Official Newspaper of SAR High School
June 2013 — Vol. 8, No. 8
Student Government Tension Evaluating the Progress of the New Student Council
By Hilla Katz
Ricki’s Rant Page 2
Every year, when Student Government elections roll around, many of the same conversations circulate among the student body as they sign hundreds of sheets for hopeful candidates. No matter what empty promises candidates made, the expectation was that they would be left unfulfilled. This year, there was an attempted reform of Student Government that replaced every aspect of the old system. Yet the new Student Council has not utilized all these changes, and some may even be adding to the gridlock. Zachary Nelkin (‘13) decided to take an active role and change the nature of Student Government by writing a new charter for it. Instead of having individuals run for president, vice president, and secretary, students could create a slate of ten people running on a specific platform. Then, the students vote for slates, which receive seats based on how many votes they receive. The
goal of this charter was “to make the Stu-
Student Council meeting in session
dent Government act as a vehicle of participatory democracy and not as a body committed to the ‘lets pretend’ theory of student activism,” says Nelkin. “The reason I felt it necessary to reform the electoral system was that plurality elections are incapable of accurately representing the views of a group. They ‘waste’ so many votes that it is easy
for a small group to dominate, while at the same time making it harder for women and underclassmen to be elected. Proportional Representation, on the other hand, ‘wastes’ no votes; it counts every vote equally and ensures everybody representation.” Though Student Government was revamped to help increase its productivity, the newly elected Student Council is already beginning to see some flaws in the system. Gavriel Steinmetz-Silber (‘14), Speaker of the Council, describes the dysfunction of Student Government meetings by saying that “These meetings have gone from very good to pretty bad. I remember one meeting where we really raised a lot of great ideas and everyone was respectful when others were talking. However, in a recent meeting, everyone was interrupting each other.” He elaborates: “It is easy to get small things done, such as agreeing on small things to raise to the Administration. However, anyContinued on page 14
So You Want To Be An SAR Teacher? From Riverdale to Boca Raton Page 3
Safety First Page 6
The Faculty Hiring Process
By Olivia Rosenzweig As the school year winds to a close and a number of faculty members pass through SAR’s doors for the last time, the administration faces the daunting task of hiring new teachers for next year. Hiring a new teacher seems like a relatively straightforward task that simply involves hiring the candidate most qualified for the job. However, evaluating a person’s skill isn’t always so easy. It is difficult to predict how a potential candidate will act in front of an actual class in the fall from only an interview and a model lesson. But the SAR administration does try to make the best evaluation possible. Although SAR is no longer looking to expand its faculty, the school still must hire about six to eight teachers a year to replace those that have left, according to Rabbi Harcsztark. Reviewing potential candidates is the responsibility of a number of different faculty members. “When the school was smaller I was much more personally involved in [the process],” recalls Rabbi Harcsztark. “But
now that [SAR] is larger, the directors of Judaic Studies and General Studies are primar-
ily responsible for the hiring.” Rabbi Kroll, Dr. Shinar, and Ms. Schlaff work with the various department heads and curriculum coordinators in the school, and together they set up interviews and gather resumes.
“My first role is as gatekeeper,” explains Mr. Krausz, the head of the math department. He elaborates: “I look through resumes, and call candidates [who] seem qualified. Then, if the conversation goes well, I invite them to come in for a model lesson and interview that Dr. Shinar and I observe and conduct. Dr. Shinar and I then discuss the candidate. We usually agree in our estimations.” Like any institution, SAR has certain criteria for its faculty members. Rabbi Harcsztark pinpoints three major requirements: an ability to teach with compassion, a love of kids and ability to care about them holistically, and, lastly, a willingness to work with other staff members. He points out that though these criteria “sound obvious, you sometimes see people with great degrees and great personalities,” but they still might not fit all of these standards. “There are some people who go into to teaching because they really love what they teach, but they don’t necessarily love kids that much, and there Continued on page 13
The Buzz, June 2013
What Does By Ricki Heicklen
At the beginning of Sefer Devarim, Moshe Rabeinu addresses the nation and begins to retell their experiences in the desert, beginning with his idea to appoint judges over the people. He relates how he had humbly acknowledged that he alone cannot judge them all, and created a system in which bracketed shoftim will hear and judge cases, with only the most difficult ones coming to him. In his retelling of the story, Moshe omits a major detail: the new system was Yitro’s idea, not his. When my Tanach class learned this story at the beginning of the school year, we were very confused. How could Moshe Rabeinu, the most humble man to ever walk the face of the earth, take credit for someone else’s idea? So, in typical SAR style, we brainstormed different ideas, learned through several mepharshim, made yitronot and chesronot charts, and moved on, leaving the question open-ended. One of the mepharshim’s approaches
Advice Editorial Column
stuck with me, though. The Ramban explains that the reason Moshe did not give credit to his brother-in-law is because Moshe was being humble on Yitro’s behalf. I found this reasoning baffling. How can you be humble on someone else’s behalf? Isn’t that just stealing attention for yourself? It sounded like a poor cop-out by the Ramban to protect Moshe’s idealized humility. This explanation didn’t start making sense to me until a few months later. A good and very humble friend of mine had said something quoteworthy, and, as I often do, I decided to quote it on Facebook. As I typed up the quote, I began to write his name at the bottom, and then stopped myself. It wasn’t my usual plagiarism-tempted instinct that held me back from giving him credit; rather, knowing my friend, I believed he genuinely wouldn’t want me to draw attention to him for thinking of this quip. And not because he was embarrassed, or shy. It was more a sense that if I were to publicly quote him on the line,
I’d somehow be making him less humble. (Asking him if he wanted recognition was out of the question--he would say no in a heartbeat.) Ramban’s logic suddenly made a lot more sense to me. But there was still something confusing about how to post the comment. Do I post the comment under my name, and risk literary theft, dishonesty, and failing to recognize his thoughtful one-liner for whose it truly was? Do I give my friend credit, and somehow detract from his humility? Does that even make any sense? It sounds a lot like a cop-out for me to get credit for the line. I ended up just deleting the post entirely (a rare move by someone who will do anything for Facebook likes). Rabbi Harcsztark spoke to the 11th grade a few weeks ago about the importance of tzniut (modesty). Halfway through, he found himself at a loss for words, and sat down to answer questions from the grade instead of continuing to speak. There’s something about this that
communicated a much more profound message about tzniut than anything he could have said. Through not being able to speak, and making space for us to speak in his place, he conveyed both the importance of listening and of recognizing our own limitations. Of course, this message was only able to be successfully conveyed because he choked up by accident. Had he intended to do so, the message would have been self-defeating. (I’m sure his silence has many more layers of significance, but this is what I’ve thought through so far.) A week later, he emailed a message to the grade conveying his thoughts on the topic. He articulated that tzniut is about taking yourself out of the center, listening to others, and working towards a bigger picture than what will only benefit oneself. Modern society, such as the internet and social media, teach us to showcase our talents and always work to impress others. The College Admissions process gives Continued on page 15
Farwell From Your Editors STAFF Editors in Chief Ricki Heicklen Judith Kepecs Danielle Pitkoff Layout Editors Rose Frankel Harry Varon Associate Editor Anna Ballan Features Editors Hilla Katz Miriam Lichtenberg Rebecca Siegel Editor-at-Large Avidan Grossman Copy Editor Zachary Nelkin Online Editors Chanan Heisler Shalhevet Schwartz Photography Editor Andrew Frenkel Research Manager Elana Rosenthal Faculty Advisor Dr. Rivka P. Schwartz Faculty Supervisor Rabbi Jonathan Kroll
We began the year by presenting to you The Buzz 2.0, an outline of new changes and goals we had for The Buzz this year. It included a range of things from more features pages, a sports column, a new online website, and even a shift in the way we run meetings and write our articles. We worked especially hard to live up to one specific goal set in The Buzz 2.0: Allowing ourselves to cover articles that don’t necessarily fall directly within the scope of SAR happenings, but are nevertheless relevant to the SAR body. By including articles that cover topics ranging from female gemara teachers to Uri L’tzedek/Tav Hayosher, which you can find on page 3 of this issue, we have tried to broaden our spectrum of “news.” Thanks to our incredible Buzz staff, this year has really seen a Buzz 2.0. The feedback has been outstanding, and we are so happy to know that you have enjoyed, laughed, and maybe even cried at some of our issues in Volume Eight of The Buzz this year. For Volume Nine of The Buzz to be published in the 2013-2014 school year, we are excited to have Ricki Heicklen (‘14) returning as Co-Editors-in-Chief with Shalhevet Schwartz (‘15). Shalhevet’s hard work as Online Editor and our talented emergency Copy Editor really demonstrated her talent and fitness for the job. Thank you Ricki for being such a great Co-Editor in Chief, we will miss working with you! Anna Ballan (‘14) will continue working with them on the editorial staff along with Hilla Katz (‘14), as our new team of Associate Editors. They have both done a superb job as both writers and editors, and we have confidence that they will continue to excel as they work as a team next year. Thank you to our extremely dedicated Buzz staff. Your contributions to The Buzz are indispensable. We apologize for sending you so many emails, making you write articles even
when you had five exams the next week, and for always sending you stern emails to scare you into submitting your articles on time. We know you will dearly miss working for The Buzz over the summer. To our Layout Editors, Rose Frankel (‘15) and Harry Varon (‘14): You are true superheroes. Everything from your complete dedication, to your willingness to work far into the night, even until 2 AM, to get the newspaper ready for print, we could not have done it without you. We apologize for all the class you’ve missed, all the sleep you were deprived of, and all the schoolwork you’ve had to put aside to work on The Buzz. Next year’s editors could not be happier to have you on The Buzz team again. To Miriam Lichtenberg (‘14), Rebecca Siegel (‘14), and Avidan Grossman (‘14): Thank you for all your hard work as editors of The Buzz. We are excited to have Miriam and Rebecca work as News Editors next year along with Samantha Schnall (‘14). Through Samantha’s tremendous commitment and quality work for The Buzz she distinguished herself as a clear choice for the position. We are also excited to, for the first time, have an editor who will work strictly on perfecting our features page, making it the best it can be. Through Avidan’s humorous columns, which were, by far, the most entertaining articles in the entire newspaper, he demonstrated that he not only has an exceptional talent for writing, but can easily get a job as a Comedy Club Host as well. We are confident that, combined with Avidan’s humorous “touch”, the features page will have all The Buzz’s readers laughing in seconds. We also want to wish Chanan Heisler (‘13) all the best in his future of writing for the Pop Culture Grid. As an online editor, writer, and chief of PCG, Chanan is, by far, one of the most well-rounded members of The Buzz, and will definitely be missed. Though you may have come across some
grammatical mistakes while reading The Buzz this year, we want to let you know that these were often last minute articles that we did not have a chance to run by our incredible Copy Editor, Zachary Nelkin (‘13). We are sure you never spotted an error in the articles placed in Zach’s, and sometimes Shalhevet’s, hands. We are excited to have Deena Nerwen (‘15) take over the role of Copy Editor for next year. Deena has a great eye for spotting grammatical and English usage errors, and we are sure she will help The Buzz reach true grammatical and English usage perfection next year. Additionally, our publication would not be as visually appealing without the help of our Photography Editor Andrew Frankel (‘14), who will continue to be the “man with the camera” next year as well. Toba Stern (‘15) will become next year’s Business Manager, and we are excited to welcome Olivia Rosenzweig (‘14) to be our first ever Website Manager. Finally, we would like to thank all of SAR’s administrators who are so involved in The Buzz. Thank you Dr. Schwartz for all your help as our Faculty Advisor. Thank you Rabbi Harcsztark for allowing us to maintain a publication where students can freely express their thoughts. And last, but definitely not least, a tremendous thank you to Rabbi Kroll for all his hard work as the only faculty member to read and give us feedback on every Buzz article before it is published. If we give him articles to read two hours before we need to take The Buzz to the printer, he will read them. He will read and “censor” our articles at all times, whether it is 1 AM or 7 AM, even when he is on a flight back from Costa Rica (yes, that did happen). Rabbi Kroll is definitely one of the most dedicated members of The Buzz team, and he will be missed, both on The Buzz team and within the school building.
