March 27, 2015

7th of Nissan 5775


 Parshat Tzav
Candle Lighting at 7:17 PM
Celebrating our Freedom


I had the good fortune of traveling to Tallahassee with the Jewish Leadership Coalition this past Wednesday. Our group of 45 men and women from South Florida met with political leaders to discuss their support for continued expansion of the Step Up for Students program, which provides tax credit scholarships for students from economically disadvantaged families. Step Up for Students has been a real help to so many families and has afforded them the opportunity to get the education they deserve. I've gone on lobbying missions before with AIPAC, but this was the first time that I had the opportunity to lobby in Florida. I was struck by the incredible freedom that we experience here in America. The access that we have to government leaders and decision-makers is extraordinary!  


While focused on the mission of lobbying for the Step Up program, I found myself appreciating the many freedoms we enjoy in America, freedoms we should never take for granted. Next week, we'll celebrate a different type of freedom during the holiday of Pesach. Our freedom from the tyranny of Egypt is inextricably linked to our freedom to worship God and become the Jewish nation. Freedom from should always lead to freedom to. Our freedom places certain expectations on us as Jews and as human beings--we are obligated to use our freedom to help others and to develop our uniquely Jewish connection to Hashem.  


Thank you to the entire Highlites staff for putting together another extraordinary edition. I hope you enjoy seeing the wonderful work that our students are engaged in. I would wish you a "chag kasher v'sameach", but I remember once being greeted by Rav Yoel Bin Nun around this time of year as he wished me a "chag sameach v'kasher." He must have noticed my quizzical look, and he explained why he had switched the usual order. "I'm confident," he said, "that your holiday will be kosher, but you need to make sure that it is also filled with happiness." So, chag sameach v'kasher.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jonathan Kroll
Head of School
Good and Welfare
Ariella Saragossi ('11) to Rafi Hopkins

Tamar Singer ('11) to Andrew Turk


Mrs. Fay Poliak on the loss of her father, Percy Albert

Upcoming Events
April 1 - 12
Pesach Break. No Classes

Spring Sports
Boys Volleyball and Tennis Teams End Successful Seasons

Basketball Team Takes NY by Storm
Boys Basketball Plays at YU's Sarachek
Learning Life Through Death
Senior Girls Participate in Seminar on the Jewish Laws and Philosophy of Death

Graphic by Cherie Landa ('15)  
Interview by Matthew Samilow ('17)

Over the past few weeks, the WYHS senior girls participated in an educational seminar that dealt with death in the context of Jewish Law and Philosophy. I met with Rabbi Jonathan Kroll, the program's organizer, to talk about the course and his experiences.


Matthew Samilow: Can you describe the focus and components of the course?


Rabbi Jonathan Kroll: The purpose of the course is to give the students a better and more complete insight into what Jewish Law and Philosophy have to offer on the topic of death. It consists of eight sessions with rotating speakers. The course delves into all of the halachot and teaches about the chevra kadisha and the like.


MS: What is the thought process behind having the senior girls, at this age, participate in a program that deals with death?


RJK: I feel the answer lies in a statement one girl made to me. She said that the class honestly taught her more about life than death. I truly think that is a summation of the course and its aims.


MS: What did you personally learn from this course?


RJK: What I realized is that death is a mysterious topic that does not get enough attention in education. From what I saw, students were hungry for information on death, especially from the Jewish perspective.


MS: Do you think this is a worthwhile course to continue in the future?


RJK: I certainly do. Students thoroughly enjoyed the program. The information they learned is relevant to anyone. Learning about topics similar to this, which are not often discussed, is a very important component of Jewish education. Therefore, I feel it is a worthwhile program to continue.


Click here to read the Sun Sentinel's Coverage of this Class 

JUMP into the Boardroom
WYHS JUMP Team Travels to NY for Final Presentations

Graphic by Ariel Schneider ('17)
Article by Ariella Mamann ('16)

On March 15, the WYHS JUMP team boarded a plane and headed to New York for the JUMP competition's boardroom finals. Arriving at the OU building in a limo provided by NCSY, we practiced our 12 minute presentation with the help of our dedicated mentor, Shira Englander. Out of over 80 schools in the country, our JUMP team, along with four other schools, got the chance to go to the Goldman-Sachs offices in New York to present the four programs we have been working on since November. At Goldman-Sachs, we walked into a room with competitors, photographers, and prestigious judges. The judges included Raanan Agus, the Managing Director of Goldman Sachs, Allen Fagin, Executive VP and Chief Professional Officer of the OU and Rabbi Steven Weil, Executive VP of the OU. One school at a time, we got the chance to present our programs to the judges. 

Our programs dealt with poverty, texting and driving, fundraising, and Israel advocacy.  For our poverty program, we went to Winn Dixie and educated local citizens on poverty rates in Boca Raton. We ended up raising $1000, along with food, for the local kosher food pantry, Jewish Family Services. For our texting and driving program, we shot four different anti-texting and driving commercials with the help of Noah Light (see the end of this article for links to the videos). We were also in contact with Representative Irv Slosberg, the Democratic representative for Palm Beach in the Florida House of Representatives, and Dori Saves Lives, a non-profit organization dedicated to vehicular safety. We hosted a Zumba-Yoga night at school for our fundraiser, which girls and their moms attended to support Beit Elazraki in Israel. For our Israel Advocacy program, we created a Google Classroom where juniors in our school had lively and intense discussions with eleventh graders from Beit Elazraki in Israel. We discussed topics such as going to the army, post high-school plans, and goals for the future. 

After all the schools finished presenting, the judges deliberated, while we compared our programs with the teams from the other four schools. This was when we realized it did not matter who won in the end; we were just proud of the positive impact we made on our school and community. The judges finally came back into the room and revealed the winner -- it was a tie between SKA and Shalhevet! Even though we did not win, we were extremely proud of ourselves that we made it so far. One of the judges actually recognized us for our incredible texting and driving program, as our goal is to eventually make it a primary offense in Florida. We left Goldman-Sachs and headed to Mr. Broadway in Times Square for a delicious dinner to celebrate an incredible year of JUMPing.

We learned so much from this experience and truly want to thank NCSY because each of us are planning to continue these programs in the future. Finally, a huge thank you to our mentor, Shira Englander, for guiding us through this journey.

Texting While Driving Videos Created by JUMP Students:
Texting and Playing Video Games
Pet Don't Text and Drive
Makeup Don't Text and Drive
Basketball Don't Text and Drive

Election Day
WYHS Students Vote in Israeli Mock Election
Graphic by Aaron Senfeld ('17)
This Week in Pictures

Graphic by Shara Sakethou ('16)