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Yeshivah of Flatbush ‫הישיבה דפלטבוש‬

SUMMER 2015 AV 5775

What Tomorrow’s


are Doing Today


Letter from the Executive Director

Building YOF’s Future:

One Student, One Space at a Time T

his is our largest Bulletin ever. But even with all this content, you are receiving but a glimpse of the Yeshivah of Flatbush which comes to life each day. In this Bulletin, you will see a place where students and teachers work together to learn and to teach, to understand together the relevant issues of today and tomorrow. You will spot our talented faculty guiding our students in the texts and traditions of our grandparents, and peek at our students developing the competencies that will make for a better world for their grandchildren. If there is any common theme in this Bulletin, it’s that at the Yeshivah of Flatbush, our vision for what a person can accomplish through a lifetime of engagement demands that no student gets lost in the crowd but instead is celebrated and nurtured for his or her individual interests and talent inside and outside of our classrooms. You will observe inviting spaces made vibrant with the voices of schoolchildren, and one becoming even more


appealing through our Blueprint for Excellence Campaign. This Fall, to complete the second phase of the Campaign, we will be debuting the Laniado Gym, a modern hockey and volleyball arena (pictured in progress at right). Then, we’re on to the phenomenal design of the new North building, including a soaring Bet Midrash and a stunning library and a whole host of spaces for interactive collaboration and interdisciplinary learning. Thanks to your extraordinary generosity, the Campaign has thus far raised the highest amount ever for a school in our community. But we have more to go, for every gift will mean even more robust experiences for our students. So we ask for your support and look forward to even more participation. The past year also saw several alumni making significant endowment gifts (and matched on a 1:3 basis by UJA-Federation of New York), to help establish a stream of funds to support operations andprovide financial aid for deserving students.

A Senior Reflection F

anya Donin is a 2015 graduate of JBHS who holds one Gold Key, three Silver Keys and one Honorable Mention Award from the National Scholastic Young Writers Competition. She will attend Pace University as a Dean’s Award recipient where she was selected to study in specialized programs in English Language and Literature with a Focus on Writing, and Business Economics.

Everything you see in this Bulletin, every aspect of school life and culture, is made possible by a synergistic combination of volunteers, students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends (and many of you belong to more than one of these groupings). The Ladies Auxiliary is particularly vital to the flow of the YOF ecosystem. In this Bulletin, with mixed emotions, we offer our fondest congratulations to Bebe Levitt, who retired at the end of this school year. Bebe has been a valued member of the YOF community for virtually her entire life, as a student, alumna, parent, and volunteer, and for the last 26 years, as the Director of our Alumni Association. Throughout the Jewish world, Bebe is recognized as a pioneer in the field of alumni relations, and here at Flatbush, she has touched the lives of thousands of alumni and families. We wish all joy and health to Bebe and her husband Lenny (another Flatbush alum) and look forward to seeing them back on campus often.

At the same time, we welcome David Hinson as our Director of Information Technology. David most recently served as Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer of Hendrix College. We also welcome Ilana Lax as our Director of Marketing & Communications. Ilana comes to us from Heyman Associates, where she served as Editorial and Marketing Communications Director. Previously, Ilana worked in marketing for Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, and for the Metropolitan Opera. Come speak with me about what meets your interests and how you want to be involved – so that our next Bulletin can be even larger! Thank you for your continuing commitment.

Rabbi Seth Linfield

“Our time at Flatbush has come to an end, but we are all still beautifully human …which is to say, that we may no longer be students of this school, but …the times we shared will live forever. “Collective memory, as it were, like the Jews in front of Mount Sinai; no one can deny the events that occurred. The tears, the laughter, the finding. The notions gained and inhibitions lost…The way we’ve become so much more than just students. We’ve become truer versions of ourselves. We know that the line between holy convocation and math test exists, but we play jump rope with it. We know that time is precious, but we dance the mamba in the arms of the clock in every classroom. “We don’t just exist, we thrive. We persist. We conquer. That’s the Flatbush student. We are not defined by our caps and gowns, or our graduation: social constructs that tell us we’ve left a place. We are defined by our decisions, our actions, our godliness. Sometimes, even by our existential crises and our marvelous ability to be young.”


Elementary School

S.T.E.M. Alive and Well in the Elementary School S

tudents experienced the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) during science classes and during computer classes. Science classes in Lower Division created terrariums and aquariums and observed the ecosystems of each. The S.T.E.M. components were realized through:


(Science) — studying the ecosystems and identifying producers and consumers.


(Technology) — computer visualization of the elements of our ecosystem. We employed the internet to research the elements of various ecosystems and environmental pollutants.


(Engineering) — designing the shape and content of the ecosystems.


(Math) — using measurement to determine the effects of soil run-off and pollutants on a model pond ecosystem — measuring the content of the materials in the ecosystem to ensure appropriate living conditions. Middle Division students learned computer engineering skills. The 6th graders coded in order to solve puzzles and customize games. Seventh graders coded with the programming language Scratch, creating their own figures, and animating them. Our young engineers in 8th grade and one 6th grade class collaborated with their classmates to build their own robots and program them to “speak” and “dance”and display graphics on their screens.




Kindergarten Gets Creative The Kindergarten Art Show displayed the flora, food, typography, and sights of Israel depicted in clay, mosaics, sand, watercolor and stained glass. Aside from personal creations, children also contributed to a collaborative class artwork.

Kindergartners Practice Their 2+2s U

nderstanding addition is the beginning of Kingergartners’ math mastery, and the Early Childhood teachers know how to keep children engaged in learning — by having fun with them!

K-233, eager to learn new counting techniques.

K-130 practices counting with dice.

K-233 Morah Darlene Salzman helped the children navigate a life-size number line! They jumped back and forth after rolling a die and then advanced that number of spaces. Through a variety of games, the children became comfortable with the number line to help them better understand future math concepts. K-130 In Morah Ann Silverstein’s class, children used a die and cards with numbers to count petals on flowers. The children reinforced number recognition and honed their addition skills. This game motivated the children to take turns tossing a die and recording responses. K-134 In Morah Dina Tusk’s class, children practiced their one-to-one correspondence and number skills as they used dominoes and pegs to familiarize themselves with counting.

K-134 dominates with dominoes.

K-238 keeps count with their toes!

K-238 Morah Mindi Gordon’s class learned to count by twos, fives and tens by using the children’s body parts! Eyes, hands and toes provided a visual aid to help the children learn how to skip-count.


Elementary School

Students using laptops during a research lesson.

Children getting a sneak preview of exciting new titles.

Yeshivah of Flatbush Elementary School Library Media Center Fosters a Reading and Information Community T

he Library Media Center at the Yeshivah of Flatbush Elementary School offers many and varied programs that encourage and support our students to become active readers and users of both fictional and informational texts. Our library has an open schedule and is available to all students. At our well-stocked library, led by General Studies Librarian Lynne Grant, students are introduced to our diverse book collections through regular class visits and instruction, monthly window book displays, Book Circles, the daily Middle Division Lunchtime @ the Library program, Early Childhood Storytime & Stickers program and the Library Afterschool program. Newly acquired books are on display for every class, as are book talks and a video, during Sneak Preview every spring.


