Volume XXXXVII Number 1
The Ramaz Upper School
September 2013/Tishrei 5774
Early Start to School?!
Layla Malamut ’14
Esti Flamenbaum ’14
The notice that school this year would begin on August 28th was met by common displeasure among many of the student body. Alex Rabinowitz ’14 noted that “We work a lot in this school year round, so it’s imperative that we get to enjoy the little summer vacation we have. If we usually start the day after Labor Day, there’s no reason it should have been different this year.” The early start led to a number of students who were still on vacation to miss the first few days of school. “I missed the last week of August and first week of September because I was still on vacation in Israel,” said Aidan Hadad, ’14. “It wasn’t ideal, but there was no way around it.” Mr. Miller explained the school’s reason for the abnormal schedule. Although school usually begins the day after Labor Day, in accordance with public schools, the unusual time frame of the Jewish holidays forced the change. If school had begun on September 3rd, the day after Labor Day, all of the introductory assemblies and meetings would have been followed by a week off for Rosh Hashanah. This would also have made having Freshman Orientation the day before school impossible. Thus, concluded Mr. Miller, “Due to such a fragmented calendar, and the rarity of having the Jewish holidays begin so early, we decided to begin school on August 28th in order to properly develop the momentum to learn.” Seniors particularly felt the repercussions of this change, as they complained about the short summer making their college process that much more pressing. Shoshana Edelman, ’14, noted that “The shorter summer definitely got me thinking about my applications much more in advance – which was definitely not an ideal activity for the relaxing summer months.” However, as a consolation for the early start and all the confusion it brought, the administration gave students off for all of Sukkot, as Mr. Miller described it – “a little gift.” This extra break allowed students the chance to travel abroad without having to miss classes, or simply to have some extra relaxation time. Students were very appreciative of this. “When I looked at the calendar, I was shocked to realize that we only have 7 days of school in September,” said Tess Solomon,’16. “I for one am glad that this year we finally have off for Chol Hamoed Sukkot.” After getting over their initial displeasure, most students have come to adapt to this year’s irregular start, and even appreciate its benefits.
Ramaz tried something a bit different this year for its 9/11 programming. Instead of having a school-wide assembly, each of the five school minyans had speakers come to tell about their personal experiences. With a choppy September schedule, Ms. Benel was hardpressed to find time for any programming. The administration thus decided to set aside the time between davening and classes to have the speakers come. Among the speakers was Naftali Solomon, a Hatzalah first responder who was at the site of the attack. Mr. Solomon spoke to the 9th graders. Another Hatzalah volunteer, Rabbi Dr. Moshe Sokolow, husband of Ramaz middle school teacher Mrs. Sokolow, spoke to the seniors about his experience. Joseph Olidort told of his story working on the 92nd floor, and making it to safety, along with others, after urging his floor mates to take the stairs down instead of waiting for news. Howard Fried, father of Sam Fried ’15 and Elle Fried ’13, worked in the towers but was fortunately late that day due to voting in the Democratic Primary. At the start of school in the morning, members of the Chesed Club stood outside handing flag pins and flyers out to students as they arrived. A table remained outside for the rest of the day, with pictures and information about 9/11. After davening, students were told to take a biography card of someone who died on 9/11, and teachers were told to read one card to the class. Students found the day’s programming to be meaningful, especially the speakers. However, some teachers did not have discussions about the bio cards, a major aspect of the day’s programming. After school, members of the Chesed club walked to the local firehouse to give the company flowers. Ramaz has a longstanding relationship with the firehouse, with one grade dedicating its graduation to the company.
Students Take Part in Chesed Day Zimi Sloyer ’14 On Sunday, September 15th, over 50 Ramaz students participated in Chesed Day. This day of service was created to honor the victims of 9/11. Students had three different Chesed options. They could visit senior citizens through an organization called DOROT and deliver Sukkot packages to them, they could attend a Friendship Circle holiday party at the Ramaz Upper School, or they could go to Long Island to help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy with a relief organization called Nechama. The most popular event was the hurricane relief trip. Altogether there were 30 students and faculty on the trip, but once they reached Long Island they split into two groups. Each group worked on a different house, both of which had been effected by Hurricane Sandy, almost a year ago. Within each house, students worked under the guidance of the project leaders from Nechama to put in insulation and install sheetrock. Michal Hubert ’14 said, “When we started out it was just one big empty space, but by the end we had built a whole separate
room. It was really fun and we felt so accomplished.” Many of the students agreed that the day was fun and fulfilling. “I felt really connected to the work I was doing,” said Michelle Bensadigh ’14. “Especially when the homeowner came to visit. It was her first time at the house since the storm did its damage. Hearing her stories and hearing how grateful she was made our accomplishments even more meaningful than they already were.” Another meaningful Chesed day activity was the Friendship Circle party at Ramaz. They started the day in the gym where there were many activities, including a moon bounce and a cotton candy machine. There were also some art projects, like building a sukkah out of Popsicle sticks, making a paper chain decoration for sukkot, or even building an edible sukkah. After the Friendship Circle kids spent some time doing these activities with their Ramaz friends, the party would have moved into the sukkah except it was a little cold, so they stayed indoors. However, the Friendship Circle kids
and volunteers still sang songs, danced, and ate their pizza. Alison Molchadsky ’14 said, “I think the Friendship Circle kids had a really fun time and we did too. One of the kid’s parents sent me an email thanking me for helping her son. It was so cute!” At the same time as the Friendship Circle party, a small group of students were working with an organization called DOROT. This Chesed day activity had initially received a very small response. Only two or three people were signed up, but in the end 8 people came. The students watched a short video to learn about DOROT. They were then given instructions about how they should go about their visits. The eight volunteers split into two groups and each group visited a senior citizen and delivered Sukkot packages to them. Chesed day was a special, meaningful day for many of the people involved. Ms. Benel said, “Chesed day reminded me how blessed we all are. It was a great thing to do right after Yom Kippur, and right before Sukkot.”