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice School Column Life
Do YOU Support the Tav?
exploring ethics and eating at sar By Deena Nerwen Ask a typical Jew about Judaism’s requirements for food, and you’ll probably get a simple answer: “All my food needs to have is a hechsher. Kosher is kosher, right?” What they don’t realize is that this notion is, in fact, wrong. Kosher might be kosher, but kosher is not always yosher (coming from the root yashar, meaning right, or ethical). Unfortunately, food that might be prepared according to the halachot of kashrut often directly violates the crucial ethical and Jewish principle of fair treatment of workers. In the hopes of correcting this flaw in the restaurant industry, Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox Jewish social justice movement, has created the Tav HaYosher, an ethical seal that restaurants can receive when they agree to adhere to three simple standards: the right to fair pay, the right to fair time, and the right to a safe work environment. These three expectations are each theoretically guaranteed under federal law. Uri L’Tzedek’s website, www.utzedek.org/
tavhayosher, details the legal backing behind these three basic rights: “The Right to Fair Pay: All employees must be paid at least the minimum wage as defined by state law... The Right to Fair Time: Wageworkers must, by law, be paid time and a half for any hours over 40 they work in a week, and have one day off a week... The Right to a Safe Work Environment: It is illegal for a restaurant to discriminate based on race, color, religion, language, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, sexual orientation, alienage or citizenship status. Employees have the right to a safe, clean, orderly, and sanitary workplace...”. The website goes on to describe basic expectations within the workplace. The legal protections afforded to every employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) theoretically ensure that every employee receives these three things. Any violation of the FLSA can legally result in criminal sanctions, including jail time. Unfortunately, though, the government does not have enough inspectors checking restaurants to make sure these standards are being
abided by. Uri L’Tzedek’s mission is to help kosher restaurants follow these basic U.S. laws, under the premise that treating workers well is an essential aspect of Judaism, and one well worth fighting for. The Tav HaYosher (loosely based on Israel’s Tav Chevrati) came about as a reaction to a scandal in 2008 which revolved around Agriprocessors, a kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa which had been one of the largest in the country. An immigrant raid from the government uncovered horrifying truths, such as that they were employing children to work in extremely dangerous areas, shaving money off each worker’s paycheck every month, and employing and exploiting illegal immigrants. The two co-founders of Uri L’Tzedek, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz and Rabbi Ari Hart, came together and essentially acknowledged how ludicrous it was that they were eating this food. They realized that this was not a company they wanted to support or food they wanted to eat. However, rather than trekking out to slaughterhouses
in the Midwest, they decided to start closer to home. At first, they wished to push such reforms to worker treatment such as health care and vacation days. However, they soon discovered that even the basic federal laws were often not being followed. Indeed, the right to fair pay, time, and a safe work environment, which apply to every worker in the United States, were not being upheld. Deeply disturbed by these violations of civil law as well as Jewish law, which expressly forbids “oppressing a hired servant who is poor or needy, whether he is of your brothers or of strangers who are in your lands” (Deuteronomy 24:14), Yanklowitz and Hart established the Tav HaYosher. Kosher restaurants and supermarkets are eligible to become certified with the Tav. Eating establishments wishing to be certified undergo a cost-free process in which Uri L’tzedek representatives meet with restaurant owners and employees to validate that workers are Continued on page 12
From Riverdale to Boca Raton rabbi kroll’s departure and its effects By Shalhevet Schwartz Rabbi Kroll is taking his talents to South Beach. But SAR hopes that his departure will not cause as much unrest among the SAR community as LeBron James did to the Knicks. The administration is hoping for a smooth transition to a Kroll-free school. As sad as it will be for all of us, life must go on. Rabbi Kroll’s official title at SAR is “Associate Principal,” but his duties go far beyond the main office. He has been a member of the SAR administration since SAR’s birth, and has always been a key part of the “big ideas” department. Additionally, Rabbi Kroll is a key player in both the Judaic Studies department and in Student Activities (extracurriculars, shabbatonim, etc.). When Rabbi Kroll first informed the school that he would not be returning next year, the administration started to search for a replacement for him. Originally, the search was for another Rabbi Kroll-esque character, one who could perform his administrative duties as well as enhance school ruach and student activities. But it was not long until the faculty found that Rabbi Kroll’s role would not necessarily be easy to fill. “It’s not a recipe for success, to bring somebody in from the outside to try to do my stuff, as me,” says Rabbi Kroll. Instead, SAR has decided to split up his duties among various members of the faculty.
Rabbi Kroll has been one of six SAR administrators (along with Rabbi Harcsztark, Ms. Lerea, Dr. Shinar, Dr. Schwartz, and Ms. Schlaff). SAR has not hired anyone else to fill Rabbi Kroll’s role as an administrator, so those meetings will just have to get a little bit smaller. The job of curriculum coordinator for Judaic Studies has traditionally been a shared one--Rabbi Kroll and Ms. Schlaff have co-headed the Judaic Studies department. While in the General Studies department, there have been department heads of individual subjects under Dr. Shinar, this structure has not traditionally existed in the Judaic Studies department. Rabbi Kroll and Ms. Schlaff have worked together to frame curricula for both Tanakh and TSBP. However, without Rabbi Kroll, this structure is going to change somewhat. Ms. Schlaff will be the sole director of Judaic Studies, but her focus will shift a bit towards the TSBP curriculum as Dr. Jacobowitz steps in to lead SAR’s Tanakh department. The more complicated question, though, has been how to spread out Rabbi Kroll’s duties as the faculty member in charge of student activities. We all know and love Rabbi Kroll’s Shabbaton zemirot circles, but there is a lot more than a loud voice that goes into making student life at SAR into the exceptional phenomenon that it is. According to Rabbi Kroll, part of what makes student life and informal education at SAR so unique is that it is very much
engaged in dialogue with the more traditional parts of the school. Having one of the school’s key administrators also play a key role in the school’s informal education and ruach makes the two facets of SAR work together. “There are some schools, I think, where the informal stuff feels more like an add-on,” explains Rabbi Kroll. “A shabbaton could be run by some young guy who’s doing student activities, and it’s not that integrated into what’s going on educationally. The content of it would not feel as integrated into the rest of the life of the school--we were trying not to do that here.” For this reason, SAR was hesitant to search for a new faculty member, with no previous experience as an SAR High School educator, to run student activities. Instead, SAR has again decided to take teachers already working at SAR and to expand their roles to include the “informal education” side of SAR. Because of the value of having an administrator working on student activities, Dr. Schwartz will take on some of Rabbi Kroll’s duties in that field. “Doc Schwartz is going to be the administrator who is the point-person for [student activities],” says Rabbi Kroll. “She’s not going to be as hands-on as I was, but she’s going to be the administrator who’s in on those meetings.” Unfortunately for the 12th grade, this means that she will be stepping down from her traditional role as the 12th grade GLC. In addition, Rabbi Schwab, whose position until now has been only as a Tanakh
teacher, will take on some of the student activity load that Rabbi Kroll currently carries. Ms. Krieger and Yoram Roschwalb will continue to work as a part of that team as well, and Yoram’s duties will likely expand to include the zemirot circles on Shabbatonim. Rabbi Kroll has full confidence in the team he’s been working with this year. “Ms. Krieger and Yoram are the best. They know how everything runs; they have great ideas and they will be able to grow the program,” he explains. As far as who will teach Rabbi Kroll’s TSBP classes, SAR is not yet sure. SAR does not decide definitively who will teach every class until later in the school year, since the school hires new teachers every year. While school life will go on, and while Rabbi Kroll’s various positions around the school are in capable hands, he will be missed. “I’m going to miss just seeing him smiling in the halls,” says Noam Lindenbaum (‘16). And much of the school shares this sentiment--Rabbi Kroll’s happy disposition and passion for everything at SAR are hard to come by. But Rabbi Kroll is optimistic about the transition: “I think that it will be an opportunity for a lot of very talented people who have not been needed, necessarily, to play roles that they didn’t before,” he predicts. “There will be opportunities for growth for them, and that’ll be good for the school.”
The Buzz, June 2013
School Life Advice Column
Leadership and Gender
how your chromosomes have to do with your captainship By Samantha Schnall “A good leader should be someone who shows strength in his/her field, can communicate those skills to the necessary audience, and encompasses the values a role model should have,” opines Ricki Heicklen (‘14). The opportunity to be a “good leader” is given to all students, regardless of gender. However, sometimes certain genders tend to populate certain high profile positions. Whether this tendency is due to the nature of gender biases or meritocracy, its mere existence serves as something to oppose. Dr. Schwartz acknowledges this “natural” tendency, noting: “We still have to work through cultural biases in favor of seeing men in leadership roles.” She elaborates, explaining that when it comes time to elect members for student government, the girls are usually comfortable with both boys and girls as school leaders; however, there is a tendency for boys to be uncomfortable with girls as school leaders since “leadership looks like a male.” Due to this “acculturation”, the male student body tends to populate student government. (The only female student body president was in the first year of the high school, but, since then, the role has consecutively been filled by male students.) This tendency to view leadership as predominantly male similarly exists in other progressive schools, such as the elite Phillips Academy. In a New York Times article “School Vote Stirs Debate on Girls as Leaders”, Maia Hirschler, a 19 year old senior, said “Right off the bat, it’s not a meritocracy for girls... They’re starting behind because we don’t associate leadership qualities with them.” The article states that girls who were interviewed shared that while important legal barriers are broken down, there is still an existing, but less overt, “sexism that is embedded in cultural attitudes.” Despite SAR’s tendency to have an uneven split in leadership in Student Government, several students generally see a fairly even split between the number of male and female students who populate leadership positions. Deena Fisch (‘13) states: “Most chesed clubs are co-chaired by a boy and a girl and grade representatives must be a boy-girl pair.” Similarly, Heicklen finds few strong gender correlations in leadership positions. On the contrary, Gavriel Steinmetz-
Silber (‘14) finds that since positions are generally “filled in a stereotypical fashion”, certain genders tend to populate certain leadership positions. Miriam Lichtenberg (‘14) shares a similar sentiment, saying that while there is generally an even split of leadership positions among male and female students, “in certain positions,
“The split leadership between genders [not only] allows both boys and girls to be accounted for, [but] also allows students [to] become more involved if they feel like they can relate to a cause.” the school feels more comfortable having a male leader than a female leader.” At the same time, however, there are extracurricular activities (e.g. the school newspaper) in which the number of girls in leadership positions outweighs the number of boys. Heicklen asserts that while there might be a tendency for certain genders to populate certain leadership roles, “with the magnitude of numbers with which we are dealing with at SAR, a slightly uneven gender split would not be gregarious.” She continues, explaining that this “split” is more likely due to mere chance and not gender biases. However, Heicklen adds that if this gap increases “we need to start thinking about where we draw the line and when we start to ask questions about what factors are affecting our thinking.” It’s difficult to ascertain whether or not this tendency exists on a valid and conclusive basis, but an important, broader concern still remains: Should gender play a role in deciding leadership positions and does gender actually play a role in these decisions? Some students, such as Heicklen, believe that gender should not be a factor involved in making decisions for leadership positions because “it is both unfair
and counterproductive to the goals of constructing the best teams or leadership programs.” On the contrary, others, such as Fisch, object because an even gender split makes it easier to engage and fulfill the needs of an audience. Fisch argues, “The split leadership between genders [not only] allows both boys and girls to be accounted for, [but] also allows students [to] become more involved if they feel like they can relate to a cause.” Gender certainly plays a role in deciding leadership positions for some student activities, such as Student Government and Class Presidents, as well as Peer Leadership. In Student Government, when students form their slates, there must be an even split between the number of male students and female students. Similarly, Class Presidents for each grade must be elected as a girl-boy duo. According to Dr. Schwartz, such measures are made so that “all voices are heard and represented [since] the tendency (i.e. that girls are comfortable voting for girls or boys and boys are usually more comfortable voting for other boys) would naturally pull in the direction of having more boys.” Steinmetz-Silber also finds value in dividing leadership positions among boys and girls because “we live with certain stereotypes about what boys or girls are better at...SAR should be encouraging all students to flourish in all areas.” Similarly, Peer Leadership is designed in a way that ensures that there is an even gender distribution: There is one girl and one boy Peer Leader per advisory. Ms. Pollak, the faculty head of Peer Leadership, explains that she makes sure to maintain this even gender split because “there are freshman girls who only want to talk to senior girls and there are freshmen boys who only want to talk to senior boys.” Fisch draws from her experiences as a Peer Leader to verify this. She recalls, “I can relate to the girls, and I try my best to be friends with the boys, but Aaron Soff, my Peer Leader partner, really was the person the boys in our advisory looked up to.” Fisch asserts that effective and functional sessions were only possible because both her and Soff were both present. Though gender considerations are definitely present in some activities, these considerations tends to play less of a role in deciding leaders of academic teams. According to Stuart Levi, the head of Mock
Trial, the team members who occupy leadership positions are those who “have shown strong commitment and declaration to the team in prior years.” He states that gender doesn’t play any role in choosing who will occupy those positions. Similarly, Model UN captains are those who, according to team faculty advisor Ms. Pepper, have “serious dedication, the ability to galvanize energy, writing and editing skills, and organizational excellence.” She voices that while these are “not gender specific skills, decisions [for the team’s captains] are not made lightly and the gender ratio is on my mind.” Dr. Schwartz explains that gender ratio plays less of a role in deciding leaders of academic teams because the head of an academic team has had years of experi-
“With the magnitude of numbers with which we are dealing with at SAR, a slightly uneven gender split would not be gregarious.” ence, making it more difficult to balance gender if all the qualified students are only male students or only female students. While she notes that it is important to be conscious of gender, she acknowledges that “it doesn’t always work out because other qualifications, such as years of experience and skill, weigh more heavily when choosing someone for a leadership position than gender does.” Despite equal opportunity among genders to obtain leadership positions, it is simply natural for certain genders to gravitate towards certain positions, and it’s unclear whether that might be due to gender biases or merit. While Student Government is predominantly populated by male students, the school newspaper is predominantly populated by female students. Nonetheless, a leader is a leader. It is therefore the duty of each gender to see the paucity of their respective gender as a momentum to change the status quo.
Special thanks to Andy Wolff and the Riverdale Review for printing this issue of The Buzz.
