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Bialik — A Place I Call Home

When my son Zane started at Bialik in September 1995, I never imagined how my family life would become intertwined with Bialik — as a parent, community member and as the Executive Director for the past four years. I always knew that, at Bialik, Jewish values and a caring community were front and centre, but it wasn’t until our family’s experience that I truly understood what it really meant.

Bialik was so much more than a school for us. Notwithstanding the wonderful education and very strong sense of Jewish identity my children took with them when they graduated, both my son, Zane, and my daughter, Arielle, made lifelong friendships here. My husband, Michael, and I met friends and business associates here and Bialik ultimately gave me a fulfilling career.

Our family’s relationship with Bialik became even more personal when we were met with an unimaginable tragedy. Suddenly, before school began in 2004, my husband Michael passed away. Bialik administration, staff, parents and students stood by our side in any and every way imaginable. This was four months before Zane’s Bar Mitzvah, so our Rabbi suggested that if Zane would like to say kaddish for his dad, that he start now so as not to mark his Bar Mitzvah with starting to say kaddish. Although Bialik doesn’t have daily prayers, the Rabbi suggested that Zane could say kaddish among his peers in the morning upon reciting a psalm. And so, with Bialik’s support, each day Zane’s Grade 8 peers would come into the lunchroom to surround him as he recited kaddish for his dad, after two teachers took turns reciting a psalm in English and in Hebrew.

For the whole year, Zane, Arielle and I were supported by the Bialik community. There is no doubt that this community’s compassion and empathy played a significant role in our ability to find a new normal and rebuild our lives. None of my son’s peers will ever forget the role they played in supporting Zane that year. I still have administrators and teachers talking to me about how they remember the impact of that daily ritual on the grade and on themselves. This ritual of gathering together united the Senior Division in solidarity, kindness and caring — values that are at the core of Bialik.

And so, it comes as no surprise that when a career opportunity became available at Bialik in 2014, I jumped at the chance to be back at the school as part of this wonderful community. Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I am even more impressed with the hard work and detail involved in delivering a Bialik education. The dedication of the staff and board speaks volumes about their commitment to the Bialik ideals and to really building this values-based community for our students, their families and our staff.

I feel privileged to work at Bialik — a Jewish day school educating, forming and instilling values in children for a strong Jewish tomorrow. It’s a place I continue to call home.  

I welcome you to get to know the rest of the Bialik community by getting to know our board members,  leadership team and hope that you will take a moment to share your positive Bialik story on social media or in conversation with your peers. This is such a special place and I am excited for the continued success of our community.

Marlene Brickman
Executive Director