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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Yachad Play 2013: Beauty and the Beast

This past Thursday March 14th, was the annual Yeshivah of Flatbush Yachad Play. This year the production was Beauty and the Beast! The yachad members and our high school students have been rehearsing since February. Their hard work showed off with a stellar performance! The program Thursday night started with a welcoming cheer by Yachad's own Zev Diamond! Then what's Flatbush without a dvar torah! Continuing, Chavi Weitzman played Hatikva and Yerushalayim Shel Zehav on the piano. Next was a few thank you's by me, the director. Then the play started! It was truly an amazing program! Thank you to Rabbi Besser and Yachad, for bringing this program into a possibility!  ~Rachel Levit 4T, Director of Yachad Play 2013

WordWright Challenge

Two teams of students representing the Yeshivah of Flatbsuh recently won highest honors in this years WordWright Challenge, a national competition for high school students requiring close reading analysis of many different kinds of prose and poetry  Participating with 582 school teams from all across the country, the school’s ninth graders tied for fourth place in the nation in the year’s third meet, held in February  At the same time, the school’s twelfth graders tied for third place in the nation.

Students at the school who achieved outstanding results in the meet included freshman Leah Linfield and Dylan Sutton, who were both among the ten ninth graders in the entire country who earned perfect scores, and seniors Jacob Lazaros and Rickie Zeitoune, who were among the 15 twelfth graders nationwide to do the same. Freshman Sylvia Franco, sophmores Eddie Farhi and Louis Franco, junior Michael Srour , and seniors Shelley Raizin, Michelle Sabbagh, and Izzy Shamah all earned near-perfect scores, while freshman Caryn Darmon, Rachel Nussbaum, and Alex Volchek all earned honorable mention. More than 58,000 students from across the country (and from three foreign nations) participated in the meet. The students were supervised by Shifra Hanon.

The premise behind the WordWright Challenge is that attentive reading and sensitivity to language are among the most important skills students acquire in school. The texts students must analyze for the challenge can range from short fiction by Eudora Welty or John Steinbeck to poetry as old as Shakespeare’s or as recent as Margaret Atwood’s, and to essays as classic as E. B. White's and as current as a Time opinion piece by James Poniewozik. Though the texts vary widely in voice, subject, tone, and length, they have one thing in common: style. All use language skillfully to convey layers and shades of meaning not always apparent to students on a first or casual reading. Like the questions on the verbal SAT I, the SAT II in English Literature, and the Advanced Placements exams in both English language and English literature, the questions posed by the WordWright Challenge ask students both to recognize the emotional and/or rational logic of a piece of writing and to notice the ways in which a writer’s style shapes and shades his meaning. Because the WordWright Challenge is a classroom activity and not a college-entrance exam, however, it can be a learning experience not just a high hurdle. After completing a Challenge, classes are encouraged to talk about the texts and the answers to the multiple-choice questions, and are also given additional topics for open-ended discussion and/or written response.

The texts for the third WordWright meet this year were a poem by Robert Frost for 9th and 10thgraders and a prize-winning essay by Daniel Orozco for 11th and 12th graders. The students will participate in one more WordWright meet during the coming months, the medals and certificates will be awarded in June to those who have achieved and/or progressed the most in the course of the year. ~Solly Dahan

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Martial Arts Therapy

On Wednesday, March 13, the Yeshivah of Flatbush had its first Martial Arts Therapy event. Martial Arts Therapy uses physical and mental exercises to help sick and disabled children overcome their weaknesses. Sensei Rabbi Gary Moskowitz, the founder of the program, led a class focused on therapy and recreation. Special needs children from various organizations participated in the martial arts class. Student volunteers from the our high school were by the side of the children as they ate dinner and performed the martial arts techniques. It was important that students from our yeshivah participated because the program revolves around socializing. Our students a bond with them and the children related to the YOF students who had similar Jewish background and values.  ~Isaac Dayan

Senior Scavenger Hunt in Grand Central

Last Wednesday morning, our Seniors participated in an intense scavenger hunt in and around Grand Central Station. Armed with digital cameras, students raced around the area to uncover a list of clues that were both fun and educational. Aside from the bonding and fun, the students became acquainted with this important NYC landmark. The event was planned and coordinated by Senior Council, led by Kim Hamadani, Frieda Shalam, Nathaniel Evelkin, and Jackie Oved.