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice Op-EdColumn Debate
Should SAR Publish a List of Donors in the Annual Report? AFFIRMATIVE By Miriam Lichtenberg SAR prides itself on being an institution without walls. So how do we survive without the basic pillars on which most schools rely? Simple. We’ve got Windows. Windows, otherwise known as the Annual Report, is a fairly comprehensive packet that discusses SAR’s accomplishments over the past year and its goals for the upcoming year. Additionally, a few pages are dedicated to thanking and ranking the donors who, as Dr. Teena L. Lerner, Chair of the SAR Development Committee, wrote in the 2012 edition, collectively contributed a total of 8.1 million dollars to the SAR Fund. These people are the reason we are able to comprise a school with many students on scholarship, the reason that we can have amazing teachers, classes, extracurriculars, a beautiful building, and so much more. Rebecca Siegel argues that acknowledging who donated how much money to the school contradicts the value of tzniut. And it’s true, as Rabbi Harcsztark noted in a letter written to the junior grade concerning the issue of tzniut, that “finding the right balance is not easy.” But I would like to offer another way of looking at it--by publishing this list, SAR is congratulating people on the important midah of tzedakah. The Annual Report is about positive values. Tzedakah is one we want to encourage. We want to give acknowledgment for the type of values we want to be promoting. And really, it is to donors’ credit that they are supporting SAR. They are choosing to be generous with their money in a way that benefits us in countless ways. There are so many things donors can be doing with their money, whether it be supporting their favorite opera, contributing to a medical center, or donating to the “Too Many Bunnies” charity (it’s a real thing). While these are all worthy causes, and there are a whole range of other worthy causes, our school is among them. Through this Annual Report, we are showing that Jewish education is a worthy factor. And to our donors, we are simply providing an annual acknowledgment. We are not saying that
RESPONSE BY REBECCA SIEGEL: I understand that Windows, and the “positive peer pressure” it creates, is a huge aid in our fundraising efforts. Windows might be the easiest way to fundraise, because the competition it creates is difficult to withstand, but there are other ways to fundraise without compromising SAR values. SAR has successfully fundraised without the Annual Report, and we can do so again. But the school is growing, and our
our donors are the ‘be all’ and ‘end all’ of SAR -- rather, we are thanking them for doing us an enormous favor. Additionally, there is an intimidation and inspiration factor that comes with this list. A “positive peer pressure”, if you may. If I see that specific families I know have donated to SAR, I would be inclined to donate as well. And that’s not a bad thing. A good way to encourage people to give tzedakah is to show that other people are giving tzedakah. Even if you are unable to donate a large sum of money, you will be mentioned. And it is clear that a student is treated the same whether his or her parents make one dollar or one trillion dollars, and that’s really the important part. A family who decides to give a million dollars to SAR is doing so either because they have been influenced by a certain social pressure or because, as in most cases, they believe in SAR and want to help it succeed in whatever way they can. These arguments can even extend beyond money. Acknowledging a student’s accomplishments is another way in which the Annual Report may seem to contradict our value of tzniut. However, I think that this motivates students to work hard, while simultaneously acknowledging the hard work many people have invested. As an added bonus, it shows how great our school is to people who somehow are unaware of that. This, as well, generates donations. If, even after reading all these compelling arguments, you still deem Windows an evil, at least understand that it is a necessary evil. It is clearly a big success. All the great things SAR has to offer cost money. Especially as the school grows, and more scholarships are doled out, we need more money. That is just the reality. And if the price we have to pay for the money we receive, that enables us to function the way that we do, is to give kavod to our donors, then so be it. Until yeshiva education is free, this is the only realistic way for SAR to not only survive, but to thrive. In an ideal world, maybe we would not be mentioning our donors. But that’s not where we are and, as I think I’ve made clear, a mention is not so terrible anyway. SAR is known to have no walls. We at least need Windows.
needs are growing and growing by the second. So if the Annual Report cannot be thrown out, why not modify it? Why not encourage anonymous donations? And if names are such a huge factor, why not list the donors in alphabetical order, instead of by donation? If even that is too much to ask, can we at least give the different categories names? While euphemistic and still fairly obvious, it is a step up from “1,800-5,000”. A less specific breakdown and some fitting titles would go a long way toward modifying the Annual Report.
NEGATIVE By Rebecca Siegel
If you’ve ever attended a school-wide Shabbaton, then the word ‘countercultural’ is likely not too foreign to your ears. This is not surprising, because when you need to go against everything that surrounds you, the more reinforcement, the better. Which is why, when January rolls around and that manila enveloped arrives, weighed down by the substantial cardstock, full-color photos and unabashed ostentation, I cannot help but cringe. The first year the Annual Report came out, my sister was featured front-and-center on the cover in a full color window, while her peers were boxed out in black and white. The candid picture featured her sitting with her head resting on hand, gazing out contemplatively. I still remember turning the page to find that her humble, pensive expression did not seem to jibe well with the contents of the publication. It wasn’t just the list of academic accolades and Ivy League acceptances that had me reeling, it was the last five pages, in which every family’s donation was categorized by the dollar. Three years later, I heard Rabbi Harcsztark struggle to find the words to adequately express how much the values of the personal modesty and humility meant to him. For most people, skirt lengths and necklines probably came to mind, but the first thing I thought of was the Annual Report. A week later, when Rabbi Harcsztark sent the juniors a four page document detailing his thoughts on tzniut, I felt it again, the immense power and importance of humility, and the way that the Annual Report has completely violated it. We are a school that prides ourselves on performing according to what is moral and aligns with our Torah values, even if it isn’t ‘cool’. We do what is right, not what is easy. When the culture around us says that the easiest and most efficient way to raise money is by publishing a list of how much every member donates, from five million to five dollars, we should be putting our foot down, not jumping on the bandwagon. We’re supposed to be the ‘countercultural’ ones, after all. Rumor has it, next year’s theme of the year will be humility. A year dedicated to the idea of “taking myself out of the center...
RESPONSE BY MIRIAM LICHTENBERG: When the halls of SAR are lined with artwork, we are given the option to either laugh at the worst one and praise the best one, or just appreciate the beauty of it all. No matter what SAR does, there will be those who use it for the wrong purposes. Meaning, yes, there will be readers who
and allowing the light to shine on the other and not on myself” (our principal’s beautiful words, not my own). But how is it possible to donate to an organization that so values humility, to believe in perpetuating the Jewish value of tzniut through education, and yet to have your name and donation displayed for the whole community to see? How do the Annual Report and Anivut [humility] possibly jibe? They don’t. When the Annual Report comes out every year, I imagine people ripping open manila envelopes and flipping past pages of Chidon HaTanakh, Poetry Slam and Science Olympiad in order to reach those last few pages. I imagine eager eyes scanning the lists for their own name, then heading straight to the top for multi-million dollar contributions, and lastly, scouring the list for friends and relatives names. I imagine these anonymous readers of the Annual Report drawing conclusions about those who aren’t mentioned at all. It’s only human nature that we do this, and this very behavior is what gives the Annual Report its power. If we all stopped glancing at it, stopped comparing my $1,800 to their $7,400 to his $36, the Annual Report would cease to do any good. I think we also all know that the Annual Report is probably helping SAR’s fundraising efforts, proving that teenagers aren’t the only ones susceptible to peer pressure and the insecurity of “what will other people think of me if my donation doesn’t have four digits?” Is it worth sacrificing our values of humility and modesty for the sake of easier fundraising? I’d say not. We’re supposed to be a light unto the nations, but I cannot help but wonder what kind of light we shine with publications like these. I imagine that if I was an outsider looking in, I would see this publication as a stark contrast to the values of the institution, and quite frankly, as hypocritical. If we’re supposed to be fighting against the ills in our culture in order to uphold Torah values, I don’t see how we’re able to justify the Annual Report. Rabbi Harcsztark could not have been more correct when he said that “when people give charity and don’t want to make a big deal out of it, that is called tzniut.” Given that, where does the Annual Report and the “5 Million and Above” category fit in? I think my entire argument can be summarized into one quick question: In a fight between money and midot, which one are we putting first?
open the Annual Report merely to compare one family’s contribution to the next, but we should not be catering to those few who are not benefiting from the Annual Report for the right reasons. The Annual Report’s main purpose is not to showcase money; rather, it is to convey the awesomeness of those who comprise of the SAR community.
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice Column School Life
Bridging the “Gap”
israel guidance and gap year programs By Chanan Heisler It is very common for Modern Orthodox high school graduates to take a gap year in Israel before heading off to college. This gap year is considered to be important for a student’s growth as a young Jewish man or woman; something many teachers and parents alike expect before their child or student is fully thrown into the ‘modern’ world. SAR often sends a majority of their graduates to Israel, usually at least 80% of every graduating class. This year’s senior class has seen interesting trends develop, such as the lowest percentage of students taking gap years attending Yeshiva or Seminary programs, and certain schools becoming very popular for the first time. The Israel Guidance process begins at the end of junior year with a panel of alumni discussing their experiences in their Israel programs. The goal of this panel is to encourage students to think about their lives after high school and what type of gap year program, if any, would interest them. Soon afterwards, each student has a meeting with his or her Israel Guidance counselor to begin to discuss the possibility of taking a gap year, and which programs he or she may be interested in. During these meetings, SAR’s Israel Guidance counselors will work to ensure
that he or she is not forcing a program onto a student. Rabbi Block, one of the members of the Israel Guidance department, explains how these meetings work: “Every student has a meeting with a member of our office. At that meeting we gauge their level of interest, and invariably there are always students that say ‘I don’t want to’ or ‘I can’t go.’ Then we have a conversation with them about what exactly it is that is causing them to not want to go. If those problems are surmountable or solvable, then we’ll help solve them, if they’re not, then they’re not. If someone’s parents ‘no way no how’ will let them go, then there’s nothing we can do. If someone is worried they cannot handle the schedule or financially it will be difficult, those are conversations we can have about how to make things easier.” Although taking a gap year in Israel is an experience that SAR believes is important, Rabbi Block remarks, “We do not push students to do one program or another.” Still, students who are not interested in taking a gap year do sometimes feel uncomfortable at these meetings. Zachary Nelkin (‘13), who will be attending college this fall, notes that his meeting was “not the most pleasant experience.... I told my Israel Guidance counselor, from the very beginning, that I did not want to go to Israel and the rest of it [the meeting] was him trying to convince me to change my mind.” Nel-
kin admits that he felt judged and pressured into doing something that he did not feel was right for him. He explains that he thinks the school’s role throughout the process is “to aid students who decide that going to Israel or taking off a year for other reasons is an important thing to them. What I think that the school should not be doing is pressuring people into doing something they don’t want or might not be beneficial to them.” Despite Nelkin’s experience, several students who decided not to go to Israel felt no pressure from the Israel Guidance department. Daniella Herman (‘13) recalls: “The process was pretty quick and easy. I had one meeting with Israel Guidance where I explained that I’m not going to go to Israel for the year. After that meeting, they didn’t bother me.” Herman concludes that the process was “quick and painless.” Additionally, many students, including Noam Lubofsky and David Izso, explain that they didn’t feel pressured to lean to a specific type of gap year program throughout the process. They both looked at learning and non-learning programs before deciding on their own to go to Reishit, a Yeshiva. It is clearly a difficult task to present opportunities to students without making some feel uncomfortable. Israel Guidance still insists on meeting with students who are certain Israel is not for them because, as Ms.
Schlaff observes, “There are students that for sure don’t want to go to Israel in the very beginning, but then they go through the process a little bit and hear about different programs, and they’ll start to get more excited about it. There are students who have a hard time thinking about Israel before getting into college and then they get into college and everything is set and they think ‘wait a second I’m not quite ready to go to college yet, I’d like to go to Israel first.’” Because senior year is a period of such drastic change and intense stress, students face a tough decision making process. Because this decision is an important one and a hard one to make, although sometimes the guidance counselors may seem to be pushy, perhaps they are simply trying to keep doors open. Take Dvir Ofer (‘13) as an example. Before visiting Israel in February, Ofer planned on going to Bar Ilan University. However, during his Israel trip, he visited multiple yeshivot and decided that “yeshiva offers more in the long term [than getting credits at Bar Ilan University]... When I came back from Israel, it was already past the deadline for yeshivas [applications], but Israel guidance was able to help me choose the right yeshiva and was able to get me in. Continued on page 13
securing the school By Rebecca Harris On Monday, April 15th, SAR was gearing up for a spirited Yom Ha’atzmaut full of simcha dancing, fun in the park, and suspender-clad rappers. On that same day, Boston, and the entire country alongside it, was coping with the Boston Marathon bombing, an event that left our country terrified and shocked. The illusion of our nation’s safety had been shattered with the detonation of the two homemade bombs. The event left three dead, more than 144 with serious injuries, and led to a city-wide chase for culprits in Watertown, MA and a lockdown in the surrounding area. Ms. Silvera’s inspirational speech the following morning, coupled with a plea from Dr. Shinar over the loudspeaker to keep victims in mind, did not completely assuage students’ fears. The tragedy made many students uneasy, causing them to question security standards in our school. “There was certainly a strong sense of concern, people were shaken up, I think parents were asking a lot in terms of concern for understanding exactly what the setup was here in school, and so I think there was very understandable inquiry,” explains Rabbi Harcsztark. Though the Boston bombing has defi-
nitely led to increased concern regarding the efficiency of SAR’s security system, many improvements had already started to take effect after last year’s shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, which left seven dead, including four children. “The security has definitely been beefed up since the situation in France,” confirms Romel Jones, a member of the SAR security team. Further improvements had been made after the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School earlier this year, which had students again concerned about the security standards at our school. “It was really scary knowing that it took only one kid to break up a whole school and shock a whole country,” states an anonymous 10th grader, concerned about the efficiency of SAR’s security and its ability to prevent such a situation from arising. In response to students’ and parents’ concern regarding SAR’s security system following these two tragedies, new security measures have been added. Any relatives, friends, or people that aren’t associated with the school must now bring ID to the front desk to be ‘checked in’ before going further into the building. And, despite the aggravations, every student must now be ‘buzzed into’ the building, since the doors are con-
stantly locked. A fingerprint recognition system has been instituted for teachers, allowing them to enter the building without using the intercom. Though initially there were plans to institute a fingerprint-recognition system for students as well, Rabbi Harcsztark explains that such a system has not yet been instituted because “it didn’t feel necessary right now. We spoke for a few minutes about it at one of our meetings, and I said that we had thought about it, but to us it didn’t seem so wanted. With the current system, the flow of traffic so far has been working out okay, so it just seemed like an added complication, even though it’s a cool thing to do.” Nick Fadda, one of the heads of security at SAR, explains that in addition to locked doors, there is now “our NYPD officer as well on hand” at all times. “Making sure the guard was on location, having a police officer on campus, having the doors locked at all times, was a significant step forward, and all those became accessamatized after Sandy Hook,” concludes Rabbi Harcsztark. Though initially the Boston Bombing had students again concerned about their own safety in school, after learning about the new security measures already in place following the Sandy Hook shooting and tragedy in France, students felt a little more relieved.
