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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Falcon's Nest Notes: Play Ball! Boys Softball Opens 2014 Season

Coach Fleishman give the Boys final instructions before taking the field
On a bright, sunny Friday afternoon, the Flatbush Boys Varsity Softball team took to the field for the first time this Spring. With the frigid winter still trying to linger, it appeared like the season would never get underway. But the sun peeked out, and even thought there was the presence of a stout breeze across the ball fields of Marine Park, the Mill Basin venue proved welcoming enough to the Falcons and their cross-town opponents from Yeshivat Or Hatorah that they would play two on the afternoon.

With First-Year Head Coach Howie Fleischman at the helm (he served as the JV coach only for the last number of years, but with former Head Coach Joe Sciallo moving on, Coach Fleischman readily stepped up to fill the void) and rookie Assistant Coach Ray Chehova at his side, they had the boys from Flatbush poised and ready to take the field.
Victor Dweck looks to drive the ball
Game one proved to be one of feeling out the talent on the Falcon squad. Unfortunately, that was a difficult process. The coaches substituted freely in search of finding the right combinations both offensively and defensively. As a result, the game proved to be a high-scoring affair. In the end, the Falcons fell by a score of 19-12. Albert Terzi shined at first base, and Matan Guez was solid at the plate for the Falcons in the opener of the scheduled doubleheader. But the overall play of the defense was not sharp at all, and the Falcon offense could not overcome the deficit resulting from the inconsistent defense.
Eyal Goldberg pitched both ends of the doubleheader for Flatbush
Game 2 proved to be much more competitive, and hopefully indicative of the kind of play the team can expect the rest of the season. Eyal Goldberg was back on the mound for game two, and appeared to have learned much from his experience in the opener. With a group of outfielders playing solid defense behind him, Goldberg yielded only 5 runs in a game shortened by the nearing of Shabbat. The defense was complemented by stellar stick work from Sam Zalta and Joseph Anteby at the plate. Unfortunately, the Falcons came up short again in game two, falling this time by a score of 4-2. Though the result was not what the team wanted, Senior Victor Dweck reflected on the games, “It was great to finally take the field and play against another team. I know we will be better the next time out!”
Flatbush fans gather to support the Falcons in their season opener
Nest Notes:
That “next time out” for the Varsity Boys will be Monday and Tuesday, May 5th and 6th with back-to-back dates with YDE scheduled for 6:00 pm starts at sites TBD.

The JV boys opened their season with a tough loss on the road at Hillel in Deal, NJ. The JV Falcons will return to the field for a match against rival Magen David on Wednesday, April 30 @ 5:30 pm. The game will be played at the field on Avenue P & West 13th Street.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Color War 2014: Recap

Color War 2014 Generals
This year's color war was a huge success from start to finish. It began with a secret breakout in a form of a school-wide prank on Friday, March 21st where all the students switched classrooms and floors at the 8th period bell. Seniors, Ethan Isayev and Ovadia Fteiha were kind enough in calling down the class presidents to explain to them where there classes were going and what to do. The students were told this was a fun prank to do for the spirit of Adar and it would lighten the mood on a Friday. It worked perfectly because even the teachers had no idea what was going on! After these few minutes of chaos, Rabbi Levy called the students down for an assembly to rebuke their wild behavior and "cancel" color war. When he said he had no choice but to declare the start of color war, the SGO stormed the stage while the generals and black team ran up the aisles. The SGO and black team took the stage and jumped up and down to the blasting music and flashing colored lights to get the students pumped up and excited for these next few days of intense competition. We introduced the thoughtful and inspiring themes for this year by changing things up a bit. We created a fun video to show what color war is all about. It was so thrilling to watch the students full of laughter and big smiles on their faces. Then the next videos describing each theme came on screen. This year's color war was all about inspiring the students to leave a legacy and make their mark on the world. Each of us have a talent that Hashem gave us that we have to search for and be proud of. Four of them being fortitude (yellow), persuasion (green), creativity (red) and logic (blue). It is our job to use these talents to change the world and this color war helped the students believe in their ability to do just that. No matter where we go, be it North, South, East or West, each and every one of us have the ability to leave a legacy behind us and be remembered for something good.
Blue Logic Banner
After that, the teams went to their team time locations where they were handed their team's color t-shirts (with the beautiful color war logo we created to represent the themes) and a bandana to match. Their generals: Blue- Abie Tawil and Rita Sharaby, Green- Morris Bijou and Lital Ben-Zikry, Yellow- Joshua Sitt and Lauren Levi and Red- Victor Dweck and Alison Kassin taught them their team's cheer and invited them all to a Saturday night meeting and to Sunday Morning Learning on Sunday to help their teams decorate their school hallways in their colors. Saturday night was a blast, each team actively working on skits, videos, games, songs, banners, hallway decorations and so much more. On Sunday they heard a beautiful shiur by Rabbi Prag and began decorating the school's hallways portraying their team's theme and color that told a story.
Red Creativity Banner
The next two days were jam-packed full of fun games and activities. On Monday, we began with "SGO says" during breakfast, played red and blue team's dvar torah and mascot videos in class, played minute to win it (unwind the streamers around both arms, stack 5 dice on a tongue depressor in your mouth...) and had creative games for each grade incorporating the themes (superhero making, cake decorating, body language, poetry creation, bananagrams...) We then had an intense marathon at the end of the day where the teams had to do challenges such as build a gingerbread house, shave a balloon with shaving cream, eat 3 slices of pizza at Pizza Time, eat a watermelon, eat a pie and so much more! The teams worked together so well and did these tasks as fast as they possibly could which showed their devotion and drive to win.
Yellow Fortitude Banner
On Tuesday during breakfast we played a huge game of musical chairs and watched green and yellow's dvar torah and mascot videos in class. We then had our first ever food games where the students had to guess the soda, guess the amount of chocolate chips in fluff, eat the bubble gum in the whipped cream and blow a bubble, eat saltines, get a cookie from their eye into their mouth and eat it, eat a smores blindfolded and so much more! Then we played a game of limbo where the freshmen girls showed us how talented they were at it! It was still anyone's game at the end of the day because it was now, unfortunately, time for our closing program. The students arrived into the assembly cheering their team's cheer and were so excited! We then proceeded to watch the spectacular skits, commercials, songs, banners, and the beloved boys' dance from each team. They were so superb, it is hard to imagine how they perfected them in just three days time!
Green Persuasion Banner
After closing speeches from Rabbi Levy, Mrs. Zerykier and SGO President, Lauren Berkovits, and a slideshow full of pictures recapping the events over the past few days and interviewing team members of what legacy they want to leave behind, it was time to announce the winner, team Blue Logic!
Congratulations to all of the teams for their outstanding hard work, to the teacher generals for all of their dedication and devotion and to all of the students for their active participation, enthusiasm and involvement. Special thanks to the SGO, Mrs. Zerykier, and our black team generals Daniel Hoffstein and Sylvia Dweck who helped this color war run so smoothly and prepare each event to make this the best color war yet! We hope you loved it and truly learned something meaningful from this experience! We saw true leadership abilities in each and every one of you and we were so proud to see the Flatbush family so united and happy together! We hope you had a blast and enjoyed every minute of it, we know we did! Hold on to this experience of a lifetime and never forget it!