The Library Media Center’s web site can be accessed through the

Flatbush web site (www.flatbush. org) by going to the menu, clicking on “Library” and following the links. The library web site offers an online catalogue to search for print books in our collection, as well as an amazing collection of free electronic resources on the Home Page. The electronic resources include links to access the online World Book and Grolier Encyclopedias, summer reading lists and programs, author and illustrator web sites, science, math, art and history web sites, and many more. Collaborative planning and instruction with classroom teachers are available to integrate information literacy skills that emphasize Common Core learning in class research projects throughout the grades. Students are rewarded for visiting the library, borrowing books and returning them on time and in good condition by being invited to become a member of the library’s Reading Rocks Club.

Each new member gets a membership card, special bookmarks, a Reading Rocks bracelet and is allowed to borrow more books each time he or she visits the Library. Reading is the focus when our 7th and 8th graders volunteer to participate in our High School/Middle Division Book Club, “Partners in Reading,” to read two book selections a year. The Middle Division students partner with the High School students, who are the book discussion leaders during the club meetings, to discuss and debate the themes, characters and issues in the selected book. Encouraging all of our students to become readers of fictional and informational texts is our goal and all of our library programs, books and electronic resources promote this objective. This past school year we circulated 22,000 books and magazines!

Lag B’Omer


On May 7, Early Childhood celebrated Lag B’Omer with a playground picnic and hula hoops, and bounced around a bouncy house!

Morahs Sophia and Renee and their little butterflies.

Living Family History Today

Nursery 3 Gets Hungry for Writing



Maya Cohen and her daughter showing off their family heritage project.

o culminate the school year on a high, Leah Weiner’s class 4-314 went on a journey back in time to learn about their family histories.

“The purpose of the family history project is for our children to deeply understand that their Jewish identities stem from their family histories,” explained Mrs. Weiner. “When we connect deeply to the Jewish traditions and values passed down to us, we can more strongly perpetuate their continuance and relevance in our lives.” The project consisted of three parts: The class first located a family artifact with a Jewish connection and traced its history. Using interviews with family members as primary sources, students delved even deeper into their backgrounds and garnered precious information about their past. Next, the students learned how to create their own family trees, linking the past to the present. The children

also looked at maps to see exact locations of where their ancestors were originally located. Finally, they wrote their own family history books. The final component had students write a non-fiction book integrating what they learned from the family history project. “We learned how to research using primary and secondary sources, and incorporated features of a nonfiction text into our family history books,” said Mrs. Weiner. Many parents told Mrs. Weiner how pleased they were that their children had the opportunity to connect to their fascinating histories. All agreed that it was a meaningful and enjoyable project. This project linked the students’ Jewish identity to their family history and gave them knowledge and connections that will last a lifetime.

fter studying the elements of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, the children of Morah Sophia Schindler’s Nursery 3 class wrote and illustrated their own “Very Hungry” books. Each child introduced a character and setting to the class, then stayed true to the sequential order of their story and gave their character a problem and a solution. Children came up with unique titles such as “The Very Hungry Pegasus,” “The Very Hungry Venus Flytrap,” “The Very Hungry Morah,” as well as hungry sharks, bears, penguins, etc. Students shared their books with their parents at their End of Year Celebration.


Elementary School

Nursery students excitedly wait in the wings to perform “Little Bo Peep”.

Spotlight Shines on Nursery Grandparents O

n Sunday, April 19, Early Childhood Nursery students made beautiful memories at Yeshivah of Flatbush’s first Grandparents Day. The students proudly showed their grandparents around their classrooms showing them all the places they learn and play. Working together with his or her grandparents, each child decorated a flower pot and created a special flower with a surprise in the center: one’s own adorable face! In


the spectacularly decorated auditorium, everyone enjoyed a delicious brunch with salads, mini pancakes and more treats. Next, grandparents were treated to a special performance of nursery rhymes that the students had prepared for Nursery Rhyme Day and presented their grandparents with “A Song for Grandma and Grandpa.” The children enjoyed the special one-on-one time with their grandparents, and the grandparents enjoyed

spending quality time with their grandchildren. Special thanks to parents Hailey Barnathan, Yvette Hidary, Beatrice Sutton and Jeanne Zirdok for dedicating their time and making the day such a success, and to the Early Childhood teachers and staff.

Photography by Lisa Chakkalo, Raquel Mizrachi, Vicki Ades


Performing for a Most Important Audience

Atideinu 2s celebrated the end of the year with a repertoire of songs that they sang for their parents in an outdoor performance. Parents and children enjoyed a celebratory snack in their classrooms.

Grandparents Day organizers, left to right: Hailey Barnathan, Yvette Hidary, Jeanne Zirdok, and Beatrice Sutton.


Elementary School

Creative Hebrew Practice Inspires Young Learners Our 3rd and 4th graders also participated in Lower Division’s annual Chidon Berachot. Two students were chosen from each class, where they showed off their years of learning by answering questions on a PowerPoint presentation. The audience was actively engaged and asked to answer audience-only questions. The children also performed a short skit.

Shir Shosef testing students’ Hebrew with a creative game in Ivrit.


ebrew Week kicked off in mid-winter for Lower Division. Each class received a mystery blue and white bag with a movie featuring information about Eretz Yisrael, the theme for this year’s Hebrew Week. The theme explored all aspects of Israeli life and culture, reinforced by activities in the Israel Room and in the classroom. In Hebrew class, students who spoke the least amount of English were awarded a special prize. Prior to entering the Hebrew room, students presented their boarding pass for a mock flight to Israel. Inside, students played games and the winners’ names were put into a raffle to win a falafel party for their class. Hebrew books designed and illustrated by second through fifth grade students adhered


to the theme as well. Upon leaving the room, students received a key chain brought from Israel by Lower Division Torah Studies Associate Principal Rivka Zaklikowski. Parents also came to read Hebrew books with their child’s class, and students shared objects from Israel for a Hebrew “show and tell” in class. Thank you to Supervisor of Torah Studies Curriculum Chani Gratzman, Bnot Sherut Leumi Eden, David and Shir Shosef and to all of the parents who volunteered.

Fifth graders displayed their knowledge of Sefer Bereshit in a Chidon Chumash to conclude their learning of Parashat HaShavua. The chidon, coordinated by Rabbi Shilo Sharoni, was such a success that students requested similar contests in the future!


Math Bee Competition On June 5th, our fifth grade students participated in a Math Bee competition, conducted by faculty member Marsha Kevelson. Students worked in teams to solve equations and conversion problems, and were quizzed on math vocabulary words.

Online Tools Support 2nd and 3rd Graders in Creative Writing and Math Enrichment


Mathematically Speaking O

n February 9, more than 30 students from the third, fourth and fifth grades enjoyed a great day of fun and learning at the Museum of Mathematics. The students experienced how shapes surround us. They enjoyed a hands-on workshop on tessellations, then took in exhibits on square-wheeled bicycles, racing objects, angles, movement, patterns, and geometric shapes.

The trip was followed up with a party and activities on tessellations coached by Lower Division Math Coordinator Marsha Kevelson, who also arranged the trip. Mrs. Kevelson looks forward to having another trip next year. “It’s great to see children having so much fun while learning!”