“I think that having armed guards and policemen stationed all day at the doors is reassuring,” shares Noam Lindenbaum (‘16). “Safety issues in SAR seem pretty good, [I] feel protected,” adds an anonymous junior. Hanna Kestenbaum (‘15) shares the same sentiment, explaining that she feels “very safe knowing we have security outside.” Though students do feel more protected with the new security advances, students acknowledge some flaws in the system. Kestenbaum explains that “there are still issues. If someone comes into the building, then what do we do? I don’t think the school has addressed that yet,” and Lindenbaum agrees that this is indeed a flaw in the current system. However, it is possible that this apparent “flaw” may actually be beyond SAR’s control. Deena Woloshin (‘14) states: “I think that SAR does all they possibly can, but there isn’t really a way to prepare for such a horrific tragedy.” Overall, students seem to be happy and comfortable with SAR’s new security initiatives. “Some people become annoyed with it because it’s a whole new process for them, but they in turn appreciate the fact that the security has been stepped up,” concludes Romel.
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice Column School Life
SENIOR EXPLORATION SNEAK PEEKS After spending the past two weeks watching different Senior Exploration presentations, Zachary Nelkin chose to highlight a few of the many interesting ones.
Elliot David, Pendulum
Jake Sytner, Illustrated Children’s Novel Though they may seem simple, children’s novels are no laughing matter. That’s what Jake Sytner found out when he tried to write and illustrate one for his senior ex. After playing around with the concept of a family history, he settled on the story of “Bart the Yart Who Let out a Great Fart.” When presented together with animal crackers and apple juice, the story had the whole room smiling. Knoam Spira, Urban Farming The judges for Knoam Spira laid out some ground rules at the beginning of his presentation; if the chickens touched them, he failed. That’s because during his presentation, Knoam let the birds he had raised from chicks roam the classroom. Sure enough, they started flapping their wings and running towards the audience
By Ariella Gentin
Kaanur Papo, Couch
members, who later got the chance to hold them. In just a few weeks, Knoam had seen them grow from featherless little balls to something recognizable. All the while, he gained an appreciation and understanding of where our food comes from, something that is often elusive to our society. Share Feit, Theater and Mishna When students at SAR study TSBP, they approach it as a written text, but Shara Feit wanted to explore its oral nature. She studied not only Halakhic texts, but also countless plays and performances to find an intersection between the written and spoken on which the Gemara could lie. For her presentation, she performed excerpts from some of these plays as well as from the Gemara. Her performance brought a new lens of understanding, that would not have been apparent by simply reading the
texts, to her audience. Nechemia Renzoni, Filmmaking So much work that is never seen goes into producing a film. Nechemia Renzoni learned all about that process for his senior ex. He made a short movie called The Man I Love, about a bar singer and her coworker. Though he had originally planned to make extensive use of computer graphics, eventually he decided to stick with conventional techniques and focus his energy on writing the story and incorporating his musical talent into the film. The video was shown for the Night of Art and Music after his presentation.
Gabe Santoriello, Chainmail
be reasoned with, who are impulsive, who are stronger and faster than you think they are, and don’t understand consequences of their actions.” This is all the more true when you have your hand in their mouth. Yet Michelle Kleinman set out to explore the world of pediatric dentistry. By interning at a dentist’s office, she learned all of the ways in which dentists try and make the experience as relaxing and comfortable as possible for the children. Instead of the barbaric techniques they used in the past, dentists now give their patients a level of autonomy. Michelle learned a great deal about how to interact with those “wonderful human beings” during her senior ex.
Michelle Kleiman, Dentistry Kids are dangerous; according to The New York Times, “You’re dealing with wonderful human beings who can’t
Outside Our Walls friendship with non-jewish peers
As every SAR student knows, in order to maintain a Jewish identity one must hold on to Jewish values and standards in our modern society. Every Jew knows that they are “different”, but each person responds differently to that phenomenon. When asked the simple question “are you friends with non-Jews?”, students answered a range from a loud “yes” to a more hesitant “not really.” These hesitant responses were present because, for many Modern orthodox Jews, it is hard to strike a balance between fulfilling the obligations of the community and reaching out to others. To some students, being ‘Jewish’ means isolating themselves from non-Jews. “It is so important that we separate ourselves from the ‘goyim’,” states an anonymous stu-
dent. However, most SAR students do not seem to share this sentiment. Isaac Spiegel (‘16), who went to a non-Jewish elementary school, explains, “It’s very interesting to see other customs...and get their opinions and become friends with them [non-Jews].” Chanie Saltzman (‘16) adds, “I view nonJews as mostly the same. However, there is a small difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’, although I think this is mostly due to the fact that we were raised differently.” This general acceptance of interactions with non-Jews is demonstrated when students do extracurriculars or go to camps with non-Jews. Molly Leifer (‘16), who is friends with non-Jews from her dance classes, explains, “It helps me appreciate how I’m a part of a Jewish community, and how being Jewish makes me different from an average individual.”
It seems that SAR fully supports interactions and friendships with non-Jews. Many SAR students are involved in Building Bridges, a program in which students from different Bronx schools and backgrounds meet a few times a year to have discussions on various topics. Ms. Shoulson, who runs the program at SAR, articulates its goals: “The students go to school and even live only a few miles apart, and yet their experiences may be vastly different. We have assumptions about each other and have no way to know what it is like to be in the others’ shoes. This program is an attempt to break down some of those barriers.” She continues, “While our students don’t necessarily identify with all of the issues facing students from the other schools, Building Bridges is successful in enabling students to see the humanity of the other.” Rachel Ashe (‘14), a
participant in Building Bridges, shares, “It’s really nice to get to know other kids who aren’t Jewish, but still have so much in common with us.” Dalia Scheiner (‘14) adds that she still has a friend from Building Bridges with whom she texts once in awhile. Though Jews definitely share many values that are unique to the Jewish community, it is important that we work to interact with the outside community as well. Jonathan Mosesson (‘16) shares, “It is important for us to be friends with non-Jews to broaden our perspective on the world and learn how to behave around them. We should maintain our way of life around non-Jews to help them get used to the idea of Jews and people who don’t do what they do. By doing this, we should try to broaden their views as well as ours.”
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice Features Column
Columbus Baseball Invitational By Gilad Fortgang Many years ago, when SAR was still young in its days, a small group of boys went into Keyspan Park, home of the Minor League affiliate of the Mets, the Brooklyn Cyclones, and won the Yeshiva League Baseball Championship, giving SAR its first varsity championship ever. This year, on Sunday, May 19th, SAR Baseball reached a new milestone. The Sting participated in the much anticipated Columbus Baseball Invitational Tournament in Ohio, along with five other schools from Atlanta, Columbus, Cleveland, Chicago, and Livingston. The team flew from La Guardia to Philadelphia to Columbus, leaving SAR at 7:30 AM and arriving at the Capital University dormitories at about 1 o’clock. The team got settled in the below-par dorms and quickly devoured multiple pies of pizza that defined mediocrity. After relaxing for a few hours, the team headed towards the JCC where the two baseball fields and, more importantly, the hot dogs were located. At 9 PM the Sting took the field against the reigning champi-
ons, Yeshiva Atlanta. Because of the format of the tournament, only one win was needed to advance to the next round. Atlanta had played a couple of hours earlier against the Ida Crown Aces, a team that dominated Atlanta in a game that included one of two outof-the-park home runs in the tournament. So Ida Crown clinched a spot in the second round, and Atlanta had one game left against SAR to make it. Both teams, SAR and Atlanta, sent their aces to the mound. Atlanta, in their ‘do or die’ attitude, used the same pitcher for both games. The workhorse, Gary Friedlander, was speculated to throw well over 200 pitches in those two games. He pitched decently, giving up four runs in the first five plus innings. His opposition, Darren Wolf, dominated the Atlanta team, and drew compliments from the umpires. At one point in the early innings, Wolf struck out six batters in a row and the Atlanta hitters looked baffled. But in the top of the fifth and sixth, the field behind Wolf, and then some relief pitchers, showed their imperfections by committing three errors that resulted in an Atlanta comeback to tie the score at 4 apiece.
A deflated SAR squad returned to the dugout disappointed. But not for long, as captains Josh Gurin and Adam Lavi and coach John Taylor inspired their teammates, who put a five spot on the board in the bottom of the sixth to take a commanding 9 to 4 lead. Wolf was then put back in the game in the seventh inning to finish what he started. He did just that with a 1-2-3 inning, giving SAR its first Columbus Baseball Invitational Tournament win ever. The second and third games for SAR were not quite as fulfilling. Game number two of the tournament was against the Ida Crown Aces of Chicago. It was nothing short of obliteration. The positive, for SAR, was that this game didn’t matter in terms of making the next round, but it did matter in regard to seeding. Because SAR had played their arch rival and the defending champion of the Yeshiva, the Kushner Cobras, the elimination game against Kushner was simply ugly. Kushner batted 11 in the beginning of the first inning, scoring 7 in the inning. They did a little bit of everything, with the help of SAR’s sloppy play, including a suicide squeeze, and a well executed double
steal with men on the corners. Kushner tagged on some more runs in later innings, and SAR tried making it respectable by cutting the lead from 10-0 to 10-2. However, Kushner quickly scored 2 runs to enforce the mercy rule on SAR and end the game. What was left for the Sting was a third place game against the Fuchs Mizrachi Mayhem of Cleveland and lots of Deli sandwiches. Thankfully, game four for SAR was more like game one: a win. The first eight hitters produced a run and, to lead off the third inning, yours truly took one yard over the left field fence to give SAR a 2-0 lead. The rest of the lineup poured on some runs, and Wolf resumed his dominance on the mound as SAR cruised to a 9-2 win and a third place finish overall. This may sound cliché and corny, but winning is not necessarily the ‘be all’ and ‘end all.’ The third place finish was respectable for a young baseball program. But the experience of flying as a team, dorming as a team, eating as a team, and playing as team was really memorable.
Student Summer Life Poll To survey both summer program decisions and student life in the summer, the following poll was taken. Elana Rosenthal obtained the following results, polling over 200 students.
