Opening Minds, Bridging Differences, Living Jewish Values.

High School Recognizes Graduating Seniors Traveling to Israel

At the end of the year breakfast, the High School community took a moment to bless the graduating seniors who will be spending the upcoming year, or more, in Israel. This year, there are a record twenty five graduating seniors who will be taking part in eighteen different programs. Four students will be serving in the Israel Defense Forces, while the others will be on the following programs: Aardvark, Big Idea, Bnei Akiva Kivun, Hebrew University, Hevruta, Kivunim, Mechinat Beit Yisrael, Mechinat Kol Ami, Mechinat Otzem, Mechinat Tavor, Midreshet Harova, Midreshet Torah V'Avodah, Midreshet Torat Chessed, Nativ, Tel Aviv University, Yeshivat Eretz Hatzvi, and Young Judaea Year Course.

VIDEO: A Year of Hesed in the Lower School
Lower School Gathers for End of the Year Program
Grade 8 Moves Up

Grade 8 had their Moving Up ceremony on June 14, 2018. The program included the students' reflections from the year, musical performances, and heartfelt remarks from administrators and the President of the Board.


Dear Eighth Grade Students,

I'd like to shower you with a few memories--an outpouring of sorts.

Last year--seventh grade--remember? It was a long time ago.

Last May we took an overnight trip to upstate New York and Albany. On our second day of the trip, we went to Taconic State Park where we took a nature walk to the magnificent Bash Bish Falls. Before we embarked, I referred to this excursion as an "easy hike" or perhaps I said to you "don't worry; it's not much of a hike--nothing like we'll be doing in Israel." The hike brought us to a beautiful waterfall where we experienced the awesomeness of nature, and saw how water--this soft, liquid substance--is a force of nature, with its power to cut through rocks and come pounding to earth. Afterwards *you* said, "this isn't a hike, this is a wike, a cross between a walk and a hike." Thank you, eighth graders for making up this new word that I will use...every time I go on a wike.

This year in Israel, we graduated from "wikes" to more legitimate and challenging hikes. On the second day of our Negev trek we hiked several hours from our campsite to a beautiful oasis called Ein Akev. Here, again, we experienced the miraculous power of water. The centerpiece of Ein Akev is a freezing cold natural pool fed by a small waterfall--located in the middle of the hot desert. You jumped into the water from the nearby rocks--some of you belly-flopping on purpose--the freezing water taking your breath away.

On the subject of watery experiences, our arrival in Israel two days earlier had been quite unusual. After loading our two tour buses at the airport, we began driving toward a nearby park where we planned to have Tefillah and a picnic breakfast. But then it began to rain. Not just a slight drizzle, but a torrential downpour of almost biblical proportions, which is very unusual weather for Israel in April. Rabbi Jack and the tour guides began considering alternatives, all the while expecting that the rain would stop as quickly as it began, but the more we drove toward our destination, the heavier the rain fell. Eventually, we decided to delay the picnic and change its location to a part of the country where it wasn't raining. Although you were exhausted and jet-lagged, you enjoyed the chocolate rugelach and cereals--fresh, but not rain-soaked. You went with the flow!

Water can sometimes *be* the destination, like at Bash Bish or Ein Akev, or it might cause you to change the destination, like on our first day in Israel. It is powerful enough that it literally shapes the landscape, but it's soft enough that it flows through your hands. You learned in sixth grade humanities that ancient Egyptian civilization was dependent upon the fertile Nile River delta. And in seventh grade social studies you learned that water provided the means for trade, growth, and expansion of civilization during the Middle Ages. This year in eighth grade science you studied the water filtration, water purification, and water delivery systems of modern times. Water goes hand in hand with evolution, growth, and development.