With great pleasure,
Your SGO 2014
Lauren Berkovits, Jeffrey Nussbaum, Charles Chakkalo and Rachel Linfield

Friday, April 25, 2014

Falcon's Nest Notes: Flatbush Senior to Play Ball in College

Many Yeshivah of Flatbush graduates will move on to some of the most prestigious institutes of higher learning this country has to offer. But it is rare when one of those students looks to excel in more than just the academic arena at the next level. Senior Ralph Navarro is one such student.
Flatbush Senior Ralph Navarro
Next year, in addition to handling a normal Freshman course load at New York University’s College of Arts and Sciences, Navarro will bring his athletic talents to the baseball diamond at NYU. Having led the Falcon baseball team to the school’s second MYHSAL championship ever last May by holding perennial League power SAR scoreless in a 1-0 gem of a pitching performance on the largest stage one could perform for Flatbush, Navarro impressed the baseball coaches at NYU enough to be invited to join the team this coming Fall semester.
Ralph Navarro in action at 2013 MYHSAL Baseball Championships, TD Bank Park, Somerset, NJ
Even though Navarro and his Falcon teammates are busy getting ready for the start of the 2014 season, the southpaw starting pitcher had these thoughts about the prospect of playing baseball at the next level: “I am very excited! I’m confident I will succeed. I don’t know what to expect; I don’t know how good the team is going to be. But, I’m happy it’s going to be all freshmen. I won’t be sitting on the bench like I did my first season at Flatbush. [Head Coach Douglas Kimbler]scouted players, he went to California and elsewhere to recruit. We may not win very much, but I hope to get an opportunity to play right from the start.”

In speaking with new NYU Head Baseball Coach Douglas Kimbler, the coach offered the following views on NYU’s newest varsity program and Navarro’s projections as a member of his team at NYU: “We are bringing in 29 freshmen, with no expectations on them; the expectations are all on the coaching staff to compete at the highest level from day one. I am very excited about the prospects for this freshman class, having been able to recruit from places as far away as California, Texas and Carolina as well as within the local New York metropolitan community. We are bringing in players who will compete and try to win this first year. While I cannot [by NCAA regulations] comment on players not yet in attendance at the school, with nine positions on the field up for grabs, our situation will provide for very healthy competition at every position. Of course, you can never have enough pitching, and you can never have enough left-handed pitching!”
NYU competes as a member of the University Athletic Association, a NCAA Division III league that in addition to NYU includes the following schools: Brandeis University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, Emory University, University of Chicago, University of Rochester and Washington University of St. Louis. Members of the UAA share the belief that academic excellence and athletic excellence are not mutually exclusive. Athletic programs should not only complement the academic experience, but should also reflect the quality of the academic environment within which they exist.

Nest Notes:
Ralph Navarro and his Falcon teammates will open the 2014 campaign on Tuesday, April 29 at 6:00 pm with a game against Ramaz at Richmond County Bank Park in Staten Island, NY, home of the Staten Island Yankees. In addition to their full MYHSAL slate, the team will also travel to Columbus, OH to take part in the prestigious Columbus Baseball Invitational from May 18-20.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Falcon's Nest Notes: JV Girls Soccer Scores First Win!