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice Column Features
The Buzzer Name 7 Bogrim with their respective ages and schools. The first person to tweet or email us the correct answer will be featured in our next issue’s Pop Culture Grid. You can reach us at @TheSarBuzz or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SWITCHED at BIRTH
Top 5 Ways to Become Best Friends With Your Teachers: 1. Write them a poem (just make sure it’s not too sexual)
2. Bake them brownies (but make sure to follow PACT) 3. Go to their shul 4. Stay at their house for Shabbat Rebecca Goldstein (‘14)
Jocelyn Abrams (‘16)
5. Read books that they like
STATEMENT FROM STUDENT COUNCIL
Council has agreed with the administration on action regarding the restaurants across their street and their general lack of the Tav HaYosher seal (with the exception of Riverdale Kosher Market). These actions will begin at the start of the next school year. Council is also working to ensure that the contents of the recycle bins actually get recycled, which as of now is not the case. We are working on a number of other initiatives, such as cashing in bottle/container deposits and using this money for other environmental initiatives. Have a great summer, For more updates please follow us on Twitter @StingSG. Gavriel Steinmetz- Silber, Speaker of the Student Council
Name: Mr. David Wander Position: Art Teacher Birthplace: New York, New York Family: Two Siblings
Each issue, The Buzz features an interview with a faculty member at or around SAR High School. Buzz correspondent Alon Futter sat down to interview Mr. Wander, an art teacher at SAR AF: Where did you get your pas- pieces and with other artists for arks for Torah’s so I said let me you have in mind for yourself about four years. I was also com- do that. So I designed and built long term? sion for art from? missioned by a family member to an ark for one of the minyans and Mr. W: I was always interested in do a Haggadah commemorating then I began to teach an art class. Mr. W: I’m really excited about teaching and I really love doing art, my father’s a painter and my the Holocaust, which I worked mom’s a potter so it was always on for four years with Rabbi Yo- AF: I heard you have an interest it. Additionally, I will also continue to do shows which I’ve been in the family. I always drew as nah Weinrib. I also had a one man in Martial arts, is that true? doing for a good 30 years now, a kid through junior high school show at Yad Vashem in Israel and and high school so it was sort of showed galleries in Haifa, Jeru- Mr. W: Yes, I was always inter- and I can’t imagine that not hapsalem and then around the world. ested in martial arts and I studied pening. always there. Kung-Fu and Karate, but the art AF: What has your professional AF: Why did you come to work that I was most interested in was AF: Do you have any shows at SAR? Tai-Chi. I lived in Chinatown for coming up? career in art looked like? 20 years and in Chinatown they Mr. W: Yes, I will be in a museum Mr. W: I left Pratt in the middle Mr. W: For a while I had heard do Tai-Chi around the parks. So show at the Mobia museum. The of school because I was very in- about SAR and then I met Da- I had a teacher and worked and name of the show is “As Subterested in printmaking. I went vid Friedman at a Shabbos lunch went to the parks in the morning ject and Object- Contemporary to Europe and I worked in Am- once. He said that he was the head and studied Tai-Chi for a long book artists explore sacred Hesterdam printing for artists. Then of the art department at SAR. So time and I became good at Chi- brew texts.” It will be from June 14th through September 29th at I came back to America and I told him that I heard about the nese Tai-Chi and swords. the MOBIA Museum on 1865 opened up my own shop and I school, love the school, and want had a contract printing for the Pi- to work there. He responded that AF: Between your professional Broadway at 61 st. casso family. I worked on Chagall they were having artists design art career and teaching, what do
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice Column Student Life
From SAR To IDF
seniors entering the israeli army By Maya Pretsfelder As the Class of 2013 departs from SAR, some will be venturing into their gap year in Israel, some will immediately begin college, and a select few will begin the Israeli Army. More senior boys than ever before, approximately eight, have taken it upon themselves to continue into the next phase of their lives fighting for the state of Israel. On Yom Haatzmaut, the school had a ceremony, lead by Rabbi Kroll, honoring and praising those boys who have decided to leave their homes and families behind to fight for the state of Israel. “It was always a dream of mine. Something I had in my head. It was my dream job, and that’s what I wanted to do. A lot of people take gap years and I felt that this was an opportunity to fulfill my dream. I saw an opportunity, so I tried to seize it”, explains Eli Schildkraut (’13). Though Schildkraut was recently told that, unfortunately, he will be too young to join the army next year, he hopes to join the army in the near future. Because we are often trapped between our love for Israel and our desire to continue education and create lives for ourselves in America, the yearn to enter the army is many times hard to capture. Those few who have decided to leave their homes behind and fight for what they believe in are taking their
pride and joy of Israel to the next level. “All Jews have a responsibility to act to fulfill the duty that has been born for them throughout all the generations,” articulates Yacov Lewis (’13), who is joining the Israeli army next year. Similarly, Yoni Rabinovitch (’13) explains that his decision to venture into the army was a multi-level decision that summed up his personal obligation and love for Israel. “I believe in the importance and critical role of Zionism in Jewish life and therefore the necessity of living in and maintaining the Jewish state,” he states. “Just because I am a Diaspora Jew,” he explains, “doesn’t excuse me from contributing the most I can.” Though there are a large number of students heading off to the army, most of the graduating class will be taking a traditional American route, as they continue next year to yeshivas, seminaries, or higher education. SAR has an excellent Israel Guidance department, helping students plan their gap year programs. But is the department just as helpful with those who wish to take a break from education and fight in the Israeli army? According to Rabbi Block, a member of the Israel Guidance team, the school fully supports and helps anyone who wishes to join the army. “To join the Israeli army is a decision we very much embrace….if someone wants to we’ll do everything we
can to make it happen.” Ms. Schlaff enthusiastically adds, “we are extremely proud of our graduates who are spending time in the Israeli Defense Forces. It’s not an easy choice for students or their families and it speaks volumes of their commitment to Am Yisrael.” Though the school does try to help students who wish to join the army, Lewis admits that he doesn’t think that “the school has been very present in this process.” “I can’t say they were actively supportive, but I also definitely can’t say they were antagonistic,” adds Rabinovitch. Schildkraut explains that though “when it came to the army, [Israel Guidance] had no contacts and no knowledge, and in terms of the phone calls, the information, and the steps to take, I had to figure that out myself”, this reality may exist because SAR’s Israel Guidance program may generally be geared more toward gap years in yeshivas, seminaries, and other schools. “I would describe the Israel guidance program more as a yeshiva guidance program. They know everything about yeshivas, and they are a great contact point,” he explains. Perhaps since the majority of students taking gap years usually attend schools in Israel, it is logical that Israel Guidance will have more experience in that area. Additionally, because army entrance is
a very different and difficult process, though the school can help guide students, students do have to take more initiative than they would if they were attending a school in Israel next year. Schildkraut describes the difficult process as “bureaucratic”, explaining that he and Elliot David (‘13) had to make many phone calls to Israel at 4:00 AM to work important details out. However, “after many phone calls and meetings, I went to the administrative defense in Israel and met with the Machal [the program in which he was planning on participating] representative, but he told me I was too young. You must be 18 to enter the army, and though they make exceptions for kids who are 17 and 10 months when they begin, since I will only be 17 and 8 months it didn’t work out.” Additionally, David went to Israel this past week to work out important details. It is clear that the process of entering the army is very difficult, and though Israel Guidance is as helpful as they can be, at the end of the day, the students themselves must take initiative. Though it is difficult for Israel Guidance to help with the actual army entrance process, students report on other ways in which the school was helpful in preparing them for the army. Rabinovitch acknowledges the support and help College GuidContinued on page 12
Planning the Perfect Program summer program decisions
By Toba Stern Though summer vacation is only two and a half months on the calendar, it’s stretches far longer than that. There is no doubt that summer occupies too much space in our minds, and too little space in the calendar. As we get older, summer plans become increasingly complex. Graduating from the days when our parents decided them for us, we are left with a wide range of options and a hard time figuring out which one is best. Many students desire new experiences, and therefore choose to spend their summers’ abroad, attending programs in places such as China, England, Alaska, Hungary and Israel. Daniela Krausz (’15), who is planning on attending Oxford Tradition in London this summer, explains that she chose the program because she “wanted something different and I wanted to broaden my horizons.” Jack Schwalbe (’15) chose to attend Seneca China this summer because he feels that “It’s a unique opportunity to view part of the world that most teenagers don’t see. And I’m excited to do that with my friends.” Other students may opt to go on chesed programs, such as Yad Byad or Camp Koby,
for similar reasons. Danielle Harris (’15), who will be attending Yad Byad in Israel this summer, explains her decision process: “I haven’t done much with yachad, and I’m excited to get exposed to people that are very different from me, not in just a chesed way, but as just like two people, who are just friends.” Since interests and desires for new experiences seem to be the dominant deciding factors when selecting summer programs, often the costs of these select programs are overlooked. Many of us can afford to attend these expensive camps and summer programs, so the great costs of these programs is often not considered. The popular Jewish sleep-away camps, that many of us attend or used to attend yearly, such as Moshava, Sennecca, Morasha, Lavi and Ramah Berkshires, cost between 4,000 and 5,000 per month (with a discounted rate for the full summer). The price for many Israel trips, such as Sulam, Machhach, Naaleh, and Magen Baaretz, and other abroad experiences tends to be even higher, averaging approximately 7,000 dollars for around five weeks. There is no doubt that these programs are costly. But are the costs of these programs considered when students evaluate summer
programs? Many students and families do make sure to consider the costs of different programs when selecting a summer program. Deena Nerwen (‘15) recalls: “I was choosing between two programs this summer...Alexander Muss High School in Israel, which most people at the school have not heard of, and Camp Koby… Alexander Muss was a significant amount more money than Koby, and even though my parents were willing to pay for it, I still felt bad. So that affected my decision to ultimately choose Koby.” An anonymous junior explains, “I had been going to Moshava for years, but my parents wouldn’t pay for Machhach. I mean, I don’t blame them -- 7,000 dollars is a lot of money.” Although financial aid is available for these costly programs, it is not easily attainable. These programs receive many applicants, and are more willing to accept those who are able to pay in full. In order to receive financial aid, one needs to fill out many forms, and go through an extensive interview process. “I really wanted to go on Yad Byad this summer, but unfortunately my family couldn’t afford it. We were denied financial aid, and instead I’m working this summer,”
explains an anonymous sophomore. For others, having a meaningful summer experience is most important, even if it means attending a costly program. Jessica Kane (‘15) shares, “For me, money was not a thought, not because my parents are so rich, but just because my parents are always willing to pay for me to have a good experience. If something is a good experience, they say ‘you gotta do it.’” Similarly, Yona Benjamin (‘15) explains, “I chose Machhach because I looked at the itinerary and it looked the best...I really want to have a meaningful definitive summer, so money wasn’t really a factor.” We are fortunate enough to live in a world where there are many options and opportunities available to us. It is important to recognize that there are many great ways to spend your summer without spending a fortune. Many people enjoy working as camp counselors, lifeguards, or even getting internships. Your summer can be equally fulfilling without spending a cent. To be honest, sitting in the sun, by a nice pool, relaxing -- that’s summer vacation.
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice Column School Life
The Bogrim Program sar alumni come back for more By Leah Slaten Guest Writer Graduation is not the end of SAR. At least, that’s true for 20 over-obsessed alumni who are participating in the Bogrim program this year. They have infiltrated the school, but they stay contained within 608 and come out to see the light of day only occasionally. The Bogrim program began last year as a way to maintain an alumni network and to initiate an SAR community beyond the high school years. As Mr. Fleischer remarks, “SAR sees itself not just as a high school but as an institution, and the Bogrim program is very much about pushing that mission beyond the borders of the high school in as many ways as possible.” The Bogrim program seeks to keep alumni connected both to the school and to its mission. This latter goal is unique to Bogrim: Although there are events throughout the year that encourage alumni participation, such as the school wide Shabbaton, Bogrim is the only program that specifically seeks to further SAR’s mission through classes and discussions. The Bogrim’s goals for participating in the program align nearly perfectly with the stated goals of the program. Yaron Tokayer (‘09), a two-time participant in Bogrim, explains the goal almost verbatim to Mr. Fleischer’s explanation: “To extend the community of learners beyond the walls of SAR.” Tokayer spent a year in Israel (at Maaleh Adumim) before returning to Amer-
ica for college, where he is now a senior at Cooper Union. Over his last three years in college, he has remained heavily involved in the SAR community. In typical SAR fashion, the Bogrim curriculum is willing to address controversial topics that are often deliberately overlooked by the rest of the community. Last year’s topic was homosexuality and orthodoxy, while this year’s is Tefillah. Jennie Rosenfeld explains that the theme this year was chosen as a complement to the school’s broader theme of Dveykut. “The topic was really an outgrowth of Dveykut. We felt that Dveykut would be too much to focus on for three weeks and so we kind of narrowed it to Tefillah, where Dveykut is an important aspect of that.” Students have been exploring different kinds of Tefillah with experimental Tefillot at Shacharit, and learning about Tefillah in daily seminars. Topics covered include Bakasha, Kavana, and Women in Tefillah. Another component of the program involves private and group tutoring for students. However, this seems, by many accounts, to be the weakest link in the program. Unless students go out of their way to learn with the Bogrim, they seem to have little opportunity to interact. Miriam Lichtenberg (‘14) recounts, “they ran a session about college for my grade, but aside from that, I never had the chance to learn with them or anything.” Despite limited interaction with the
Bogrim, students still appreciate their presence in the school, especially upperclassmen who may recognize some of their friends who graduated a couple years ago. Zach Nelkin (‘13) describes, “it’s definitely been nice to see people who left years ago and see their faces again.” Lichtenberg echoes Nelkin’s sentiment, saying that “it was nice talking to a few of them and seeing them around the school. I also enjoyed seeing them in the Beit Midrash learning because they looked
the Bogrim program is very much about pushing that mission beyond the borders of the high school in as many ways as possible.” like they were really enjoying themselves which was nice to see.” However, Sara Slaten (‘16), a freshman, feels differently because she never knew any of the Bogrim when they were in school. “I’ve never really talked to the bogrim. I think that because I’m a freshman and don’t know any of them I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable just walking up to them and introducing myself,” she ex-
plains. Slaten does add that this reality does not bother her, and that Bogrim does “seem like an interesting program.” Even if students do not have a chance to interact with Bogrim as much as the program perhaps intends, most do not seem bothered by their presence and even seem to appreciate it. Still, interactions with Bogrim can definitely be accessed easily if students seek these opportunities. Zoe Lindenfeld (‘13) describes, “Leah Slaten and I were bored since classes ended for seniors, so we decided to join in a couple of the Bogrim seminars. Mr. Fleischer and Rabbi Hain, the teachers of the week, and the other students were really welcoming to us, especially when they invited us to lean in and sit at the table. We also really appreciated the humble, yet intellectual, environment of the seminars. Bogrim is a great program: I’m glad I had the chance to participate peripherally this year and I hope to participate fully two years from now.” Despite marginal interactions with students, Bogrim seems to be a well-appreciated program that fits well into the mission of the school. Even as the Bogrim stay holed up in the room of the creepy clock, alumni in Bogrim appreciate the opportunity to remain connected to the SAR community, and students in the school appreciate seeing them around the school when they do come out of 608.
