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Thursday, February 8, 2018

College Bowl Competes at SAR

Our intrepid College Bowl team displayed their intellectual acumen and quick wits on Monday, February 5, as they squared off against the other schools in our division of the Yeshiva League. The varsity team, with Captain Danielle Duchan at the helm, enjoyed themselves immensely as they repeatedly fielded challenging questions ranging from current events and politics to the intricacies of science, literature, history and math. They went on to triumphantly win three out of four games, maintaining their position as number one in the division. Coach Rachail Kurtz watched with pride as the Junior Varsity team, with rising skills and confidence had their first taste of success at the games. As the JV team continues honing their knowledge and skills, they are sure to rise in the standings. Congratulations to the College Bowl team for a job well done!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Electives Fair 2018

On Wednesday, January 31st, all sophomores and juniors were given an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the elective classes offered to them for next year. At a fair during lunch, teachers and current students in the classes were present to describe the courses and answer questions.
Students shopped around at different booths, organized by department, learning about their class options. The room was abuzz with intense discussion among students and teachers alike, and the students are now well prepared for their meetings with College Guidance to design their individualized schedule for next year.

Electives Fair 2018

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Jazzing Up the Second Semester

Coming back from our winter intersession, our Masterpiece Theater group recently ventured into the heart of Columbus circle to view an "All Star" concert with the Temple University Jazz Band. From the opening notes, we all listened from the edge of our seats and enjoyed the breathtaking views of midtown Manhattan.
During the intermission, our group was honored to hear about the arts and jazz personally from the president of Temple University, plus from some musicians and soloists from the program. We all left humming the tunes from the program, and energized us to start the new semester on a positive note.
~Robert Adler, Class of 2019

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Chesed Mission 2018/5778: Day 8

Today was our last day in Israel for Chesed Mission 2018. Our first stop of the day was Keren Or, where we interacted with children who are visually impaired and have other disabilities. We danced and sang with them and had so much fun just making the children happy.

From there we had our last visit to the Kotel where we prayed Mincha and shopped in the Rova.
We also went to Susan’s House, which is an organization that helps troubled youth recover and find a place in society by using their creativity to make a living. We saw how they made different art peices and glasswork in their workshop. We then had the opportunity to purchase the finished products in their gift shop.

This has been an amazing experience and one we will never forget. Thank you to Rabbi Besser, Susan Franco, Mr. Galpert, and Ms. Zimmerman for making this trip possible.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Chesed Mission 2018/5778: Day 7

Over the course of the trip we took part in various inspiring chesed activities. Today’s activities stood out and were especially meaningful to me. We got up in the morning and headed to Yad Lakashish, which is an organization that supports the elderly by training them and allowing them to create beautiful pieces of art. We toured the workshops and saw them at work. We then had the opportunity to buy their masterpieces as gifts for friends and family.
Next we went to Schneider Medical Center where we handed out gifts and toys to the children patients and had the ability to add a bit of joy to their day.
During lunch, we had an impromptu chesed opportunity when we saw soldiers at the mall we were at. We took advantage of this opportunity and gave them gifts and clothing that we had on the bus for Israeli soldiers.
From there we went to visit an amazing organization called Save A Child’s Heart. This organization helps children with heart deficiencies from all over the world despite their nationalities or religions. At this place we got to interact with the patients that they’ve helped, we danced and played games with them. Seeing the smiles that spread across their faces lit up my day.
We ended our day with, Beit Elezraki Emunah Children's Home, one of the most special organizations I have ever experienced. This is a home for children at risk. We hung out with the children during dinner and introduced ourselves, making everlasting relationships. We also danced with them and had a blast doing it. Today impacted me the most out of all of the days because it was truly inspiring to go to such special places back to back and to continuously giving to people and in return I got such a good feeling and lots of love.
~Shirley Sabbagh, Class of 2019

Monday, January 22, 2018

Chesed Mission 2018/5778: Day 6

Time really does fly when you’re having fun! Today, on another day of the Chesed Mission after a filling and yummy breakfast, we headed out to our first stop: The Meshi Children’s Rehabilitation Center. Here we interacted with children with different disabilities, and we were beyond amazed by the spectacular capabilities that some of the children had developed with the help of adaptive technologies! We helped them with drawing and decorating pots for the plants we planted that they could bring home in honor of Tu B'Shvat.
Next, we revisited the Todah L'Zhal Soldier Center, where we were this Shabbat, and gave out gift bags to many soldiers in the army. We also danced with them and got to hear their stories. 
Following that, we drove down to the unbelievable Oz Vegaon park/center that was established in memory of Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel, the three boys who were kidnapped and tragically murdered a few years ago in Israel. We had the opportunity to hear the story from Steve Garr, who’s amazing words inspired me, as well as my fellow friends to think about how important it is to appreciate Israel and show our love towards our home country. We helped expand the park and planted three trees in their memory.
After a long bus ride, we made it to the really interesting Holon Children's Museum where we experienced the Dialogue in the Dark and Invitation for Silence. We got to feel what it was like to be visually impaired and hard of hearing for an hour. We also had the opportunity to be guided by people who face this challenge everyday themselves.
The day was not over yet! We headed to the Pantry Packers Center, a project of Colel Chabad, where we split into groups and packed different foods for poor families in Israel who really need it. It was amazing to see the progress we made after our hard work! The night ended off with a late dinner on Emek Refaim, where we finished it off with a walk home. We can’t wait to see what Rabbi Besser has in store for us tomorrow! ~Rhonda Azar, Class of 2019

