class looked at Alberto Giacometti's sculptures of walking figures for inspiration. Next, students moved their wire figures to the sound of music to find the movement they wished to capture. After the movement was shaped, plaster gauze was wrapped around the figure. Once dry, the sculpture was painted and finished.

Wire Sculpture

We Pass the Torch

Grade 8 students presented a powerful Remembrance ceremony for an audience of students and parents on November 11. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of the publication of "In Flanders Fields", the students composed, prepared and enacted a presentation comprised of drama, music, dance and video, entitled "We Pass the Torch". The ceremony was the culmination of a unit of study on Canada's wartime history, during which students engaged in research, discussion, and writing based on primary sources and artifacts and a visit by a major in the Canadian Armed Forces. Also, through selling poppies in and around the school, students did their part to honour our veterans.

We Pass the Torch

RHA Wins Gold - TWICE!

RHA's Junior Girls Soccer Team played an outstanding tournament on Tuesday November 1, 2016 at The Hangar. RHA Thunder won the gold!!! We came in first place over 9 other teams from various Day Schools in Toronto, winning all of our eight games and the coveted first place trophy. The team, comprised of 13 girls from grades 4 and 5, practised at 7:30 in the morning, as well as during lunch, in preparation for the tournament day. 

Girls Soccer

The Junior Boys Soccer Team played in an all day tournament on November 8. RHA fought hard, but was ranked 4th in the round robin portion of the day. After a well deserved lunch break and game bye, the boys came back strong, determined to overtake all their opponents in the play-offs. We placed first overall, winning the gold medal! RHA Thunder swept the 2016 Junior Soccer Tournament in both the boys and girls division! Kol Hakavod RHA! What an outstanding achievement! The two trophies stand proud in our trophy cabinet! Go Thunder!!

Junior Boys Soccer

RHA Student Donates Bat Mitzvah Gifts to Needy in Israel

For Ellie Joseph, there never was a doubt that she would donate her bat mitzvah gifts to a charity – the only question was, which one?

Read all about it here

Yoni's Story: How My Jewish Identity Was Formed Through Education

As a child, Yoni attended Robbins Hebrew Academy. He learned the values of tolerance, teamwork and courtesy. Read his full story here

Grade 8 Welcomes Major Erik Esselaar

As part of our preparation for Remembrance Day and our "War and Remembrance" unit, grade 8 students were privileged to host Major Erik Esselaar of the Canadian Armed Forces (and son-in-law of our Mrs. Sachar). Major Esselaar treated us to a very interesting presentation about the Forces and his personal story and achievements in the military. We shared his pride in our Armed Forces and their role at home and abroad. Students also had some fun trying on various items of military gear.

Image of students with Major Erik Esselaar

Mourning the Loss of Shimon Peres

Mourning the loss of Shimon Peres

A Letter from Anne-Marie Kee, CAIS

CAIS logo

September 19, 2016

Dear Robbins Hebrew Academy Parent:

I would like to congratulate you on choosing Robbins Hebrew Academy, a member of Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS).

A study published by the Fraser Institute in July reported that Canada is home to just under 2,000 independent schools. You should know that only 90 of these commit to meeting the 12 National Standards of CAIS. I am often asked why there are not more CAIS schools. The answer is simple.

Robbins Hebrew Academy, like all CAIS schools, has made a decision to go above and beyond the provincial requirements and seek out the highest international standards in all areas of program and operations.  All schools are busy places, so this decision requires a focused commitment to take the time to research best practices, reflect on areas of strength and opportunity, and then be open to a peer review. Most independent schools cannot or have chosen not to make this commitment. But CAIS schools not only meet the rigorous CAIS standards but are committed to and strive for constant improvement.

When I tour our CAIS schools, I am continually impressed by the passion for learning – both the students and the faculty are authentic in their desire to learn.  These are inspirational communities!  As a parent, I challenge you to ask your children’s teachers what they learned this summer, and I promise you will hear about great books and programs that will help to provide a great year for the students. Our CAIS Leadership Institute alone welcomed over 200 faculty from 50 schools this July – how amazing to see such a commitment to cutting-edge educational research, and this was during a heat wave!