After coming close a number of times, the Girls JV Soccer team finally put it all together and brought home their first win of the season, defeating SKA in the Falcon’s Nest by a score of 3-1.
Gina Gindi looks to set up Phyllis Hadar for a shot on goal
Looking to avenge a very tough loss to SKA earlier in the season in Long Beach, LI, the girls from Flatbush came out with determination and focus right from the first whistle. The Falcons controlled the game, dictating play the entire first period and spending the majority of it deep in the SKA zone. Their play resulted in some great scoring chances with Margo Kamin finding herself alone against the goalie twice, only to have the goalie make the big saves; later Samantha Chabot blasted one that looked destined for the top left corner only to have it ricochet down and out off the crossbar. So in the end, the Falcons had nothing to show for their opening efforts. The period ended deadlocked at 0-0.
Goalie Danielle Ashkenazie denied the SKA offense all afternoon
Period two would see all that frustration change in an instant. A mere seven seconds in, Trina Sultan’s play-in pass hit Phyllis Hadar in stride sprinting towards the goal. Hadar’s one-timer easily beat the SKA netminder staking the Falcons to a 1-0 lead. All the while, the defense continued to play exceedingly well, keeping the ball clear of the defensive zone. And whatever managed to seep past the defense came up against a stone wall in Goalie Danielle Ashkenazie.

The second half saw the Falcons keep the pressure on, and finally get some breathing room off the foot of Samantha Chabot. Firing away every time she got an opening, Chabot finally got one past the SKA defense to give the JV’s a 2-0 lead. But it was short-lived. A positioning error by the defense allowed SKA to slip two players behind the defense and leave Ashkenazie no chance at the save. Period 3 ended with Flatbush clinging to a 2-1 margin.
Samantha Chabot tracks the ball on her way to a two-goal performance for the game
The final period saw play go back and forth, until Chabot again gave the home team a 2-goal cushion, netting her second of the night. It would be all the Falcons would need, as Ashkenazie’s stellar play in goal would deny SKA the rest of the way. A strong all-around team effort gave the Falcons a well-deserved 3-1 win - their first sweet taste of victory on the 2014 season!
JV Falcons Win
Nest Notes:
While the JV girls were busy protecting the home court, the Varsity Boys travelled to NYC where they collected their second win in as many games, defeating Ramaz by a score of 14-6. Tallying goals for the Falcons were Ovadiah Fteiha, Abie Sabbagh, Gaby Kabarriti, David Vainer, Nir Cohen, David Cohen, Ethan Isayev, Joey Aini and David Bendayan. Bendayan recorded a hat-trick on the day.

The Flatbush soccer teams return to action after Pesach break on Monday, April 28th. The Girls will travel to Central for a JV/Varsity doubleheader; the Boys will look for their third win in a row when they travel to Queens to take on Ezra Academy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Matzah Memories

A collection of Passover recollections from Yeshivah of Flatbush students was recently published in The Jewish Week's Fresh Ink for Teens.

By David Azrak

When I say Pesach, what pops into your mind? I think this question is one that elicits a plethora of answers varying from a joyous vacation to a plate- and soup-filled nightmare. Many love the time off and excuse to take a vacation, while others count down to that final day when they can gorge on the box of Entenmann’s donuts sitting in the pantry. For me, the answer falls somewhere in between. When I was young I never understood what Pesach was and grew up dreading the holiday because of the never-ending seders with my family and the fact that I couldn’t eat a simple grilled cheese sandwich. Now I wouldn’t give up the holiday for anything in the world as it harkens back to fond childhood memories.

Perhaps the most memorable were the seders with my Grandma Diane and her husband Louie. My whole family flew out to Florida where my grandma would cook the most elaborate dinner and her husband, Louie, would give a dvar Torah that would perplex and astound us. As I write this I can smell the scents permeating her apartment of her za’tar chicken, kibbeh and lachmagine (please consult your local Syrian cookbook for translation and pronunciation).

When someone asks what pops into my mind when they say Peasch, I respond with the following: Pesach is time to reflect, appreciate, cherish and remember not only the miracles that happened long ago, but the people that always have your back: your family. Chag Sameach.

By David Feintuch

Pesach is an amazing time for the Jewish people. We celebrate our salvation from the land of Egypt. I love celebrating Pesach and the family traditions that we share.

My aunt always hosts the first seder in her Brooklyn home. My aunt makes the best food and uses beautiful fine china. She makes her special chicken soup and charoset. My mom usually bakes dessert.

One special tradition we have (like many families) is we dip our pinky finger into our wine cup when each of the Ten Plagues is read. We do this to show that even though the plagues seem bad they are actually holy for Hashem, just like the wine is holy.

Another custom my family shares is that instead of the classic search for the Afikoman — where the kids only have one chance to find the hidden matzah — we have multiple searches. My family does this out of fairness, so that all of the children have a chance to find the Afikoman. A week later our parents let each child in the family choose one big gift for Passover.

I can always count on Pesach to bring family unity due to the traditions it contains. Pesach expresses the strength of family values, one of the strongest values in Judaism. I can’t wait for Passover this year!

