There are some days that are just magical and at The Frisch School Yom Ha-Atzma’ut ought to be one of those days. And today was absolutely wonderful day, a day during which I just stood in the background and observed with pride the talents of our faculty and the Ru’ach, intelligence, and camaraderie of our students.
We began yesterday with our Yom HaZikaron program designed by the Ivrit Department to insure that each of us entered today’s festivities with a clear sense of the price the soldiers and citizens of Medinat Yisrael have paid to create and defend the Jewish State.
Our goal each year on Yom Ha-Atzma’ut is to put together a program which includes not only celebration, thanksgiving, and Ru’ach but also substantive, thought-provoking intellectual content. Rabbi David Goldfischer, our director of student activities, made sure that we hit on all cylinders today.
We began with a beautiful Tefilah Chagigit, including an incredibly joyful rendition of Hallel in which virtually every student in the school participated. After our traditional breakfast of blue and white sheet cake, we adjourned to our classrooms to learn about Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook’s little-known Hesped (eulogy) for Theodor Herzl through which he attempted to demonstrate, in a Dvar Torah elucidating the roles in our tradition of Mashi’ach Ben Yosef and Mashi’ach Ben David, that religious Zionists should look upon secular Zionism (and, of course, Zionists) as an indispensible ingredient working toward the ultimate redemption of the Jewish People.
- Links to both the Hesped and to the Power Point presentation created for us by Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky, director of educational technology are available here:http://frischschool.blogspot.com/2012/04/rav-kooks-lamentation-in-jerusalem-for.html
- A link to a video summarizing the day is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_vrBwR9PJ8
The theme of the day was an appreciation of the combination of the spiritual and physical, the religious and secular elements of Zionism during the last century which led to the creation and the magnificent achievements of Medinat Yisrael. So after reconvening to see a film about the struggle for and the development of the State each grade was treated in round robin style to each four presentations:
1. Needless to say, Rav Kook’s Hesped for Herzl evoked a storm of protest within the rabbinical world in 1904. Our students got to hear Rav Kook’s spirited defense of his position as presented by Rabbis Jaffe and Fleischmann. (Rav Kook explained using the double meaning of the work Chol—either sand or that which is secular—to argue that the creation of a State and of the Kedusha inherent in a Jewish State begins with a grain of physicality and with the secular activity of creating the economic and political infrastructure).
2. The presentation of a medal for military heroism to a member of a Hesder unit (played by Rabbi Blau) and the cynicism, actually the very funny cynicism of the non-religious officer bestowing the award: As in, “How does a Talmud Scholar defeat the enemy? Do you bore them to death?” The kids loved that one, courtesy of our resident wit, Rabbi Jonathan Feldman. The presentation included a superbly made film by Yeshivat Har Etzion about a Chassidic story often told by its late Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Amital which highlighted the importance of combining Torah with service to the community.
3. Did you happen to notice the photos of the infancy of Tel Aviv which were shown during the one hundredth anniversary of its founding? Tel Aviv growth into a major cultural center and as a high tech area second only to Silicon Valley reflects the achievements of century of Zionists of all striped. Rabbi David Sher, who spearheads our Israel education program and who works hard to make sure that our kids see Israel’s achievements and glory, not just its struggle and needs, did a superb job in presenting Tel Aviv to our students.
4. Even with the right glasses and powder in his hair Rabbi Ciner doesn’t look much like Menachem Begin but he certainly sounded like him as he presented Begin’s speech on Kniesset arguing that El Al should not be permitted to fly on Shabbat. The powerful speech, and the heckling by MK’s Rabbis Schachter, Bashist and Zauderer, gave the students a glimpse of the sometimes contentious issue of religion in Medinat Yisrael.
Back to the Shul for a wrap-up discussion by Rabbi Goldfischer followed by thirty minutes of spirited singing in dancing in celebration of the day.
And the weather cooperated! The prediction of early afternoon rain was wrong and the kids enjoyed a wonderful barbecue lunch—I guess you know that virtually every family in Israel celebrates the day with a barbecue—on our spacious fields. The barbecue was hosted and run, as it is each year, by the Frisch Parents Association and its wonderful volunteers.
NOW THE COMMERCIAL: As you undoubtedly know the Frisch Parents Association Auction is in full swing but time is running out. The Frisch Parents Association’s contribution to your child’s experience at The Frisch School goes far beyond hot dogs and hamburgers. I urge you to take a look at the auction offerings and get involved!
I have not been good about keeping parents informed about happenings at the school. I invite you to look at enjoy the following links on recent programs:
Video of last week’s tremendously meaningful Yom HaShoah Program featuring our very own Rabbi Jonathan Spier, his grandfather, Holocaust survivor, Mr. Walter Spier, and the family of the army captain who saved Mr. Spier’s life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK65Z9ww1hw
Monday’s Lunch and Learn “Religious Zionism in the 21st Century: Theological Trends and Political Consequences,” by R Uri Goldstein: http://frischschool.blogspot.com/2012/04/lunch-and-learn-by-rabbi-uri-goldstein.html
This week’s Tikvah Speakers Program lecture: “My Brain Made Me Do It: Neuroscience and Free Will,” by Devorah Segal, MD,PhD: http://frischschool.blogspot.com/2012/04/dr-devorah-segal-on-my-brain-made-me-do.html
-Dr. Kalman Stein