Making Memories at the Maccabi Games
See page 2 for a one-on-one with our new Assistant Dean
Skyler Levine ’15 This summer I participated in the Maccabi Games in Irvine, California as part of the 92nd Street Y delegation. I played tennis against Jewish opponents from all over the country and watched many different types of sports games. I also met wonderful and interesting people from all around the country. It was an experience unlike any I have ever had before. When our team arrived in Irvine, we met our host families and prepared for opening
ceremonies. For opening ceremonies, the members of each delegation dressed in matching tracksuits. Before the ceremony began, all the competitors traded pins that represented the city from which their delegation came. The ceremony began as each delegation marched into the football stadium holding their flag. Then each delegation sat in a row and enjoyed a show, which consisted of Israeli singers, the Clippers dancers, the Clippers percussion ensemble, acro-
bats, and a magician. After the ceremony was over, players returned to their respective host family’s home to rest up for the next morning. My host family was really sweet. They brought us for ice cream, stocked up the fridge for us, and cheered us on at our games. I found it amazing that these people who did not even know us felt so connected to us because of our Judaism. Continued on page 3
See pages 2-3 for students’ summer experiences See pages 4-5 for new teacher interviews See page 6 for freshman orientation See page 7 for arts See back page for sports
Welcome to the 6th Floor: One on One with Dr. Koplon
Zach Klein ‘14
RamPage: How did you attain the position of Assistant Dean? Dr. Koplon: I had a number of meetings with Mr. Shaviv last spring. They started out as general discussions about the direction of school and my career. They ended with him offering me the position, which I started during the summer. RamPage: Was the transition difficult? Dr. Koplon: I didn’t find the transition to be difficult. It’s very different to not be in classroom all day long. As far as the challenge, Mr. Miller and Rabbi Stochel are easy and pleasant to work with. So far it’s been fun. RamPage: How have your interactions with students changed? Dr. Koplon: Well, I already knew three quarters of the student body very well as teacher. Going forward, it’s going to be difficult establishing relationships. I have to work on it, whether it be in meetings, or sitting in classes and advisories. I want to meet new students in smaller groups. RamPage: What new responsibilities have you taken on as assistant Dean?
Dr. Koplon: The biggest part of my position is a role that’s new in the administration. I’ve been working with teachers on professional development. We have been focusing on bringing in speakers and workshops for teachers to participate in in a group setting. We have
also been working with individual teachers to help them find opportunities outside of school, such as conferences and publishing opportunities. I also do my share of what all of the administrators do. Things like
meetings, student activities, and guidance. RamPage: How has your new position affected your role within the math department? Dr. Koplon: This year I am still the chair of the math department. I am teaching one senior class. I can see that the position of department chair might be passed on over time to someone who is more involved day to day with math department. RamPage: What are your goals as assistant Dean? Dr. Koplon: I would like students to feel comfortable in the sixth floor office. I want them to feel like they have a voice and can talk to any one of the three of us. Administrators can be scary people to new, little freshman. I don’t want it to be like that. Another goal I have is to keep teachers working on themselves as educators and professionals in their respective subjects and fields. That’s something else I think is important to improve on within the school. I want to keep everyone looking forward and be better at whatever it is that they are doing.
Summer Learning the Law
Sydney Sarachek ‘14
Last February, in between procrastinating studying for the SATs and writing my history paper, I decided to focus on what I was going to do for the summer of 2013. After a simple google search, I found a program listed by the New York City Bar Association. The Thurgood Marshall Summer Internship program is open to New York City high school students and provides training in law firms and other legal related settings. Thurgood Marshall was a well-known civil rights lawyer and served as an African American Justice for the Supreme Court. In order to be accepted I went through four rounds of interviews, as they narrowed down the field of applicants from 180 to 50. Five months after being accepted, I sat at the opening ceremony program in the regal auditorium of the City Bar Association on Forty-Fourth Street between Fifth and Sixth. I was a bit nervous as I perused the room filled with paintings of great lawyers and judges and a stage that looked like a giant courtroom. Beside me sat groups of student from schools like Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and other inner City schools in the five boroughs that I had never heard of. I realized that this experience would be what I made of it. I could sit at the programs, keep to myself, and go to my day job, which was at Weil Gotshal & Manages, an exclusive New York City law firm, or I could reach out to these kids, who had completely different upbringings than me, and make new friends. Once I began talking to people, I learned that everyone whether white or black, Hispanic or Jewish, rich or poor, had something to bring to the table. I was the only Jewish person in the group and my new friends loved hearing about Ramaz’s dress code and that students could not wear whatever they desired.