Something else strikes me when I tour our CAIS schools. I have recently become acquainted with the work of the Search Institute, and its work on the developmental relationships framework. There are 20 actions that make a relationship developmental. You can read all about this on the Institute’s website, but for now, consider the five categories of actions:

  1. Express care
  2. Challenge growth
  3. Provide support
  4. Share power
  5. Expand possibilities

Our schools are full of passionate teachers who develop positive relationships with students. They go above and beyond to improve the way students learn.  What always impresses me most is the efforts our teachers take to make all of our students feel welcomed, inspired and loved. I am using that last word very intentionally, knowing that it is a powerful word. When I tour our schools and see the connections between students and teachers and staff members, I see love. That is a real differentiator that makes CAIS schools outstanding.

Our world needs more of these deep connections between people. Technology is shaping the way we understand the world – from Pokémon GO, and the rise in online educational opportunities, to using technology to help children learn and flourish in our schools. Our CAIS schools believe in being reflective and intentional when using technology, understand that technology is a complement to education and learning, not an end in itself, and strive to prevent technology from interfering with deep people connections. 

The combination – of technology and innovation, with a community of passionate learners who know each student individually, and a celebration of history and traditions – makes Robbins Hebrew Academy special.

You have a choice of where to send your child, and sending your child to a CAIS school is a major decision. I hope that you feel you have made the right investment in your choice of school, so that you are true partners is raising children who go on to pursue their passions and become a positive force in the world.

I wish you and your family the very best for this academic year. 


Anne-Marie Kee

Anne-Marie Kee

CAIS Executive Director

Israeli MKs Visit RHA

A group of Israeli members of Knesset from across the political spectrum were in Toronto as part of a seven-day North American tour. RHA was one of the stops on the tour.  They learned how we are integrating STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) into our curriculum. 

Read more about the visit here

First Day of School

Excitement, cheers, tears, new friends and old. RHA students are ready for another great year!

Happy First Day of School!

Students on first day of schoolCollage of First Day of School

Meet Dan and Paz, Our New Shinshinim

Each year, we bring two 18 year old students from Israel to aid in the development of Israel education and strengthen the bond in a sophisticated, personal, and relevant way. With their regular attendance in our classrooms, they bring Israeli culture to life.  Each year, these students, referred to as Shinshinim become household names in the RHA community and are welcomed not only by the students, but by parents, teachers, and alumni as well.

This year we welcome Dan Helft and Paz Assulin as our Shinshinim. 

Click here to get to know Dan and Paz.

Shinshinim PazShinshinim Dan


RHA Receives L.B. Daniels Award

We are thrilled to let you know that Robbins Hebrew Academy has been awarded the L.B. Daniels Award from the Critical Thinking Consortium.  The Critical Thinking Consortium (TC2) is an internationally renowned, non-profit association of education professionals who are committed to promoting critical thinking from primary to post-secondary education through professional development and research.

According to Usha James, executive director of TC2, Robbins Hebrew Academy is being recognized for its deep commitment to professional learning and its singular focus on creating ‘thinking classrooms.’  From JK to grade 8 and in every subject – from Hebrew studies to physical education, from math to visual arts – RHA is transforming teaching and learning by nurturing thinking.

RHA has a clear vision:  To produce the next generation of original thinkers who lead life with courage and compassion.  This recognition makes evident that we are on track.

LeRoi B. Daniels is a founding member of TC2 and an author of the model of critical thinking that forms the foundation of the Consortium's work.  TC2 created this award to honour Dr. Daniels' contribution to the understanding and implementation of critical thinking throughout his career.  The award recognizes exemplary service in the promotion of critical thinking.

Past winners of this award include Branksome Hall (Toronto), Ecole Sperling School (Burnaby), and Garfield Gini-Newman, an associate professor from University of Toronto and our critical thinking advisor. 