Color War 2013: Dvar Torah/ Mascot Video Green & Blue Teams

Green Team Dvar Torah/ Mascot Video:

Blue Team Dvar Torah/ Mascot Video:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Model UN Shabbaton with Rav Gigi

Flatbush Model United Nations Team At YUNMUN
This past Shabbat, members of the Flatbush Model United Nations team went to the home of their faculty coach, Mrs. Zerykier, for a Shabbaton with the theme of leadership. The leadership of the students was immediately put to the test at Shabbat lunch, where HaRav Gigi, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush) was a guest. The students were faced with the challenge of conversing with Rav Gigi entirely in Hebrew and making the most of this opportunity by asking questions. The students surpassed all expectations, navigating the conversation through important topics such as the balance of a religious life and a modern life, Jewish students entering secular college campuses, and much more. The Flatbush students engaged in intelligent discussion with the Rav, and putting their Hebrew skills to good use, they asked interesting, meaningful questions and received great insight in return. The conversation was stimulating and educational, and the students were extremely grateful that they had the opportunity to participate in this unique experience.  ~ Isabel Fattal

Drama Troupe

Although Yeshivah of Flatbush has always had a Senior play, Hebrew play, Yachad play, and Yom Hashoah performance. This year we added a wonderful addition to enhance the theatrical creativity called Drama Troupe. This group would perform for the student and faculty, five plays throughout the year in order to enhance the Yeshivah as a whole and instill the classic ideology of the, "renaissance man;" not only excelling in maths and sciences but also participating in creative ways and enhancing the entire Flatbush body as a whole. Recently two plays were performed over six times for each grade! The impacts were unimaginable and the feeling of accomplishment by the actors couldn't be put in words. Being a part of such a show and knowing that you had an impact on all of those who watched you really brings to life the feeling of how you can impact your surroundings. After the show when you're standing on the stage and everyone is clapping, you're not only proud of yourself but proud of your friends and the realization that you're part of something greater than yourself. I, as an actress and a vital part of the Drama Troupe, can continue my high school career knowing that I impacted my school and left my mark in a positive way, benefitting my school: Yeshivah of Flatbush.  
~Aliza Kantarowitz 3-HN

Color War 2013: Dvar Torah/ Mascot Video Red & Yellow Teams

Red Team Dvar Torah/ Mascot Video: Yellow Team Dvar Torah/ Mascot Video:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Color War Breakout: 2013

Desktop to tablet.
Feather quill to stylus.
Chariot to subway.
Postcard to FaceTime.
Discrimination to equality.


Our world is constantly advancing. And yet, the most important advancement of all is one that is often overlooked: the progress of our own selves.

We are not simply bystanders in a world of growth and change; we have a responsibility to be a part of this progress. It is our obligation and our privilege to improve ourselves, to constantly strive to be just a little bit better than we were yesterday.

After all, how can we know what our best is if we stop trying? If we give up on ourselves, how will we ever know how much we can truly accomplish?

Focusing on improving ourselves is the only way to maximize our own potential and our own impact. Therefore, Judaism not only places great importance on this concept, but it also provides a framework through which we should attempt to achieve our own self-growth. This framework is based upon an important concept that is established by the pasuk, "כי האדם עץ השדה.” Man grows through the same process as the tree, starting out as a small, almost inconsequential seed and growing gradually into an incredible force of nature.

Growth does not happen in an instant. As they grow, trees use the seasons as their landmarks of time and of progress, and as human beings, so do we. Our Jewish tradition provides us with important guideposts: the holidays. These markings of time lead us on our path of improvement and guide our development through every step.

We broke out Color War 2013 with a special "Aliyah Assembly" and this video:

Torah To Go Series: Parashat Vayikra 5773

Students Hear From Famous Refusenik

Yesterday, the senior grade had the honor and pleasure to hear from Yosef Mendelevich, one of the famous refuseniks. He described the struggle of Soviet Jewry in the 1970s to maintain its Jewish identity. With laws against Jewish practices, Rabbi Mendelevich and other refuseniks were sentenced to prison sentences of many years, but still fought to maintain their faith and identity. Very apropos for the coming holiday, Rabbi Mendelevich's struggle reminds us of the true freedom of Pesach: the freedom to believe and practice the religion of our fathers. Hag Sameach. ~Norman Greenberg

Rosh Codesh Nisan 5773

On Tuesday March 12th, Alef Nisan, we had a special Rosh Chodesh program. We had a kumzitz in the gym with special guests all the way from Israel, The Hazamir Israel choir. During the kumzitz, led by Rabbi Besser, we sang songs like Acheinu, V’HiSheumda, and Esa Eynai. You could feel the spirituality and Achdut in the room, and you could tell that our guests felt it too. At the end of the Kumzitz, Hazamir Israel preformed a few spectacular songs for us. Then the Flatbush choir joined Hazamir to sing together a song called Le’eyla, and then the Flatbush choir preformed Rau Vanim. The kumzitz finished with the singing of Hatikva.

