Sunday, September 30, 2012

Friday Assemblies

One of the new elements introduced into our elementary school program this year is a weekly Friday assembly.  Organized and run by Mrs. Gersten, it features a student dvar Torah, a program from our Bat Ami and / or Kollel, as well as a presentation from one of our lower school classes.  The response so far has been wonderful and it has helped to make school spirit - as well as our erev shabbat spirit - soar even higher.

Here are some clips from Kitah Aleph's presentation of their Sukkot songs from this past Friday's assembly. Fantastic job Kitah Aleph and fantastic job Morah Deena!

Yom Kippur at the Jewish Home

In what has become an annual tradition and a touching act of chesed, boys from our high school once again joined our Torah MiTzion Kollel in spending Yom Kippur at the Memphis Jewish Home and Rehab Center.

While getting the opportunity to lead the tefillot and do the laining on one of the yamim nora'im is a wonderful learning experience for the boys, their primary purpose in going is to bring a level of energy and vitality to the religious life of the Home's residents that is unmatched throughout the year.  The reports we receive year after year is that as a result of the efforts of our Kollel and our high school boys, Yom Kippur for the residents of the Jewish Home truly is as the gemara in Taanit describes it: one of the happiest days of the year.

National Merit Scholars

We are proud to announce that Dylan Cooper and Gidon Feen were both awarded Letters of Commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.  34,000 Letters of Commendation are awarded annually to high achieving high school seniors across the country out of an applicant pool of approximately 1.5 million entrants.  We know this is just the beginning of the accolades for these two talented seniors, and we look forward to hearing more good news in the weeks and months ahead.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Viral Kiddush Hashem

Do 1250 comments and 12,200 "likes" on the Huffington Post article mean Seth's story has gone viral?  How about this morning's front page article in the Commercial Appeal?  What about the fact that we got a call this morning from someone who wants to donate $1000 to the school in honor of Seth?

Of all the responses - and, as this morning's paper reported, there have been many - this is my favorite.  It is a Facebook comment by Rabbi Dov Karoll, executive assistant to Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein of Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel:

'Like' is an inadequate response for this. I thinks the baraita probably says it best:

כדתניא, (דברים ו) ואהבת את ה' אלהיך - שיהא שם שמים מתאהב על ידך... ויהא משאו ומתנו בנחת עם הבריות, מה הבריות אומרות עליו - אשרי אביו שלמדו תורה, אשרי רבו שלמדו תורה. אוי להם לבריות שלא למדו תורה, פלוני שלמדו תורה - ראו כמה נאים דרכיו, כמה מתוקנים מעשיו, עליו הכתוב  אומר (ישעיהו מט) ויאמר לי עבדי אתה ישראל אשר בך אתפאר

The quote is from the Talmud (Yoma 86a).  Here is what it means:

As it was taught (Deuteronomy 6): "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God," i.e., that the Name of Heaven be beloved because of you.  If someone studies Scripture and Mishnah, and attends on the disciples of the wise, is honest in business, and deals with people pleasantly, what do people then say concerning him? ‘Happy the father who taught him Torah, happy the teacher who taught him Torah; woe unto people who have not studied the Torah; for this man has studied the Torah look how fine his ways are, how righteous his deeds! Of him does Scripture say: And He said unto me (Isaiah 49): You are my servant, Israel, in, whom I will be glorified."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Geoff Calkins on Seth Goldstein

I know I've blogged about this story twice already, but when the top sports writer in the city puts it on the cover of the Sunday Sports Section, how could I not mention it again?  Besides, his wonderful way with words is worth reading in and of itself.

Way to go, Seth.

Friday, September 21, 2012

More on Cheating

In my newsletter message last week, I wrote about the Harvard cheating scandal, the questions it raises, and the lessons to be learned.  Clearly, Robert Kolker of New York Magazine must be an avid reader of the MHA/FYOS Reporter because two days later he published this piece which focuses on a similar scandal at New York's prestigious Stuyvesant High School and expands on the ideas in very important ways.  

