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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Frisch Africa Encounter, a Memorable Evening

The first ever Frisch Africa Encounter culminated on December 8, 2011. For the month of November, sophomores, whose integrated theme for the year is exploration, explored the continent of Africa. Why Africa? Aside from the fact that the curriculum at Frisch centers mostly around the Western world and so learning about a non-Western society seemed like a good idea, this year at Frisch students are learning Sefer Shmot, which tells us that we shouldn’t oppress the stranger, because we too were strangers in Egypt. By getting to know Africa and its culture, sophomores learned that we were more connected to the continent than we had thought. In fact, Golda Meir pointed out the similarities between Israel and Africa as early as the 1970’s when she said that Israel should help Africa because both had thrown off oppressors, needed to find ways to work a difficult soil and had to build up a land that had had a barely existing infrastructure.

For the Africa unit, students read either The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver or Little Bee by Chris Cleave in English classes; learned about the integration of Ethiopian Jewry into Israeli society in Hebrew classes and through a webinar with Israeli educator Smadar Goldstein; discussed in Hebrew classes the controversy over Sudanese refugees and illegal immigrants in Israel; made silhouettes about the oppression of Bnai Yisrael in Egypt, projects which were based on the artwork of African-American artist Kara Walker; and worked in history on research projects. Each sophomore chose a topic about Africa to explore individually and then to combine into a presentation with a partner for the culminating event. The sophomores shared their presentations on PowerPoints at The Frisch Africa Encounter on December 8.

The Frisch Africa Encounter also included presentations by Sophomores Marni Loffman, Simmy Borodach, Isabelle Berman, Mendy Friedman, Max Milstein and Kayla Schiffer, who explained to the parents at the event how the month’s activities were interrelated among their classes. Ariela Rivkin and Aaron Fox gave a musical presentation, playing a piece that is the national anthem for five African countries. Sophomores and their parents listened that night to a playlist that Tamar Palgon had prepared. The playlist was of songs inspired by African music. The stage in the Frisch auditorium was turned into an African village by Danielle Fishbein, Samantha Kleinhaus and the Activities Committee. An African hut; a classroom complete with chalkboard explaining the effects of malnutrition on Africa’s children; a walk simulating how African women get water; and a multi-media presentation showing an African woman walking six hours to obtain water were part of the stage’s highlights. Other highlights of the “African village” included a display of African fashion made by Julia Scheebaum and Caroline Brauner and an art project by Maayan Mossaiov.

The night also included the results of the sophomore Green-a-thon. Throughout the month, sophomores were led by the Green-a-thon committee, Lea Braun, Isabelle Berman, Marni Loffman, Melissa Maza, Ariela Rivkin, and Kayla Schiffer, in a fundraising event to benefit Jewish Heart for Africa (JHA). Sophomores did green acts in school on November 30 and were sponsored for those acts by family, friends, and Frisch schoolmates. After learning about the plight of Africans, the need to be kind to the ger, the stranger, and the controversy over Israel’s not having enough room for all the refugees who enter its borders, the sophomores were motivated to take action and support JHA. JHA uses sustainable Israeli technologies to improve life in Africa. By doing so, JHA helps Israel and Africa! Rachel Ishofsky, Associate Executive Director of JHA, attended The Frisch Africa Encounter and was blown away by all the Frisch students had accomplished over the month! She thanked the Frisch sophomore grade for their support of JHA and for sharing with her their creativity and energy. In fact, everyone at the event was impressed by the spirit, talents and knowledge that the Frisch sophomores displayed. Go, Class of 2014!

-Mrs. Tikvah Wiener

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