By Michelle Jemal

My favorite holiday of the year has to be Passover because it’s time well spent with my family. The first night of the holiday is spent by my grandparents. My grandma spends days preparing the most amazing food and setting the most beautiful table. Once all the men arrive home from shul, everyone wants to start right away so we can get to the best part of the night: the food.

My grandpa says kiddush and of course my Uncle Joey has to say a dvar Torah while everyone pretends to listen. (Well, at least I do.) We get on with the rest of the seder and all the kids run around while my grandma tries to quiet them down by yelling “shut up” in Arabic. It sounds bad, but we’re used to it.

My family has this custom where they send out the oldest granddaughter from the room with the seder plate to eat the hard-boiled egg. I’m the oldest, so I always get sent out. Why? I honestly don’t know. (I think it has something to do with getting married.)

It’s nice celebrating the holiday in Brooklyn with my family because not many people get a chance to spend so much time with their own families. My Passover seder isn’t that special or different, but to me it is since it’s time well spent with the ones I love.

By Allan Maleh

Last year we spent our Passover in the Bahamas. We had so much fun and the experience was so great, we decided to go back again this year. Many of my cousins are joining us, and I think our seder is going to be really special.

We will all sit around one big table and celebrate together. We love singing the Haggadah and telling the stories of our forefathers. All the little kids act out the stories from the Haggadah, and I’m really looking forward to watching my little brother.

One of my favorite parts of the night is the Afikoman. After a long, satisfying meal we get up to search for the Afikoman and all the kids get excited. They run off from the table and immediately start searching for the matzah. Every father at the table offers a different gift to the lucky finder. After about 10 to 15 minutes the kids come running back to the table, and everyone’s yelling at the lucky one who found the matzah. The parents end up buying presents for all the children so it doesn't really matter anyways.

After a long, inspiring night we finally reach the end of the seder. We can barely breathe because we’re so full and all we want to do is go to sleep. To really make the night special a few relatives, friends and I stay late and read an extra part in the Haggadah called “Chad Gadya.” This extra part is a story about animals who eat each other, one after another after another, and so on. My friends and I really enjoy this part of the night, and it really tops off a beautiful and spiritual evening.

Authors' bio:
David Azrak is a freshman and David Feintuch, Michelle Jemal and Allan Maleh are juniors at the Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pesach Packaging 5774

Over the last couple of days, Yeshivah of Flatbush students helped pack over 725 boxes of food for the needy as part of the annual Yeshivah of Flatbush Pesach Packaging campaign. Each box includes grape juice, apple sauce, gefilte fish, chicken, matzah and many other makings of a Passover meal. Students not only packed the boxes, but also delivered them to needy families in the neighborhood. We would like to thank our partners, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush for their support. Special thanks to Rabbi Besser for organizing this event every year. ~David Idy

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Heritage Trip to Poland 2014/5774: Day 5

I discovered a profound truth about Shabbat in Poland.  Shabbat is not only a day of rest,  but also a day for reflection and contemplation. Many students on the Heritage trip to Poland assembled on Friday night to share their thoughts, feelings and emotions precipitated by their experiences. Everyone had a different meaningful message to share with the group. The group carried these thoughts into an inspiring Shabbat day.
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. This is a famous quote said by George Santanaya printed on the entrance to the Auschwitz 1 museum. However, what I learned from an inspiring speech on Shabbat morning was that, “Those who do not change the future are condemned to repeat the past.” There are museums, memorials, exhibits, books and movies that help us not only remember the past but also sometimes even relive it. But somehow we still find a way to repeat the past. The Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinaat hinam and we’re reminded of this four times a year; nevertheless sinaat hinam is still among us everyday. So the truth is that we can’t just remember, we need to be proactive and change what’s in front us. It’s our job to make a difference for the better with the time we have now.  Only then can we avoid repeating the past.
As the day went on we visited a few synagogues that accentuated the heritage of Jewry in Krakow. We had the opportunity to sit in the רמא’s synagogue that is still in use today. One aspect that was really interesting and taught me the fortitude the Jews had, was the painting of Noah’s arc on the synagogue’s ancient walls. It was there to elucidate that there will be disasters, and those around us will attempt to “flush” us out, but it is our duty to go back into our “arcs”, our shuls, not only for safety but also for the strengthening of our emunah and bitahon in Hashem.`
To culminate this day we visited the famous Labor Camp of Krakow, called Plaszow. This was the Camp in where Oskar Schindler succeeded in saving hundreds of Jews. The movie was based on true events, but there’s no comparison to actually walking through it. And to conclude this experience we entered the House of the Nazi Commandant, Amon Goeth, to recite the Habdalah. All of us holding each other, singing והיא שעמדה  touched me and showed everyone of us that as much as they try to wipe us out, we stand together as nation, unified, to live on and continue the legacy of those who perished. ~Morris Bijou

Falcon's Nest Notes: Boys Soccer Soars, Notch First Win of the Season

After three frustrating contests to open the 2014 campaign, the Flatbush Varsity Boys Soccer team finally put together the complete package and registered their first win of the season, defeating their guests from Ezra Academy, 12-3.