To my peers, everything was so new and interesting. For me, it was incredible how all these kids were so intrigued about my Jewish culture, as I was used to being surrounded by kids who heard about Judaism all day long. The program places high school students with legal employers for the summer, and provides additional programming twice a week to help prepare students for a legal career. The first program of the summer was a speed-networking event at ABC News on the West Side. Attorneys from different law firms volunteered at this event, and the program also got people with various careers who could help advise us what steps to take as we enter our senior year of high school. The people I met with include the chief of business operations at the Food Network, as well as a partner at a top law firm. Not only did I have the opportunity to meet amazing lawyers and accomplished men and women during the program, I also had the opportunity to gain hands on experience. I attended a class taught by a Columbia Law School. On another occasion, I shadowed a Judge in the New York State Supreme Court. Judge Silver allowed me to sit next to him on the bench as he issued rulings. I got to see what Court was really like, and while it isn’t as crazy as some television shows make it out to be, it is pretty close. Aside for the programming that we were required to attend, I also attended the day job I was placed at everyday. I had the opportunity to take part in many different projects. Whether it was working with attorneys, writing for their newsletter, or planning a charity event for the firm, I truly felt like a productive member of the firm. My superiors be-
came my friends, Furthermore, I worked with the bankruptcy and finance-restructuring department to plan a charity event, and those attorneys too, became my friends. On my last day of work, I was sad to leave. I thought that my job would be boring and full of tedious tasks, but instead, everyday it was a new fun experience. After my last day of work, I headed down to the New York City bar for our “graduation” ceremony. As I sat down in my seat, I looked around the room. These fifty kids who had once been complete strangers to me were now my companions. Mohammed, Tyree, and Julia were my new friends, who I plan to keep in touch with throughout the year. Justice Denny Chin, who was nominated by President Obama to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit spoke at the closing ceremony. Before joining the federal bench, Justice Chin was a Judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Justice Chin was a role model for all of us as he was the first Asian American appointed as a District Judge outside of the Ninth Circuit. Not only was he entirely self-made, as he came to this country as a baby with nothing, but he is incredibly accomplished. Justin Chin is the Judge who sentenced Bernie Madoff. He gave us insights into his sentencing of Madoff to 150 years in prison and the significance of giving him such a long sentence. Justice Chin also has three cases which were made into Law and Order SVU episodes, something I related with as I am an SVU addict. His speech was an amazing end to an incredible program, and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the 2013 Thurgood Marshall Summer Internship Program.
September 2013/Tishrei 5774
New Sephardic Minyan
Eddie Mattout ‘15
When asked what the first words that come to his mind when he hears the thought of Sephardic Minyan, Eytan Abergel ’15 described it as “fun, chill and a nice break from the long day.” This representation of Sephardic Minyan is shared among many students that partake in the minyan, as well those that do not. However, Sephardic Minyan has undergone a transformation, and is now better organized. Sephardi students entered davening to see an entirely new setup. With the aron moved to the other side of the minyan, more chairs were allowed to be placed in the room. The new setting arrangmenet created more space in between each seat, and it is harder for students to talk to one another. “I understand the reasoning behind the new arrangement. The noise level was really out of control last year, and I hope this can control the minyan a little bit better,” said Allie Haber ’15. In addition to the new arrangement, new siddurs were also introduced. In addition to the material changes, Sephardic minyan was also witness to many new faces this year. Perhaps the biggest change this year, is the change in leadership. Rabbi Yosef Albo, a new teacher at Ramaz, is the
new official head of the minyan this year. During the summer, students began receiving emails regarding the minyan, and the changes awaiting the coming year. Leadership positions were distributed, minyan rules were specified and a detailed time table of the time length of each prayer was sent out. Furthermore, each student filled out a questionnaire sharing their opinion on the minyan, and personal questions. Kids have also been getting more and more involved in the minyan. Henry Mosseri ’15 joked, “There have already been six or seven different shlaliach tziburs in the past week. That’s more than we’ve had since the minyan’s inception.” This year, I won’t be able to use Sephardic minyan as my excuse for all my latenesses,” said Aaron Cohen ’14. From first glance it seems that Sephardic minyan’s reputation for being laid-back is no longer applicable. “I am excited to see how this year’s Sephardic minyan will turn out” said Naomi Bouaziz ’15. “The minyan is doing great, and we are really getting everyone to participate in some way. I look forward to a great year with continued growth of the minyan,” concluded Rabbi Albo.
Are You in Dress Code?
Layla Malamut ‘14
At the end of last year, the Ramaz administration notified students and parents that the incoming year would observe a recommitment to the details of the school dress code, as part of the school’s mission and values. On August 28th, the first day of school, Mr. Miller sent out a follow up email to parents and students, expressing his frustration that many students were not attending the dress code. When asked about his motives behind sending this email, he said that, “I was very disappointed that after my initial email in July appealing to the student body in the sport of shared values, nothing happened and no one preserved the respect.” He reiterated the commitment to creating a respectful and dignified learning environment, and also thanked those who had cooperated with his urgings. Most importantly he advised that the procedures described in July would be followed. After experiencing the dress code reinforcement for themselves, however, many students openly voiced their opinions about the extent to and manner of enforcement. Naomi Bouaziz ’15 explained that, “I walked into school and the first thing that was said to me was ‘go upstairs and get a new skirt.’” Jordana Gurewitsch ‘15 elaborated on this point and described Ramaz as slowly “becoming a stern place, where students feel constantly watched and assessed by
the administration. It’s not just uncomfortable, but it’s also not helpful to the school’s environment.” Students clearly felt strongly about the manner in which the new enforcement was expressed in. “It’s not only the way in which we’re being skirted, but it’s also the ridiculous number of people that were being skirted in one day,” added Hannah Shams ‘14. There were those who had no problem with the dress code and in fact agreed with its reinforcement. Skyler Levine ’15 argued that “The administration’s actions are completely understandable, justifiable, and in tune with what we as Ramaz students stand for. It makes sense that in order to maintain an appropriate environment for learning, we need to be respectful and presentable in our appearance. Plus, unlike many other private schools, or even the Ramaz middle and lower schools, we don’t have that restrictive a dress code.” In light of this debate, Mr. Miller responded that “We aren't trying to throw everyone out when they reach the door; that would be dramatic. Nobody wants to be a policeman – that’s not right. We just want people to share the school’s values. It’s a whole different approach.”
