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Friday, December 20, 2013

History Day 2013!

On December 17th and 18th, the Jewish History and Social Studies departments held a special History Day program for juniors and seniors. The program centered around the theme, Coming to America: the Immigrant Experience. Day 1 of the program focused on the Sephardic and Ashkenazic communities immigrant experience in NYC. Students watched the documentary "Coming to America", created by Joseph Sitt and produced by Marlene Mamiye, which focuses on the Syrian communities' immigrant experience on the Lower East Side. The film was followed by a real-word immigration experience trip for seniors. They were divided into 3 groups; one group visited Congregation Shearith Israel: Spanish Portuguese Synagogue, another explored the Eldridge Street and Bialystoker Synagogues on the Lower East Side and the third group toured the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
Day 2 of the program opened with a Drama Troupe presentation and immigration -themed music video, followed by a wide variety of interactive sessions (30 in total) led by teachers and visiting lecturers. Sessions ranged from real life stories by immigrants who escaped Syria, to hearing from young undocumented aliens, to discussions of the immigrant experience in literature, to cooking classes and much much more. Juniors also participated in a debate led by History faculty, Ms. Shelley Kaplowitz, on the question of "Should the illegal alien Superman be granted citizenship?"
Lunch was a major highlight of the day! Ami and Ralph Sasson sponsored an incredible gala ethnic food festival in memory or Mrs. Susan Sasson A"H which showcased Sephardic and Ashkenazic foods as well as a special pickle-making workshop by Rabbi Dr. David Eliach.
The program closed with a choir performance of immigrant songs, an original student-created music video which had the students waving American flags and cheering for their families' countries of origin and Rabbi Ronald J Levy leading the audience in a a rousing rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner."

The entire History Day program was conceived, organized, and implemented by Jewish History chair, Mrs. Miriam Wielgus, and Social Studies chair, Mr. Howard Rothbort. Thank you to all those who contributed their time and effort for making our History Day a resounding success!