Ladies Auxiliary Boxtop Frenzy Raises $2K! L

adies Auxiliary drummed up enthusiasm within Early Childhood and Lower Division with its boxtop collection competition between the classes. Children were motivated by Ladies Auxiliary President Sarah Dweck’s daily

updated online tally that showed which classes had collected the most. The winning class, 1-320, received a scrumptious makeyour-own-ice-cream-sundae party. More than 20,000 boxtops were collected in all, totaling around $2,000!

his year, Second Grade teachers added a new tool for providing reinforcement and enrichment in math: Khan Academy, Teachers assigned online homework for students who were able to practice their math skills at their own pace, using interactive exercises, videos, and tutorials. The website offers practice problems and rewards good performance with points and badges. Khan allows for students to move through exercises at their own pace with hints to help them along the way. Teachers can track students’ progress, and strengths and weaknesses are highlighted. This allows teachers to provide each child with a more personalized math learning experience. Teachers have also implemented Classpress for 3rd graders, a classroom blogging website. Third grade teacher Susie Sutton, who collaborated with YOF on both Khan Academy and the blog, explained, “My students were able to share their creative writing and research projects as well as their responses to literature, current events and classroom activities. The students and I enjoyed posting relevant pictures and embedding videos within our entries for each other.”


Elementary School

Fathers visited their children’s classes during the Ladies Auxiliary Dads do Tefillah.

Pathbreaking Tefillah Program Offers Daily Instruction and Implementation D

aily Tefillah is a core principle of Judaism, offered multiple times a day, each and every day of one’s life, to be recited with proper Kavanah our Tefillot deserve, as we are standing in front of Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Therefore, should we be standing in front of Hakadosh Baruch Hu mumbling, rushing, stumbling over words, mispronouncing letters, or deleting syllables? The obvious answer is no, yet it happens too often and this is exactly what the Tefillah and Q’eriah program at YOF — under the guidance of Morris Varon, and coordinated by Sally Varon — strives to improve.


When it comes to Tefillah, being able to pray fluently and read correctly lays

the groundwork for everything else. In order to accurately comprehend what was read, one needs to first correctly read what was read. In Hebrew, even changing one tiny dot or vowel means the entire meaning of the word can change. The Tefillah and Q’eriah program aims to first have students read the unique portions of the Tefillah found in the siddur and other classical Jewish texts fluently, clearly, and automatically, without hesitation. The students are taught how to recite their Tefillot with correct pronunciation of each letter, vowel, word, passuk, and phrase. This way, anything they say relating to Tefillah will be fluent, clear, automatic

and essentially “Shagur Befihem” — fluent in their mouths regardless of length or complexity. Where a portion of the Tefillah might have felt long and tedious, students now recite it fluently and automatically with pride. At the same time, we teach the students specific skills and rules relating to Hebrew grammar, and Te’amim, in other words, why we pronounce something the way we do. This way the students not only know how to recite a given Tefillah portion, but also understand why a given portion is recited the way it is. These skills include being able to distinguish between a Sheva Na’/Nah’, Dagesh Qal/H’azak, Beged Kefet letters, the syllable stress of words that are Mile’el


With Honors Congratulations to 6th grade siblings Virginia and Michael O. on receiving an Honorable Mention in the Holocaust Creative Arts Contest!

Students practice their Hebrew and are taught life lessons in the Tefillah Program.

and Milera’, as well as open and closed syllables. Additionally we teach our students how to recognize, say, and apply the corresponding Te’amim relating to the various Tefillah portions. By teaching the students the importance of pronouncing each and every letter, sound, and word correctly, we are giving them skills that they are sure to apply for the rest of their lives to various religious texts and religious practices, and when reciting a Perek of Tehillim for someone that is sick, making a Beracha, reciting Mishnayot at a class, praying Musaf on Shabbat, learning for a Bar Mitzvah Parashah, or even reading a Pasuk from the Chumash in class. Students are even able to differentiate between

the names, sounds, and symbols of the various sets of unique Te’amim including Chumash, Neviim, Tehillim, Megilat Esther and even Megilat Rut. By learning all the different sets of Te’amim, the students build a repertoire of classical Jewish texts found in the Tefillah and siddur, and are able to learn and recognize the structure as well as identify the sources for the various portions of the Tefillah and siddur. Teaching these skills assists children in remaining focused, as well as realizing and feeling conscious before Whom we are standing when we pray, “Da Lifneh Mi Attah Omed.” The students focus on and appreciate what they are reciting because they have practiced

it and learned it, and strive to apply what they learned. The students start to ask questions, inquire, and see the significance in what they are saying. They build goals, feel accomplished, take ownership, and feel connected to the siddur in front of them. Most important, the children are able to feel proud of what they have learned and view Tefillah as something positive. Therefore it is not only our privilege to be able to teach these life skills to the students, but our obligation and duty.


Elementary School

Graduates Inspired by D.C. Overnight


he 8th grade overnight to Washington, D.C. began with a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy, followed by visits to the FDR, Lincoln, Vietnam and WWII memorials. The educational day ended with a dinner cruise, chased by a fun game of bowling.

Middle Division Principal Rabbi. Dr. David Hertzberg and the 8th grade graduating class on their D.C. overnight.

On day two, some students went to the U.S. Holocaust Museum and the National Museum of American History, while a group of 25 students visited the Capitol.

At the Capitol, students had a private meeting with Congressman Lee Zeldin. The group ended their day with a delicious tour and sampling at the Herr’s Potato Chip Factory.

Middle Division’s Super Science Programs are Cosmically Cool


n Middle Division’s Science Research module, 6th grade students were trained to “fly” a simulated space mission called “Rendezvous with Comet Halley” at the Beuhler Challenger and Science Center. On this mission, they worked in teams as both astronauts and mission control engineers as they located the comet, built and launched a probe into the comet’s tail, and collected and analyzed data sent back to the “spacecraft” and to “mission control.” Under the guidance of science faculty member Rochelle Zibitt, our students prepared for the mission by engaging in hands-on activities relating to comets, navigation, communication, the electromagnetic spectrum and other topics relating to spaceflight and space navigation. Our students also had the opportunity to participate in E2K, an extracurricular program developed in Israel and sponsored the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education. Through hands-on cooperative learning, E2K


Students at Mission Control launching a probe, at the Beuhler Challenger and Science Center.

students are encouraged to think scientifically and creatively, solving real-world science problems through higher order thinking. Students are presented with different engaging tasks and puzzles that encourage outof-the-box thinking. In addition, they receive riddles to solve, and the winner receives a gift from the Gruss Foundation. The 6th grade E2K students explored Newton’s Laws of Motion by building and launching rockets.

Our 6th graders also participated in a video-conference with scientists on board the ship JIODES Resolution in the Arabian Sea. The scientists are investigating a possible connection between plate tectonics, weathering, and monsoons. During the conference, the students were given a virtual tour of the ship and asked questions about the scientists’ research project. It was exciting for the students to see actual science at work.


Dedicated students put on quite a dance performance for the crowd.

“The Little Mermaid” Comes to Life Students in Middle Division pulled out all the stops in their spectacular production of “The Little Mermaid”. The songs, dances, costumes and sets had all the makings of a Broadway show!

The Flatbush Beats rocked the house!

