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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Yoms @FrischSchool

I know that we’ve  already emailed links which share the sights and sounds of our Yom Ha-Zikaron and Yom Ha-Atzma’ut programs (and also that you are probably on email overload) but I thought I’d just send along a brief synopsis of the programs.

The highlight of the Yom Ha-Zikaron program, which was done with the participation of a delegation of students from Nahariya, was a talk by our alumnus, Andy Eagle (’08), a YU undergraduate who served in Tzahal after his year at yeshiva in Israel. Andy spoke movingly of two aspects of his time in the IDF. First, of the experience of meeting and establishing a relationship with the family of a fallen Chayal in his role as the soldier assigned to stand at his grave in the Har Herzl Military Cemetery on Yom Ha-Zikaron. Then he spoke of Moshe, a wonderful young man in Andy’s unit who was killed last year during a routine patrol at the Gaza border, a patrol that he and Andy had done together dozens of times.

Yom Ha-Atzma’ut began with a Tefillah Chagigit, including a thoroughly inspiring Hallel in which the entire student body participated beautifully and enthusiastically.  After breakfast and some typical Frisch shtick orchestrated by Rabbi Goldfischer and the Ivrit teachers Rabbi Goldfischer introduced the day’s theme--The role of the individual in making history—with an old newsreel (which I had never seen) of the ceremonies involving the transfer of Theodor Herzl’s remains to Israel and the burial on the then newly named Mount Herzl in the early fifties. Each grade then experienced in round robin succession four programs (in random order): 1. The students were shown an ancient film of the Halutzim draining malarial swamps as an introduction to two pivotal figures, A.D. Gordon, the spiritual force behind labor Zionism and the founder of HaPo'el HaTza'ir  and Eliezer Ben Yehuda,  the driving spirit behind the revival of the Hebrew language in the modern era. 2. The question of dual loyalty, particularly as it concerned first-generation American Jews in the early days of the twentieth century, was presented through a speech by Justice Louis Brandeis, one of the earliest American Zionist leaders, to a group of Reform rabbis which for pedagogic reasons we portrayed as a speech to working class Jews on the Lower East Side and the subsequent dialogue with an immigrant who feared that espousal of Zionism would be seen as a lack of commitment to the United States. 3. The presentation of three very different positions about the possibility of a Jewish State: Ahad Ha’am’s advocacy of cultural, but decided non-religious, Zionism; Rav Elchanan Wasserman’s (what we would call today) Haredi approach which combined the conviction that the Redemption was to come only with the arrival of the Messiah and unwillingness to see secular Zionists as anything other than sinners; and the combination of religious orthodoxy and Zionism as advocated by Rabbi Isaac Jacob Reines: the founder of Mizrahi. 4. An introduction to college campus advocacy which began with a video prepared by anti-Israel activists for “Israel Apartheid Week,” and a skit portraying a dialogue between an informed, pro-Israel college student and her roommate, a person who knew virtually nothing about the realities of the Middle East beyond the anti-Israel rhetoric and campaigns on campus. (Special thanks to Rabbi Goldfischer who created and coordinated the entire program and to Rabbis Feldman, Schachter, Bashist, Fleischmann, Jaffe, Ciner and Sher and to Mrs. Jacob and Mrs. Goldfischer who performed the various skits).

We concluded as we do each year with a wonderful outdoor barbecue out on the playing fields, supplied as always by the Frisch Parents Association.   

(What went wrong? The blue & white sheet cake we serve each year at breakfast on Yom Ha-atzma’ut didn’t arrive yesterday. But since yesterday was already a Nidkheh—that is that we were celebrating this year as decided in Israel on the 6th rather than the 5th of Iyar—we felt confident that it was also permissible to serve the cake this morning, just one more day late).

NOW THE COMMERCIAL: I cannot think of a better way to conclude the celebration than by signing up (I hope with your son or daughter) for the May 8 NORPAC Mission to Washington.   

-Dr. Kalman Stein

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