Daf Kesher

Daf Kesher

והיית אך שמח:

 Joyous Jewish living and learning at Schechter Manhattan

Kids like to shake the lulav. Over my years at Schechter Manhattan I have found this to be invariably true. Give students a lulav and etrog and smiles emerge, faces light up. Shaking a lulav is fun. It makes us happy. This is year is no different and as students began learning the liturgy and choreography for sukkot this week I was reminded of the words from a traditional sukkot song…

 ושמחת בחגך, והיית אך שמח

You will rejoice on the holiday and you will only be happy

The words  come from the verses in Deuteronomy (16:14-15) in which Sukkot is described and its observance commanded. Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki from 11th century France, notes that the words והיית אך שמח are not in the form of a command, like most of the rest of the chapter about the holidays. Rather, this is a promise. When the Israelites participate in the obligations of this holiday, God promises they will be happy.

As we approach Sukkot, I have been thinking about the place of emotions in Jewish living and learning. I believe that the promise of happiness as a result of observing Sukkot represents a larger promise- the promise of a meaningful life lived in the Jewish tradition. I believe that participation in Jewish living and learning can and should be a source of deep and ongoing satisfaction.

At Schechter Manhattan there are many ways in which our participation in Jewish life feels joyous. Sukkot, for example, is celebrated with energetic singing of hallel each morning, including the very fun shaking of the lulav and etrog. And our Middle School students will gather next Thursday evening for the annual simchat beit hashoeiva; they will eat dinner together in the
sukkah and celebrate with fun activities planned by a student committee. Of course, we rejoice together for the most prominent of happy Jewish times of year, Purm. That celebration begins each rosh hodesh adar, with yom mishe mishe. Instituted by Dr. Lorch, and led each year by our 8th grade, the entire school sings the song משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה (when the month of Adar comes we increase in joy) while conga dancing around the school and out into the street.

Joyous Jewish living is not limited to yearly holiday celebrations. Each Rosh Chodesh we gather forshira b’tsibur, the entire school singing Hebrew songs together. And Rosh Chodesh is made even happier when we enjoy pizza for lunch. A highlight of my years at Schechter Manhattan has been traveling to Israel with the 8th grade each spring. There is no more joyous moment than dancing together in the streets as we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut with Jews from around the world and the people of the State of Israel. All of these happy communal experiences teach our students the important and powerful lesson that participation in Jewish life is meant to move us emotionally. And as such, it enriches our lives with moments of deep feeling.

At Schechter Manhattan we aspire for our students to both understand Jewish tradition and to feel their Jewishness.  As we look towards the upcoming sukkot holiday, I hope that we all are moved emotionally by our participation in Jewish living and learning.  And that the satisfaction we find makes us very happy. As a first step, try shaking a lulav and etrog – it will put a smile on your face.

חג שמח

Author’s Chair

The students of Kitah Alef wrote about their hopes and dreams.

My hope and dream in Kitah Alef:
Bad radara (better writer)
–Leyla
My hope and dream in Kitah Alef:
supr shchrg reader (super strong reader)
–Orli

My hope and dream in Kitah Alef:
I want to do science.
–Dex

My hope and dream in Kitah Alef:
good readers.
–Yonah

The students of Kitah Dalet wrote blurbs about some of the books they read of the summer reading.

Mrs. Magic Plum
Mrs. Plum’s class is like any other regular class but theirs is magical. Sit down, close your eyes and discover…a talking bird, squirrels that do whatever they want, a crocodile that won’t stop snapping and a horse that won’t stop going to the bathroom. Where is all the magic coming from? Is it coming from the back door closet or Mrs. Plum herself?  Each year Mrs. Plum thinks she is going to have the best class and each year she is right!
–Arielle S.

The Witches 
I had two encounters with witches.  The second time I was not lucky.  The witches turned me into…a well, you will have to read to find out.
–Ben S.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows
Harry Potter is ready to destroy he who must not be named.  If he can find and destroy all of he who must not be named’s horcruxes. In this book, people who we love will die and people who we hate will die. How will Harry Potter and his friends end this battle of the good and bad?
–Sarah C.

Clementine
Clementine is a 9 year old girl who lost her cat.  She sat near the phone waiting for someone to call.  Will she find her cat or will her cat be lost forever?
— Maya F.

I’m With Cupid
Reaper Lena’s life is going great until Cupid Marcus jumps in.  Now it’s a matter of life or death, because when people are supposed to die they live and when people are supposed to live they die.
— Hannah F.

Kitah Heh wrote about a new beginning, which is the class theme for the year.

New Beginnings
It was a sunny day on April 13th, 2010, when my sister, Abby, and I went to visit our new born brother in the hospital. Abby and I were wearing white sleeveless dresses with pink roses and a pink sash. Ethan, my brother, had been born the day before, April 12, 2010. My mom got mad because my zada was the first one to hold him and my mom didn’t get to because the doctors took Ethan away for some breathing tests. When my brother came home. Ethan did fine in Mommy and Daddy’s room for the first year of his life, but then we moved to a different apartment, the one we are in now. It was hard for me to adjust to a  new apartment and a new brother. I think new beginnings can be hard, but you can learn to adjust.
–Zoe T

Petey
When I  got a dog for the first time it was fun but hard. We had to train him. Petey did not know where he was so he was scared. When ever he got really really scared we had to walk him. Also,we had to play with him all the time. When we got home from school,in the morning,and at night. Petey likes to play with his toys and also people. We had some old stuffed animals, so we gave him them.  I had to learn how to live with a dog.  At first, it was a little hard, but after a night, I got use to it. I made sure I ate over the table, so Petey didn’t get any of my food.  I also had to watch out where I stepped because Petey is super tiny and get hurt easily if I am not careful.
–Kenzie K

Good Bye Dinos
The death of the dinosaurs was a very big new beginning. The surviving animals had to adjust to life without dinosaurs. The cause of dino destruction is unknown. Some people think that it was a volcano or an earthquake. Other people think that a star exploded or that a giant meteor crashed into the earth. Magicians think that a magic cloud covered the earth and POOF! All the dinosaurs disappeared. Whatever it was, is still a mystery. But the death of the dinos was a huge new beginning for the world.
–Caleb Friedman

My Dog
One day my mom was dropping my sister at Amtrak. There was a dog there with his owner. My mom asked “where did you get the dog.” He said “at the ASPCA foundation.” So that morning my mom woke me up and said “let’s go get a dog.” So we went early to the ASPCA. We got there and went to the puppy pen. There were 2 chocolate labs, 2 golden retrievers and 1 German shepherd. My mom said one of the chocolate labs would be good. I chose the crazy one. The lady took the dog and put a harness and leash on him. His name was Moe but we were going to change it. My dad did not want a dog so my mom called him and said “you can choose a name for him..

So he said “yes.” The dog was nervous and scared. We went in the car and he sat on my lap. We drove to petco and got food, bones, toys and got a collar with spikes for training. Then we went to the synagogue where my dad was to show him the dog but not during shabbat. He liked him. We had a big discussion and we chose Hezi. Getting a dog was one of the best things that happened to me all summer.
–Sammy V.

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