September 2013/Tishrei 5774
A Summer of Total Immersion Andrew Lobel ‘15 “Live, Learn, Leap” is the motto of the Middlebury-Monterey Arabic Language Academy I attended this summer. It sounded great on their website, but I had no concept of what it would be like to immerse myself in another language until I lived it. For one month, I not only took daily classes, but also ate, played football, listened to music, joked with friends, visited museums, read the sports section, and lived out my entire life in Arabic. The Middlebury program is a total immersion program. Their official policy is for students to “stay in language 24/7.” So, on arrival at the Academy at the Pomona College campus in California, I had to sign the Language Pledge in which I agreed “to use Arabic as my only language of communication while attending the Academy.” By signing, I committed myself to speak only Arabic for an entire month. It also meant that I had to hand over my cell phone (no English music or phone calls allowed), magazines, and even my Ramaz required summer reading books. To be honest, at that moment, I questioned whether I was going to survive one day, let alone a full summer, totally disconnected from my friends, family and the world I knew. Yet I realized quickly that when you need to learn a language, you begin by learning the language you need. In class, which lasted about five
hours each day, we started by learning the basic words for eating, saying “I don’t understand”, “this is very hard”, and “how do you say this in Arabic?” That first week I experienced a lot of frustration and felt I was improving my sign language skills more than my Arabic skills. But by the second week, I was putting together sentences just by constantly having to communicate with people in and out
or echad in Hebrew) to name just a few. The best part of the summer wasn’t mastering a new language, but becoming friends with Arab-Americans who I never would have met otherwise. My closest friends were Basem, who was born in Ramallah and moved to the US when he was six, and Maysa, who lives in New Jersey and whose grandfather still keeps
of class. It was also a huge advantage to know Hebrew. While the written characters are totally different, the sentence structure is similar and there are many cognates between the two languages. A lot of the vocabulary is also remarkably similar: “ekol” (food or ochel in Hebrew), “zemen” (time or zman in Hebrew), “wahad” (one
his Palestinian citizenship papers from the early 1900s. Surprisingly, our conflicting views on Israel (or Palestine as they insist on calling it) brought us closer together, as we realized we shared a passion for politics and the future of the Middle East. While we disagreed on fundamental political issues, we commiserated about our
each having to fast—they, for Ramadan, and me for the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B’Av. For them, and most of the kids in the program, I was the first orthodox Jew they had ever met and I found myself facing a never-ending barrage of questions. One friend’s mother, on finding out he had met an orthodox Jew, insisted he ask me what the Sabbath button on her oven was for! I originally decided to learn Arabic because I thought it was important as an American and as a Jew to understand what Arabs were saying amongst themselves. But I ended up learning some more important lessons. First, that learning a language is a lot more than just conjugating verbs; it is about discovering an entire culture and creating relationships using the language as a common bond. Most importantly, the experience helped me to see Arabs not just as Arabs but as friends—who like me, enjoy music and sports, are equally stressed about their schoolwork, and are passionate about issues in the Middle East. Now that I have a foundation in Arabic, I still want to gain a better understanding of what Arabs are saying with respect to Israel, just as I originally planned. But I also hope I can be a more effective communicator, not only because I speak their language, but also because I know that I can build relationships based on the things we share.
Bienvenidos a Argentina Alex Ratzker ‘14 This past summer I decided to brave the cold weather and travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina for a five-week internship. Having spent the last eight summers in Camp Seneca Lake, I knew that the trip I was about to embark on would be unlike any I had previously experienced. After all, I was a seventeen year old girl traveling alone to a foreign Spanish-speaking country to work for a software company, whose technology I was not familiar with, and to live with an indigenous family, who I had never before met. I was certainly taking a risk. Now you might be wondering: what would possess me to go to Buenos Aires and what kind of parents would allow their teenage daughter to set out on such an unconventional trip alone? Well, I can only answer that question for myself. Throughout the school year, I was so wrapped up in the craziness of eleventh grade that when the opportunity to go to Argentina presented itself, I just took it. That said, I think I only began to consider the challenges that I might face after I had arrived in Ministro Pistarini International Airport also known as Ezeiza. I had plenty of time to think as I sat at baggage claim waiting for the airport employees to stop striking so that I could collect my suitcase. Later that day, I arrived at my host family’s apartment in Belgrano, a northern neighbor-
hood in Buenos Aires riddled with embassies. There I met Ariana and Daniel and their four daughters. I too come from a family of four girls, all very near in age, and thus my close bond with the girls developed naturally. To say that my hosts were amazing would not do them justice. Not only did they open up their home to me, but their lives as well. They took me to their family barbeques and introduced me to their nieces and nephews, who became my close friends. During the first few weeks of my stay in Argentina, I was in a state of perpetual cultural shock. I knew that I had to acclimate quickly, but I could not even understand the language. I had studied Spanish for three years in high school, but that was the Spanish of Spain, not Argentina. In Argentina, I found that the accent was very different from what I was used to. Additionally, some of my basic Spanish vocabulary was rendered obsolete, and the way I conjugated specific verbs had to be altered in order to fit the vernacular. It did not help that native Argentines speak rapid Castellano and rely heavily on slang. But as the days progressed, I slowly started to comprehend. I soon learned that when you meet someone for the first time or simply want to greet a friend, you are expected to give that person a kiss on the cheek. I was introduced to dulce de
leche alfajores, chocolate bona-bons, and the immensely popular yerba mate. I refrained from paying by credit card or changing money in local banks because the official exchange rate was five pesos to one dollar, but the “real” exchange rate was eight pesos to one dollar. Though this summer I did not celebrate the Fourth of July, I did have the opportunity to enjoy Argentinian Independence Day, Nueve de Julio. Although there were not any barbeques or fireworks, July 9th was a day off from work, which I enjoyed shopping. As for my working experience in Buenos Aires, I was involved in the Human Resources and Quality Management Departments at Soft Office. My hours were limited to afternoons since I did not have a working visa. Every day I took a twenty-five minute subway from Belgrano to the center of the city, at which point I walked for twenty minutes on La Avenida Florida, a pedestrian walkway, to my office building. Initially, I was assigned typical intern work like plugging in employee information onto online databases. I then had to make a power point, displaying the average ratings of employees for their specific tasks. The third week of my stay in Argentina, my host family went away for their winter vacation. I stayed at the nearby Jewish Youth Hostel, which was owned by their extended family.