Your middle school years have been a time of personal evolution, growth, and development. You have come of age during a tumultuous time, a time when discourse and sophisticated debate have sometimes been drowned out by hateful language and slurs. There were moments during middle school when some of you were swept into this societal current. Your teachers responded with love and patience, guiding you toward calmer waters; your parents were also incredible partners. It truly takes a village, and I feel blessed to have been part of that village and to have witnessed and supported your tremendous growth into more evolved thinkers, nuanced debaters, and caring individuals.

But most remarkably, you have helped *each other* to grow. When we say the word "water" we refer to something collective, something bound together. Something that accumulates. A single drop of water has very little power. A cup of water can save a person's life. And this collective property of water is even more obvious in Hebrew, where the word water, "mayim" is a plural word.

You, eighth graders, remind me of the collective state of water. You stand out in how strong and highly-functioning you have become, together as a group. You have grown to complement each others' strengths, support each other, look out for each other, understand and accept each other's vulnerabilities and quirks, and, most unusually, keep each other in check, correct each others' misdeeds, and help each other through difficult moments.

Scientifically speaking, the molecules of water are attracted to each other due to the positive and negative charges of oxygen and hydrogen, so that if I add another drop of water to a cup of water, it is immediately attracted to the other drops of water, and becomes indistinguishable from its surroundings. Likewise, you are a grade that has absorbed new members throughout its three years of middle school. In fact, nearly a quarter of you joined Heschel during sixth, seventh, or eighth grade. Like individual drops added to a cup of water, newcomers have become indistinguishable from their surroundings, an intrinsic part of the collective, with the boundaries fading over time as the molecular attractions have grown stronger.

Sometimes water can come in the form of a destructive hurricane, tornado, or flash flood, but I urge you to use *your* power as a force of nature for good: to soothe, to quench, to put out fires, to shape your surroundings and to be shaped by them in turn, to change course, and to water your shared roots and let your branches grow upward, even if slightly away from each other.

At Ein Akev, the desert oasis in the Negev, I made the decision to jump into the freezing pool. It seemed like a good decision at the time given how enticing the water looked. But two hours later when my hiking pants were still wet and stuck to my legs I had second thoughts. Water, it turns out, can stick to you for some time.

And I think that *you* will stick with me for some time.

In the immortal words of the band Toto, a band that many of you love, a band that released its first album when *I* was in eighth grade:

"It's gonna take a lot to take me away from you

There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do

I bless the rains down in Africa"

Eighth graders, we bless you. Sometimes, like freezing water, you take our breath away. Sometimes, you make waves. There are times when you are fresh, but mostly you are refreshing: a desert oasis on a hot day, a powerful waterfall breaking through the rocks.

We will miss you more than you know. You have considerable strengths, and we all know that you are going to use them to create incredible futures for yourselves. Mazel tov! Mazel tov!


Grade 7 Takes Their Chances At Probability Fair
Grade 7 took part in a probability fair, a program featuring unique and original games of chance that were designed by students. Students not only designed the games, the rules and the pricing, but also calculated all probabilities of winning and the expected value as well. Students were given play money and played with the enthusiasm and focus of a real carnival.
Heschel Class of 2018 Graduates

The Class of 2018 received their diplomas during a powerful ceremony at John Jay Auditorium. The commencement offered words of wisdom from students, faculty, and administration, and also included musical renditions of Arik Einstein's "Uf Gozal," and Jamie Houston's "Every Day." Arik Einstein.

Grade 7 Dissects Sea Lamprey

To culminate the Grade 7 "Invasive Species" unit, students analyzed the structure and function of the sea lamprey.

Grade 5 Moves Up

Grade 5 celebrated the completion of lower school with their Moving Up ceremony, a heartfelt performance that revisited their experience at Heschel throughout their years in the Lower School. As their families, friends, teachers, and other members of the community attended this meaningful performance.

Grade 12 Students Honor Parents at Annual Senior Dinner

Grade 12 students and their families gathered for the annual Senior Dinner. The soon-to-be graduates helped prepare the meal, served the food, set up the room, and delivered heartfelt remarks to honor and thank their parents for the many years of education and support that they provided for them.

