To An Absolutely Amazing Weekend!

20130527_152537Yael – here is the post you were waiting for! The conference has come and gone, but where to start? As the rain is pouring outside, and the boys are getting ready for bed so they can get ready for more tomorrow, I have a few minutes to write. What started out as a short trip and back to the conference, turned into something more. Oh, so much more!

My husband called me up and informed that he had a vacation day that he had to use or loose. We decided that driving 6 hours from Motzei Shabbos until Sunday morning at 9am was too much in the summer time, so we decided to use it on Friday and drive to our friends’ house in Virginia to spend Shabbos. That way the trip into Baltimore would be short and we would actually be awake. My husband had Monday off for Memorial Day and we were going to find something nice and educational for the boys that day and then drive home. That was the plan!

What I need to say here is that this new plan was thought of and decided within an hour or two late on Thursday afternoon – meaning I had just a few hours to pack for a departure of early Friday morning! Not to mention we had scouts and challah baking that night as well. Somehow everything got packed and we had a very nice drive to Virginia. We arrived at our destination on time and were pretty pleased with ourselves…that is until our friends’ daughter asked if we could just move our van over just a bit. The van would not start. I thought perhaps it was the battery in our key (it is one of those fob keys,) and our friend had replacement batteries. Nope. We thought ahead and had purchased AAA. I honestly thought it was the key – the battery was replaced about a year ago, lights came on, etc. Just the car did not turn on when I turned the key. AAA sent out a locksmith. He could not figure out the problem, and with Shabbos just minutes away, we had to let him go. (Fob keys are usually only able to be made at the dealership…)

Shabbos was wonderful! To wonderful friends, to meeting new friends, to boys having lots of fun! It was really nice. But then reality kicked in and that key issue just did not go away during Shabbos. Tried calling AAA again, but the locksmith I talked too said they could not give me a new 20130527_161928key until several days after the weekend. 😐 Never mind, it’s too late, time for bed, I cannot think. Sunday morning – what to do? How to get to the conference? Never fear – friends are here! After convincing us that they really did intend to drive into Baltimore that day, we had our ride. So, we were a little late, that was fine, we made it late in the morning, but we made it! Baruch Hashem. What were we to do afterwards? Once step at a time, worrying would come later. Boys were sent to be babysitters or to be babysat, and the parents were free! My oldest was one of the boys watching the other sort of older boys. He was shocked that about 28 bottles of juice was finished up by 15 boys (including the teenagers) in 4 hours. Those are boys for you! You put it out, it will be gone! 🙂 Baruch Hashem!

It was wonderful. So many people, so many vendors! It was so nice to be amongst so many fellow homeschoolers. It really felt like one big family with everyone out there to help other people out. It was a place where one could just walk up to anyone else and ask questions or help give answers. There were many wonderful speakers, an amazing binder full of chizuk to everyone, and yes, enough food to fill everyone’s tummy. I think the big thing that I got out of it all was the connections. Over the last year or so I have met many people online, and this weekend was a time where I seemed to have met many of those people in person! It was so nice to put a face to a name and to connect in person. I am really a quiet person, but since I have “known” these people already, when we finally met, it was not a new friend feeling and I enjoyed every bit of it! I wish we had more time to chat with everyone, even with our friends we have met several times before, there was just so much to do and so many people to talk too that we did not get to chat with any one person.

When the conference was about ready to end, our dear friend was just finishing up her trip and was there to pick us up. She drove us to the airport so we could pick up our rental van that AAA is supposed to pay for (we purchased the highest AAA membership – 200 miles towing and up to $1500 in a car rental OR food and lodging on a trip interruption.) After taking forever to pick up the van, driving back, waiting several hours for a tow truck, we were finally ready to drive all the way back to Baltimore to our prepaid hotel. We had the man tow our truck 189 miles towards home to the car dealership. At after midnight, we were ready for bed. We were NOT going to set any alarm for the next morning.

Monday was a nice lazy start. After getting up late, driving next door to Target to get a carseat that we left at the conference and food to eat, we were ready to find a place to eat our food. It was really lunch time. We ended up going out to eat instead! The perks of being in such a huge Jewish population – we just drove up and down the street and saw restaurant upon restaurant that was available to eat at. After filling up our bellies, we decided that we should do some learning, and we headed on over to Fort McHenry for an amazing adventure!