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Chesed Mission 2018/5778: Day 5

Sunday morning started like every other day this week, but we had no idea how big of an impact it made on us and the people we would meet. At 9:30am, after an amazing breakfast, we set out for one of the holiest institutions in Israel, Aleh. Aleh is an organization that provides help for people with serious mental and physical disabilities. First we went into the classroom to help with therapeutic activities. After this, we joined up to have a giant music party with dancing, instruments and a lot of smiles.
After this unbelievable experience, we went to visit the headquarters of United Hatzalah, founded by Eli Beer. While we were there we learned how helpful Hatzalah volunteers are and how they save people's lives.
Post lunch, we went on an hour bus ride to visit children at a children's home. This home for children's whose regular home environments are not safe for them. We did arts and crafts, dipped fruit in chocolate, played an alphabet game, and so much more. When it was time to load the bus to go to the next destination, many children and Flatbush students were sad because they did not want to leave because we made such great connections with our new friends.
Following that home, we went to visit Neve Michael which is another home for children in similar positions. Before meeting the children, a dedication was made for a toy room in memory of Naomi Houllou A"H to give presents for the children who don't receive them on their birthday. This was very fitting because Naomi cared for every child she encountered. We also heard a few words from Rachel Houllou. Then we got served dinner and spoke to the children. After dinner, we danced our hearts out and gave presents to the children who recently had their bar and bat mitzvah. Following the presents, we were treated to play the drums and bongos in a circle with the children. Despite the throbbing feeling in our hands, we had a great time. At the end of all this, Joe Kattan was acknowledged for the great work he did there over the summer and was presented with a T-shirt that matched the sweatshirts he gave them. There too, we were so hesitant to leave that some people didn't make the bus in time. Who knows what this amazing trip has in store for us next.
~Marc Franco, Joe Sutton and Joey Greenberg, Class of 2019

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Chesed Mission 2018/5778: Day 4

Our Chesed Mission weekend in Yerushaliym started off great. We were lucky to bring in Shabbat friday night at the Kotel with our meaningful prayers, dancing, and singing. After that, we came back to the hotel for a delicious Friday night dinner, accompanied by multiple motivational speakers, including Yosef Kramer who is currently serving in the IDF.

Shabbat morning started off with praying in the hotel. We had a relaxing day where everyone hung out, played games, and enjoyed another delicious Shabbat meal together. For the last few hours of Shabbat we went to Thank Israel Soldiers, an organization dedicated to connecting soldiers to the people rooting for them all over the world, where we ate seudah shleesheet with soldiers and heard their stories. We ended off the program with Havdalah and by thanking the soldiers and breaking into song and dance with them. We also handed out gifts before parting ways.
After Shabbat we went to The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin. We hosted a pizza party for the lone soldiers and got know twenty plus soldiers. We had a great time listening to what they had to say and learning about their stories. We also handed out gifts to the soldiers. It was a great Shabbat and Motzei Shabbat in Israel! ~Nancy Ades, Class of 2018

Friday, January 19, 2018

Chesed Mission 2018/5778: Day 3

Today on Chesed Mission, we visited he Michael and Lola Goldstein Emunah Day Care Center. Emunah is an amazing organization that allows mothers to have their children cared for while they are at work. They also provide care and therapy for families in need. Today I had an opportunity to play with Eitan. We sat in a circle and sang Shabbat songs and danced. I have never seen someone so happy and always with a smile like his. Visiting the Emunah Day Care Center today was really such a great experience and it made me feel so special putting a smile on Eitan’s face. 
After visiting the day care center we went to the Machane Yehuda. At the shuk most of us spent time picking out gifts for our families and ate some really good food from some of the restaurants around there. I really had such a great day today doing chesed and I really hope to learn more throughout the rest of this trip. Shabbat Shalom! ~Raquel Keda, Class of 2019

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Chesed Mission 2018/5778: Day 2

The first stop of our jam packed schedule for the first full day of Chesed was Illanot School for Special Education. This school focuses specifically on helping students with Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities. We got to meet many children with different disabilities and hang out with them; we even heard the school’s choir perform, led by Cheryl Leiberman (HS '04) ! It was amazing to see the smiles on the children’s faces and how happy they were to receive our visit.
Our second stop of the day was Hadassah Medical Center, a hospital complex in Jerusalem that provides practically every possible medical service available in the world. We visited the childlren's ward where we distributed presents to ill children and their parents. Whether it was a stuffed animal or a coloring book, every child’s face lit up when they got a gift.
For our third stop of the day we visited the cemetery at Mount Herzl for fallen soldiers. It was inspiring to learn the stories of some young soldiers, not much older than ourselves, who lost their lives protecting the State of Israel.
For our fourth stop we visited Shalva National Children's Center, which provides high quality care for individuals with disabilities, empowering their families and promoting social inclusion. We got a tour of the amazing campus and had a chance to meet so many children and even have rikudim. We also got to hear the amazing story of how the founders created the organization because their son's disabilities. It was uplifting to hear about people who didn’t let disabilities bring their family down, but rather start an amazing organization because of them.
Our last stop of the day was Project Tikvot, which is a nonprofit volunteer based organization which rehabilitates Israel's victims of terror and injured soldiers through sport. Besides for hearing the creators of the organization speak, we got to hear from injured soldiers and how they used sports to improve both their mental and physical states. To end off the program students had the opportunity to do sports including rock climbing.
Today was an amazing first day that not only impacted our lives but also changed others. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
~Nancy Ades and Jessica Vaysman, Class of 2018