Maintaining the Misheberach misheberach l’chayalei tzahal’s role in tefillah By Ronit Morris It’s 8:36am. The chazan recites the last words of the Shir Shel Yom and the tefillin starts coming off. Does anyone pay attention to that one girl praying for the safety of our soldiers? The level of attention given to the Misheberach L’Chayalei Tzahal, a prayer for Israeli soldiers recited at the end of Tefillah by a female student, does not seem to reflect how important it is. Students may often be preoccupied, thinking about that test they have second period, or making plans with the person sitting two rows behind them to get coffee during breakfast. Rabbi Ben David, a tefillah instructor for the Sophomore grade, agrees that the misheberach is an important tefillah that we should say every day, but concedes that the low interest level of students often makes it difficult to include. “It appears like the students just want to get out of davening as early as possible,” he explains. In order
to save time, his tefillah group has stopped saying the misheberach at the end of tefillah. He explains that this problem is not due to the misheberach itself; rather, students’ impatience exists throughout the entire end of tefillah. “We have issues already by the time that u’va l’tzion aleinu, and shir shel yom comes around,” he explains. “It’s an end-oftefillah thing.” Some believe that this problem can be remedied through moving the recitation of the Misheberach to an earlier place in tefillah.“I would be in favor of putting the Misheberach L’Chayalei Tzahal in a more prominent place in davening,” says Ms. Lerea. She explains that this is especially important because girls are not permitted to say many tefillot, so we should maximize their engagement in tefillah by moving the Misheberach to a time in davening when people are more focused. “If everybody were quiet at that time, I think it would get the attention that it should, and that the woman’s voice would be heard,” adds Ms. Lerea. Other in-
stitutions have adopted this strategy: Rabba Sara Hurwitz explains that on Torah reading days at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Misheberach L’Chayalei Tzahal is said right before Hagbah. Still, others feel that the Misheberech’s existence as a “women’s only prayer” serves to highlight how few roles women can have in tefillah. “It’s nice that the school’s trying, but it’s sad that this is the best they can do. Instead of actually having girls participate in tefillah b’tzibbur, they figure they can ‘empower’ us with some silly little thing at the end that we can say so we’re not too upset,” remarks Shalhevet Schwartz (’15). “I’m not satisfied with that, and the school shouldn’t be either.” Gavriel Steinmetz-Silber (’14) agrees, stating: “Modern Orthodoxy attempts to give women an equal role in general, while not giving them an equal role in terms of halachic obligations. This is incredibly problematic and results in awkward situations, such as the misheberach one, in which women do not play an active role in
all of the davening, but at the very end they say a short prayer. This is clearly patronizing.” Hilla Katz (‘14) adds that “it’s problematic because it’s as if we are saying “Oh, those poor girls they can’t participate in davening, let’s give them the misheberach, it’s not that important anyway.” This is a loselose situation: The girls feel put down, and it devalues God and Israel. “I also think that it is chauvinistic because it creates this image of the women sitting at home praying for their men who are fighting for them,” adds Katz. “There is something very 1950s about it.” Ms. Lerea, however, disagrees: “I do think it’s a good idea that girls say it, and I would love to give them more opportunities to say such pieces of davening.” Ms. Schlaff agrees that, going forward, the school needs to “figure out other ways in which girls can be more active participants in the davening experience.”
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice Column Student Life From SAR to IDF Continued from page 10
ance provided him: “College guidance was really great in helping me get ready for my post-army college plans and navigating that process.” Additionally, Schildkraut reports that the SAR Hebrew department was helpful Do YOU Support the Tav? Continued from page 3
being paid and treated properly. The Tav is not a hechsher; rather, it is an ethical seal. In the past four years, over 100 restaurants nationwide have been certified with the Tav HaYosher; 86 remain today. Some businesses have shut down, and in rare cases, a restaurant’s Tav was revoked when it was found out that they were not, in fact, adhering to the standards entailed. Uri L’Tzedek, however, does not believe in embarrassing those establishments-- they quietly take the name down from their website, where they keep a list of restaurants who have the Tav. “We try to run a purely positive campaign; we don’t go after owners,” explains Yael Keller, the Director of Programming at Uri L’Tzedek. Restaurant owners face numerous economic pressures, especially given the current economy and the fact that many owners are in debt for the first five years of the business. Keller recalls: “An owner once said to me, ‘I pay my workers what I pay myself; I don’t make minimum wage’”. However, Uri L’Tzedek strongly believes in assisting anyone who is interested in attaining the Tav to work through these dilemmas. They even help find pro-bono consultants and accountants. SAR has recently become involved in supporting the Tav and exploring how to promote its values. Ms. Schlaff, an avid supporter of the Tav, brought in a speaker to help educate her 11th grade TSBP class about social justice and Uri L’tzedek. Jordan Soffer, a student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah who volunteers to give presentations on the Tav, came to her Gemara class. Ms. Schlaff voices her support for the Tav and concerns over the current status of workers: “Your greatest worry in life is whether you’ll get an 100 on your AP Bio test and the worker across the street’s greatest worry is whether he or she actually has food to put on the table for their family... When the speaker came to my Junior Gemara class, it was right before Pesach, and we were talking about Pesach and what it’s about, slavery and modern day slavery, and we decided as a class that we were going to try to do something right in our neighborhood. If anybody is actually going to affect change across the street, it’s kids in this high school.” Rachel Weintraub, a student in Ms. Schlaff’s class, received a shock when discussions about the Tav began. “Before we spoke about the Tav in class, I knew nothing about it”, she discloses. “I was fully aware of the obligation for Kosher establishments to receive a hechsher signifying a Rabbi ob-
in teaching him and David the Hebrew language necessary for the army. “I needed to do a lot of preparation hebrew wise and Ms. Naftalovitch gave me and Elliot private hebrew lessons everyday. She was very helpful with that, and I know she did that last year as well.” The choice to go into the army is a dif-
ficult one; those who decide to go are leaving everything they grew up with behind. Though most Modern Orthodox American students will continue on towards college and careers, the rising number of seniors entering the army is a reminder of the long debate between the status of an American Jew and a Jewish American. Those students en-
tering the army are standing up and declaring themselves Jewish Americans, as they put their American life on hold to fight for the state of Israel. As the school winds down and we wave goodbye to our seniors, a special ‘good luck’ goes out to all the boys going the extra mile and entering the Israeli Army.
served the food was cooked in the proper manner, but I had no idea there was even a concept that existed in Judaism about treating your workers respectfully... I remember thinking during [Soffer’s] presentation that there was a clear injustice in this industry that needed fixing.” In fact, the class then decided to split up into groups and speak with the owners of the Kosher establishments of Skyview about possibly applying for the Tav. This type of advocacy is precisely what Uri L’tzedek hopes to promote within the Jewish community, and is well within the reach of SAR high school students. Without a doubt, one of the first steps in the process of spreading the Tav HaYosher is for SAR students to recognize their immense power. With over five hundred students, and with almost all going across the street once or twice a week, the ability to persuade restaurants to take steps towards getting the Tav lies within the student body. SAR is unique in that it is one of the few Modern Orthodox high schools with an open campus, an incredibly close proximity to a whole shopping area of restaurants, and a vast number of students. Working together, the Tav advocacy that can be achieved is boundless. Furthermore, as members of the Jewish community in this ideal situation, it is our halachic and ethical responsibility to do so. The only Skyview restaurant that currently has Tav certification is Riverdale Kosher Market. Elisha Block explains that he was eager to receive the seal. “I’ve always been a big believer in treating your help the same way you’d want to be treated yourself,” he reveals. “I feel that the better you are to your help and the more you treat them in the way they deserve to be treated, the better they’ll perform... Uri L’Tzedek originally made a phone call to me and I said, why not? I’m certainly not hiding anything, and if I can endorse something as good as the Tav, it’s my pleasure to support it”. Elisha went on to explain that every few months, an Uri L’Tzedek agent comes by and briefly interviews a couple of his employees. In order to reach the next level of owners, Ms. Keller explains, to convince those who have chosen not to pay their workers minimum wage or overtime, which are common violations, the community needs to do something. Then, it’s more like a business proposition. “At the end of the day, the owners want to do what’s best for their business”, she states. “You can decide that SAR will only order from Tav certified restaurants, which is the policy of some shuls and schools around the country. I think if you said that, they would realize it’s clearly in their best interest to get the Tav. They get
thousands of dollars a year from SAR and its students... that’s a real incentive.” However, Uri L’tzedek is also not advocating complete isolation of restaurants without Tav certification. Rachel Ashe (‘14), a member of Ms. Schlaff’s Gemara class, relates that “I was surprised that they didn’t want us to boycott places that didn’t have the Tav.” Indeed, this might be a common misconception in this era of Tav education and awareness. Ms. Schlaff agree that change can best be brought about through positive advocacy. “I think that there’s a way of pushing this issue of justice, and people being treated fairly, without being aggressive about it,” she maintains. “You can walk into a restaurant
one abstention) in support of the Tav HaYosher. Steinmetz-Silber disclosed on May 27th that they had voted for two motions: “First, to officially encourage students to buy from restaurants that have the Tav HaYosher seal. Second, to throw Council’s backing behind the school divesting from nonTav businesses.” Student Council addressed the administration later that day, who in turn were “impressed with the 9-0 vote”, according to Steinmetz-Silber. He notes that while this vote shows significant strides in the Council’s support, it has no binding power, and will not be acted upon until next year. He emphasizes that education for the entire student body on this issue is necessary to garner the proper support. Many ideas have been suggested regarding student activism. Firstly, Uri L’Tzedek has offered to send the school a bulk of varying customized Tav postcards, which students can either give to restaurants that do not have the Tav to demonstrate the desire that they work to get it, or to restaurants that already have it to show their appreciation. Students can also sign The Tav Pledge, which Uri L’Tzedek describes as “a cost-free way to demonstrate your commitment to the ethical treatment of workers”. Perhaps, too, tables could be set up at lunch time with these supplies as well as others, to better remind students of their duty and to enable them to advocate the Tav in the best, most civilized manner. (Additionally, for those soon leaving the SAR world, Uri L’Tzedek runs an internship program for outgoing seniors as well as for college students.) Ms. Keller opines: “If there is a strong push for the Tav by the students next year, I believe it is possible to get two more restaurants from Skyview certified. And once there are there out of six, the strategy is changed. Soon enough, the others will get the message.” Moreover, Ms. Schlaff hopes to continue educating students about the Tav HaYosher. “I think we need to bring people in to talk to more classes,” she imparts. “I think this kind of thing is more effective when done in small groups, which is why it takes a little bit longer, but then there’s a chance for there to really be a conversation and for kids to ask questions and engage, instead of just having someone speaking at you.” The Tav has rapidly gained many notable advocates: visit their website to see the voiced support of celebrities ranging from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks to Mayor Bloomberg to Rabbi Tully Harcsztark. Hopefully, with the work of Ms. Schlaff, Student Council, and Uri L’tzedek volunteers, the SAR student body can soon join their ranks.