Brooklyn Arts Council Partnership Makes Music A

fresh collaboration between YOF and the Brooklyn Arts Council’s Cultural After-School Adventures program (CASA) culminated in a fantastic program this past June, made possible through a grant from Councilman David Greenfield’s office. The Brooklyn Arts Council sent talented artists-in-residence to work with 6th grade students this past year. These artists are experts in their respective arts disciplines and set out to give our students compelling foundations in music and choreography. The boys participated in “Rock Band,” where they gained skills in instrumental and vocal performance and explored music fundamentals. Students learned how to read a musical scale, experienced the dedication required towards mastering an instrument, and were provided essential insight into the genre’s cultural relevance. The girls’ “Up, Down and All Around: Foundation in Dance” had participants gaining dance skills through a variety of styles and techniques. Through their dance training, students gained coordination, focus, and poise, and understood how much dedication and discipline are involved in mastering key dance moves.

From the students’ excellent performance, it was clear that CASA’s goals of introducing the students to, and piquing their interest in, these cultural activities were achieved. Members of the “Flatbush Beats, the name that the boys’ group decided on for their band, had the audience rocking to a cover of “We Will Rock You,” a Queen classic. To further their musical exploration, members of the Beats also formed “The Thunderbolts” and performed an original song, “Radio Roller Coaster” written by Leor Y. After clearing the stage, it was time for the dancers’ debut. The girls performed a beautifully choreographed and unified performance of “My Girl,” the classic song by The Temptations. In addition, students explained the art of dance through various dancing styles. The audience was dazzled by what these students, many of whom had no previous musical or dancing experience, put together in just a few months. These cultural performances provided our students with important skills and opportunities, and used timeless forms to open their minds to explore 21st century options.

Students perform a tipsy towering balancing act.

Middle Division Math Programs Are a Winning Breed


staple of the Middle Division enrichment curriculum is Math 9, a course in accelerated math designed for 8th grade advanced math students. This special course covers 9th grade math in 8th grade, thereby enabling these students to move right into Math 10 when they are high school freshmen. By doing this, accelerated students get a head start on college math in their Junior year. Last fall, our 7th and 8th graders participated in the American Math Competitions. YOF was among 50 schools across the nation that participated in this competition. Congratulations to first-place winner, 8th grader Sheila L. And, this past February, our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders participated in the New York State Math Leagues, where many of our students scored exceptionally well. YOF is pleased to be able to offer so many mathematical opportunities to its students.


Elementary School

Rabbi Yaakov Herzberg and his Gemara Gladiators during lunch break.

Torah Learning Explosion! Rabbi Nathan Dweck and the Girls’ Mishmar group meet to discuss parasha.

Rabbi Shlomie Felendler and the girls’ Lunch and Learn Legion.


he past three years have seen tremendous growth and success for the YOF boys and girls Middle Division Torah Bowl teams. Under the leadership of Torah Bowl coordinator and boys coach Rabbi Yaakov Herzberg and girl’s coaches Nechama Rothstein and Rita Franco, the teams have really made a name for themselves. The boy’s team advanced to the divisional championship for the third straight year. The girl’s team advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Rabbi Herzberg spoke with pride of the teams, saying, “Besides displaying an incredible knowledge of Chumash, our students have shown exemplary middot throughout the competition.” Particularly notable is that the students do most of the preparation for the competition on their own time, literally dedicating tens of hours to learning. As Torah Bowl member Jeremy L. proudly put it: “Torah Bowl sharpens the mind and instills a love for Torah.” As further testimony to YOF’s true appreciation of limud Torah, students in all three Middle Division grades volunteer their free time for extra Torah learning:


Mishna Masters 6th grade boys meet with Rabbi Varon at lunch for extra Mishna learning. Gemara Gladiators 7th and 8th grade boys meet with Rabbi Herzberg at lunch to further their Gemara skills, tackling an additional perek of Gemara. Girls’ Mishmar 6th and 7th grade girls meet with Rabbi Dweck on Thursdays after school, to gain a broader appreciation of topics in the parasha. Lunch and Learn Legion – 6th and 7th Grades 6th grade girls and 7th grade boys meet separately with Rabbi Felendler during lunch to learn middot and attitudes from Pirkei Avot. Parasha Perspectives 6th grade boys and girls meet with Rabbi Felendler Fridays at lunch to learn practical lessons from the week’s parasha.

Yom Haatzmaut


Middle Division celebrated Yom Haatzmaut by whipping up laffa and falafel, and singing and dancing. It’s everyone’s favorite day here at YOF—teachers and students alike!

Bringing the World of the Arts to the Middle Division


formation of our simple stage into a green, magical, musical wonderland.

The arts are a natural medium for the cultivation of children’s ability to think perceptively, to enhance observation, to question and analyze situations, and ultimately to imagine, create, and innovate on their own. All students, regardless of their academic interests or abilities, can discover enriching opportunities and artistic outlets in the arts, experiences that often promote self-esteem and individuality.

Students in grades 6 and 7 composed couplets and experimented with different points of view and voices as workshops prepared them for an unusual retelling of the tale of “Sleeping Beauty,” by the talented storyteller, David Gonzalez (who has graced our stage many times). In brilliant rhyme, humorous expression and gesture, and a dizzying array of voices, Mr. Gonzalez shows us what happens to the one who is ignored and what true love is. Assisting him in spinning this fairy tale is longtime collaborator, pianist, rhyme- finisher, and composer Daniel Kelly, performing music from Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Fairy tales were never this much fun!

incoln Center Education has played an integral role in Middle Division curriculum for over two decades. Its motto –“Developing Skills of Imagination, Creativity, and Innovation through Education and the Arts” – reflects YOF’s belief that imagination and the arts play a vital role in our students’ education.

Led by a professional teaching artist in several workshops, 8th grade students explored some of the problems, pressures, and conflicts that they and other young teens face to prepare them to “meet” Autumn Jones, the main character in an engaging comingof-age play called Autumn’s Harvest. Students cheered the characters on and were mesmerized by the trans-

These unique experiences will become more than fond memories. They are doorways to learning skills critical to success and indispensable in the twenty-first century. As Nobel Prize winner physicist Max Planck said a century ago, “The creative scientist needs an artistic imagination.”

Social Studies News: A Revolutionary Tale


hanks to the new iPad cart, students in Rita Franco’s 7th grade Social Studies class have had oneon-one access to iPads in order to research new topics, create presentations, prepare iMovies, and collaborate on assignments, all while enhancing their understanding of history. The students used class notes they shared together in Google Drive to prepare for in-class projects and presentations, including an iMovie that illustrated the conditions in America before the American Revolution. Each student also created a short cartoon that depicted one of the many acts and taxes that the British placed on the colonists prior to the American Revolution. Additionally, students worked in groups to research specific Revolutionary War battles and created movie trailers and short movie clips. Students have become proficient in using Google Drive and have used the app to view class handouts and write in-class essays and drafts for term papers. Using these various technological tools has increased student collaboration and has given students a new creative outlet.

Lincoln Center is an inspiring backdrop to the Arts.


Elementary School

YOF’s winning debate team with their mentor, Rabbi Nathan Dweck, center, and PPS’s Chesky Pivovoz, left.

Debate Team Wins First Place T

his year the YOF Middle Division Debate Team had the opportunity to debate hot button issues with students from other schools in NY and NJ. The debate team members met weekly with Rabbi Nathan Dweck (Coach) and Deborah Brand (Assistant Coach) to discuss these topics with their fellow peers. The students also worked on their research, presentation, and cross examination skills that are critical for each upcoming debate. Team members thoroughly researched all sides of the topic to prepare a 3-5 minute speech. Students are paired up with one another and were assigned to research either the affirmative or negative side of the topic at hand. At the debate competition, eight team members debated against other students of two or three other


schools. Judges looked at various criteria in judging the students, among them: the students’ overall grasp of the topic, organization, presentation, ability to cross examine the opponent, and their ability to respond to cross examination by the opponent. In the January debate competition on the question “Should all undocumented immigrant minors be granted legal status?” the YOF Debate Team won first place! Additionally, 8th graders Sydeny S. (team captain) and Francine B. received 3rd place for their pair presentation. In our March debate, where the question at hand was “Should school officials have the right to search any student’s backpack or locker?” 7th graders Alyssa G. and Gail H. received 3rd place team.