Though I missed them, I did not mind staying at the hostel. That weekend there was a B’Nei Akiva Shabbaton at the hostel, so I ended up speaking more Hebrew than Spanish. The fourth week, my parents came to visit me. Before they left New Jersey, I instructed them to leave behind any flashy watches or bags and to be careful with large cameras. They jokingly remarked that they were happy they had sent me to such a safe city, although I could tell that they were genuinely nervous. We enjoyed touring the city, and taking in Othello at the world-renowned Teatro Colon. We visited La Casa Rosada, The Pink House, where previous presidents lived and current presidents work. We also went to a tango show, a street fair in San Telmo, Cementerio Recoleta, and the shops in Palermo Soho. Once my parents left, I went back to my host family’s apartment. Although I did not necessarily accomplish what I originally set out to, which was to achieve a high level of fluency in Spanish, I could not have asked for a better summer experience. I now have an understanding of what it really means to live abroad and to become completely immersed in a new culture. While I am still unsure why my parents allowed me to go to Argentina alone, I am certainly glad they did.
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The next morning we woke up early and our host family drove us to our sports venue. I played two tennis matches between eight o clock and ten o’clock. My results from these matches determined where I would be in the seeding. After I finished my matches I took a bus to the main JCC building, where I ate lunch and watched many great games including basketball, soccer, and lacrosse. The participants were so talented! That night there was a barbeque on the beach, which was another really fun bonding opportunity to make new friends. I became friendly with a lot of the other tennis players from San Diego, Washington, Virginia, Orange County, Detroit, and even New York City. I also hung out with the other Ramaz students who participated: Gabe Low ’15, Gabe Roth ’15, Alex Agus ’15, Jack Tauber ’15, and Sammy Merkin ’15. The following day also consisted of tennis in the morning and other games in the afternoon. That night the event was at an arcade. We had the option of bowling, minigolf, laser tag, or arcade games. The next day the playoffs of the competition began. We were put into brackets based on our ranking. After a full day of competeting, everyone got ready for the closing ceremony. There were tons of carnival rides, a lot of food, and many people dancing on the dance floor. It was a very fun night, and I was so happy to share it with my new friends. I was having so much fun at the closing ceremony that I didn’t have the chance to think about how sad I was that I would not see my new friends for a while. Before we all left the ceremony, we made promises to keep in touch throughout the school year. As I was flying back to New York, I was saddened that this great experience was over. I was also happy though, because I realized how amazing it is that Jewish people live all over America and everyone has their own special talent. I liked the fact that I did not play a team sport because since I was not part of a team, I found a group of friends I did not know before. I am very thankful for my experience at the Maccabi Games.
CLASS ROSTER - NEW TEACHERS 2013 Rabbi Joseph Albo Talmud
First impression of Ramaz: Invigorating and exciting! Hometown: Born in Israel, moved to the Dominican Republic, and then to Brooklyn Favorite t.v. show: Sherlock Holmes HBO Series Favorite song: Concrete Jungleby Bob Marley Favorite food: Cheesecake Favorite place: Israel
Mr. Mario Alvarez French
First impression of Ramaz: I was really impressed with the students. Hometown: Tolouse, France. Favorite t.v. show: Glee and The Killing Favorite song: Heroes by David Bowie Favorite food: All mediterranean food! Favorite place: New York because I just moved here!
Ms. Zaida Corniel Spanish
First impression of Ramaz: I felt a sense of community, and saw kids eager to learn! Hometown: Salcedo, a province in the north region of the Dominican Republic Favorite t.v. show: I donâ€™t watch TV! Favorite song: Imagine by the Beatles Favorite food: Sancocho, a Dominian Stew Favorite place: New York City
Ms. Ayelet Dor Hebrew
First impression of Ramaz: It was very quiet and everyone was very nice. Hometown: Petach Tikveh, Israel Favorite t.v. show: Sherlock Holmes HBO Series Favorite song: Yerushalyim Shel Zahav by Ofra Haza Favorite food: Salad Favorite place: Jerusalem
Ms. Ilana Gadish Tanach/Talmud
First impression of Ramaz: A place with a lot of great energy! Hometown: Miami Favorite t.v. show: Mad Men Favorite song: What Does the Fox Say by Ylvis Favorite food: Steak Favorite place: The beach
September 2013/Tishrei 5774
Rabbi Ruben Gober Talmud
First impression of Ramaz: A serious but friendly place Hometown: Long Beach, Long Island Favorite t.v. show: Since House, I haven’t found a new favorite Favorite song: Don’t have one! Favorite food: Steak Favorite place: Yeshiva
Ms. Elianna Mitnick Torah
First impression of Ramaz: I was nervous that coming back to some of the teachers that I had would be strange...But everything is great! Hometown: Manhattan, New York Favorite t.v. show: Chopped Favorite song: Holy Grail...the clean version! Favorite food: Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Favorite place: Steamboat, Colorado
Ms. Audrey Nasar Math
First impression of Ramaz: It reminded me of my high school years Hometown: Long Branch, New Jersey Favorite t.v. show: Don’t have one... I don’t really watch t.v. Favorite song: Hyperballad by Bj örk Favorite food: Avocado Favorite place: Portugal
Rabbi Dov Pianko Student Activities
First impression of Ramaz: A little bit overwhelming! Hometown: Woodmere, Long Island Favorite t.v. show: Suits Favorite song: Free Will by Rush Favorite food: Steak Favorite place: Ma’arat HaMachpela
Ms. Sarah Rosenberg French and Spanish
First impression of Ramaz: Friendly people! Hometown: I grew up in Massachusetts Favorite t.v. show: Downton Abbey and the Big Bang Theory Favorite song: You’re My Home by BillyJoel Favorite food: Freshly baked bread Favorite place: I have too many!