and say: ‘This is something really important to me’. That doesn’t mean you have to accost the store owner”. The student body may also be able to show support for the Tav through a newly developed power: Student Government. The Council experienced a number of intense debates in early May about the best approach the school could take in regard to the Tav Hayosher. An interview with current Speaker of the Student Council Gavriel SteinmetzSilber on May 13th revealed his fierce support of the Tav and desired plan of action. “I would like two things to happen,” he states. “First, I would like for Council to officially encourage students to buy at restaurants that have the Tav HaYosher. Second, I would like the school to stop buying from businesses that don’t have the Tav HaYosher. For example, currently, some student activities purchase food from non-Tav certified businesses.” The Council’s debates eventually cooled down, resulting in a 9-0 vote (with
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice School Column Life
SAR’s First Annual Sports Banquet reflecting on sports culture at sar
By Liat Katz On Thursday, May 23, athletes, coaches, and other students gathered in the gym at 5:30 to show appreciation for the coaches and athletes that lead SAR to championships. Though this was the first time such a program has ever been hosted, Yoram Roschwalb communicates that “The turnout was excellent. Over 150 students came. Every seat was full.” Mr. Berlin agrees, noting that “The turnout of the Sports Banquet was excellent, especially since it was our first one.” Though this turnout demonstrated that the school does wish to show appreciation for SAR’s athletes and coaches, generally, athletes do not feel that the SAR student body is showing them as much support as they would like. Toba Stern (‘15) explains, “I’m in girls hockey and I’m literally obsessed. I love it and I love the team, but no one else cares about it. Everyone thinks it’s not a sport, and no one comes to our games or anything.” Mr. Roschwalb notices the Teacher Hiring Continued from front page
are some people who go into teaching because they really love kids,” he explains. SAR doesn’t have any specific degree requirements; it is just looking for someone who fits into the school. In addition to these general criteria, different departments look for different attributes in their new staff members. “Rabbi Kroll and I interview and hire Judaic Studies teachers,” explains Ms. Schlaff. “We look for teachers who are excited about Torah, and excited about connecting with teenagers over Torah... Recently, as part of the interview process, I have been asking potential teachers: ‘What do you care about?’ It’s a very open-ended question, and we have gotten some interesting answers. It has been helpful in identifying people who we think will serve as good role models.” Though Ms. Schlaff feels confident in SAR’s hiring process, she feels that it can be improved in one way: “One thing I’d like to do moving Gap Year Continued from page 6
They were very helpful throughout the process.” Because of students similar to Ofer, it is important that SAR encourages students to first look into a few Israel programs before shutting the Israel door completely. Even Nelkin agrees that things can change and therefore “The school should always make sure the door is always open to people who change their mind.” However, Nelkin still maintains that “pushing students is not how they should be achieving those goals.” Regarding the lower percentage of students from this year’s graduating class attending yeshivot or seminaries, Israel Guid-
same trend, admitting that “it would be nice if there was a little more support from the students, especially in the playoffs.” Eliana Rohrig (‘15), however, explains that even though there may not be “much of an emphasis on going to games, people love SAR and want us to win.” Though there is no doubt that showing student support is a nice thing to do, the impact this support has on the players is unclear. Rafi Kubersky (‘16) believes that more support “would really bring us together as a community, and that’s something we can build upon.” Micah Levy (‘15), a co-captain of the JV basketball team, believes that more student support would be beneficial to the players. “When a team hears a huge crowd cheering for them, it pumps them up and you play better,” he explains. However, Zach Smart (‘14), a member of the track, soccer, and wrestling teams, explains that “We never had any fans but it never really bothered me. We did fine anyway, and didn’t need anyone to tell us we were special- we got enough of
that from our parents in preschool. Besides, I know that everyone has a ton going on.” Smart raises an excellent point. Perhaps the lack of attendance at sports games does not reflect poor school spirit, rather it merely exists because students do not have much free time after a long day at school. “With the amount of work that I’m given, it’s difficult for me to attend sports games when I have co-curriculars of my own,” Molly Leifer (‘16) explains. Students will often prioritize their interests and studies over other activities, resulting in poor attendance at sports games. “Students should get their acts together, forget about that stupid quiz they have the next day, get to these games, and show some school spirit,” exclaims Levy. The Sports Banquet was designed to break this trend of general lack of student enthusiasm and support for SAR’s sports teams. Though the good turnout proves that the banquet was, for the most part, successful, some students do point out some flaws in the program. Gadasi believes that
though “The sports banquet was a good idea to pay tribute to the coaches who worked very hard,” the teams were not all honored equally, thus diminishing the importance of certain sports and elevating others. Leifer confirms this, stating that “The dance team was not honored.” Additionally, though the Sports Banquet was designed to honor SAR’s athletes and coaches, DD Naiman (‘16), the goalie for the boys’ soccer team, shares that the program was a little flawed because “our coach didn’t show up.” The Sports Banquet was, hopefully, a step towards the development of a greater appreciation for SAR’s athletes and coaches. Though some students may not have an interest in attending sports games and there is simply no solution for that, the hope is that, after a good turnout at the Sports Banquet, there will be increased attendance at sports games as well.
forward is involve more faculty members in the hiring process. We’ve involved teachers in an ad-hoc way, but I’d like to formalize this more.” The math department also has special qualities that it looks for in teachers. According to Mr. Krausz, teachers applying for jobs at SAR must show that they can “communicate content in a clear and engaging way.” They also must demonstrate “genuine care and concern for students’ well being in a holistic way; not simply viewing them as ‘brains,’ but as individuals.” Finally, and perhaps the most obvious qualification, they must have a mastery of the mathematics they are planning to teach. Mr. Krausz elaborates: “The first question I often ask is: ‘With a sample size of n=1, the variance for the lesson quality is pretty high -- so tell me, what was typical or atypical about your lesson?’ If they don’t understand what I’m saying, then we have problems.” Ms. Silverman was first hired as a full-time English teacher at SAR this year.
She describes that during her interview process, Mr. Huber and Dr. Shinar “were looking for classroom management, sort of the well-roundedness of not only showing that I understood the material, but that I was also coming up with a lesson that engaged everyone and caused the students to consider what I was teaching them and then apply it to something that was more personal or apply it to other things that they learned.” Before the interview, she gave a model lesson, but she wasn’t required to observe any current English classes beforehand. “It was certainly encouraged and it was certainly something that I expressed interest in and I’ve always been invited to, but it wasn’t something that was expected of me,” she explains. Josh Rosenfeld, a current fellow at SAR, was recently hired as a Judaic Studies teacher for next year. He compares his interview for a teacher role at SAR with his interview to become a fellow: “Interviewing for a job as a fellow, Rabbi Hain knew me a little bit from before, and he said, ‘Come
down, see if you like it, and the job can be yours.’” In contrast, he explains that “Interviewing for a job [as a teacher] involves a model lesson, a lot of time, and effort goes into it. It is a very rigorous process and you have to make sure you present yourself in the best way.” However, he adds that “Like any job, it is a scary intimidating process [at first], and once you get there you sort of forget about it and act like yourself.” After having interviewed at a number of additional schools, Mr. Rosenfeld asserts that SAR’s process is a little more unique. “A lot of other schools like to make the process way more formal. You end up dressing fancier than most of the teachers there. I think they make an effort to show you who you’re up against. However, at SAR it’s just like: ‘We’re looking at you and that’s all we’re looking at.’” And it is this unique way of evaluating potential faculty members that ensures that SAR maintains such a passionate and dedicated faculty.
ance doesn’t seem to think much about it. Rabbi Block comments, “It doesn’t say anything about the grade...The fact of the matter is we don’t think about it like that, we just try to help every individual.” He also notes that though there is a lower percentage of students attending yeshivot and seminaries next year, “at the same time there is the greatest number of students going to the army.” With approximately eight students planning on going to the army(and more considering), Rabbi Block’s point is spot on. The increase of army-bound boys isn’t the only interesting statistic that sets apart this year’s senior grade. Equivalent in number to the eight boys going to the army, there are eight girls going to Ein Hanatziv
next year, more than in any previous year. Additionally, this year has seen a drop in the number of boys applying to both Hakotel and Gush. Although the interests of each individual student ultimately determine which yeshiva or seminary he/she will attend, it is interesting to note this difference when evaluating the different culture this graduating class has created. Orli Swergold (‘13), one of the eight girls attending the Israeli seminary Ein Hanatziv next year, comments on its popularity within her grade: “Honestly I’m surprised that it took this long for that many SAR students to go because I feel like Ein Hanatziv’s mission, and the feel of the seminary, is very similar to SAR’s. It’s very liberal, and they
have tons of classes, and you choose what to go to, and I think that a lot of students who choose to go to SAR also choose to go to Ein Hanatziv because they are very similar in that way, so to me it makes sense that so many SAR kids are going.” SAR’s Israel Guidance has been working hard to help students make the plans for next year that best suit their needs. Even still, one has to wonder; should SAR be continually meeting with the students who aren’t interested, or just let them go? Maybe, like Dvir Ofer, there are many students who could find a great match, if they are just given a little push.
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice Column School Life
Don’t Forget to Sign Up!
course selections for next year By Lilly Scherban It’s that time of year again. SAR students are getting ready for the summer. But before school ends, there is one important decision for high school students of all ages to make: what courses to take in their next year of high school. Course selection is relatively easy for incoming Freshmen and Sophomores; they can choose to be in advanced Tanakh and/or advanced Gemara. As long as they have the required skills, they can opt to be in one or both of these advanced classes. Rising Juniors have a little more freedom in their course selections. In addition to opting in or out of advanced Judaic Studies courses, students must select an art course, and must decide whether to continue their foreign language class or take Economics or Writer’s Workshop instead. Students additionally have the option of taking up to two Advanced Placement classes: AP United States History, in place of regular American History, and AP Biology, in place of physics. Students who choose to take AP Bio must take physics the following year. When choosing courses for senior year, students have much more leeway. Students can again choose to opt into advanced Gemara or Tanakh, but must select Student Government Continued from front page
thing slightly controversial is hard to get through. The reason for this is the Council’s size.” Miriam Lichtenberg (‘14) agrees that, thus far, nothing effective has come out of these meetings. While an increase in the size of Student Government was necessary for a more equal, fairly elected Student Government, it seems to have hindered productivity. For example, according to the charter, Student Council is allowed to change one policy without the administration’s consent. “What could happen,” says Steinmetz-Silber, “is that everyone wants their own policy instituted and will vote down everyone else’s and no policy will be passed.” The increase in size may also be giving some members of the Council an excuse to slack off. Steinmetz-Silber remarks, “There are 10 members of council, 9 excluding me. Whenever there is something that has to be done, each council member is comfortable saying that a different one should do it. ‘Why me?’ they ask, ‘there are other members of Council.’” While the members of the new Council should be working together to increase productivity, the Council seems to have adapted the same attitude as previous Student Governments, which Nelkin describes as “the ‘let’s pretend’ theory of student activism. Despite the apparent dysfunction of
elective Judaic courses if they choose not to pursue advanced Judaic classes. Additionally, students must choose five secular classes from a wide range of elective and AP courses, though they are required to take one English and one History course. Dr. Shinar explains that seniors are given this flexibility because, as the oldest grade, seniors have “educational perspective.” Therefore, as they are “transitioning out of the school, we want to give them more opportunities.” To help organize senior course selection, SAR has created a ‘band’ system. There are five different ‘bands’ of classes, but students can choose only one class from each band. If students like more than one class in a particular ‘band’, they have a very tough decision to make. Michelle Kleinman (’13) explains, “I enjoyed all of my classes this year, so I can’t really complain. However, the course selection bands can be frustrating, because by choosing to take one class, you are choosing not to take the rest of the classes in that band.” Though the ‘band’ system initiates a tough decision making process for students, the system is actually put in place for just that reason; it limits the amount of students taking each course. Dr. Shinar explains, “I often put popular classes against each other in the same band to force kids
to make choices, because we can’t teach overenrolled classes.” Though it seems that the actual course selection process becomes more difficult and complicated for upperclassman, there are some external factors, such as workload, that may equally influence all students’ course selections. Emma Cantor (’15) explains that she definitely “consider[s] how well I can manage my
Student Government meetings, it is important that many controversial topics, that had previously been avoided by Student Government, are now being discussed. One of these important issues is Tav Hayosher. Tav Hayosher is a restaurant certification that states that all of the restaurant’s workers are treated and paid appropriately. Steinmetz-Silber believes that if a majority of the Skyview restaurants’ revenue comes from the SAR student body, then we should at least make sure that their employees are being treated properly. In order to coerce the Skyview restaurants into obtaining a Tav Hayosher, his plan of action would be to have the student body boycott restaurants, including Carlos and Gabby’s and Judean Hills, that do not have one. Other members of the council feel that this would be a step too far. Smart believes that though it is important that these restaurants get a Tav Hayosher, Steinmetz-Silber’s plan may not be the best route to take. He explains, “The institution (Tav Hayosher) has said that it doesn’t want to have you boycott, that’s not how it does things. What I think is right is that the Student Government can tell the administration ‘we don’t want you to order from the restaurants.’” Smart’s main issue with Steinmetz-Silber’s plan is that “trying to convince the student body to boycott is not in our power, nor should it be a priority, and some members of the council are getting way too worked up about it.” In a meeting last week, there was a 9-0 vote from
the Council in favor of the Tav, but it is unclear how this decision will practically affect the school. The purpose of reforming Student Government was to ensure that the new Student Council functioned as a liaison committee between the student body and the administration. To that end, the Council is required by the charter to meet with the administration twice every month. Thus far, only one meeting has actually taken place with both the Student council and the administration. “With the administration, the meetings are very functional,” says Smart (‘14). Steinmetz-Silber agrees that the administration reacted very well to the ideas presented to them in the meeting. One of the ideas specifically brought up at the meeting with the administration was the possibility of having student-teacher conferences before parent-teacher conferences. “I think it would be beneficial for the students if we had student teacher conferences. I want this to be a separate meeting from parent-teacher conferences. This could help students catch up on work and discuss what they can do to better their grades, if they’re stuck somewhere or if they need help or if they just want to talk with a teacher,” explained Noah Benus (‘14) at the meeting. Lichtenberg explains that student-teacher conferences would also serve to prevent any miscommunications between students, parents, and teachers. Lichtenberg reports: “Sometimes my parents will come home
“I often put popular classes against each other in the same band to force kids to make choices, because we can’t teach overenrolled classes.” workload.” Samantha Schnall (’14) agrees with Cantor that it is important to consider workload, but adds another important note: “When choosing APs for Junior year, I had to take into account not only the workload for each AP, but also if I could handle the workload in combination with participat-
ing in extracurricular activities and studying for standardized tests.” Sometimes, students may even consider the specific teachers teaching the classes. Though for some classes one is not told in advance who the teacher will be, for others, such as advanced Gemara or Tanakh, the student is notified, potentially affecting his or her decision. Rebecca Peyser (‘16) recently completed the process of choosing classes for Sophomore year, and admits that she “want[s] to have Rabbi Harcsztark, so that’s definitely part of the reason that I want to be in a higher level class.” Though teachers do affect some students’ choices, many students remain uninfluenced by the teacher. Ruthie Charendoff (‘15) states: “I won’t base my course selection off a teacher because the teacher is not guaranteed.” Indeed, even if a teacher is listed as teaching a particular class in the following year, there are sometimes unprecedented last-minute switches that may change this. Course selection is no small deal. It has a major effect on the next school year. For all students who are going through the decision making process right now, it’s definitely worth it to consider your decisions long and hard. from parent-teacher conferences and tell me that my teacher told them that I’m missing work. I had an explanation for it, but at the time I wasn’t able to remind the teacher that we discussed this and that I asked for an extension, so then my parents have this idea that I’m doing poorly in the class.” Clearly, despite some obstacles with the new system, important issues are starting to be addressed and Student Council work is definitely in progress. Steinmetz-Silber explains, “Often, people will say something along the lines of, ‘You guys aren’t doing very much.’ However, I would like to emphasize the difference between the Student Government this year and in past years. The role of Council is to think of policy changes. It is not so easy to agree on what policy is good for the school. A certain role has fallen into the cracks so to speak. Who does the small things, the things that need to be done? For example, earlier this year, I was notified that the basketball hoop in the field was messed up, so I spoke to someone about it. I feel that this is my role, as someone has to do it, and, at the end of the day, I was elected by the entire student body, not just by a single grade.” The Council seems to have discovered one of the ironclad rules of Proportional Representation: It requires both a large amount of flexibility and a coherent ideology. If the members of Council want to break the gridlock, all they need to do is to learn how to cooperate with each other.