With Head Coach Mark Medetsky severely under the weather, the reins of the club fell to Rookie Assistant Coach David Nachmany. Nachmany, who only two short years ago was in uniform for the Falcons on this same home court, now faced the challenge of marshalling his troops and finding the right mix of players that would mesh offensively and protect the goal defensively. It proved to be a night where the coach pushed all the right buttons, and the players responded from the first touch of the ball.
Rookie Coach David Nachmany surveys the play of the Varsity Boys
From the outset, Flatbush set the tempo on offense. For the first time this season, the players played station-to-station ball, making touch passes and looking to work for good shots (rather than the kick-and-chase feel of the three previous games). Even so, Captain Ovadiah Fteiha started to feel like it might be another tough night as he found multiple scoring opportunities very early on but could not convert. With Ezra now focusing its efforts on denying Fteiha, the opening goal came off a different Falcon foot, that of David Bendayan! With the Ezra defense now needing to share its focus an all of Flatbush’s attackers, the court opened up for Fteiha. With a nifty move in traffic, he finally found the back of the net, lifting the Falcons to a 2-0 lead. Goal number three was again provided by Fteiha, this time off a nice feed from a Joey Aini play-in after an Ezra penalty which he one-timed to a cutting Fetieha; the goalie had no chance.
Abie Sabbagh slips a shot past the Ezra goalie, the first of 3 for Sabbagh
The floodgates were now open! The Falcons would tally two more goals in the opening period, both from attacker Abie Sabbagh. The first came after a feed from Matthew Bukobza that led to a double-tap by the left foot of Sabbagh followed by a touch to the far corner – still off the left foot! The second came off a feed from Goalie Jack Mizrahi who gave Sabbagh a long lead roll-out pass that he sent cleanly home. That goal closed the scoring for the first period and staked the Falcons to a 5-0 lead.
Nir Cohen sends home the penalty shot
The second period brought more of the same. Sabbagh opened the period topping off a natural hat-trick (three goals in a row) off a beautiful give-and-go with Ben-Dayan. Flatbush tallied goal number 7 by player number 7. Having just been inserted in the game, Ilay Fachima took a lead pass from Fteiha on a breakaway that he quickly put past the Ezra goalie. With just under two minutes to play in the period, Ilay’s younger brother, Eldar, drew a penalty when he was fouled while trying to head the ball inside the goalie box. Defender Nir Cohen stepped up and blasted the penalty shot into the net for goal number 8. A mere 20 seconds later, Maor Laham found himself on a breakaway and registered his first career goal as a Falcon for Flatbush’s 9th score of the match. With :51 on the clock, Ezra finally found a hole in the Falcon defense and got on the board, and the half came to a close with Flatbush enjoying a 9-1 cushion.
Ilay Fachima slips a shot from the wing past the outstretched arm of the Ezra goalie
The second half started with a rare kind of score for Flatbush. A mere 1:20 in to the period, the Ezra goalie tried to extend out to shoot on goal, missed, and found himself way out of position. With Ezra’s goalie scrambling to get back in net, Jack Mizrahi let fly with a shot of his own off the save. A roar of “Fizzzzz!” rang out from the Falcon bench as Mizrahi scored his first goal of the season – from Flatbush’s own goal box! At that point, the game got decidedly more physical. Play went back and forth with neither team able to strike. That was until David Cohen found himself alone deep in the Ezra zone. Facing the Flatbush end, Cohen back-tapped the ball with his heel, sneaking it past Ezra’s goalie and into the net! Tempers soon began to flare; a collision between Gaby Kabarriti and an Ezra defender nearly set the two teams against each other, but clearer heads prevailed. Period 3 ended with Flatbush in total control, 11-1.

The teams agreed to play the final period (something not required by league rule when one team holds a 7-point margin after three periods are completed), and Flatbush again had many great scoring opportunities. But, the Falcons just could not convert to complete the scores. With under 6:00 to play, Flatbush was called for a hand ball in their own goal box, an automatic penalty shot for the opposition. Ezra sent the shot home for only their second score of the night. The Falcons got the goal back, though, on a big sweeping turn and kick by Joey Aini to close out the Flatbush scoring. A lapse by the defense allowed Ezra one final tally as the seconds ticked away, to reach a final score of 12-3. But on the day, it was all Flatbush, and it was a game that was just what the doctor ordered.

Nest Notes:
The Boys will look to build on this win when they travel to Ramaz on Sunday, 4/6 @ 2:00 pm for their last game before the Pesach break. After the holiday, they will face this same Ezra team on the road in their first game back on Monday, 4/28 @ 8:00 pm, in Queens.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Heritage Trip to Poland 2014/5774: Day 4

On Friday, we ventured into the final resting place of 1.1 million people, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death camp. Our guide, Tzvi Shiloni, led the group on a silent march on the exact path that the Jews had to walk on. We started off on the train tracks and kept walking until we stumbled upon an actual cattle car. Next, we walked to an area that contained ruins of huge undressing chambers, gas chambers, and crematoriums. Unlike the Majdanek Concentration camp, the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was massive and each room could contain 1500+ people. In Majdanek, 600,000 prisoners were brutally murdered, while the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was the final resting place for twice the amount of people. Next, the group surrounded a small, special pond. In the summer, the water level in the pond still remains constant and the water will never evaporate. This is due to the ashes of hundreds of thousands of prisoners that is still present at the bottom of the pond. We sang a couple of pizmonim and recited Kaddish for the fallen. We then walked over to see the "Canada I" which was a chamber where prisoners would leave all of their possessions. The Nazis would then sift through their possessions and ship all of the expensive items that were found to Germany. What was left until today were inexpensive items such as spoons and forks.
It was so horrifying to imagine an enormous amount of people suffering in each of these chambers. We can only imagine how the prisoners must've died in screams, attempting to hold on to dear life. In reality, Thank G-d, we can't  relate to those that fell during the Holocaust, we can only try to imagine what the final moments of their lives were like.