In the last debate of the year in May hosted by North Shore Hebrew Academy, the students debated the question “Should electronic devices replace all printed materials in the classroom?” Flatbush won various awards at this debate. Seventh grader Gail H. received First Place speaker, as well as Third Place team along with sixth grade teammate Joe G. Eighth grader Jacob K. and seventh grade teammate Alyssa G. won Second Place team. Jacob K. was also awarded Third Place speaker. We are proud of all of our team members, and commend them for their hard work and dedication.


Imagine Academy Eighth graders mentored autistic children at Imagine Academy. Pictured here is class 8-409 with Mrs. Fran Pollack and parent chesed trip coordinator Jolene Sutton.

Student Leadership Initiative Presents Unique Opportunities for Students

Humanities: A Cultural Plus for Students


nce again this year, a large group of 8th Graders explored and celebrated the arts in an enriching co-curricular program called Humanities Plus. This highly successful and popular Middle Division program affords student members the opportunity to attend live performances at Lincoln Center, to visit leading art museums for special exhibits when available, and to attend Broadway productions as well as other cultural events. What better way to start off the school year than with the dazzling, magical Disney musical, Aladdin? This adaptation of a classic Arabian Nights’ tale had students laughing at the Genie’s antics and mesmerized by the exotic costumes, exuberant choreography, and exciting special effects. Humanities Plus students were next transported into the late 18th century, as they learned about the French Revolution and its chaotic aftermath, in preparation for a trip to Les Miserables in its revival on Broadway. During a thought-provoking pre-session, students debated the moral and ethical dilemmas at the heart of Victor Hugo’s classic: Are there times when justice should be tempered with mercy? Can love and trust in others provide healing? Students tackled these weighty

topics head on and were ready to enjoy the lilting melodies and timeless themes when they experienced this wonderful play. France was once again the setting when students were introduced to the famous tragic heroine Mimi and the life and times of 19th century Paris, in the breathtaking Puccini classic, La Boheme, at Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera. For many students, this was a first experience at the opera, and one they will never forget. The packed opera house with its gilded interior and crystal lights, the mellifluous sounds of the opera itself, the massive stage with its huge chorus, the easy-to-read titles on the backs of each seat, and the poignant story itself made an indelible impression on everyone. Our next performance, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic The King and I, was set in the same century, but brought us into a different part of the world with a culture and traditions alien to our own. As the King of Siam grappled with the clash of tradition and modernity and struggled with his romantic feelings for the new governess Anna, students were introduced to beloved melodies and lyrics that have become etched in Broadway history.


his year the Middle Division started a Student Leadership Committees initiative under the leadership of Middle Division Principal Rabbi Dr. David Hertzberg, Elementary School General Studies Principal Robert Berkman, and Rabbinical Coordinator of Student Development Rabbi Yaakov Herzberg. Students were entrusted and charged with a variety of leadership responsibilities within the school. These committees were created to feature the tremendous potential within each student as well as to encourage school spirit and pride. As Rabbi Yaakov Herzberg explained, “When a student feels good about him/herself in one area, it spills over to every part of who he or she is. It uncaps the tremendous potential that lies in each student and helps it burst forward. Success builds success.” With over 12 committees including Hallway Pride, Tzedakah, Tefillah, and Shabbaton, there are many different opportunities in which students can get involved. It’s truly amazing to see a smile and feeling of fulfillment on the face of a student on the Tzedakah Committee after collecting tzedakah. Or the pride of a student on the Hallway Pride Committee after making sure all the bulletin boards are up to date. Recently, students visited the Intrepid on a Sunday morning, organized by student leaders. Students are already placing requests to be included on next year’s committees.


High School

Book Day Delivers a Fascinating Read Into Our Psyche J


BHS hosted “Book Day” on February 25, centered on the graphic novel Maus, Art Spiegelman’s groundbreaking Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic memoir about his father’s experiences during the Holocaust. The program uses the story, themes and ideas connected with the book to present a dynamic and fascinating day of lectures, workshops and artistic performances to 11th and 12th graders. Posters and artwork, created by our dedicated art teacher Jason

Novetsky and graphic design teacher Therese Berkowitz, helped create a sense of surreal anticipation and visual impact. Other highlights of Book Day included a meaningful and inspiring keynote address by YOF alumnus Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, who challenged our student body to have the courage to stand up and say “no” to hate and discrimination. Drama Therapist Sally Shatzkes, created a moving performance with her Witness Theater

students entitled “A Face in the Crowd” and Social Studies department faculty member Shelley Kaplowitz designed a short film about the sometimes deceptive appearance of evil. Our presentations included “Defiance: The real story behind the movie,” by Robert Bielsky, son of heroic partisan leader Tuvia Bielski; “Bam! Zap! Kapow!: Jewish origins of comic book superheroes” by Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, author of the book “Up, Up, and Oy Vey!”; and “Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome: The effects facing survivors and their children” by Dr. Barbara Paris, Director of Geriatrics at Maimonides Medical Center. YOF alumna, Dr. Karen Heilig, General Counsel of the Holocaust Claims Conference, guided our students in grappling with “Compensating the Victims: who should receive restitution?”

Carnegie Gala Welcomes JBHS Choir


JBHS choir students joined 15 schools, synagogues and community groups as part of a chorus who performed with virtuoso violinist Itzhak Perlman on stage in the grand finale to his “In The Fiddler’s House” concert at Carnegie Hall.

Congratulations to our Seniors, who are heading to the following colleges:

The JBHS Book Day team, complete with Maus paraphernalia.

Dr. Irit Felsen, Clinical Psychologist discussed the psychological fallout of “Survivors and Their Children.” Our faculty presented sessions as well, among them, “Can We Forgive the Unforgiveable?: The Sunflower Scenario” by Rabbi Joseph Beyda, Assistant Principal, and “Never Again!: My experiences in the JDL” by Ellen Bemak, Director of Payroll and Benefits at YOF. Students attended a closing assembly featuring a lively musical performance by The Klezmer Duo. Ariela Robinson, English faculty, created an original film with her students showcasing the importance of words in finding self-expression and confidence. The day ended with our chamber choir, under the leadership of Brian Gelfand, singing “Ahenu Kol Bet Yisrael” as a message of hope and faith to our emotionally moving and inspiring Book Day.

Book Day was organized by Rachail Kurtz, Library Chair, Mica Bloom, English Chair, and Brian Katz, Librarian, and Bebe Levitt, Alumni Director. Special thanks to English faculty member Shifra Hanon, Ami Sasson and Rochelle Dweck for coordinating the luncheon.

