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The strength of our Jewish community is our membership. We are blessed by so many warm and caring individuals and families that make our community a great place to live and work. Our member Q & A section seeks to tap into that community spirit and find the mitzvot motivation of our members.

Ilissa Zimmerman has been our Sunday School principal for the last two years. We recently spoke with her to get an update about happenings at the school.



Q.  What was the deciding factor in accepting the position of principal at our Sunday School?

A. The Altoona Jewish Community  Sunday School is truly a community effort. The Federation provides all the administrative support. Our ability to communicate with the members of both congregations and keep the parents informed has improved dramatically because of email.

Q.  Tell us about the current state of affairs at our Sunday School? Successes? Areas needing improvement?

A. In keeping with the curriculum, the teachers invite members from both congregations to address the classes. Topics have included "being raised on a kibbutz", the Israeli /Gaza conflict and growing up as a Jew in Altoona.

Nicole Luna and the Student Rabbis who preceded her present a RABBI MOMENT educating the children assembly style every other Sunday morning. Hazzan Horwitz created a music program individualized for each age group. It is very exciting to hear our children learn the lyrics and sing the tunes which we grew up with. 

The lap top computers with the wireless internet connections have changed the way our students access information and share ideas. The teachers have discovered Jewish websites that spark everyone's interest. We have seen the students become the "teachers" suggesting topics and leading their peers.

Q.  What is your favorite duty as Sunday School Principal? Least favorite job?

A. Teacher meetings once a month allow teachers to bring their concerns to the group, exchange ideas and work together on solutions. Holiday events and celebrations really connect us to our traditions, with the camaraderie that comes from intense planning.

Q.  Who has been your mentors for assuming a leadership position in our community?

A. I hate to name names but let me start with Len Zimmerman, past president of the Temple and involved member of the Federation and greater Jewish community. The rest of the names include every single person listed in the chronicle and temple bulletin who has taught Sunday School, served on a committee, helped with sisterhood, brought a child to services, shall I go on...

Q.  What is your wish for the future of our Greater Altoona Jewish Community?

A. My wish: Our children are so connected to each other and so committed to Judaism, to being Jewish, to feeling Jewish, and to continuing to learn about their heritage. They will be the ones who determine what "being Jewish" means in the local community, in the world of politics, and in the congregations they choose to join.

  Past Member Q&A's