Being able to view the atrocities that the Nazis brought upon the Jews firsthand, it helps us appreciate the small things that we take for granted on a day to day basis. After experiencing the camps, we are able to appreciate our family, being able to go to the bathroom privately, showering, having hair, having possessions, having 3 meals a day, and having freedom so much more.
Next we went to Auschwitz I, which was turned into a museum. We went on a tour and were shown many artifacts from the Holocaust. We saw old shoes, luggage, and hair that was confiscated by the Nazis when the prisoners arrived at the death camps.

It's ironic how the pristine, grassy fields and tall green trees give the death camps such beautiful appearances, however, the beauty of these places mask the monstrosities that the Nazis brought upon the Jewish people. No matter how many people try to put down the holocaust, it's our duty as Jews to never forget that it happened.
When we visit such upsetting and depressing sites, we subconsciously believe that we should only feel remorseful and maybe even shed a tear. However, in my opinion that isn't the purpose of the trip. Instead of being upset, we should actually rejoice at the fact that we are still here and that the Nazis failed to eradicate us all. We should rejoice that we have large families, rejoice that we live in a country where we aren't persecuted, and rejoice that Hashem puts down all of our enemies. Walking through the concentration camps, we can truly visualize how true the sentence ״והיא שעמדה לאבותינו ולנו שלא אחד בלבד עמד עלינו לכלותינו והקדוש ברוך הוא מצילינו מידם״ is. ~Jeffrey Nussbaum, SGO Vice President

Falcon's Nest Notes: Boys Volleyball Battles North Shore in Season Debut

The longest-practicing team at Flatbush finally got the opportunity to take on an outside opponent Tuesday night in Brooklyn. After months of practicing late on Tuesday nights, the Falcon volleyballers welcomed their first MYHSAL opponent of the season in North Shore. Sporting new poles that allowed the net to reach the required height of 7 feet 11 5/8th inches for boys volleyball competition (something of which the older system fell slightly short), the two teams took their obligatory warm-ups to fine-tune their serving, passing and spiking skills.
Mayer Kamkhatchi looks to spike the ball
Both teams looked a little bit rusty in the early stages, not unexpected in the first contest of the season. For Flatbush, Senior Captain Ikey Somekh looked to have his serve in full gear, dropping in an ace to start things off for the home team. But after taking the early lead, the Falcons gave it right back as North Shore hit two service aces of their own. Really, neither team looked to be able to establish control, with the lead see-sawing back and forth through most of the game. At times, it looked like North Shore would string together a couple of points and get some separation, but Flatbush would scrape right back putting together small runs of their own to close the gap. It was back and forth like this until North Shore, up 17-15, finally went on a real run to push the game to the brink at 24-17. But Flatbush was not done yet. With North Shore serving for the game, the Falcon defense stepped up and scored to wrest control of serve back from the visitors. Then, they proceeded to score two quick points, and North Shore looked concerned. Unfortunately, those two points were all the Falcons could muster, and North Shore closed out the opening set 25-20.
Asher Lifshutz and his Falcon teammates warm up before the opening game of the season
Down 1-0, the Flatbush boys reflected on the tightness of the first set, noting how close they came and pumping each other up in advance of set number 2. And the self-encouragement appeared to work. After dropping back by multiple points early on, the Falcons rallied behind strong net play from Jacob Setton and a steady all-around performance from team Co-Captain Marc Esses. Utilizing the entire roster, Coach Sanders substituted liberally, taking advantage of the excellent back-line play of Asher Lifshutz and countering that with the size and presence of Isaac Mizrahi in blocking and spiking at the net to balance both the Falcon defense and attack. Flatbush battled back and took a lead at 9-8. But, as quickly as they took the lead they ceded it right back to North Shore. And, like the first set, the teams went back and forth until again North Shore strung together a few points to create a 3-point cushion they would not relinquish. The Falcons battled valiantly, but fell short in the decisive set 25-21, losing the match two sets to none.
Marc Esses puts the ball just beyond the reach of a North Shore blocker
The Flatbush Falcons regroup between sets
Though the Flatbush boys fell in the season opener, there was much positive to build on. The Junior hitter Mayer Kamkhatchi showed he may be a force down the road as he becomes more comfortable on the court, while Seniors Moe Chabot and Billy Dayan both gave solid performances in a good team effort that the Falcons will look to build on as the short Spring season plays out.