20130527_162346It was a beautiful day to be outside. We walked around and found ourselves near some canons and a Park Ranger. After standing there admiring the canons for a few minutes, the Park Ranger started giving the crowd some information about the canons. One of them was an original that was found in France, and the others were replicas. He was funny, entertaining, and educational all in one. Apparently it took over 20 people per canon to man it. He started taking children and positioning them in different places, at the same time, telling them what their job was. The canon was “shot” 3 times in total. It was wonderful! We also took a tour of the Star Fort and saw the barracks, prison and other rooms. Back in the main building, we watched a movie about the battle at the fort in September 1814. It was an awesome film! Even though we all knew the outcome, we were kept in “suspense” anxious to find out the ending. It was also wonderful that we saw the canons and how they worked first before seeing the movie, we understood more of what was going on and it was more meaningful to us. I will not give away the ending – it was a wonderful surprise! The whole movie was only about 10-15 minutes long and so worth every minute of it. I would recommend 1.5-2 hours for a nice visit and tour.

After too long of a visit to the gift store, we were on our way to find our car. We arrived in Lewisburg, PA just after suppertime – that breakfast we bought in the morning sure came in handy! We went into our motel room (and I think we were the only guests there!) ate supper, did mishnayos and finally went into bed. We were exhausted from the weekend, and it was not over. Up early again to get to the dealer about the time they opened. Long story short – it was something under the dashboard that went out and it would take a day or so to fix, so on our way home we went. Made it back to do the afternoon classes in Room613 and send Daddy to work a full day.

It is now Wednesday morning. Clothes from the trip have been washed and dried. Counters have been cleaned and food for the rest of the week bought. In about an hour we are off again to drive back to Lewisburg to pick up the car and get one of the two keys we have rekeyed. We are now down to only one key. New keys cost $225. That’s a fob key for you. Tomorrow, Thursday, I make challah, have scouts and go shopping for the boy scouts. Why? Because Friday is the beginning of the boy scout campout and us two parents are the adults. I am so not interested in camping at the moment, but we cannot disappoint those beautiful boys! It should be fun, really. Monday. I think my extended weekend will be over then. Bonus? I don’t have to make any food for Shabbos (except for challah which I volunteered,)- the Boy Scouts are doing the food making, cleaning, and most importantly, the tent raising and lowering!

Upcoming 5th Annual Torah Homeschool Conference!

Photo: TorahTutors will be at the Torah Homeschooling Conference in Baltimore on May 25-26th - I would love to meet you! For more information, email me at rmeyers@TorahTutors.orgThe 5th Annual Torah Homeschool Conference is almost here! In less than 6 weeks homeschooling families from around the world (yes, the world!) will be coming together to share thoughts and ideas. If you have not registered already, there is still time and join us. We would love to see you! Instead of writing something, I have decided to post information about the conference and then hopefully take the time to do some writing for the conference.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

To register for the conference, just go to:

The 5th Annual Torah Home Education Conference will take place, G-d willing, on Sunday, May 26 2013. The conference opens with check-in at 8:15 AM with complementary morning refreshments and concludes at 6:30 PM.

A catered lunch by Eden Cafe will be served. The cost is $15 per meal and can be purchased along with your registration. New this year, we will be organizing special seating for the lunch period. Attendees will be placed at tables according to their specific interests and background. When you register, please take the time to fill out the registration questionnaire to let us know about your family, the ages of your children, how long you’ve been homeschooling, specific areas of concern to you, etc.

Vendors will be on hand to display and sell the materials they’ve created to enhance your Torah homeschooling experience. It will be possible to visit these vendors from the lunch period through the end of the day.

Schedule of the Day: (subject to change)

8:15 – Check-in

9:00 – Opening Remarks

9:15 – Educating for Eternity: Clarifying Our Vision and Passing it on to Our Children Susan Lapin

10:05 -Learning as a Way of Life; Life as a Way of Learning Yael Resnick

How to develop a “homeschooling mindset” that frees your children’s natural love of learning, anytime and anywhere-and how to catch opportunities for learning academics holistically throughout the day. Specific examples and guidance will be given in the contexts of math, Hebrew, science, language arts, and more.

For the Record: Creative Ways to Keep Track Karen Zeitlin

This workshop will discuss a range of options for keeping records of your child’s growth and accomplishments as well as present methods to create support documents for umbrella groups and/or other official documentation. Using a creative, multimedia-based approach, participants will be presented with ideas to support their record keeping.

10:55 – Teaching to Our Children: A Look at Individualized Education Yosef Beck

Worried that your homeschooler will never learn what he or she needs to make it in the real world? Yosef Beck will share how his experiences as both a homeschooler and as a homeschooling father have helped him relax and enjoy teaching his children instead of worrying about their developmental progress. From spending a year playing Nintendo to overcoming his hatred of math to be accepted into one of the leading Physics departments in the United States, Yosef Beck will entertain and reassure you that your homeschooler will (probably) turn out a normal human being.