We are very proud that RHA has won this award.  Thank you to all the teachers who have so diligently integrated critical thinking into their daily lessons.

Extraordinary things happen at RHA!

Year End BBQ

Robbins Hebrew Academy held its annual bbq on June 7. Each year the Parents' Association organizes this event, and as always, the RHA community had a blast. Thanks for dedicating so much time and effort into making this celebration such a success. 

RHA Bible Contest Results!

In March, we announced that RHA had 17 students compete in the Regional Bible Contest, with all 17 qualifying for the national level. Those 17 middle school students wrote the National Bible Contest earlier this week.

After writing two tests, the judges announced the 10 highest scoring students from each division would advance to the semi-finals. Six students from RHA made it to the semi-finals! In the grade 7/8 division Ellie Joseph, Tal Davis, Claire Lipton, and Talia Levitt advanced and in the grade 5/6 division Zoe Zusman and Rebekah Bloom advanced.

Everyone tried their hardest in semi-finals, with Ellie Joseph in grade 7 making it to the top five and advancing to the final round! After the judges deliberated, they announced the incredible news that Ellie got third place in all of Canada! Congratulations to all the students who participated in the Bible Contest this year! We are so proud.
A few words from the students who competed: “Thank you so much to the coach of the RHA Bible Contest team, Geveret Eilath. You dedicated so many hours to teaching our team everything we needed to know, and more. We would never have been able to get where we did without your hard work, and for that we are very grateful. The whole Bible Contest team is so proud of their accomplishments and had so much fun competing in the National Bible Contest this year!”

RHA Celebrates Yom Ha'Atzmaut

Robbins Hebrew Academy celebrated Yom Ha’Atzmaut with a Student Assembly. Each grade lit one of the twelve torches, representing each of the Tribes of Israel. Then we marched around the neighbourhood singing and dancing with a DJ!! Thank you to the Parents’ Association for sponsoring the DJ and for providing cookies for all the students!

Yom HaZikaron

This year, the Shinshinim helped the grade 7 class prepare for a ceremony to honour all soldiers who have died protecting the land of Israel. The ceremony was held on Yom HaZikaron and grades 4-8 and many parents attended. During the ceremony, we told many stories of different soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country. We sang powerful songs and read poems that brought emotion to our ceremony. We also lit a memorial candle to represent the soldiers or citizen who died keeping Israel safe. – Written by Claire L. 

Special Friends and Grandparents Day

Thank you to all the aunts, uncles, special friends, Bubbis, Zaidies, Sabas, Savtas, Grandmas and Grandpas who spent their morning at RHA! Our students are blessed to have such supportive people in their lives. We hope you enjoyed the day as much as the students enjoyed having you visit RHA!

Yom HaShoah

As the generations go by, the torch must be passed to keep the 6 million flames burning.

On May 5, the grade 8 students organized a beautiful and meaningful commemoration for Yom HaShoah. Led by Geveret Macmull and RHA’s Shinshinim, the student’s focused their commemoration on the children and youth that died during the Holocaust. Families were invited to light a candle in memory of family members who perished.

Middle School Maccabi Games

On Wednesday, May 4, the RHA middle school had guests who represented Canada in the Maccabi Games. They taught us about some of the popular events that athletes competed in during the Maccabiah Games (tennis, soccer, martial arts, and basketball). We learned about discipline, teamwork and excellence in the sports. Many of the visitors were medal winners and were able to tell us about the benefits beyond physical activity of being a Maccabi participants. We really appreciate them spending their time to be with us!

- From the perspective of Joseph B. and Zoe S.



Discover RHA

We launched our first Discover RHA magazine. It outlines the extraordinary things that happen at RHA! 

Please click on the magazine cover to Discover RHA.  

RHA Champion Debate Team Sweeps Jewish Day Schools Debate Tournament

Congratulations to our unstoppable debate team and their coach, Donnie Friedman, for their triumph at the Jewish Day Schools Debate Tournament held at Associated Hebrew Schools on March 22.

