I am excited and honoured to take on the new role of Principal of Youth Education and Family Engagement here at Holy Blossom. As a newly engaged couple, my husband Aaron and I joined Holy Blossom in 2001, and it wasn’t long before I began working as a grade 7 teacher in the Senior School. Over the past 13+ years, I have had the unique opportunity to work, pray, and raise our child in this congregation, allowing me the chance to develop meaningful and lasting relationships with many students and families, with whom I am blessed to count as friends. This is one of the many things that makes Holy Blossom such a unique and special place –it is a community, a family, and a home. Over the past few years through my role as the Director of Youth Engagement, one of my goals was to instil that feeling in our young people – for them to feel and see Holy Blossom as their home, and this congregation as their extended family.
As I begin my role as Principal, I am keenly aware of the many talented educators who have served, lead, and taught this congregation. They created lasting and meaningful experiences for students and families alike, developed engaging curriculum, and have created a community of lifelong Jewish learners. I am honoured to join this line of Jewish leaders and bring my own ideas and passions to create and energize new ways students and families can engage with Jewish learning and Jewish living.
I am on the tail end of completing my Masters in Jewish Educational Leadership at the Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion, where I have had the good fortune to study with many of the same teachers our own Holy Blossom rabbis have learned with. My courses have not only well-prepared me to take on this role, but they have also given me a stronger connection to why I am a Jewish Educator, as well as connecting me to a network of fellow educators with whom I can share and develop ideas, and keep up with best practices.
This pandemic has forced us all to live our lives in a whole new way. We have developed new and different ways of approaching our world, and have had to re-imagine and re-evaluate every step of the way. We have learned a whole new set of skills and tools for online learning, communication and connecting with one another. Even the way we use physical spaces to learn and gather in has shifted. I know that we are all wondering what the ‘new normal’ will look like when this pandemic is behind us. I am ready to work with my colleagues both within Holy Blossom and in the Jewish educational field, along with the committed and talented lay leadership, and you, our congregation’s families, to shape and create the next normal for Jewish Education and Family Engagement, here at Holy Blossom.
As we face more lockdown rules, extended school closures and the cold months ahead, we are fortunate that our Jewish calendar provides opportunities for celebration. I hope that families with younger age children will join us on Sunday, January 24, as we ‘Unbox Tu B’shevat’ together (from home)– as part of a new UJA initiative, Unboxing Jewish.
This Saturday night, January 16, join our HABSTY teens who will be leading our congregational Mincha/Havdallah service at the end of Shabbat. There is no better way to end Shabbat and welcome a new week, than with the voices of teens, and a little bit of guitar.
Looking ahead, the month of Adar is around the corner, which means Purim is fast approaching! Watch for different opportunities for families and children of all ages to perform the mitzvah of Michloach Manot together, bake delicious Hamentaschen, and be entertained during this joyful holiday.
I look forward to getting to know more of you, our Holy Blossom families, and to continue to strengthen the relationships I already have with many of you.
I am excited for the day that we can greet one another in our beautiful atrium, and for now, I look forward to connecting with you through phone calls, emails and, zoom meetings.
Lisa Isen Baumal
A message from Rabbi Jordan Helfman:
When I was in elementary school, I learned that the proper spelling of principal included the word ‘pal’. Lisa is many things – an inspiring Jewish educator, a big thinker willing to question the norms that surround our education systems, an advocate for the systemically disadvantaged, and a true relationship builder. From her time as our Director of Youth Engagement, she has many teens and young adults who look to her as a mentor and a guide, and I know that families will feel her magnetic pull, and be inspired to engage with Jewish education in new ways. In these next few years, I personally look forward to how Lisa Isen Baumal, as our principal, will shape our community. – Rabbi Jordan Helfman