Friday, April 4, 2014

SGO 2015 Campaign Platforms

SGO 2015 Campaign Platforms

Heritage Trip to Poland 2014/5774: Day 3

Yesterday, after minyan and breakfast, we walked to Zamosc Sephardic Synagogue. Next we drove to Belzec and started walking along the train tracks that led to the death camp there. After walking about 1 kilometer along the tracks, we stopped outside the camp. There we met Rebbetzin Wagner who brought the place to life by sharing her story with us. Rebbetzin Wagner was placed on the train leading to this camp and jumped off the train to save her life. Everybody else on the train was led straight to their deaths in this camp, including her mother. At this point, perhaps the most inspirational part of the trip thus far, we followed Rebbetzin Wagner through the camp along with her daughter and grandchildren. She is a single person, who was supposed to be killed at that site, but has brought over 70 offspring into the world. As we saw the names of those who perished, we all announced our Jewish names and how we got them. I, Yitzhak, am named after my paternal grandfather. As we left the camp and read the names of the Jewish people who fell victim to the camp, the group's mood was matched by grey skies and a light rain. Our next stop was the grave of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rymanov which was followed by Minha and rikkudim in a nearby abandoned synagogue in order to bring back the Jewish spirit which once flourished there.
From there we traveled to Zbilatovska Gora. Without knowing what to expect we walked into the forest where we saw a small garden gated off with some toys scattered on the ground. It was at this location that thousands of children were brought and killed ruthlessly. We gathered around the gate and sang a prayer in the form of song. A personal story was shared which strengthened our connection to the place even more. We placed play dough sculptures, which we made before with other toys, on the grave in order to pay tribute to the children at rest there. Throughout the day we sought to appreciate what we received from the generation before us and perhaps more importantly, what we will pass on to the generations to come.  ~Isaac Dayan

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Heritage Trip to Poland 2014/5774: Day 2

Yesterday was another intense yet inspiring day in Poland. We started the day by paying a visit to the gravesite of the Reem and Sefat Emet. These rabbis inspired the Hasidism in Ger and inspired thousands of Jews with their sincere devotion to Hashem.
Next, we visited the Majdanek concentration camps. Standing in the gas chambers where thousands perished, our group experienced a shocked silence. Everything was visible; from the scratches on the wall to the stained blue ceiling from the Zyklon gas, the gas chamber showed with undeniable proof the extent of Nazi depravity and the collapse of human sympathy in Nazi-occupied Poland. However, our group showed the resilience of the Jewish people by singing Niggunim on the site of all the butchery. A final testament that we are still here despite the Nazi’s intentions and we have prevailed. We also visited the famous Yeshiva of Chachmei Lublin, which was another inspiring experience. ~Bob Husni

Falcon's Nest Notes: A “Spring”-Board for the Fall Season

With the weather finally showing signs of warming up, the Spring sports are now in full swing. Nevertheless, a pair of Flatbush Fall athletic programs has taken advantage of the opportunity to get a head start on the Fall 2014 athletic season.
Members of the YoF HS Girls Basketball team surround Head Coach Rozan Mizrahi (center, in Nets hat)
Careful not to interfere with the in-season programs’ practice or game schedules, this past week both Boys and Girls Basketball have gotten together with their respective coaches to start building cohesion amongst the players and coaches in advance of the 2014-15 school year and Fall athletic season.

Boys basketball took to the Elementary School gym for an initial practice session followed later in the week by games against non-league challenger Sinai Academy. With the understanding that participation in these Spring events are no guarantee for anyone of a roster spot for the 2014-15 basketball season, the coaches welcomed non-roster players from the Freshman, Sophomore and Junior classes to join with the present Freshman players at the JV level and the present Sophomores and Juniors at the Varsity level to get a leg up on the competition. The student-athletes spent an afternoon/evening with Head Coach Avi Borenstein as the coach put the returners and the “newbies” through a practice session during which the prospective new players were introduced to the basic Flatbush offensive and defensive sets and the returners refreshed themselves with the same systems.
The 2013-14 Flatbush Falcon JV Boys Basketball team
With just the one practice under their belts, the teams welcomed non-League opponent Sinai Academy to Flatbush for a Spring exhibition JV/Varsity doubleheader challenge at the YoF Elementary School gym. The Freshmen picked up right where they left off at the end of the season. Showing that they have developed trust in each other as a unit and incorporating all that they learned as a team this past season, the future JV leaders hit the ground running and never looked back. Behind 14 points from Kevin Haddad and 11 from Jackie Mishaan, the team lead from start to finish, defeating Sinai 61-29. All nine players saw time on the court - as one would expect - including first-timers Joseph Oved and Yair Aish.
Junior Allan Maleh blocks out at the Cooper Invitational in Memphis, TN earlier this year
Junior Bobby Soffer takes the ball to the hoop as fellow Juniors Allan Maleh and Raymond Braha trail the play (in Memphis, TN)
Equally impressive were the returning and rising Varsity boys. With so many players from this year’s iteration moving on, only five Juniors from the present roster suited up, supported by the addition of the Sophs who played JV and six classmates taking advantage of this early audition for next year’s Varsity roster. Like the Freshmen in the opener, the Varsity group hit the ground running and never looked back. When the final buzzer sounded, the Flatbush boys were on the right side of a 74-34 score. All 15 who suited up logged minutes for the Falcons, including newcomers Marc Cohen, Victor Cohen, Saul Esses, Eddie Farhi, Eli Kattan and Isaac Mizrahi. The boys were paced by Allan Maleh, who showed the form that made him so dangerous as a Sophomore starter on JV two seasons ago in leading all scorers with 17 points. Junior Center Mayer Kamkhatchi dropped in 15 and Junior Point Guard Bobby Soffer keyed the offense and contributed 11 points of his own.
Center court of the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets
For their part, Girls Basketball set out to firmly build the bonds of camaraderie that the coaches hope will serve to create a strong foundation of trust and teamwork as the team heads in to next year. To that end, Head Coach Rozan Mizrahi organized a team outing to Barclays Center, home of the hometown NBA franchise Brooklyn Nets. Decked out in Nets jerseys, hats and t-shirts, the girls joined in cheering on Brooklyn’s own alongside a near sell-out crowd as they took on the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Falcon Sophomore Basketball players enjoying the atmosphere of professional basketball in Brooklyn(from l to r): Victoria Gindi, Rose Mishaan and Jennifer Maleh
With seats that afforded a bird’s-eye view of the court, the Flatbush girls had a great view of a team that is playing in support of each other, showing patience with and reliance in each other, qualities they will look to emulate in the approaching season. And, they got to celebrate three of their own as Fatima Sharaby, Sylvia Franco and Sarah Horowitz appeared on the JumboTron over center court, celebrating the game of basketball at the highest level, right here in Brooklyn! Just to top the night off, the Nets brought home the win – what better aspects to try to emulate than teamwork and passion in preparing to challenge for a League championship? In addition to the three who made a splash for the entire arena above center court, the other Falcon basketballers who came out to root on Brooklyn were Merle Cohen, Victoria Gindi, Rose Mishaan, Lauren Berkovitz, Jackie Baum, Judy Blanka, Jennifer Maleh, Samantha Chabot and Margo Kamin. When asked about the opportunity to do something like this as a team, Freshman Sarah Horowitz noted, “I love my teammates. They are some of my best friends!” It is this sentiment that clearly shows the immeasurable value to team dynamics of an evening like this one in Downtown Brooklyn.
Members of the Flatbush girls basketball team celebrate the Nets victory – and team unity!
Look out MYHSAL – the Falcons are getting ready to fly!

Nest Notes:
Special thanks to Adam Metzendorf, Account Manager for the Brooklyn Nets Group Sales Department, for his assistance in planning and securing discounted tickets for this event. His expertise, guidance and hospitality helped insure a most successful outing at Barclays Center

eKo Commission Discover Ways to Recycle

The eKo Commission recently met and discussed the effects of recycling,what is upcycling, and how we could upcycle common household items. We watched a spectacular video showing how 6,000 recycled water bottles were upcycled into a two bedroom house. We also demonstrated how to upcycle a cereal box into a seed starter. ~Victor Dweck, eKo Commissioner

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Senior Ski Trip 2014

Starting at 1:30 am Tuesday morning, March 18th and ending at 9:30pm Wednesday night, March 19th the annual Senior Ski Trip was packed with fun and adventure. We headed off with a group of 50 students, and four faculty members Mr. Galpert, Ms. Robinson, Mr. Urim, and Mrs. Wielgus. Some students had never been on the slopes before, while others had been skiing their whole lives, but we all enjoyed it equally. The experienced skiers and snowboarders went up to ski right away while the beginners were given lessons. Once the lessons were over all students were free to go on whatever slopes they felt comfortable on, and some caught on so well that they were skiing on blue slopes by the first day. At night in the hotel the students had a chance to bond over dinner, the marshmallow challenge, and some discussions with faculty members. It was a short, but memorable experience with triumphs, falls, and great tasting waffles, and the students had a great time. Thank you to Mrs. Wielgus for organizing this amazing senior event!  

Heritage Trip to Poland 2014/5774: Day 1

Students deliver Talitot and Matzot to the chief Rabbi of Poland to give to the needy before Pesach

Yesterday, 36 Yeshivah of Flatbush seniors, 17 parents and grandparents and four faculty members: Rabbi Prag, Rabbi Hertzberg, Mr. Engel, and Ms. Bloom along with historian, Rabbi Tzvi Shiloni (HS ’89) arrived in Poland for our annual senior Heritage Seminar. We boarded the buses, and began our adventure to learn more about our Jewish heritage that is stored within the historic and tragic sites of Poland. Our first stop was the Zydowski Cemetery, which was the first Jewish cemetery in Warsaw. We visited the graves of some of the great men and woman buried in the cemetery and learned about their stories. We concluded by honoring the dead who where buried in a mass grave with readings, kaddish, and singing Acheinu. We then prayed Mincha by the wall of the Warsaw Ghetto, which is all that remains of it.
After this, we went to the Umshlagplatz- the deportation site- and walked the streets where the Warsaw Ghetto uprising occurred and listened to a heartrending song at Mila 18, the location of the last stand of the uprising. Finally, we went to Warsaw’s only synagogue to deliver the Talitot and Matzot that we brought from home to give out to the needy before Pesach. We were uplifted by the words of the chief rabbi of Poland who spoke about the gradually increasing Jewish community. We look forward to meaningful days to come.  ~Sammy Tbelie