Seven schools, twenty-eight teams in all competed in an all-day tournament, and after the preliminary and semi-final rounds, three of our teams remained unbeaten and also earned the highest cumulative scores.

Tournament regulations required that the final championship round be between the two (different) schools with the highest standing, so we found ourselves facing the Leo Baeck team for the championship. We were not to be disappointed, and our team took the championship trophy, debating the resolution: "Losing is better than winning".

Our debate team has been training hard for several months, attending lunchtime sessions, sharpening their advocacy and presentation skills, and having lots of laughs as well.  

We are so proud of all our participants and celebrate their success.


Tour for Humanity Bus at RHA

"On Wednesday, March 16, grades 4-8 encountered a meaningful experience by learning about heroes, prejudice, racism, and stopping hatred in our own lives. One class at a time, we boarded the Tour for Humanity bus.  On the bus, we got the chance to have discussions and play a game.  We determined who heroes really are and found out about how we can become a hero one day.  I felt so lucky to have witnessed this presentation.  It made me feel like I could do something to help the world and I know that everyone in my class would say the same thing.  I would recommend the Tour for Humanity bus to anyone." – Amy P.

"We all had an amazing experience learning about the person who founded the Simon Wiesenthal Center and his success in life.  Elena, the person who taught us, explained to us the importance of carrying on and teaching the next generation about such a terrible time in our past." – Nathaniel F.

"The Tour for Humanity really enforced positive values like humanity, tolerance, and peace that we learn at RHA. We learned what it takes to be a leader, how we can avoid following prejudice, and how we can be heroes. Thank you Tour for Humanity!" – Danielle W.

"It’s absolutely crazy, that the lesson of a lifetime can happen in just above 30 minutes. Fortunately, that is exactly what the students in grades 4-8 experienced on Wednesday. Aboard the Tour For Humanity bus, we were exposed to the knowledge of Jewish heroes from before the Holocaust to today. Some of these heroes included Anne Frank.  We did this in the form of listening, watching, and speaking. We were taught how we can change the world for the better." –  Justin E.

"After learning about why tragic events like the Holocaust took place, we focused on how we can use the tools we have to make the world a better place. Overall, Tour for Humanity was a very valuable experience and every student walked out of the bus inspired to become better people and stand up for what we believe in." – Talia L.



Jump Rope for Heart

On March 9, we kicked off Jump Rope for Heart at RHA! Students and teachers demonstrated fun and creative ways to skip during the kickoff and Melanie from the Heart and Stroke Foundation told the kids about the importance of exercising for your heart.

We’ll be doing skipping activities in gym and morning meeting for the next few weeks to encourage everyone to participate. On March 30, we’ll be having our Jump Rope fo Heart event and prizes will be given to the classes who work together to meet their goals! 





Ultimate Frisbee Team Wins Tournament

RHA's Senior Boys Ultimate Frisbee Team won 1st place in the JDSSL tournament. The coveted trophy was presented to the team and was received with great pride and excitement!

Chess Makes Kids Smarter

Every week, our grade 2 classes have chess lessons from instructors from the Chess Institute of Canada. Students learn logic and strategy – not only that, it improves math and problem solving skills. Plus, the kids love it.


Paralympic Gold Medalist Visits RHA!

RHA had the honour to host Paralympic Gold Medalist and motivational speaker Paul Rosen! He addressed grades 5-8, talking about his challenges as a paralympic athlete, about perseverance, determination and working hard to reach your goals!

 What did our students have to say after?

 “It was inspirational. It taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to.” - Noah

 “Great talk. Truly inspirational.” - Leo

 “It was cool to hear firsthand about someone’s road to success, despite obstacles.” - Leah, Alanna and Maya

Grow - Building Character at RHA!