Continued on back page
September 2013/Tishrei 5774
Freshman Orientation Sydney Sarachek ’14 On August 27th 2013, a stream of anxious freshmen flooded the Upper School lobby, eager to embark on their high school journeys. Though many students felt aggravated that school was beginning in August, these feelings quickly subsided, as a group of select individuals became the Class of 2018. The day began with davening followed by speeches from Anna Cappell ’14 and Teddy Tuckman ’14, co-heads of the senior adviser program. Their speeches set the tone for the exciting programming of the day as well as the next four years. After Ms. Benel informed the freshmen and senior advisers of the day’s schedule, students headed up to breakfast on the terrace. In the past years, after davening, the freshmen and senior advisers would pile into yellow school buses and head to Asphalt Green, where freshmen and senior advisers alike participated in different ice breakers. One of the benefits of going to Asphalt Green was that the freshmen always had the opportunity to become comfortable with one another and make friends without being in a rigid school setting. Also, because the weather is still nice out, Asphalt Green’s outdoor fields have been the perfect setting. However, this year, because orientation was before
labor day, Asphalt Green was not available to let us use their space. Ms. Benel made the best out of the space we have at Ramaz in order to provide the freshmen with the same opportunity past grades have had at Asphalt Green. The au-
not use Asphalt Green’s facilities. However, I realized if the spirit and dedication are there, and the seniors want to make it work, it’s the people. It’s the passion. The smiles. And the seniors did a great job,” shared Ms. Benel.
fun and forced us to introduce ourselves to people we didn’t know before,” said Sam Reich ’17. After a morning of running around and playing every icebreaker game possible, the freshmen had the opportunity
ditorium and many classrooms were completely cleared out of chairs and desks and filled with team building games. “Initially, I was very upset that we could
Students participated in bonding activities such as grade-wide rock paper scissors, and got to know their new classmates. “The games were
to sit back, relax, and talk to the seniors and teachers. The students then split into their advisory groups, and received their schedules and lockers. Following
the advisory sessions, the boys divided into groups where they had the chance to ask their male senior advisers questions, and the girls all headed to rooms 303-304 to watch “Fashion on 78th Street,” a Ramaz fashion show put together by the senior advisers. The girls modeled different “looks of Ramaz” including an average day at Ramaz, pink day, battle of the grades, shabbatonim, Ramaz spirit, Ramaz athletics, and many other Ramaz looks. “I took one for the team and dressed up as the ram, and it was so funny. We all had a great time dressing up and putting on a fashion show for the new freshmen” said senior adviser Samantha Adler ’14. The day concluded with Sam Feldstein, G.O. President, addressing the new lowerclassmen. The freshmen were presented with a gift package including Ramaz for Freshies, the GO planners, maps of New York City, and precious locker ladders. Arielle Alcobi ’17 said, “I’m really looking forward to the rest of my Ramaz experience!”
Should Senior Advising Be A Temporary Job?
Sydney Sarachek ’14 Every ninth grader is assigned a senior advisor upon entering Ramaz. In May, seniors are given the opportunity to apply to become an adviser. The seniors who are chosen must attend a training session a week before orientation so that they will be ready to work with the freshmen. These seniors call the freshmen before orientation, and participate in team building activities with the freshmen at orientation. Throughout the day, senior advisers answer questions for freshmen, and inter-grade friendships begin to develop. However, once school starts, the extent of many of these relationships becomes an intermittent “hello” hall way. Besides freshman orientation, there is no structured programming for senior advisors to spend time and talk with their freshman advisees. Only a handful of the senior advisors attend Freshman Shabbaton in November. Throughout the freshman’s first few months at Ramaz, advisory schedules are carried out in order for the freshmen to meet with their assigned teacher adviser. However, the senior advisers are not present at any of these meetings. If the point of advisory is for the freshmen to be able to feel at home in their first few months of school, shouldn’t the seniors be there too? After all, the best advice a freshman could receive would probably be from a student who has already completed three years of Ramaz, and knows the ropes
of the school. Yes, the seniors could give the freshmen this advice even if it is not in an advisory setting. After orientation, it is up to the seniors to keep in contact with their advisees, and it is up to them what they make of the relationship. However, because the adviser system is not enforced with programming, seniors often lose touch with their advisees. Freshmen only had one day to get to know the seniors, and therefore some feel uncomfortable approaching them with questions or problems. It is a mutually flawed system, as the seniors don’t want to bother the freshmen when they see them in the lounge hanging out with their new friends, and the freshmen don’t want to bother the se-
niors when they are with other intimidating upperclassmen. Ms. Benel runs an incredible freshman orientation program. The amount of time she puts into the program is remarkable, as she pays attention to every minor detail in order to ensure that the freshmen feel like they belong at Ramaz. Way before the past school year ended, she began helping the seniors prepare to be the best possible mentors for the freshmen, and organize a day where the freshmen can learn about the ins and outs of the school from their seniors. All of this hard work should not be undone after orientation is over. It would be beneficial for the freshmen to have more programming with the seniors as the school year progresses. Perhaps the senior
advisers should attend the freshman day out, have the chance to take their advisees to the park one day, or even just lead an advisory meeting once in a while. Teachers cannot help the freshmen with all of their problems, and it would be beneficial for the freshmen if the seniors maintained close relationships with them throughout their first year at Ramaz so they could help them, advise them, and most importantly become friends with them.