Setting Priorities Beyond Academics Rebecca Masinter

Although it is tempting to view homeschooling from a primarily academic lens, why stop there? Aren’t the lessons we’re teaching in interpersonal relationships (i.e. sibling rivalries), home management (i.e. chores), and character development (Yes, you must wait patiently for your turn with Mommy!), equally deserving of our attention? This workshop will explore some Torah priorities, how to determine your family’s particular priorities, and how we can balance the pursuit of those priorities with the “schooling” part of homeschooling.

11:45 – Hash It Out – A Moderated Shmooze

A Father’s Perspective David Eagle, Esq.

12:15 – Lunch

2:45 – Skills-Based Homeschooling in Torah Sheba’al Peh – Principles and Practice Rabbi Dr. Pinchas Hayman

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is the opportunity to share the atmosphere and contents of Kodesh with our children in a manner which leads to respect and love for the Masorah. However, most parents find themselves limited to the study of content, and don’t feel they are adequately advancing their children as competent and independent learners. Rabbi Hayman’s presentation will focus on the theory, method and practice of skills-based instruction for homeschooling, with an emphasis on Torah Sheb’al Peh – Mishnah and Talmud.

3:35 – Unschooling Kodesh: an Oxymoron? Jessie Fischbein

Limudei Kodesh through a Classical Education Lens Yael Aldrich

4:25 – Ways to Prevent Mother Meltdown Robin Alberg

5:15 – Homeschooling Parent Panel: Questions from You

6:00 – Closing Remarks

Featured Speakers:

Susan Lapin, growing up in Brooklyn, NY, had no idea that marriage would entail sailing across the Pacific or homeschooling seven children. After 16 years of homeschooling she now writes and produces books and audio CDs with her husband, Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Her blog, Susan’s Musings, goes to over 37,000 subscribers each week.

Yael Resnick is a homeschooling mother of five, math teacher at The Binah School, piano teacher, writer, composer of Jewish choral music, publisher of Natural Jewish Parenting magazine, co-founder of, and coordinator of the Room613 and NJP online communities. Yael is also the creator of a growing collection of original curriculum materials, including a new Hebrew language program based on her unique, holistic approach to education.

Karen Zeitlin is the wife of Rabbi Hillel Zeitlin, mother of four homeschooled children and grandmother of two. She is a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and has a BA in Educational Kinesiology. Along with her husband, she is homeschooling their fourth child, and has homeschooled 16 out of the past 20 years. She currently spends part of her year in Israel where her older children have all established Torah based homes and professional lives. Her current interests include learning Torah, music, art, hiking and reading.

Yosef Beck was homeschooled from 4th grade through college and is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Holding degrees in both Business Management and Physics, Yosef currently works for Jabian Consulting, a Management and IT consulting firm in Atlanta, GA. Yosef and his wife Elisheva (also homeschooled), are homeschooling their two sons, ages 1 and 2.

Rebecca Masinter

Dovid Eagle has been married to home education guru Yehudis Eagle for more than 28 years and they have 11 children. He has survived innumerable years of formal education, having graduated from Amherst College in 1982 and Columbia Law School in 1989, with several years of yeshiva education during and after college. When Dovid and Yehudis began home educating their children about 20 years ago, an old college friend quipped, “So let me try to understand this, you are experimenting on your own kids?” So far Dovid has been very happy with the experiment. For his day job, Dovid is a litigation attorney in Wilmington, Delaware.

Rabbi Dr. Pinchas Hayman is the founder and CEO of Bonayich Educational Services, Ltd, an Israeli consulting firm founded in 2004 that specializes in curricula and materials for the teaching of Torah Sheb’al Peh. His Mishnah program – V’Shinantam – and his Talmud skills program – V’Dibarta Bam – are rapidly becoming the gold standard in Orthodox day school education. His new program for adults – Pathways in Torah Sheb’al Peh – enables even novices to gain mastery of Talmud skills within two years. Rabbi Hayman spent seven years as the founding Rabbi of the renewed Congregation House of Jacob – Mikveh Israel in Calgary, Alberta, and almost twenty years as a lecturer in Education and Talmud at Bar Ilan, and served as the head of the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, and directed the Teacher Certificate program in Talmud and Torah Sheb’al Peh at Bar Ilan. He and his wife Shoshana have six children and eighteen grandchildren! Rabbi Hayman lectures widely in synagogues, and consults to over a hundred schools worldwide – in the US, Canada, Latin America, Australia, England and Europe.