Grade 3 Celebrates World Cultures

Grade 3 and their families gathered for the World Communities Celebration. The program highlights the students' experiences learning about cultures around the world.

2-607 Celebrates Creation

2-607 held their Creation Celebration program this week. After tefillah, the children sang songs about the seven days of creation and then proudly presented their projects about the story of the bereshit. Each child wrote and illustrated a book in Hebrew that described what happened on each day and also made t-shirts illustrating the different days of creation.

Tzofim Friendship Caravan Visits Heschel

The Tzofim Friendship Caravan visited the Heschel School and put on an incredible performance that continued the ongoing celebration of Israel at 70. The performance featured dancing, singing, and a bit of history lessons. The scouts also involved Heschel students in some of their dances.

Before their performance in the Roanna Shorofksy Theater, the Israeli scouts visited Lower School classrooms and taught them about the scouting movement in Israel, and played interactive games about Israel.

For more information about the Tzofim Friendship Caravan program, click here.

Grade 8 Gathers For Heschel Moot Beit Din Competition

Students from Grade 8 gathered together to compete in a Heschel Moot Beit Din competition. The students, divided into teams, presented and argued a case regarding a daughter's decision to handle the failing health of her father: a man with Alzheimer's and heart disease.

Students used a variety of Rabbinical and Halachic sources in order to determine how the patient should be medically treated. Judges for the Moot Beit Din included two Heschel high school seniors, as well as a practicing physician.

Middle School Students Perform at Annual Talent Show
Heschel Middle School students put their talents on display at the Middle School Talent Show. Students sang, dance, played musical instruments, and even did gymnastics routines.
Gift of Life Visits with Grade 12
Grade 12 students took a break from their Senior Seminar with a visit from Gift of Life, a bone marrow registry that connects people with blood cancers to blood stem cell and bone marrow matches. The class heard from Gift of Life's Community Engagement Coordinator about the organization's history, and how successful they are with finding matches, and also heard from a successful donor. The students then had the opportunity to swab their cheeks to enter them into the registry, and create more opportunities for successful matches.
4-704 Visits The Judith Bernstein Lunch Program at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun

4-704 volunteered at the lunch program at B'nai Jeshurun. The class has been preparing for this visit by learning the Jewish laws of giving tzedaka (charity or righteous giving), by reading Crenshaw, a book about a boy who doesn't have a home-security, and by having in-depth discussions about poverty and homelessness. The students were divided into several groups, each focusing on different tasks: making food, making cards and flowers, packing to-go bags and toiletries bags, setting tables, and more. One of our students remarked "this was the best field-trip ever!"

1-610 Celebrates Reading and Writing at Publishing Party

It was 1-610's turn to celebrate reading, writing, and the rest of their accomplishments over the year at their Publishing Party on May 24. Children sang songs about what they learned over the course of the year, and then held a "meet the author" event as parents read their children's work.

Grade 6 Performs Hebrew Play

Grade 6 performed their Hebrew play on Wednesday morning. The play, titled "Pajama Party," was based on the students' stories and inspired by songs from "The Sixteenth Lamb."

Grade 7 Students Conduct Calorimetry Lab

Grade 7 students have been conducting a classic food calorimetry lab. The objective of the lab is to understand that calories measure the energy in food by comparing how much a known quantity of water is, heated by the food sample. Students determined that fried corn chips contain the most calories compared to the other foods in their testing sample.

Harmonizers Hold Spring Concert

The Heschel Harmonizers held their Spring Concert last night. The theater was packed with parents, teachers, alumni, students, and friends. The B'nai Mitzvah concept did not let down, as the Harmonizers gave the crowd a show to remember, filled with B'nai Mitzvah themes such as a d'var torah, a candle lighting ceremony, and the obligatory Bar Mitzvah MC to keep the party moving.