HAFTR Highlights

Joining clubs, bonding and a sobering attack

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Only one month into the school year and there much going on at the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway High School.

HAFTR held its annual club fair on Sept. 25, where students had the opportunity to browse the many different clubs offered and select the ones that best meet their interests.

There are a wide variety of clubs and teams — athletic, academic and chesed (kindness). Clubs help students to broaden their knowledge in areas that interest them and offers an opportunity to develop new skills and talents. Club Participation offers students the chance to meet other students who share common interests.

HAFTR’s “Big Sibs” is also underway with its first activity of the year. The Big Sibs program was designed to help freshmen transition to high school. The ninth-graders are paired with seniors and take part in several fun activities throughout the school year, to make the freshmen more comfortable in their new high-school setting and have role models and friends. A successful painting event jumpstarted the program this year, where all had a fun time.

‘Kumzitz & Kugel’

HAFTR launched “Kumzitz & Kugel,” an exciting program, where each Friday, students and teachers sing Shabbat songs, hear inspiring Torah commentary, and, of course, eat delicious kugel! Such gatherings allow students to bond with their teachers in a relaxed, informal environment. Best of all, students are even more invigorated with spiritual feelings and appreciation as Shabbat arrives.

As the “Aseret Yimei T’shuva” (“Ten Days of Repentance”), which began on Rosh Hashana and ended on Yom Kippur, were recently upon us, Rabbi Shalom Axelrod, of Young Israel of Woodmere, visited HAFTR High, where he spoke to the juniors and seniors about the significance of these holy days with regard to “T’shuva.”

Rabbi Axelrod explained how one can use “T’shuva” as a tool of rebirth to become a better and more spiritual person and that “T’shuva” elevates us to a status even higher than the one even prior to sinning. Students carried his powerful messages about “T’shuva” into Yom Kippur, which allowed us to have even more meaningful prayers and greater appreciation for the holiest day of the year.

Sobering incident

My fellow classmates, this article would be remiss if I did not mention the heinous, anti-Semitic attack in Halle, Germany, which occurred by a shul, during prayer, on our holiest day, Yom Kippur. Two people were killed. The shooter was arrested. An attack on any of our people is an attack on all Jews, worldwide. We must thank God for saving our Jewish brothers and sisters by not allowing the neo-Nazi’s plan to succeed.

As my great-grandparents survived the Nazis, it is clear to me that the only response to anti-Semitism and hatred against Jews is to stand together as proud Jews. As such, and as we celebrate Sukkot, let us do so proudly and joyfully. Chag Sameach! (Happy holidays!)