Jessie Fischbein teaches 11th grade Chumash at Midreshet Shalhevet early every morning, leaving the rest of the day for homeschooling. She isn’t very good at housework, but she keeps practicing. She regularly gives shiurim on parsha and other Torah subjects. She is the author of the book Infertility in the Bible, about how the Imahos handled their challenges and what that means for us. These hobbies in no way qualify her to teach her children, but do help answer the question: What do you do all day? Her family has been homeschooling for fourteen years. Her oldest daughter homeschooled until she asked to go to high school. They have been exploring the efficiency and joy of unschooling for the past six years. The children (ages 1 1/2- 11) choose their daily activities and are the instigators of their educations.

Yael Aldrich is the jet-lagged face behind Jewish, Orthodox, and Homeschooling on YahooGroups. She travels around the world with her husband, Rabbi Dr. Daniel Aldrich, and four lively children, schlepping Lively Latin, Story of the World, Gemara, Explode the Code and scads of Lego in way too many suitcases. She hopes to settle down someday and take HOMEschooling more seriously.

Robin Alberg is the mother of four homeschoolers, ages 2, 5, 6, and 9. She became an observant Jew as a young adult, and is deeply grateful for her opportunity to now receive a Jewish education through homeschooling.

Gila Haor


Childcare NEW!!

We have arranged childcare for children of parents attending the conference at the Park Heights JCC, the same location as the conference. Lunch, snacks, cuddles and a whole day of fun will be provided at reasonable rates.

Conference Vendors NEW!!

We are excited to announce that the following educational businesses/organizations are coming to this year’s conference:


Chitrik Academy will be bringing computers to train new users to its site.

Morah Moriah will be bringing some of her items for you to look at.

Plus many more!


Shabbos and Optional Family Field Trip (Monday, May 27)

We are delighted to offer programming on Shabbos including a Friday night Oneg, Shabbos Day speaker, afternoon park playdate and Shalosh Seudos, as well as an optional Family Field Trip Day on Monday, 5/27. Shabbos hospitality will be provided if requested. We will do our best to find housing for those interested in staying through Monday.

For information on kosher restaurants, activities and local minyanim please visit Baltimore Jewish Life.




Musings on the 4th Torah Ed Homeschool Conference

The day after the conference, we finally made our way back home.  We left Motzei Shabbos, spent the night somewhere on the road, and drove in to the conference Sunday morning. We left a little early but with only about 4.5 hours of sleep the night before, we were exhausted, and ended up spending another night on the road.

I was not scheduled to talk until after lunch, and that left me free the entire morning to listen to the wonderful speakers.  It was absolutely wonderful.  It is hard for me to sit here and write about how I feel,  but I can say that I learned something from everyone, some had more relevant information for our particular family than others, but everyone was great.

By the time my turn came, I felt very small, after all, I have only been homeschooling for 7 years, and here I was trying to present material to parents who have been at it much longer than me!  After sitting all morning, listening to wonderful parents and their stories , their encouragement and advice, was I going to be able to stand up to them?  Would I be able to help and encourage others as well?  I hope I did!  I asked my wonderful husband how I did, and he smiled and told me it was great, but then added that he is a little biased to begin with. 😉

I think I will write a few things that really touched me personally.

The first speaker was Mrs. Susan Lapin.  She is a vetran homeschooler – she started homeschooling before most people in the secular world even heard of the word.  One of the first things she mentioned was that yes, her homeschooled children DID get married – and at least one got married to another homeschooled child.  For those who are concerned about shidduchim, that is a nice piece of chizuk 🙂 She basically told us how she and her husband  got started into homeschooling.  Her oldest daughter was “loosing her sparkle.” They did not know what was wrong, but they did know that school was negative for her.  If they would keep her at home, then at least it would be a neutral environment, and that is better than negative. They did not know what they were going to do, but they did keep her daughter home that next year and instead of just a neutral environment, it ended up being positive.  The next year all children were pulled out.

Mr. Shoshana Zohari was another speaker that I listened too.  She was talking about children in middle school, Bar/Bat Mitzvah and beyond. One of the points she talked about was about how she makes being Jewish fun and exciting.  Anything they can do to keep the excitement, from singing and dancing and playing on plastic drums while davening to singing with happiness every day at lunch while everyone bentches together.  Yes, it is hard to keep the motivation on the parent’s part, but I think if we can keep the goal in mind, it will help encourage us during those hard days.

I just want to mention my thanks to all the people who were involved in making the conference and gave of their time and energy to create such a wonderful, successful event – from the organizing to attending, to the babysitting – which I think is one of the most important parts.  It was wonderful to be able to spend time with my husband and not have to worry about the children and know they are taken care of!

For those who were not able to attend, or like me, had to choose between speakers for they doubled up on speakers for most of the day, I understand they will be posting audios of the talks online.  When I find out where they are, I will BE”N post the link!