After the program, the Hazamir Israel choir ate lunch with the Flatbush choir in the Beit Midrash. The room was filled with laughter, Hebrew, English and singing. We all bonded on the fact that we love to sing, exemplified by the impromptu singing which happened for the first half hour. Then we all joined around the piano in a big circle singing and harmonizing, as each group took turns back and forth leading in the singing. The lunch finished, with goodbyes, hugging, laughing and “Friend me on Facebook, we have to keep in touch!”

From the moment the kumzitz started you could feel the Achdut of Am Yisrael, strangers became our brothers and sisters as we sang “Acheinu Kol Beit Yisrael!” by Rachel Levit

Thursday, March 14, 2013

שבוע העברית: Hebrew Week 5773

בשבוע האחרון של חודש אדר קיימנו את ״שבוע העברית״, בו אנו מדגישים בקרב תלמידינו את חשיבות הדיבור והכתיבה בעברית.

ההודעות ברמקול נעשו בעברית; המנהל, הרב לוי, דיבר בעברית אל כל התלמידים; כמה מן המורים הכלליים (מתמטיקה, ביולוגיה, היסטוריה כללית, התעמלות ועוד) לימדו   חלק מן השעורים בעברית, וכמובן שהדגשנו את הדיבור בעברית בלימודי הקודש (מה שמשתדלים לעשות במשך כל השנה).

כל תלמידי כתות ט-י״א הכינו תצוגות (projects) בעברית, הכוללות תמונות מרהיבות:
* תלמידי כתות ט׳ יצרו תצוגות, שעסקו באנשים חשובים או אנשים מפורסמים בישראל בעבר ובהווה.
* תלמידי כתות י׳ הכינו תצוגות על מקומות בישראל.
* התצוגות של תלמידי כתות י״א היו סביב הנושא ״איך עושים״. תלמידים כתבו על מעשי חסד או על תפילה בכוונה. אחרים הסבירו איך להכין אוכל בריא או מאכלים ישראלים ואתניים (חומוס, פלאפל, סמבוסק, ועוד) או עוגות וגלידות. אחרים כתבו על ״איך לרדת במשקל״.

״שבוע העברית״ הוא מסורת בבית-ספרנו. את התכנית יוזם ומרכז מר רפאלי, בעזרת המחלקה לעברית בראשותה של הגברת ציפורה הלפר ומורים ותלמידים רבים.

“All The World’s A Stage"

“All the world’s a stage,” William Shakespeare wrote in his comedy As You Like It, and several Flatbush classes recently got to see firsthand what he meant. Seniors, juniors, and select sophomores were treated to a production of the play at the New Victory Theater in Manhattan on Thursday, February 28, and Wednesday, March 5.

In the days before the trip, actors from the theater visited classes at Flatbush to run fun, interactive workshops about the play. It was the first trip to the theater for some students, but for everyone it was a chance to see Shakespeare’s writing come off the pages of their books and spring to life on stage. After the play most of the conversation was about the interesting forest creatures that helped transition from scene to scene.

The play focuses on a heroine, Rosalind, who escapes an evil Duke by disguising herself as a man and hiding out in the forest. There she runs into her love, Orlando, who himself is hiding out from the Duke and from his own brother. The play ends with Rosalind and Orlando getting married, along with three other couples that meet up along the way.

Model Congress Success!

On March 13, 2013 members of Yeshivah of Flatbush High School Model Congress (YOFMC) brought home four state-wide awards from Yeshiva League Model Congress in The Five Towns.

This year, YOFMC, an extracurricular “team” all had the chance to travel to the five towns and compete in Model Congress programs overwhelmingly populated by private school teams. The hours, days, weeks, and months of dedication it takes to get to that point all add up to "The Model Congress Experience."

For over 10 years, YOFMC has been largely led by its student captains. The 2013 YOFMC presidents are Senior Captain, Ariel Aiash and Junior Captain, Charles Chakkalo. This was an amazing group, they were competitive, competent, and cohesive-excellent leaders. They carry on a legacy of excellence established by past leaders who've mentored them.

This year, over half of the YOFMC Team received awards. Honorable Mention Awards going to: Andrew Hersh 3HR and Shterney Isseroff 4T. Best Delegates went to both the Senior and Junior captains, Ariel Aiash and Charles Chakkalo. The overwhelming success of the YOFMC took place under the leadership of our coach Mr. Brian Katz.

Through the YOFMC students learn about America's system of government, while also experiencing the culture of top-notch Yeshivas and developing confidence, public speaking talents, and other skills.