Bar-Ilan University Binghamton University Boston University Brandeis University Columbia University Cornell University CUNY — Baruch College CUNY — Brooklyn College CUNY — City College CUNY — College of Staten Island CUNY — Hunter College CUNY — John Jay College of Criminal Justice CUNY — Kingsborough Community College CUNY — Macaulay Honors College CUNY — Queens College Drexel University Fashion Institute of Technology Hofstra University Johns Hopkins University Long Island University Marymount Manhattan College Muhlenberg College New York Institute of Technology New York University Pace University Princeton University SUNY — Albany SUNY — Buffalo Technion Israel Institute of Technology The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science & Art The George Washington University The New School, Eugene Lang College University of Massachusetts, Amherst University of Pennsylvania University of Rochester Yeshiva University


High School Witness Theater Showcases Stories with Moving Creativity


Witness Theater performers and survivors in the throes of reliving history.

o commemorate Yom Hashoah, YOF celebrated the resilience of the human spirit through a special presentation of Witness Theater this past April. The play was a culmination of months of heartfelt collaboration between our high school students and Holocaust survivors. Over an eight-month span, YOF seniors met with nine Holocaust survivors in an unforgettable program that allowed the students to artfully experience, describe and express the survivors’ stories in an outstanding production, directed by Drama Therapist Sally Shatzkes and musically coordinated by Brian Gelfand, in conjunction with Selfhelp Community Services and UJA-Federation. As just one example of the play’s creativity, survivor Sofia Groysman’s story was interpreted through a creative dance called “Hands” that was performed by female cast members and accompanied by a trio of singers. To Holocaust survivors, the importance of telling their story is vital — when someone listens, the survivors are liberated to tell. The poem at right was written by Witness Theater cast member and senior Merle Cohen, and describes the connection the students feel with the survivors they work with throughout this meaningful project.


Students Naomi Shapiro and Rose Ovadia share a sweet moment with Holocaust survivor Golda Pollac.


Holocaust Memorial Contest Winners JBHS students Adi Abihzer, Sonny Setton and Yaear Weintraub performed their winning song from the Holocaust Memorial Creative Arts Contest at an awards ceremony at Kingsborough. The contest is sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz.

“Survivors, Shapes, and Stories” By Merle Cohen, Class of 2015 On Wednesday evenings we sit in circles. On Wednesday evenings we talk in squares. On Wednesday evenings we listen to triangles of family. Of the would be mother, father, daughter. Of the once-upon-a-yesteryear silhouette of a family shuffling among the silhouettes of identical families. Because on Wednesday evenings we learn that a Jew is a Jew is a Jew and when push comes to shove the second your hair is shaved from your head your shape becomes the shape of a thousand others packed into the same sardine can. On Wednesday evenings we learn of small box windows shoved into corners of big box cars. On Wednesday evenings we follow the arrows of a thousand stalks of hay that hid your circle eyes from the black shadow boots. On Wednesday evenings we pin stars to our coats and trace the numbers curved across soft skin. When I think of the shapes of Witness Theater I envision Simon’s Tzahal cap and Edith’s pink sneakers. I see Sofiya’s sprightly manner and Judith’s winter hat. I smell the coffee I make for Harry during dinner and feel the soft skin of Lola’s hand as I slip mine into hers. Come Wednesday evening I imagine the glint of Ruth’s rings, taste Blanka’s baking and embrace Golda’s soft musical notes. By now the jigsaw of our shapes fits ever so nicely, our fingers intertwining ever so precisely that it’s no wonder to me how the shapes of Witness Theater have become ever so important.


High School Junior College Night Abounds with Eager Anticipation

O Students and their parents gathering information from college reps, looking forward to taking the leap.

n Tuesday evening, April 28, 2015, the Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School was teeming with excitement for our annual Junior College Night. As the students entered the building, they were given a signature College Night tote bag along with a valuable timeline for the application process. The formal program began with a panel of five Admissions Officers who offered their insight and advice about the college application process to our juniors and their parents. When asked about how to make a college essay stand out, the representative from University of Pennsylvania replied: “Make your essay personalized; allow me to get to know you.” The Admissions Officer from Yeshiva University commented on what colleges look for in terms of extracurricular involvement by explaining that they prefer quality over quantity when it comes to involvement in clubs and organizations. “The colleges really want to see how you will contribute to their campus if admitted…and your community involvements in high school are a great indicator for the role you will play on our campus,” she remarked. “Everyone should continue to work hard, throughout the end of their senior year,” commented the representative from SUNY at Albany. “All of your grades count when it comes to college applications,” echoed the CUNY Director.


Steps from the Runway


Each Admissions Officer encouraged students to take the time to visit the campuses in person; it’s the best way to really experience and understand the place that might be your home for the next four years. After the panel, the audience shuffled downstairs to the gym where representatives from 37 colleges and universities presented and answered questions about their specific campuses and offerings. Students used handouts given to them by the College Guidance staff to guide them toward asking thoughtful questions and having meaningful conversations with the admissions representatives.

All of your grades count when it comes to college applications. After the program, one Yeshivah of Flatbush student summed up what she gained from the evening: “I learned to feel that there is always a chance of getting into a specific program or college. There are many other things schools are looking for that will help the student get in than just a very good GPA and a good SAT score.” The students and parents left the school that night with a better understanding of the nuances of the college application process. While the landscape of college admission has become increasingly competitive, our students are fully equipped to take on this next phase of their lives and the College Guidance Staff is ready to help them through it.

Pathfinders internships, arranged by Shifra Hanon and Doris Anteby, recently allowed students to meet fashion designer Christian Soriano (pictured). Two summer program opportunities will be at Monmouth Medical Center Mini Academic Program and Maimonides Women in Science Program.

Pegasus Takes Flight and Wins Competition


he Yeshivah of Flatbush is proud to announce that The Pegasus Literary and Arts Magazine, a compilation, received two awards in the National Scholastic Competition for the 2013/2014 school year: First Place with Merit Award and Best Theme Award. Among hundreds of schools, our “Pegasus” magazine won the top award for both its raw student talent and impeccable graphic design. The winning theme was chosen by the student editors and was compiled in the form of a literary cookbook that “whets the literary and artistic appetite.” The Pegasus editors met bi-weekly to collect impressive student writing and art, choose qualifying work, make

thematic decisions, and edit the writing so that it may then be handed off to our team of graphic designers. The writing that was chosen to be published was anything from a fictionalized story of a regretful Nazi in World War II to a poem about being rejected from college. The art was brimful with a diverse collection of work including photographs of the movements on the Metro subway to oil painting portraits. We beam with pride at the amount of creative talent that exists in not only our students, but also the student editors and writers who have compiled the magazine under the guidance of faculty advisors, Ariela Robinson and Therese Berkowitz. To drive the theme home even more, it was appropriately dedicated to none other than our fabulous Ladies Auxiliary. We look forward to another year of hardworking and dedicated editors, clever and detail-oriented graphic designers, and writers and artists of all kinds to bring the well-reputed Pegasus home with yet another award this coming year.


High School Taking Creative Authority at the Evening of the Arts A

t the annual Evening of the Arts in May, our talented High School students presented parents, faculty and friends with a plethora of artistic offerings showcasing their musical, dramatic and artistic pursuits. The event was sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary. Upon entering the lobby, visitors were greeted with intricate hand-drawn design work. Projects from the graphic design studio classes graced the hallway and led to the salon-style gallery show in the student lounge. Our student artists mingled with guests and discussed their artwork, giving them an opportunity to elaborate on their work.

Students showed off their powerful vocals during the Evening of the Arts.