RHA students had the opportunity to take part in the Grow Interactive Learning Program on January 25 and 26. Through games and songs they worked on their confidence, communication, respect and inclusiveness. They did exercises to show how body language, emotion and the tone of your voice can change how things are portrayed. All RHA students are WINNERS and they had so much fun!

Thank you to the Parents’ Association for sponsoring this amazing program!

For more pictures of RHA kids in action, check out our Facebook album here

Why a Child’s Curiosity Matters

It used to be that a child’s aptitude was measured by their understanding of the 3R’s. No longer. Today, the more advanced pedagogy says learning facts and figures is fine, but hardly a predictor of lifelong success. What is? Studies are now telling us that curiosity, creativity and, very importantly, perseverance are essential. 

Introducing the world-renowned Reggio Emilia inspired Early Childhood Education program at Robbins Hebrew Academy (RHA). This year, they’ve revamped the JK-SK program based on this legendary approach to education. In 2016, they are beginning a nursery program with the same orientation.

Its history is an interesting one. In post-World War II Italy, the small town of Reggio Emilia recognized that children were the key to rebuilding their city. Education would be a pivotal component. So the community embarked on changing the way its children were taught, particularly in the early years. Half a century later, and based on years of research and evaluation, it has become astoundingly clear that a focus on play, imagination and self-expression build more adept and more advanced learners. The philosophy has become known as the Reggio Approach.

“The idea is to embrace children’s natural curiosity,” says Claire Sumerlus, head of school. “Children have an amazing ability to think critically, and we encourage them to ask questions and explore their environment. This inquiry produces learners who are able to analyze, hypothesize and come up with their own solutions.  Amazingly, it all begins in the early years of a child’s education.”

The curriculum is structured in a special way. Students work in small groups so that each child is heard individually. Children collaborate to find answers to their own questions, teachers tailor lessons to fit the particular needs and interests of the class, and students’ observations drive the conversations and activities. This happens across both general and Jewish studies.

Classrooms are designed to bring the outside environment in, and natural materials are used in the learning process.  Each week, time is spent outdoors investigating and observing nature.

“On a recent excursion, the JK class was curious about why trees grow in different directions,” says Sumerlus. “These questions led to discussions about the way in which sunlight and the environment affect the growth of trees and vegetation. The students then took their observations and explored them further in the classroom.”

The Reggio Approach also places an emphasis on documenting the children’s thoughts and the progression of their thinking. Teachers share the activities with parents so conversations can continue at home. “Gone are the days when your child says they don’t remember what they learned at school. Each parent can see what happened at school that day through photos and videos,” says Sumerlus.   

“The end result is happy children who not only develop sharper and more sophisticated minds, but who also go through life thinking innovatively and originally.” 

For more information about the early years experience at Robbins Hebrew Academy, please call Michael Ferman at 416-224-8737 ext. 137 or mferman@rhacademy.ca

Rocks & Rings

RHA hosted a program during gym called Rocks & Rings! It's a indoor curling program which simulates the sport of curling, minus the ice. All students had the opportunity to learn how to sweep the broom, slide the rock and play the game! 

Here's what our students thought! 
"I like curling because it's fun and I liked sweeping the broom!" - Sophie from 1B

"It was hard to knock out the other team's rocks and to know the right angle."
- Reuben from SK103

"Rocks & Rings was a great introduction to a new sport!" -  Nate from Grade 8B 

It's Official. We're CAIS Accredited!

When a school is accredited by CAIS, it means it has reached the pinnacle of excellence. It means its curriculum is on a par with the best in the world. It means its teaching is unparalleled.

Robbins Hebrew Academy is that school.

At RHA, we have a unique mission: To produce original thinkers and principled leaders. We teach our students to master an advanced curriculum and then to push beyond. We also teach them to conduct their lives with dignity and compassion. Because who they are is as important as what they know.

It’s no wonder RHA is the only Jewish day school in Ontario to be CAIS-accredited.

For more information or a personal tour, please contact Michael Ferman at mferman@rhacademy.ca or 416-224-8737 ext. 137.

Building Lifelong Character

At RHA, our goal is to build lifelong character in our children, developing them into responsible stewards and well-rounded citizens committed to their communities and to the world. Character development is about helping our students learn the importance of Jewish values and becoming a mensch. We teach them to respect themselves and others, make positive contributions to their school and community and think critically and creatively. 

Each month of the school year, RHA will focus on a different character trait.  Here are few of the ways we will be reinforcing  the Character Trait of the Month:

  • Student Council will introduce the Character Trait of the Month at a monthly assembly. As part of the assembly, one grade will be responsible for preparing a short presentation based on that month's character trait.
  • A Character Hall of Fame bulletin board will be created. Classes will be invited to share their thoughts on the different traits each month.
  • Students from each grade who have demonstrated and exhibited the character trait consistently will receive recognition and a certificate at our monthly assemblies.

We encourage parents to reinforce the Character Trait of the Month at home. Here are the character traits we will be focusing on throughout the year.




  Respect  דרך ארץ   


  Responsibility  אחריות 


  Empathy  הבנת האחר 


  Kindness/Caring גמילות חסדים 


  Perseverance  התמדה  


  Fairness  הגינות/ להיות הוגן  


 Honesty/Integrity  יושר/ אמינות 


 Co-operation   שיתוף פעולה   


 Confidence בטחון עצמי   


 Appreciation   הכרת הטוב

Back to School at RHA!

RHA had an amazing first week back at school. Here are some images of the the first few days. 

2014/2015 Annual Report

This past year has been one of amazing achievements by our students, our faculty and staff, and our community. We are delighted to present to you our 2014/2015 Robbins Hebrew Academy Annual Report. 

Please click on the cover below to view the Report. 



Grandparents/Special Friends Day at RHA

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us at our very first Grandparents/Special Friends Day at Robbins Hebrew Academy! We are so thankful that our students have such loving and supportive grandparents and special friends who came to share their morning with us.

'Gimme Five' - RHA Dances for Ellen

The First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show challenging all school-aged children to get up and dance to combat adolescent obesity.

Dance is a lifelong skill and part of a creative and healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle is a focus in our daily school life and one of the five objectives in our mission statement at Robbins Hebrew Academy. Administration, staff and students jumped on the healthy lifestyle bandwagon and practiced this fun dance every chance they had!  

Here you go Ellen! We're Robbins Hebrew Academy and we are giving YOU five!

RHA Celebrates Yom Ha'Atzmaut

RHA celebrated Yom Ha’Atzmaut with a Student Assembly and then marched around the neighbourhood singing and dancing with a DJ!!


The Parents’ Association organized a Family Bingo Night for the RHA Community. Looks like the kids (and parents) had a great time!! 

Thank you to the organizers for all the work that went into this evening!

RHA Celebrates Purim!

Happy Purim from RHA!!

Grade 6 Tanakh Ceremony

The grade 6 students celebrated a new milestone in their Jewish education by participating in a Tanakh Ceremony last week. The program included a student-led Shacharit Service with Torah reading. An outstanding delivery of a D’var Torah was given by two students and concluded with a presentation and songs about the Tanakh.

Students were presented with their own personal Tanakh. We thank the Parents’ Association for this special gift and in return students have committed themselves to turn it over and over for the Tanakh teaches us everything.

Yishar Koach!!!

Hour of Code

Have you heard about the The Hour of Code global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries? It's about teaching students how to do computer coding. This week our elementary students participated in this global initiative. 

RHA Students Perform for Premier Wynne at Queen's Park

RHA Elementary students had the opportunity of a lifetime on December 16 when they were invited to Queen's Park to participate in a Chanukah Reception. Thirteen RHA students were invited by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to perform a Chanukah song as they lit a menorah.

Contact Us
Robbins Hebrew Academy

Administration Office
1700 Bathurst Street
Toronto, ON M5P 3K3
P: 416.224.8737
F: 1.855.271.2236
Privacy Policy

  Prizmah Logo