~Charles Chakkalo, Junior Captain

Lunchtime Concert

On Thursday, March 7th the Piano Master Class and Instrumental Chamber Group Tzei U'lemad, instructed by Erica Shaposhnik, performed a concert during lunchtime in the music room. The pieces ranged from baroque to romantic. There was exceptional singing, piano, violin, and guitar performance. In addition to making music, understanding the music played was important as well. Students spoke about each piece to inform the audience and give background to what was played. ~David Siller

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sephardic History Coming to Life

Mr. Jack Bassoul with Sephardic History Students

Over the last few weeks, seniors in The Sephardic History elective class were privileged to hear from visiting guest lecturers on a variety of topics related to the history of Syrian Jewry.
  • Rabbi Dr. Abadie of the Edmond Safra synagogue led us on a whirlwind tour of the history of Syrian Jewry from its origins to the current day. He included a fascinating discussion of names and what they tell us about the origin of families in the 'SY' community as well as a discussion of some of the unique customs in the community.
  • Professor, Rabbi Dr. Ricky Hidary lectured on 'the history and mystery of the Aleppo codex.' In a dynamic and fast-moving powerpoint presentation, Professor Hidary demonstrated why the Codex is so important and discussed the enduring mystery behind the missing pages of the Codex.
  • Mr. Jack Bassoul, a member of Bnei Yitzchak who immigrated from Syria in 1992, shared his personal story with us and vividly described Jewish life in Aleppo under the brutal Assad regime. He talked about his schooling, religious life, persecutions, and interactions with non-Jewish neighbors.

Coming up:
  • Mr. Victor Esses will join us for a musical presentation. He will play traditional Sephardic instruments and discuss the middle eastern sephardic musical tradition.
  • Rabbi Nissim Elnakeb will lead a discussion on Ladino and a demonstration of Ladino music and classical Sephardic musical traditions
Rabbi Dr. Ricky Hidary introducing the Aleppo Codex to Students

Visit to the Living Torah Museum

All of the junior classes recently visited the fascinating and funky Living Torah museum. The museum has an amazing variety of artifacts from the ancient period and because the museum has a hands-on policy, students were able to touch, feel, and even try on items that were thousands of years old.

Students enjoyed handling ancient coins and Roman weaponry, trying on magnificent jewelry worn by Egyptian queens, and demonstrating their strength (or lack thereof!) in a contest involving a large stone used in ancient battles. Some of the outstanding artifacts we saw included the world's oldest menorah and a Samaritan tablet with the Ten Commandments inscribed on it.

The visit to the museum really made ancient Jewish history come alive in a way that no textbook can. It also demonstrated the significance of archaeology in helping us better understand the ancient world.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Seniors 2013 Night-Trip to Devils Hockey Game

Last Thursday night, 40 seniors to a trip to a Devils hockey game as part of a Senior Night-Trip organized by Senior Council. Even though the Devils lost, everyone had a great time and enjoyed the game. It was a great night to spend time with and bond with classmates from the senior grade. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Partners in Reading

Last week students took part in the first meeting of a new program called Partners in Reading. The high school librarians, Rachail Kurtz and Brian Katz, together with Lynne Grant, elementary school librarian organized a high school and middle school book club, where 11 high school students led lively and interactive book talks with over 30 middle schoolers on the book, The Wednesday Wars. After each member of the group introduced him/herself over a pizza lunch, they settled into smaller groups to begin dynamic literary discussions. The students explored the themes and historical perspective of the book with their high school mentors. Everyone enthusiastically agreed to return for a second book talk in April.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Freshman Seminar 2013

As a freshman I had no idea what I was in for last weekend. People kept saying how seminar is amazing, spiritual, and special. I was excited, yet unaware of how one weekend could be so incredible.

It started on Thursday, when alumna Debbie Nehmad spoke to us. Her speech taught us to not judge people and their pasts. We watched a couple of videos on bullying and got to know our advisors. We had a great session to discuss the challenges involving peer pressure and then went home to get ready for the next day.

Friday morning, we got on the buses and went to the Berkeley hotel. We went upstairs, put our stuff in our rooms and went downstairs and had a moving program about disabilities. After lunch and rikkudim we took part in an inspirational program in memory of Jherin Gorcey A"H. We learned that one person could make a huge difference for others and that we must try our best to be the best we could be. Before shabbat we dance and sang during Pre-Shabbat Ruach. The entire Shabbat we all felt very close to Hashem and took part in sessions about family, friendship, and more. Shabbat ended with an amazing Havdallah, one that I have never experienced before. Saturday night we had a lot of fun with Class Wars and rikudim. We ended the night with a touching program and a kumzitz.

