As many of you undoubtedly already know, we broke Shiriya this morning. I cannot begin to explain the craziness of the break or the extraordinary contributions of so many of the adults who spend their days at Frisch. Ask your son/daughter to describe it for you. I don't need to tell most Frisch parents how wonderful the night of Shiriya is, It's next Thursday evening, "formal" invitation to follow, but for those of you who are new to Frisch this year I assure you that it's well worth your while to spend next Thursday evening with us.
Virtually every one of our students finds his/her niche in Shiriya. But in a school of six hundred it is inevitable that there will be a few youngsters who find it a little difficult to find their place. That's our job to fix. If your son/daughter for any reason is feeling that he/she is not participating in the week's activities in a gratifying way please email Rabbi Ciner and he will make sure that the grade's faculty advisors reach out (quietly and seamlessly) to him/her and find an appropriate avenue to integrate him/her into the flow of Shiriya.
Shiriyah is such an important part of life at The Frisch School that it would never occur to us to sell tickets of admission. But Shiriyah is very expensive. Just setting up the seating, audio-visual arrangements, and decorations in the gym is quite costly as is the extraordinary amount of material which goes into the kids' transformation of the building into a Shiriya theme park. Please consider making a contribution, at Donate.Frisch.org or by check, to help defray this large (but so worthwhile) expense.
Shiriya has many components as our kids demonstrate their skills and strengths in so many areas: Art, music, scholarship, drama, dance, leadership, Torah. It creates a spirit of camaraderie which permeates the school and glows throughout the entire school year. The themes chosen each year reflect an aspect of our Torah Studies curriculum. This year we are all studying Humash Shemot and the theme, therefore, is Sefer Shemot- The Creation of a Nation
Sefer Shemot's unique theme is the Creation of a Nation. The book can clearly be divided into four thematic sections- (1) The exile and exodus from Mitzrayim, (2) the nation's travels and growth in the desert, (3) the awe inspiring revelation at Har Sinai and (4) the book's culmination with the Jewish nation creating sacred space for God through the Mishkan. Each of these steps was necessary and contributed to the foundation of the Jewish nation - as a unified people devoted in the service of God.
The exile in Mitzrayim brought the nation together in ways that no other event ever has. We suffered together and then joyously celebrated our victory unified in a harmonious song at the sea. The Exodus is the cornerstone for many of the commandments in the Torah and granted the nation a unique respect for our fellow man and our Redeemer, the Almighty.
The Midbar (desert) experience was no accident or mistake. God purposely led the Jews through the desolate desert and challenged them with test after test. We endured these trials and emerged with a greater sense of what it means to rely on God and how to deal with adversity. The daily miraculous existence in the Midbar afforded the nation closeness with God and chance for self-reflection.
Approximately two million Jews entered a covenant with God and became known as Jews. The Har Sinai experience, a paradox of love and fear, of closeness and yet of distance, marked us as God's eternal nation. The laws that we received from amidst the thunder and lightning armed the nation with morality and religious law to shape ourselves and the world at large.
Out of metal, wood, precious stone and fabric the Jewish nation transform mundane physical objects and accomplish what our forefathers could only dream of - namely an abode for God. The Jewish nation become neighbors with God and thereby included the Almighty in all our national, religious and personal experiences. Spirituality was transformed from a fleeting sensation to a concrete, realistic, and constant element in every Jew's life.
Shiriya is one of the ways that we help our students experience that the joys of being a healthy teenager, of being an observant yeshiva high school student, of being a Frisch student are so extraordinary, are so much better than the patterns of behavior that have become the norm, or at least the norm as portrayed by the media, for teenage life in early twenty-first century America.
Shabbat Shalom, Dr. Kalman Stein