United States Representative, Todd Rokita, of Indiana's 4th District, honored the students of Yeshivah of Flatbush with a visit a few weeks ago. Congressman Rokita, a Republican and Chairman of the House subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, came to discuss what it is like working in Congress and how our participation in our great nation can reshape our lives.
From the start, Rokita was witty and on his feet. He was truthful and honest, and made a point to say he will speak nothing but the truth. Rokita was filled with humor, but stood his ground on his policies and was serious when the matters called for it. For example, when asked by one of Ms. Kaplowitz's AP Political Science students how he felt about ObamaCare and on his stance on the government shutdown last year, Rokita said that he still believes ObamaCare is insidious and not right. He also said he thought voting to shut down the government was the right thing to do, and said he would do it again if the situation deemed necessary. Rokita answered many more questions from many more students as well.
Rokita, who had the undivided attention and wholly participation of every student, reminded students on what it means to be an American citizen. He reminded us of Benjamin Franklin's doubt in this great republic, and said the only way we can prove that doubt wrong is if we continue to participate. Rokita's inspirational words got the room on its feet a couple of times for we were all clapping and cheering him on. Rokita and our very own Ms. Kaplowitz discussed some politics as well. Their discussion showed us students what it was really like in the political world of today, and opened many of our eyes.
This was a once in a lifetime experience, and I think all the students felt very happy and honored to have Congressman Rokita speak to the students of Yeshivah of Flatbush. ~Dylan Sutton, class of 2016
On Tuesday, November 10th, the Yeshivah of Flatbush junior girls had the privilege to hear Rabbi Daniel Mechanic speak about what he calls “the basics of our religion." He presented a scenario to illustrate the importance of knowing the basics; sitting on a plane to Israel as the Orthodox Jewish woman seated next to a less religious, non-observant Jewish woman of the same age. Before the plane takes off, the two women are chatting and suddenly the less religious girl cuts off and exclaims “I need you to answer this question! The question I’ve been waiting to ask someone!” And she asks you, “So why do you do it? Why do you do all of it, the praying, the fasting, tzniut, all the mitzvot—why do you do it?”
Why do we do mitzvot? The immediate answer is, “Because that’s the way I was raised.” Rabbi Mecahnic approached the question from the different angel of “Well, why not?” Rabbi Mecahnic explained that all other religions in the world see themselves as the chosen nation and everyone else is wrong. Jews also see themselves as the chosen nation, but do not impose their religion on others. As long as these non-Jews abide by the Seven Mitzvot Bnei Noach they are fulfilling their obligation.
Additionally, while all other religions originated between one man talking to God, like Muhammad, Jesus, or the Buddha—Judaism doesn’t ask us to entrust our full faith and support into one individual. In Judaism rather Hashem is explicitly written to have spoken to the entire nation at Har Sinai. Rabbi Mechanic pointed out that our religion is millions of people following millions of witnesses. Other religions are billions of people following one man’s claim. If Hashem indeed left us, why did He not tell us? If Hashem wanted to give another Torah and start a new religion, why didn’t He make another Har Sinai event? Why didn’t these other religions just write in their books that Hashem appeared to a group of people? The answer is that it all falls on one man. We can’t put our entire life in the heads of one man. Our ancestors conversed with God, and therefore we dedicate our lives to honor this connection. The Pesach seder is the best proof that our religion is a mesorah that has been passed down since Moshe Rabeinu without any breaks in the chain. It is our obligation to keep this chain going.
~Esther Levy, Class of 2017
This past weekend was Junior Seminar, where Yeshivah of Flatbush eleventh grade students had the opportunity to get inspired over Shabbat with many of our faculty members and alumni advisors. The theme of this year's Junior Seminar was CHESED.
We started off the Seminar experience on Wednesday with various chesed trips throughout the day and visited Imagine Academy, SBH, Ohel Children's Home, and to visit the elderly in Haym Solomon Nursing Home. Everyone's faces lit up with joy while taking part in these acts of kindness. On Thursday, we gathered in an assembly to listen to Mrs. Zaltzman's inspiring experiences with chesed. As the weekend began, everyone was ecstatic to spend time in the Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ. After we arrived we watched a few videos and later heard from DJ Cohen who shared with us his life experiences and about how even through hard times others acts of true chesed can make a huge difference.
After a little free time, Pre-Shabbat ruach began with a meaningful singing and dancing. During Kabbalat Shabbat, Rabbi Kramer's Dvar Torah taught us how without the true values of Judaism, people tend to lose track of what's true. After dinner, we gathered in a circle for more singing. Señora Ovadia gave a beautiful speech about Rachel Emainu's act of chesed, giving up her groom in order to prevent her sister from being embarrassed. We also heard from Rabbi Levy who also focused on the theme of chesed. The night's sessions were about the difference between fun and happiness, and how to find Hashem all around us. At the tisch, the students gathered to hear about one another's experiences with chesed, whether they were on the giving or receiving end. Many students opened up, leaving the grade to feel united as one.
Shabbat morning prayers included another Dvar Torah, given by Rabbi Lubner, who made reference to the recent acts of terrorism in Israel and the unity of the Jews around the world. In the elective session of Shabbat morning, each group discussed a personality trait and how to incorporate chesed into the specific trait. After lunch, Mr. Hofstetter spoke about how instead of looking for the people who do chesed in the world, we should become those people, and in that way we can mend a broken world. After free time, we reassembled for Seudah Shelesheet, which included a spiritual singing circle and speeches, given by alumna Celia Tawil and Rabbi Besser. The whole Shabbat experience left us with a yearning feeling to incorporate chesed into our lives.
Motzei Shabbat began with Rikkudim, followed by Class Wars. The grade split into their classes to compete in fun games, such as musical chairs, tushie volleyball, name that tune, and trivia. The night was ended off with one last kumzitz, motivated by the acts of terror in Israel and throughout the world. On Sunday morning we gathered for breakfast and a slideshow; the grade smiled as they watched the memories of Junior Seminar. We would like to thank everyone who helped organize seminar and for making sure everything ran smoothly, especially Rabbi Besser. Everyone had a blast and walked away inspired! ~Marcelle Cohen, Class of 2016
El 27 de October pasado el Departamento de Idiomas de la Yeshivah de Flatbush celebró el Día Cultural de la Hispanidad con motivo de conmemorar el mes de octubre como mes cumbre por el descubrimiento de América. Durante todo el día, todas las clases de español participaron en actividades que incluyeron juegos, competencias como Simón Dice, el Ahorcado, y mucho más. También hubo música latina para todos los gustos.
Durante ambos turnos de almuerzo toda la escuela pudo disfrutar de comidas típicas hispanas de diferentes regiones como Gazpacho, Paella, Tacos y Dulce de Leche. Todos disfrutaron de un ambiente alegre y colorido.
On Tuesday, October 27th, the Yeshivah of Flatbush Foreign Language Department celebrated Hispanic Cultural Day commemorating the importance of this month for the discovery of America. Throughout the day, all Spanish classes participated in activities that included games, competitions, class wars with Simon Says, Hangman, and more, in the lounge, accompanied by Spanish music from different regions.
During both lunches, an array of typical Spanish dishes from different regions were served and students could sample and enjoy Gazpacho, Paella, "Make your own Taco", and Dulce de Leche for dessert. The atmosphere throughout the day was festive, colorful and joyous.
On Tuesday, October 20th, the Yeshivah of Flatbush Traveling Troupe had its first trip of the 2015-16 school year! Fifteen musically talented Yeshivah of Flatbush students, travelled all the way to the Bronx in their continued efforts to bring the joys of music and performance to the sick and elderly.
This program, sponsored by Victoria and Jack Aini, is a great way to unite the young with the sick and elderly through a shared love for music and performing arts. The residents of Jewish Home Life Care in the Bronx were excited to see the faces of our students and even more eager to hear them belt out in song and play their instruments so wonderfully.
The new leaders of the Traveling Troupe for the 2015-16 school year cannot wait to continue expanding their Chesed work and hope to include more of the multitalented student body in their initiative. Be sure to look out for information about getting involved!
On Monday, October 27th, Sophomore and Junior students at the Yeshivah of Flatbush were fortunate to have an inspiring assembly about Israel and Jewish solidarity. Miriam Peretz, a bereaved mother, shared her personal story of grief, faith, and resilience.
It was a true honor for our students to meet such a special woman. Her message will have a lasting impact on us all. We thank One Family, an organization that provides support to injured and bereaved families across Israel, for arranging this special program for us.
Recently we kicked off our in-house Growth and Inspiration Speaker Series. Throughout the year Yeshivah of Flatbush students will be hearing from administrators and teachers from the Yeshivah on various topics. Assistant Principal, Rabbi Joseph Beyda kick started the program by discussing role models and heroes. He opened up with a short film about Aaron Feuerstein, who was the past owner of Malden Mills. Mr. Feuerstein is famously recognized for his selfless business decision where he continued paying his thousands of workers their salaries, even though a fire had burned his entire company to ashes. Rabbi Beyda explained how Feuerstein's decision has turned him into one of his heroes. Rabbi Blumenthal, coordinator of the program, wrapped up the discussion by mentioning the anniversary of Chacham Ovadia Yosef's passing, who passed away two years ago.
On Thursday, October 29th, parents of seniors joined their children for a special breakfast at the Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School. Our annual Parent-Senior Breakfast was attended by well over 150 parents, who joined their children for a morning of good food and inspiration. Following the breakfast, parents and children were greeted by Dean of Students, Rabbi Naftali Besser, and heard from a YOFHS graduate, Victoria Twito (HS '13) about her experience transitioning from high school to young adulthood, followed by a short film.
Later, parents and students attended separate interactive sessions, giving them the opportunity to exchange ideas on various topics related to the evolution of the parent-child relationship during this time of transition. Themes included trust, independence, responsibility, and communication within families as children head off to college and allowed each side to hear about important topics from different perspectives. Parents then had the opportunity to reconnect with their children over coffee and pastries before parting ways.
~Dr. Etty Mizrahi, Director of High School Guidance
On Thursday, October 29, 2015, a group of fifteen Yeshivah of Flatbush sophomores from Ms. Weinstock's Chemistry class attended the Brooklyn College Chemistry Day. The day began with an impressive display of chemistry experiments and demonstrations. Next, the students were given a tour of the science labs on the college campus. Students were introduced to a mini museum of obsolete objects, where they saw how the applications of technology in chemistry have progressed over time. They were then introduced to real chemists who spoke to them about their current research, methods of accumulating data, recording data, and the goals of the chemists' research, each with a different emphasis on their own cause, and the means to achieve it.
An award ceremony followed lunch; we are proud to announce that Yeshivah of Flatbush's representative was Yaron Sternberg. The final part of the day was a competition between all participating schools. The students had to work as a team to design a lab coat for their teacher. The students' creativity flourished as they all made contributions to what ultimately resulted in a job well done! The students all truly enjoyed the unique opportunity and were so excited to participate!