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HAFTR Highlights

Bonding over challah, Mishmar and tie-dying


Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway High School students participated in a schoolwide challah bake on Nov. 6 to celebrate the Shabbat Project. Students carefully followed a recipe and then braided their challot. Students also witnessed and learned about the mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah, in which one separates a piece from the dough, recites a blessing, and burns the piece of dough.

One explanation given for this commandment is to remind us that even with all of the human effort required in the challah-making process, from combining ingredients to kneading the dough to baking, we must remember that ultimately the final product is always from God and He is our source of sustenance and life. At the end of the day, students took home their beautiful challot to bake and share with their families on Shabbat.

The senior boys enjoyed a festive Mishmar on Nov. 5, along with their rabbis, which included singing, games, food and inspirational messages to carry with them into Shabbat. The boys feasted on cholent, poppers and kugel. They sang and rejoiced together to get into the spirit of Shabbat. Several of the boys delivered Torah commentaries and inspiring speeches.

To conclude the evening, the boys played games to test their Torah knowledge and engaged in a scavenger hunt around school. This was a wonderful opportunity for the senior boys to connect with each other and their rabbis. The senior girls are looking forward to an exciting Girls Night Out paint night on Nov. 17!

HAFTR has implemented many programs to help the freshmen acclimate to their new environment, in this especially unconventional year. Freshmen engaged in a special mask tie-dying activity. This gave them an opportunity to bond outside of the classroom with each other as well as their teachers in a fun and creative setting. The added bonus was that at the end of the program they were left with colorful, custom masks that will certainly make full-time mask wearing in school more appealing.

The freshmen also took part in an interactive lesson on time and stress management with the school psychologist. They learned about and discussed different factors relating to the onset of stress and dealing with stress including motivation, time-management, motivation, study habits, and stress management.

The students shared their own stress triggers and offered solutions that work for them. The freshmen also created stress balls out of balloons which they can use to help relieve feelings of stress or anxiety. HAFTR has done so much to help the freshmen feel comfortable in their transition from bonding activities to exciting events, and if the students ever do feel stressed or anxious, they have many resources within school to aid them as well as the knowledge of tools to help them deal with their problems.

Adapting to new circumstances, HAFTR continues to foster its students’ religious, creative, social and emotional needs through unique programs. Students still have many opportunities to share in meaningful and enjoyable events with their peers and teachers, which have long been an integral part of the HAFTR High School experience.