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HAFTR juniors are named CIJE contest finalists


Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway High School juniors Ari Gurvitch, Ben Sides and Jacob Steinmetz were finalists in the second annual Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education Tank competition on Nov. 24, sponsored by the CIJE.

The nonprofit organization aims to improve the technology and programs available to Jewish day schools and yeshivas in an effort to offer a world-class education. Seven teams from six yeshiva high schools presented their projects in front of three “sharks.”

“We worked tirelessly for two years in order to reach our desired outcome,” said Ari Gurvitch, leader of the HAFTR team. Ari and his partners, Ben Sides and recent Fordham recruit Jacob Steinmetz, created a tire that would ultimately produce enough energy to power a car. Using piezoelectric tiles, a material that creates energy directly from pressure and vibrations, they were able to light up an LED, demonstrating that their concept worked.

CIJE has created a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum that has expanded to over more than 100 hundred Jewish day schools across the country. “This competition is not about winning or losing, but about learning how to become the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said CIJE President Jason Cury. “It is important for us, that all our students become the next generation of innovative leaders.”

HAFTR High School, with the CIJE’s guidance, built a new state-of-the-art STEM and Innovation Lab, offering 12 different STEM course options for the students, including two Advanced Placement classes.