The next part of the evening was filled with diverse instrumental, vocal and dramatic performances. Joining our students on stage were members of our talented faculty, who daily foster our students’ creativity and serve as mentors to their artistic pursuits. Master of Ceremonies (and drama and public speaking teacher) Shelley Kaplowitz steered the evening, and faculty member Rachel Winkler coordinated the program, with support from the JBHS Arts faculty.

Noteworthy Excellence in Jewish Education


Congratulations to JBHS Faculty Member Howard Rothbort, one of only six national winners to be awarded the 2015 Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

Students Head to Israel for Post-High School Study W Mr. Howard Rothbort, legal coach Jack Erdos, and Executive Director Rabbi Seth Linfield with the YOF Mock Trial team.

Mock Trial Team Soars I

n this demanding program, co-sponsored by the New York State Bar Association, high school students gain first-hand knowledge of civil/criminal law and courtroom procedures. Thousands of students participate each year from all around New York State. In NYC, over 90 schools participated. This year’s Mock Trial team (Shana Ravvin, Leah Linfield, Miriam Zenilman and Albert Dweck, lawyers, and Leor Alkadaa, Miriam Davydova, and Morris Nadjar, witnesses) advanced to the quarterfinals [top 8 teams in NYC] before eventually falling to the winners of the NYC bracket. The team’s faculty advisor is Howard Rothbort and the lawyer-coach is Jack Erdos. Students met from early November until April to dissect the case, review related court cases, interpret applicable laws and prepare their questions for trial.

This year’s case involved a defendant who was being sued for conversion of funds from a non-profit organization. Students role played both lawyers and witnesses representing the plaintiff and defense. Students were responsible for opening and closing statements, direct witness testimony, and cross examination of opposing witnesses. In the process, they learned to conduct themselves professionally and sharpen their advocacy skills. They also became adept at objecting to opposing counsel’s questions and determining the proper courtroom procedures to enter evidence. Trials were conducted in real courtrooms such as the Federal Courthouses in downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan.

e are proud of our graduates who will be continuing to develop their learning and caring next year at one of the yeshivot, seminaries or other opportunities set forth below. As we wish these young men and women all success and health, we are highly confident that the personal interests and deep knowledge which they cultivated at the Yeshivah of Flatbush will drive and transform their experiences in Israel and further their preparation for college and for life.

Bar-Ilan University Midreshet Amit Midreshet Eshel Leadership Program Midreshet Lindenbaum Midreshet Moriah Sha’alvim for Women Yeshivat Ashreinu Yeshivat Eretz HaTzvi Yeshivat HaKotel Yeshivat Lev Aharon Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim Yeshivat Torat Moshe Yeshivat Torat Shraga


High School

Photojourney Through History

JBHS Heritage Trip to Poland


hirty-seven YOF seniors, 12 family members, and three faculty members (Rabbi Zelig Prag, Rabbi Jonathan Skolnick, and Ms. Chaya Zimmerman), along with historian, Rabbi Tzvi Shiloni (HS ’89) arrived visited Poland this past spring for the annual Senior Heritage Trip to Poland. Students felt connected to their history throughout the trip, and a few students even traced their ancestry directly to the logs kept in the concentration camps. They prayed together, researched together, sat in a cattle car together, and tried to imagine the horrors that the ruins signified. The rain on several days was fitting to the students’ mood as they visited gas chambers and saw relics of the small things that remained from the millions of victims.



Color War 2015 This year’s Color War themes, tied to the overall idea of “motivation”, were Orange Confidence, Green Knowledge, Red Heritage and Purple Persistence.


YOF Alumni

Farewell to Alumni Director Bebe Levitt O

ne special graduate from the JBHS High School Class of 1964 (ES 1960), never really left—and for the past 26 years, that has been an incredible gift for YOF.

Alumni Director Bebe Levitt retired this past June. Her treasure trove of YOF knowledge, alumni connections, and depth of skills is simply irreplaceable. But a place inside of her feels that YOF is irreplaceable too. After high school graduation, Mrs. Levitt graduated from Brooklyn College with a major in English and a minor in Education. After briefly subbing in the public school system, she accepted an offer from her Elementary School principal, Ben Weiss, to teach a 6th grade class at YOF, and she worked at the school until her first child was born. After a hiatus, she volunteered to help organize her own class’s 25th anniversary reunion, and it was during that time that school leaders encouraged her to come back to the school to develop the Alumni Association. The rest is history. “The best part of my job is that I get to meet great people, whether at reunions, through networking, or by simply picking up the phone and calling everyone in a class to introduce myself,” she says. To keep up alumni relationships, the key is


simply “to be interested in people and really listen to what they are saying—you learn so much because our alumni pursue such diverse interests and are so accomplished. Our graduates have much to offer the Yeshivah and a key to their involvement is to bring them back to the school.” Mrs. Levitt herself maintains close friendships with classmates from her elementary and high school years. She admits that her favorite reunion was her own class’s 50th, held just last year. “You have a different perspective at your own reunion. At this stage, you find everyone engaging, not just your small clique of HS friends, and you realize that you all have a common denominator in YOF. It brings you closer to everyone.” realize that you all have a common denominator in YOF. It brings you closer to everyone. As for her continuing advice to YOF, she says, “build more relationships and invite more alumni back to visit the school. It’s so important for them to see that the YOF legacy continues and that our programs are

still outstanding.” Equally important, she says, is encouraging alumni support and participation in securing the future of the Yeshivah, including through endowments, so that new graduates continue to be grounded in Jewish values, in Zionism, and with a strong Jewish identity as they master the skills to succeed in college and life. Plans for Mrs. Levitt’s own future include spending more time with family, traveling with Lenny (HS 1963), her husband of 48 years, and enjoying her grandchildren. When asked what she will miss most, she says, “the colleagues with whom I spend time on a daily basis, particularly Alumni Assistant Susan BergerKrochak with whom I work closely, all of our motivated professionals and volunteers, impromptu visits from [Principal Emeritus] Rabbi Dr. David Eliach that are always a big treat, and, of course, the many alumni with whom I’ve built relationships over the years.” The Executive Office will dearly miss Mrs. Levitt’s everyday presence, and wishes her the best in all of her future plans. “I have tremendous Hakarat Hatov for the Yeshivah of Flatbush. I will always be proud to call myself an alum,” said Mrs. Levitt.


2015 Blumenthal Scholars Winners JBHS is looking for alumni mentors for its Blumenthal Scholars Program (2015 winners shown here, with the Blumenthal family). Specialties include medicine, business, law, scientific research, and film. If you are interested, please contact Brian Katz at


Class of


n May 17th, the Class of 1965 celebrated their 50th Anniversary Reunion of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School. The Class of 1965 was the first class to graduate from the landmark building on Avenue J. One highlight of this milestone event was when Rabbi Dr. David Eliach, their former principal, addressed the class in Hebrew. It was a wonderful get-together, rekindling strong bonds and friendships that have lasted throughout the years.


Class of


he Class of 1990 celebrated their 25th Anniversary Reunion on Sunday evening, March 15th. It was a terrific turnout of graduates, spouses and faculty members, filled with fond memories while reconnecting with each other and the Yeshivah.


YOF Sports 5th Annual Daniel Chernikoff, A”H, Learning and Hockey Tournament Gives Students the Advantage The shiur focused on the question of “Why is Moshe not mentioned in the Pesach Haggadah?” Current students, alumni, faculty and Daniel’s family attended the shiur. A sumptuous breakfast, beautifully arranged by the Ladies Auxiliary, was enjoyed by all.