September 2013/Tishrei 5774
The RamPage Arts
It was a Good Summer for New York Hip Hop
Zev Prince ’14
The summer of 2013 was huge New York City’s up and coming Hip-Hop scene. Over the last two years New York has been experiencing a revival of NYC’s 90 Rap era known as the “golden ages.” Ever since Rakim, The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls), 50 Cent, and Jay Z, Hip-Hop has mostly been dominated by rappers based out of either the west coast or the south. Hip-Hop, as a genre, evolved from a strong focus on the lyrical word play and content to being dominated by a larger concentration on the catchiness of the songs. In addition, many artists were insular and unwilling to unify. But recently, New York City Hip-Hop has started to return to it’s prime through the emergence of young artists like Joey Bada$$, A$AP Rocky, and more. This past summer there was no shortage of material from the Beastcoast scene. The Beastcoast is a term coined by Brooklyn’s own Joey Bada$$ and the rap collective he’s part of, Pro Era (Progressive Era). In the middle of July, Joey released his second full-length project titled Summer Knights. Bada$$ was seventeen years old when he released his first project, 1999, and now as an eighteen year old we see a much different Joey. One of the biggest differences between the two tapes is Joey’s voice; what was once a soft, smoothly flowing voice has turned into the deeper, raspy voice that we see on Summer Knights. With this new voice it appears as if the Brooklyn spitter has a lot more hunger in him; he wants the throne. Summer Knights features seventeen tracks, all with original production, as opposed to 1999’s pre-used instrumentals. Joey has a small knit network
Style Watch: Back to School Eliana Doft ‘16
of in house producers that he tends to use. Pro Era members Chuck Strangers and Kirk Knight and Lee Bannon produced most of the beats. Besides his go-to producers, Joey also called upon two legends for the album; The Alchemist and DJ Premier. Overall, Summer Knights was a nice addition to Joey’s catalog. However, Joey’s next project is what everybody should be looking forward to; his debut studio album. Another project released this summer was a 9-track EP,
titled Lords Of Flatbush, from the Flatbush duo The Underachievers. Just as Summer Knights differed from 1999, so too did Lords of Flatbush from the Underachievers’ first project, Indigoism. While Indigoism featured a 90’s vintage feel mixed with a bit of space-rap, Lords Of Flatbush mostly contains trap beats (Hip-Hop instrumentals with rapid snares and high hats and strong sub-bass) with a little bit of the trippy feel of Indigoism. The man behind the change of aesthetics is world famous HipHop producer Lex Luger (Hard in the Paint, H.A.M., and B.M.F.).
The decision to work with Luger was definitely a risk for U.A. because their fans could have been upset with the change of style. I believe the decision was a good one because it gave the Flatbush duo a chance to show their musical range to future producers, and also give their music a broader appeal. One thing is for sure though; Lords Of Flatbush is a performers dream. The project’s instrumentals make for an intense live experience. Despite Luger’s majority stake in the production, Eff Dope (New York City based production trio) and Erick Arc Elliot, member and producer of The Flatbush Zombies, produced the last two records of the project. On these two records The Underachievers went back to their true form. One of the summers most exciting projects was The Flatbush Zombies’s Better Off Dead. When the tape finally went live on the Zombies’ website, TheGloriousDead. com, the site crashed due to an overload of Internet traffic. From a production standpoint, Better Off Dead was my clear favorite out of the three releases from the Beastcoast members. Zombie member Erick Arc Elliott produced most of Better Off Dead. The only other two producers were Harry Fraud and Obey City. Elliott created The Flatbush Zombie’s sound. His instrumentals feature lo-fi synths, which play in with the dark and scary zombie theme, as well as extremely hard-hitting sounds. Erick also has a true knack for manipulating the frequencies on any beat he creates, playing mind games on the listener. Be sure to check out each of these three projects and support your local artists.
As school begins, not only do Ramaz students feel the pressure of their expanding workloads, they also feel the pressure of expanding their wardrobes. However, shopping and trend spotting is an activity most Ramaz students love. So what should shoppers be on the lookout for this season? Rebecca Schwartz ’16, predicts, “It seems like booties will be really in style this upcoming fall.” Teen Vogue recommends oxfords shoes, pink as the color of choice, biker jackets, and luckily for the Ramaz boys, cardigans. D.J. Presser ’16 is most looking forward to wearing his new light green hued pants. After attending New York Fashion Week, Sonia Dushey ’17 noticed, “there were a lot of plaid designs in
the collections, which should be very in this season.” Another attendee, Michaela Moinian ’16, recounts, “I noticed that many designers took a minimalistic approach to their collections.” To get these looks for less, Gabriel Zimbler ’16, recommends shopping at Uniqlo because, “it’s relatively cheap, and the quality is amazing. Sort of like if H&M had done it right.” Although these new looks might seem exciting, keep in mind Ramaz’s “commitment to creating and maintaining a respectful and dignified environment appropriate for learning and transmitting appropriate values.” And be sure to pull down your skirts and tuck in your shirts.
THE PERFECT BOOTIE Aysia Boot, $149.95. Available at Steve Madden.
ROCKING THE PLAID Round Neck Checked Shirt, $39.90. Available at Zara.
CLASSY OXFORDS Men’s Suede Oxford Shoe, $79.90. Available at Zara.
CASHMERE CARDI Cashmere V Neck Cardigan, $99.90. Available at Uniqlo.