Unity. Defined as the state of being one. I thought I understood the meaning of unity before this seminar. I was very wrong. The weekend felt like everyone was so close to each other and Hashem. I fully understood why people love seminar and I can't wait until next year! Only 11 months to go! ~Pam Cohen

Wellness Tzei U'Lemad

A few students from Ms. Robinson's Tzei U'lemad class ran a 5k last Sunday in Prospect Park in the effort to raise awareness for mental and physical health. Senior Sally Saban, and Juniors Francine Shamosh, Marielle Salem, and Nina Esses ran on behalf of Yeshivah of Flatbush and each raised over 200 dollars to donate to both Ohel and Gift of Life charity organizations.

Shushan Purim - Senior Center Visit

Last Monday, February 25th, the Spiritual Growth Commission lead by Rabbi Benlulu organized for a group of seventeen senior students to visit the old age home in honor of Shushan Purim and deliver fresh challot to them. Accompanied by Mr. Ezra Hannon in his fun costume, and some of our own props for Purim, we sang and danced with the residents of this home. The elderly men and women were delighted to spend time with us, and they sang some of their favorite songs with their music instructor playing on the keyboard. Many conversations were held around the room, as we listened to some interesting stories and facts about their background. The visit ended as Mr. Hannon excited the residents by recounting the story of Purim to them. It was a great way to spend Shushan Purim, and make sure that we spread the excitement to others! -Jeanette Eliezer

Thursday, March 7, 2013

AP Bio Trip to Science Lab

Last week, students of Rabbi Lubner's AP Biology class embarked on a trip to a science lab to perform Gel Electrophoresis. The lab experience, which consisted of utilizing and analyzing DNA, was a learning experience on both an academic level as well as a experiential level. Students were able to partake in real experiments which allowed them to see and get used to what really takes place in the field of genetics.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sophomore Parents Choices Commission Program

On Tuesday, February 12, 2013/ 3 Adar 5773, the High School Guidance Department and Parents’ Choices Commission held an event for Parents of Sophomores at the JBHS. The program, entitled “It’s Not My Kid: The Dangers All Teens Face with Drugs and Alcohol” opened the parents eyes to the challenges and choices that teens face in today’s world. The Parent program included an insightful video by students on the Choices Commission, as well as a thought provoking presentation by parents who shared their personal story of their son’s battle with drug addiction. Their willingness to speak about this difficult and painful time in their lives made a deep impression on everyone who attended. Tips were shared for ways that parents can effectively help their teens stay safe and make responsible decisions. This program was held a week after Sophomore Seminar where the students had a special program with the JACS organization. Adults in recovery from substance use shared their stories with them and empowered the students to make good and safe choices in complicated social situations. The next Parent Workshop will take place March 11, 2013/29Adar 5773: Navigating Teen Relationships and Reputations” Two sections 10:00AM; 7:30PM. To RSVP please contact: 718-377-1100 x190 or email

Friday, March 1, 2013

Israeli Soldiers’ Stories

Being raised in a completely Zionist society is a wonderful experience, however at times it could work against us. Let me explain: We sort of live in a “bubble”, a bubble of Zionist Jews that agree with the State of Israel’s existence and want to see it prosper. However, that is not the case in college campuses across the country and it is surely not the case in the world media. College campuses and the world media love to isolate Israel and make Israel look like the bad guy, no matter what situation occurs. If you looked at the headlines during the IDF’s recent Operation, which was known as “Operation Pillar of Defense”, many newspapers had pictures of IDF soldiers controlling the missile defense system known as the “Iron Dome”, but the headline wasn’t “Israeli soldiers defending Israel against rockets from Gaza”, but rather, “Israel launches rockets into Gaza”. This was absolutely unbelievable, the world media did not show the terrorists firing rockets at Israel, but rather chose only to show Israel defending itself. If you head to a college campus, you’ll notice that it is very hostile towards Israel as well.

That is exactly why I, on behalf of the Israel Activism Commission, decided to bring the Israeli Soldiers’ Stories to our Yeshivah. I wanted to make sure that our student body heard actual stories from these former IDF soldiers. This way they know that the IDF does all they can to make sure civilians don’t get injured. After all, there is a very simple reason why the IDF is known as the “Israel Defense Forces”, because they are never an offensive army, they only do what is necessary to defend their citizens. I’d like to thank StandWithUs for offering our Yeshivah this amazing opportunity, I’d like to thank the Yeshivah of Flatbush for letting us host these speakers and most of all, I’d like to thank the two Israeli soldiers, Yishai and Sharon!   ~~Tomer Kornfeld, 4-T

The event was also covered by News12: