Getting to Know Michal Almalem

What are the three most important sentences about yourself that you want people to know?

  1. I have a very strong Jewish identity that includes my religion, culture, nationality, history, and literally every aspect of my life.
  2. I believe we are here for an amazing journey to make the world a better place, and I love that I can teach students everyday how to be great people and how responsible they are for each other and for the wonderful world they live in.
  3. לא הביישן למד ולא הקפדן מלמד A shy person cannot learn, and a perfectionist cannot teach

Why are you an educator/administrator?   

I was always an educator. My kindergarten teacher said I will be a director as I was organizing the other students for performances at that early age. I was a counselor in a youth group in 9th grade, and a tour guide in the army teaching 12th graders about Israel to encourage them to join the best units of the IDF when they graduate so they want to do everything for our country. Asking me why I teach is like asking me why I need my legs. I love History and archeology, and think it is crucial for Jewish students to learn and understand their past so they will be proud, confident, and with a safe identity in their future. I became an administrator because this way I could impact more students, more teachers, and more families.

What do you hope every Bornblum student receives during their years in the school?

Love of Judaism, Knowledge, Second Language, Leadership skills, ability to represent our community everywhere in the world, and understanding and supporting of Israel.

What is your favorite Jewish food? 

Couscous with Tinzia – Sweet Couscous that Moroccan Jews make for Rosh Hashanah and special happy occasions.

What is your favorite place in Israel?

Golan Heights. I love the Yahudia River hike.  The name means Jewish and it was preserved throughout millennia when the land was controlled by other religions. It has remains of ancient synagogues made of Bazalt stones with Hebrew inscriptions on them in the area. It has waterfalls, and places you have to swim through, It has fresh mint, poppies, and other flowers that are so typical to Israel growing on the river bank, cows are wondering freely around and the smell of the fig trees by the river is the smell of Israel for me.

If you were a Jewish ritual object, which one would you be and why?

I know I suppose to say Kiddush cup, or my beautiful ceramic shabbat candle set that I actually made for our home, but if I need to choose one it would be Tefillin. Although I do not wrap tefillin, I am chilled from the fact we can trace the use of tefillin all the way to the dead sea scrolls, and possibly burial caves from the 8th century BC. The content of them (Parshiot), the idea that it is related to our actions (hands) and our thinking (head), and the notion that wrapping tefilling was the last request of some of our Israeli soldiers from their friends in their last moments, makes it a powerful object. Some rabbis say that wrapping tefillin equal to doing all the Mitzvoth in the Torah. When I watch our bar mitzvah students wrapping tefillin and connecting the verses in the Torah, the archeological findings, the modern history of Israel and them together, I know we are an amazing people – the Jewish People.