Movie Review: The Butler Alex Ratzker ‘14 Lee Daniels’ The Butler was inspired by the true story of Eugene Allen, who served as a White House Butler for over thirty years, spanning from Truman’s administration to Reagan’s. Featuring Forest Whitaker as the butler, Cecil Gaines, the film depicts Gaines’ ascendance from a southern cotton field to the White House. Throughout his tenure as Chief White House Butler, Gaines serves eight United States’ Presidents and their families. He is present during momentous and trying time periods in American history such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. When the film begins, the plantation master rapes Cecil’s mother and then kills his father as the young Cecil bears witness. Shortly before his death, Cecil’s father urges
him to realize, “It’s his [referring to the white man’s] world, you’re just living in it.” Cecil internalizes his father’s words and works his way up through the ranks of domestic service. However, Cecil’s eldest son is unable to accept his place in the white man’s world and becomes active in civil rights groups. Much to Cecil and his wife, Gloria’s chagrin, their eldest son participates in the freedom rides and temporarily joins the militant Black Panthers. Commenting on the film, Dan Korff-Korn ’14 said; “I was not impressed with The
Butler because I believe it completely oversimplified the Civil Rights Movement. It put the years between John F. Ken-
nedy’s presidency and Ronald Reagan’s presidency into one, general context. In reality,
that time period was quite diverse. Additionally, while Forest Whitaker is a talented actor, his character was not directly involved in the Civil Rights Movement and as such the movement was somewhat glossed over. Because Cecil’s son, who was involved in the movement, was not a main character, his role and experiences in the Civil Rights Movement were too generalized and lacked much specificity. I also didn’t find Oprah Winfrey, who played Cecil’s wife Gloria, to be a pleasing actress, but that’s a whole other story.” While I think that those who criticize the film strictly
from a historical point-of-view may be justified, I would argue that the purpose of the film was not to relay the broader history of a time period. Rather, I believe that this movie was created to tell the incredible tale of one man’s journey through segregated America from the depths of slavery to the White House capital. Though a bit lengthy at times, the film succeeds in portraying how the changes brought about by the civil rights movement directly impacted Cecil’s life. From his beginnings as a slave, to his role as a butler and then an invited guest to a White House dinner, Cecil ultimately witnesses the historical election of the first African-American president, Barack Obama.
Boys’ Varsity Basketball Hopes to Win the Ship
Russell Oppenheim ’14
Coming off of a tough loss Grade), Adam Bandler (11th ers such as captain Natan in the championship game Grade), and Gabe Roth (11th Tauber (12th Grade) cannot last season, the Ramaz VarGrade), the team seems ready help but think about last year’s sity Basketball team comes to make a legitimate title run. championship game. As he put into the 2013-2014 season As veteran forward Bennett it, “we have had high expecwith very high expectations. Epstein (12th Grade) put it, “we tations since freshman year, Led by captains Natan Tauber were a young team last year and through the loss we were (12th Grade), Daniel Berg (12th and we were very successful hungry to come back stronger, Grade), and Jamie Cappell for the most part. This season in order to bring the champi(12th Grade), the team begins we retained the core of our onship back home. Regardless the season in hopes of of a disappointing winning its first chamfinals loss last year, I pionship in four years. think that the present The high expectaseniors were able to tions for the class of build lots of chemistry 2014 basketball team during their playing began in their freshtime together last seaman year. Through son”. Through all of the bringing in skillful playpredictions and expecers from the Moriah tations, captain Daniel Middle School and the Berg (12th Grade) eighth grade basketknows that “nothing is ball champion Ramaz guaranteed and we Middle School, the have to work hard if we Ramaz class of 2014 want to win”. was believed to have The Varsity Basketthe best overall talent ball team will play its in the Yeshiva League first game together in among that age group. the Magen David High However, the grade School Basketball Tourhas yet to deliver nament against North Natan Tauber ’14 and Jamie Cappell ’14, two of the any Yeshiva League Shore on October 15, three boys’ varsity basketball team captains, are championships. This with the regular season pictured above. The third captain, Daniel Berg ’14, is could be attributed to home opener coming not pictured. All three seniors have been playing on the fact that the full soon after. Ramaz fans varisty since they were in tenth grade. grade has yet to play should be exited for together as the oldest players starters from last year, and the season, as the players are on the team, as all three capwith a deep team with many ready to live up to expectation. tains played on Varsity during guys who can contribute, our As captain Jamie Cappell (12th their sophomore years. Now goal is a championship. Fans Grade) put it, “I think that we together in the grade’s senior should expect big things from are going to be very good”. year with the addition of skilled Ramtape this season”. juniors such as Sammy Merkin Despite all of the hype for (11th Grade), Jack Tauber (11th this year’s season, past play-
September 2013/Tishrei 5774
Sign up for Rampage at the upcoming Club Fair on Thursday, October 10! Also, attend our meetings Thursdays at 5:00 P.M. in room 604!
New Teachers Continued from pages 4-5
Mr. Kyle Greene Math/Computer Science First impression of Ramaz: There are so many floors! Hometown: Detroit Favorite t.v. show: The Office Favorite song: Cult of Personality by Living Colour Favorite food: Macaroni and Cheese Favorite place: Australia
Ms. Cheryl Feldman Health First impression of Ramaz: The students are very polite! Hometown: Massapequa, Long Island Favorite t.v. show: Elementary Favorite song: Remedy by Seether
The RamPage Editorial Staff Editors-in-Chief Zach Klein Alex Ratzker Sydney Sarachek
Favorite food: Pizza Favorite place: Florida
Mr. Fabio Nironi Math Hometown: Italy Favorite t.v. show: Avatar: The Last Airbender Favorite song: I have so many favorites! Favorite food: Pizza
Associate Editor Layla Malamut
Jen Mammon Ariella Shochet
Esti Flamenbaum First impression of Ramaz: It’s a very nice school!
News Editor Zimi Sloyer
Opinions Editor Noah David
Favorite place: My home
Sports Editor Russell Oppenheim
Skyler Levine Andrew Lobel Eddie Mattout
Faculty Advisor Dr. Steven Milowitz
Published on Dec 25, 2013