Here are some selections

But the much-publicized scandals have shined a light on the problem, and social psychologists say today’s high-school students live in a culture that, perhaps more than ever, fosters cheating, or at least the temptation to cheat. The prime offender, they say, is the increased emphasis on testing... 

...But why do bright kids—Stuyvesant and Harvard students—cheat? Aren’t they smart enough to get ahead honestly? One might think so, but the pressure to succeed, or the perception of it anyway, is often only greater for such students. Students who attend such schools often feel they not only have to live up to the reputation of the institution and the expectations that it brings, but that they have to compete, many of them for the first time, with a school full of kids as smart, or smarter, than they are.
The article is well worth reading in its entirety - and giving to your high school children to read as well.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Students Pen Columns in Commercial Appeal

The cover of the Faith in Memphis section of today's Commercial Appeal featured a column by our own 9th grader, Noga Finkelstein.  She was one of five local teens asked by the newspaper to reflect on what the Yamim Noraim (High Holidays) mean to them.  Here's a small selection from Noga's powerful piece:
As the choir begins a round of lovely harmonies, all ears turn attentively to the words that are conveyed through the inspirational words. This is especially heartwarming to me because it resembles the common goal we all share throughout these days, becoming closer to G-d
Joining Noga was MHA 8th grade alum, Asher Finkelstein.  Both of their pieces merit reading in their entirety.   For many of us, this isn't the first time we've read their published writing and I have no doubt it won't be the last.

Kol ha-kavod.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Rosh Hashanah Video from the Bat Ami

This video, made by our four wonderful Bnot Sherut and featuring student and staff throughout all divisions, was the highlight of our first weekly Elementary School Friday assembly.  Enjoy it and shanah tovah to all!

Junior High on ESPN?

When we created the Junior High Lounge this summer we intended for it to be a place for our 7th and 8th graders to hang out and to bond with our new Junior High Program Director, Rabbi Ezra Baldinger.  Thanks to a donation from the Bosin family and some fancy film editing by 8th grade director-in-training Asher Stein, it has become much more than that...

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Kiddush Hashem of the Highest Order

After writing my last post and directing you to the school newsletter to read about this week's incredible events at our Boys High School cross country meets, I saw this email from a total stranger sitting in my inbox.  I had to share it:

Dear Rabbi,

I had to write you after observing the actions of one of your students from the Cooper Yeshiva School this afternoon at the USJ cross country meet. I was watching my son's team, Germantown High School, run the race when one of his teammates suddenly collapsed. Your student, Seth Goldstein,stopped racing when he saw the boy was in trouble having a seizure. He called for help and I ran over there and he guided me and others through what we needed to do as this boy was in distress, reassuring us along the way that this young man was going to be alright.  I kept thinking he was maybe someone's dad, maybe a doctor or an EMT . I realized he was a race participant only after the ambulance arrived and my son's teammate was in the hands of professionals. Seth only then excused himself to complete the race. And I realized he was a race participant. What a fine young person that you are educating at Cooper Yeshiva!  I was very impressed by Seth's character, staying calm in an emergency and putting his first aid skills to use, and most especially by his unselfishness in forgoing his race opportunity until he realized the young man was out of harm's way.  I was equally impressed by his perseverance and determination to complete the race after tending to the needs of a student from another school. What a great young man! I'll always cheer for the boys from Cooper Yeshiva after today's race and Seth's beautiful display of humanity.  Keep up the great work you are doing over there at Cooper Yeshiva.  Memphis needs more young men like Seth around!

Jessica Chandler

Cross Country Kicks Off

Thanks to Coach Nokes, we kicked our first season of competitive cross-country for all divisions of the school this week.  While the 2nd place team finish for our 5th and 6th grade boys (led by Simcha Osdoba's 7th-place finish) and the third place team finish by our 7th and 8th grade boys (behind a team best finish of 14th by Asher Stein), the real stories this week came from our boys high school meets.  Two meets, two incredible feats, which should make every member of our school community proud.

Read about them in my Dean's Message and in the IkaRR Korner of this week's MHA Newsletter.