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice Commentary Column
Quantity without Quality By Avidan Grossman Senior year of high school is all about that cozy life; arriving at school swagged out in your comfiest sweatpants, nonchalantly rolling into your first class halfway through the day, and just generally flaunting your indifference to any restrictions that try to knock your senior year hustle. Along with a newfound freedom to be on that super comfortable and casual flow, senior year inevitably creates a sense of leadership akin to a medieval fiefdom. Catch the seniors lording over the plebeian freshman like they’re proverbial kings of the high school castle, while the rest of the school cowers in perpetual serfdom. Recently, however, a development has arisen that threatens to undermine the very essence of the high school feudal system. In the last couple of years, SAR High School has been expanding more rapidly than Kim Kardashian’s baby bump. The exponential growth of the freshman grade threatens to unhinge the delicate balance of power necessary to retain a dominant senior kingship. A massive influx of new students each year shifts the power away from the seniors and into the hands of bright eyed underclassmen, who in turn feel a sense of entitlement disproportionate to their actual role in the school. Back in my day, us freshman had a healthy sense of respect for the seniors who reigned over Ricki’s Rant Continued from page 2
us a narrow definition of what it means to be successful and valuable. And contemporary views of sexuality tell us to show off and “flaunt” what we have, whether through dress or actions. SAR does an incredible job of emphasizing the importance of tzniut and anivut. The role models in our school epitomize humility, it’s stressed as an important value, and we have grade-wide meetings with Rabbi Harcsztark to discuss it. Heck, it’s going to be our school theme next year. But the weird thing about humility is that it’s not the type of value that is immediately obvious. You rarely hear students say “I love the mission statement - it totally inspires me to probe and engage the world with humility and openness to God’s creations”. And that might be because humility is, to a certain degree, not something that can be successfully advocated for. The people who genuinely embody humility are not usually the type to start campaigns and give speeches about it, and the people who do reach high stature and public positions often get there by showcasing their talents, not preserving humility. (SAR is a rare exception to this rule.) There seems to be somewhat of a Catch-22 here: if you’re the type of person to speak publicly about humility, chances are you don’t have it.
intimidation in numbers
us. Any notion of entitlement I had back when I was a snot-nosed little freshman was straight up knocked out of me by some thuggish seniors with fully grown chest hair and no damns given about any highfalutin sense of privilege or equality. If a senior happened to come into my grade floor bathroom, you know I was getting the hell out of there regardless of whether my now trembling hands were thoroughly rinsed or not, personal hygiene be damned! If my standard morning pump-up ritual of shadowboxing in front of the bathroom mirror was embarrassingly interrupted by the presence of a menacing senior, I would casually try to pass off my wild gesticulations as a ritualistic African tribal dance welcoming the return of the sacred gods of sunrise. If that technique didn’t work, I could always play it cool by promptly locking myself in one of the stalls and making loud flushing noises until I thought the coast was clear. Regardless, when I was a freshman I had enough sense not to parade around the building touting my personal opinions, unless I wanted a forceful and immediate beatdown. You know the faculty wasn’t going to say anything either, because half of the administration was just as intimidated as I was. I can’t count the number of times I saw Rabbi Kroll guiltily forking over a box labeled “Dollar-a-Month Donations” to a burly looking senior, while Rob incon-
spicuously dropped the stack of chairs he was carrying and ran the other way. Lately though, tides have turned against the seniors. With SAR’s continued expansion, the increasingly larger freshman grades have slowly but surely come to infiltrate almost every aspect of SAR High School culture, including Student Government elections. In the much debated and controversial elections of this year, the freshman grade made a blatant attempt to orchestrate a devious coup d’etat in an attempt to elect one of their own as head slate member of the SAR Student Council. The usurpers wielded their conniving power as a powerful voting bloc to eventually determine the outcome of the election. The final results revealed that a freshman student had in fact been elected head of the Student Government, immediately causing infuriated students to riot and protest in response to the announcement. Hundreds of students thronged the main office, while Rabbi Harcsztark blockaded the door to his office and Rabbi Kroll booked a ticket to Florida. The crowd was only quieted when they were finally offered both of the Birnbaums in sacrifice, and a junior was placed as head of the council. Although these particular feelings of unease were eventually assuaged, the general problem of expansion remains. In fact, as SAR continues to expand in the coming years, it becomes increasingly
more difficult for it to uphold the values it highlights so prominently in the sacred school mission statement. For the unfamiliar among us, the mission statement was handed down to Rabbi Harcsztark in a divine revelation on the hill behind the school parking lot. It was on that hill that God commanded Rabbi Harcsztark to build a “co-educational community of learners”, but Rabbi Harcsztark built SAR instead. The mission statement strongly emphasizes the importance SAR places on “recognizing the unique needs and potential” of each and every individual student, a task made gradually more difficult by the growing size of the SAR High School student body. As SAR continues to favor a policy of steady expansion, the school must take into account the growing size of the student body and readjust accordingly. Unfortunately, this bodes bad news for your boy and his senior class this upcoming September. As the underclassmen grades gradually leech power off the seniors, new changes will imminently occur in the traditional social hierarchy established in the years of SAR’s inception. Who knows, in the near future SAR freshman may even feel comfortable enough to fully clean their hands after using the bathroom. Whatever the freshman gain in hygiene, seniors lose in their rightful roles as kings of SAR.
Even writing an editorial about it feels a little cheap. True humility doesn’t need to advertise itself. It’s not a virtue you can list on a resume, though it has a profound effect and is much more impressive than any academic accomplishments. But even viewing it as something impressive - complimenting someone on their humility, for example - seems to undermine the purpose of humility itself. Which brings me to my main point: What is the purpose of humility? On the one hand, it certainly seems like a worthwhile trait. Listening to others, caring about the big picture, and not always holding your own opinions in high regard are important values. But on the other hand, sometimes when we strive so hard to be humble, we end up focusing more on “being the most humble person” than truly caring about the big picture. We try to have good midot, but perhaps the incentive behind that is so that we will be seen as the person with the best midot. Sometimes it feels like a large part of our efforts to be more humble is just a more nuanced version of the same competitive, boastful attitude that “non-humble” people have. If the reason we seek humility is to impress the role models who view it in such high esteem, perhaps we’re not really being humble. There are a couple layers to this “dis-
ingenuous humility”. Firstly, excessive humility can sometimes lead to self-righteousness. I know that occasionally, when I’m politely raising my hand in class, I’ll catch myself silently judging the friend who is calling out the correct answer. This defeats the goal of being humble and listening to others; instead, it just translates superficial judgmentalness (about looks and grades) into a deeper judgmentalness, about personality and midot. But it does not solve the underlying problem. Secondly, our attempts to be humble may be rooted in the very same competition that we are trying to escape through humility. Admittedly, it’s better to “compete” over being a good person than over SAT scores, but there’s still a degree of trying to impress others around us. We’re trying to be the “most humble” we can possibly be, while contradicting ourselves through the very act of competing over something defined by avoiding competition. It’s like trying to be the best at not always trying to be the best. Trying to win at a game defined by not trying to win the game. You know that game you learned in summer camp where if you think of the game, you lose? The one you just lost? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. So this ends up feeling pretty frustrating. When a college admissions official tells you “don’t do extra-curriculars for college, we’re looking for the types
of students who don’t care about college, who do these things out of genuine passion,” where does that leave the students who aren’t genuinely passionate and really just want to get into college? So too with a competitive person trying to be humble. If humility is defined in part by not caring about impressing others, how can it be genuinely attained by people who, deep down, are just selfish? And are we not, deep down, all selfish? Hopefully not, but sometimes it feels that way. Perhaps this is just my way of overthinking things, and perhaps it’s a problem that hinders me a lot more than it hinders others. I’m definitely not saying we shouldn’t try to be humble, I’m just confused about what being humble really means. I think this is an important conversation that I’m looking forward to having over the next year. There’s a lot more to say, and we sometimes lack the words and means to say it. I think that’s a good thing. I want to thank the teachers who have caused me to start thinking about this issue this past year. Through direct conversations as well as silent role modeling, the SAR faculty have conveyed something incredibly important, and, in some capacity, it deserves recognition. I’d mention them each by name, but somehow, I don’t think that’s what they’d want.
The Buzz, June 2013
Advice Column Dear Beings that God bestowed with amazing humor, I am an advice columnist for The Buzz and I don’t think anyone is reading my articles. I try to be funny, but that does not work, so I gave up. Is it me personally, or do people don’t want advice anymore? How can I write an effective advice column that people will find enjoyable? Sincerely, Anonymous Dear Anonymous, Who are you? Nevermind that’s not the point. Being an advice columnist is hard work. You gotta want it enough to try out, or be funny enough that you are asked to try out, but once you make it and write two articles people are no longer interested. That’s generally how it works. For those two issues that people actually read, you want to write some-
thing funny. It does not have to be actual helpful advice. For some reason, people don’t want to hear that. For example, this year we wanted to give advice about topics such as lunch, friendship, dresscode, and shabbatons, but the Buzz staff and Rabbi Kroll insisted we write about playing Settlers of Catan in the annex after school, drugs and alcohol, and censorship of school media. When we submitted our friendship article, the Buzz staff sent it to Rabbi Kroll for approval, and he responded “completely unacceptable. Don’t even try a rewrite. Start from scratch with [partnership minyanim].” (sic). In short, writing an advice column is a very difficult job, though this is a *Cuisinart due to the superior censorship skills of Rabbi Kroll. Before you assume that nobody is reading your column, make a few tests to confirm this. Replace every adverb with the word “cuisinart”. Sure it makes no sense, but it has a subliminal effect.
If you notice people in school are, for some strange reason, really in the mood to mash some food, you know they are reading your column**. But they are probably not reading your advice column because it is too long, so we will end this with as little words as possible. We quit, Knoam and J. Sherman 42 wallaby way Sydney *Cuisinart is a food processor for those who don’t know **We were not hired by Cuisinart to advertise for their amazing food processing equipment, nor did they tell us to mention that you can buy them at any appliance store for a cheap price.
Knoam Spira and J. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney, our advice specialists
To submit a question to The Buzz, email TheBuzz@SARHighSchool.org. If you want a serious answer, please make it clear so we don’t embarrass you. Compiled by Chanan Heisler and Max Altholz
Alex Meisels (‘16)
Toba Stern (‘15)
Miriam Lichtenberg (‘14)
David Izso (‘13)
Eitan Lipstein (Fellow)
Ms. Radovici at an Italian restaurant i
Mr. Fleischerhe’s my cousin!
Probably Ron while I stalk him
Sir Joshua Lannik
Dr. Schwartz- I live a block away
Ms. BerglindI’m going to Iceland
My awkward summer camp story is..
When I got caught by the owner of the camp on a raid to his son’s bunk
When I didn’t realize my counselor was going in for a shomer high five
There was a chidon competition during color war, and, under a lot of pressure, I answered a question that the longest benching is on Yom Kippur
I hold the record for most hours spent on a head counselor porch
When I was walking by a hockey rink and got hit in the eye
Cleaning up after the elephants in zoo camp
My favorite part of finals season is..
Having teachers accompany you to the bathroom
Studying for Mathematical Physics
Summer TV season starts
Watching kids running after fellows, desperate for help
Watching kids learn a lot of Torah
This year’s senior class will be remembered for..
Cheating in Color War (I’m so going to get beat up for this)
That time they did Shabbos ruach in our health class
Losing Color War three years in a row (and then beating the juniors :( )
The class that started “love the building” and for our shabbos ruach
Max Altholz headgear and footwear
For their enthusiasm at the Israeli Day Parade
When will SAR finally..
Love the building
Make the school day longer
Get a pet cheetah
Allow talking in the library- let’s be honest, nobody goes in there to be quiet
Install a fire poll from the 6th floor to the Beit Midrash so students can go quickly to learn.
The teacher I will most likely bump into this summer is..
Published on Jun 5, 2013