by Marina Segal
(AJNews) – Bonjour, Hola, Shalom or Hello – no matter what language you speak – Rabbi Shmuel and Meira Nissan would love to meet you! The Nissans have arrived in Calgary and are excited to be sharing Torah with children and teens.
Rabbi Shmuel Nissan grew up in Mexico City, and made aliyah when he was a teenager. He served in the IDF and earned a degree in Computer Sciences before finding his passion in Jewish outreach and teaching. Meira grew up in France and moved to Israel during university. She also served in the IDF, has extensive childcare experience, and is a trained doula.
Together, the Nissans are a formidable couple – fluent in French, Spanish, Hebrew and English – they are looking forward to making connections with children, teens and the community at large. They are both teaching at Halpern Akiva Academy this year, and working for Calgary Community Kollel as co-Directors of Calgary NCSY, a youth group for teens in grades 8-12.
Rabbi Nissan is teaching grades 5-9 Judaic Studies and leading Tefilla for grades 3-5. Shmuel believes that the best way to teach is by making a strong bond with others – be it as a teacher who is teaching a student, or when learning in a chavruta (partnership). He enjoys teaching Torah and showing how mitzvot can be tools to self-improvement.
His teaching philosophy is best described in the words of HaRav Yitzhak Yosef, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi and son of Rav Ovadia Yosef (z”tl), “whoever wants to teach, first needs to learn how to love.” By learning to appreciate and respect the student, it helps to create a lasting impact and helps to develop better relationships with one another, with the world, and with God.
As NCSY Directors, the Nissans have already kicked off the year with a BBQ at Fish Creek Park with 22 teens in attendance. Rabbi Shmuel and Meira both value NCSY, because they know that the teenage years are challenging, and they want to help teenagers learn to appreciate the world around them, see themselves in a better light, and appreciate the beauty of our tradition.
Although they are busy parents of 3 children – Binyamin, Eliyahu and Iska – they are eager to welcome teens to their home to learn Torah, and to contribute to the community by running children’s programs at House of Jacob-Mikveh Israel.
The Nissans are excited to be joining Rabbi Aaron Kutnowski, the new Head of Judaic Studies at Halpern Akiva Academy, in inspiring the next generation of Jewish students. Rabbi Kutnowski and his family recently moved from Hamilton, Ontario and he is looking forward to implementing an integrated curriculum – with collaboration between younger and older students, Jewish and general studies, and Halpern Akiva Academy and the community at-large.