Hockey players show off their trophies with pride.


he 5th Annual Daniel Chernikoff, A”H, Learning and Hockey Tournament took place this past March. Daniel (HS 2003), the son of Ladies Auxiliary Office Coordinator Peggy and Alan Chernikoff, was passionate about life; he loved learning Torah and hockey. Rabbi Joseph Blumenthal, JBHS Judaic Studies faculty, gave the shiur to honor and remember his friend Daniel. They were classmates at both YOF and Yeshiva University, and spent two summers together working in Camp HASC. Rabbi Blumenthal was at Daniel’s wedding, dancing with him just weeks before he passed away. JBHS Associate Principal Jill Sanders introduced the shiur, recalling Daniel as a smiling, friendly student.


A record breaking nine teams participated in the Hockey Tournament, including alumni, current students and faculty. Assistant Principal Rabbi Joseph Beyda played on the winning team. Thank you to the Berger, Chernikoff, Dweck, Hanon, Samra, and Sasson families for their sponsorship and for their support throughout the event, and to Ami Sasson for her help coordinating the tournament. “In addition to Daniel’s great love of Torah, family, Israel, and hockey, Daniel loved YOF. The annual tournament would be such a joy to him and bring an even bigger smile to the boy who was ‘always smiling’. As his parents, words cannot express the gratitude and comfort this gives us to know Daniel’s memory lives on as part of the Yeshivah,” expressed Mr. and Mrs. Chernikoff.

Spring Sports in Full Bloom at Flatbush High School


fter a winter that felt like it would never end, April and May sunshine broke through, and with it, fun in the sun for the JBHS student-athletes. Fielding teams in baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, volleyball and track, the Falcons have reveled in the renewal that comes this time every year. The infusion of new coaches has brought a rebirth to the Varsity and JV Boys and Girls Soccer programs. The boys have been training all year under the tutelage of Co-Head Coaches Eli Amzalag and Rabbi Yoni Skolnick.

Playing Outdoors


The results were clear as both teams played high-energy games with more precision than ever before —the girls with the return of former star and new Co-Head Coach Edie Koslowe. Bringing her experience as a varsity player at Yeshiva University, Koslowe introduced a new focus on team skill development. As a result, the girls began to build a strong foundation, and eventually found a smooth rhythm, but fell just short of what clearly was a playoff-caliber season. Perhaps the biggest change has come this spring to the Boys Volleyball program. The new Co-Head Coaching tandem of Abie Silvers and Charles Harary, both former Falcon volleyballers in their own right, has infused a new focus amongst the members of the program. With a high level of intensity, the boys demonstrated a high level of teamwork on the court. The boys soon saw the fruits of their labors as they won for the first time in years. And they did not win just once, but had multiple victories, falling just shy of making the MYHSAL playoffs, setting a new standard for Flatbush Volleyball. Baseball as well as Girls and Boys Softball continued to battle, while Track saw the league hold its first event outside of New Jersey when the school hosted the first-ever Flatbush Relays. The Boys Tennis team has dominated every opponent in the Eastern Division. Coaches Mike Gelber and Lesley Kassin have also been most pleased with the way the Girls Tennis team has played, with a number of sets having gone down to the wire as the Falcons outlasted their opponents.

To the delight of our elementary school students, four new basketball hoops and two benches were secured in the Elementary School play yard this spring!

The 6th Grade Boys celebrate their semi-final victory with Head Coach Gus Kennedy.

The 6th Grade Girls get direction from Head Coach Renee Dweck during a timeout.

Middle Division Goes to the Post-Season in 2014-15


he value of sport and competition at any level is in learning if you have what it takes to develop and grow as an individual and as a team over the course of a season. By that standard, our Middle Division student-athletes have had a most successful 2014-15.

Boys Basketball led the way this school year, with both the 6th Grade and 8th Grade boys reaching the ultimate game for their respective teams. Under the guidance of coaches Gus Kennedy and Joey Dayon, the 6th Grade boys showed that hard work and commitment can allow a group of boys to gel as a team, traits that took them down a path to a second seed in the playoffs. The 8th Grade boys on coaches Mike Gelber and Ray Chehova’s 8th Grade team matured as a unit over three Middle Division seasons. Although these boys fell one game short of an undefeated season, they showed a dynamic effort. Equally noteworthy is the achievement of the 7th Grade boys. With veteran Head Coach Judah Rhine at the helm, aided by Coach Gavriel Lazari, the coaches took a team of relatively raw talented players and began to mold them into a real competitive unit.

Not to be outdone, the Middle Division Girls led by Varsity Head Coach Rozan Mizrahi were also impressive, both at the Varsity (7th/8th Grade) and JV (6th Grade) levels. The 6th Grade Girls, under second-year Head Coach Renee Dweck, had a banner season. The team rounded out into a total unit that challenged every team they faced throughout the season. The Middle Division Hockey team proved themselves a tough opponent. It was a season of great achievement, and much fun for Coaches Dan Leffel’s and Hymie Anteby’s Falcons. Under the leadership of Coaches Eli Dayon and Charles Harary, the Boys Baseball team represents the Flatbush community well, having won all three games played to this point. A new addition for the spring is indoor soccer. Under the guidance of Coach Andrew Sternberg (boys) and Coach Esther Wortman (girls), the team members are getting the opportunity to put their skills into practice in intramural games. It is the first step in building a strong program, where learning and growing are what Middle Division athletics are all about.


YOF Chesed

The group spending time with the beautiful children of the Emunah Ethiopian Day Care Center.

Adult Chesed Mission Springs Into Action O

ne month into springtime here in New York, a dedicated and seasoned group of about 60 parents, alumni, community members and faculty headed out on a plane to even warmer climes to Israel, to accompany JBHS Dean of Students Rabbi Naftali Besser and his wife, Safreda, on the 7th Annual Adult Chesed Mission. Parent and alumna Susan Franco arranged for many of the Mission’s visits and the gifts that were distributed during the trip. After checking in at the Inbal Hotel, participants starting packing away with Pantry Packers, an organization that donates food and household supplies to poor families and senior citizens. Next, the group


visited Hemla, where they spent time hearing the stories of abused women who live at this shelter. Chesed volunteers ended their first evening in Jerusalem with Arbit at The Kotel. The group’s first full, jam-packed day began with visits to Aleh (which cares for children with medical disabilities), Hadassah Hospital (where Chesed participants distributed gifts and met with families and wounded soldiers), Har Herzl, where the group paid their respects to lost Israeli soldiers, and Shalva (which provides services for special needs children.) The first evening, as well as those that followed, was memorable as Chesed trip members interacted

with Israeli soldiers on base and gave out gifts and supplies, with Todah L’Tzahal. Day Three led the group to spend time at Emunah Ethiopian Day Care Center as well as Keren Or, two organizations providing care for underprivileged and/or special needs children, the latter specializing with multi-disabled blind children. The group handed out presents and spent time dancing and singing with the yeledim. A visit to Bat Melech (which offers social services to victims of domestic violence) in the afternoon, was followed by a trip to Oz V’Gaon, new to the Chesed Mission itinerary. This site in Etzion Bloc was created


in memory of the three boys kidnapped and killed by Palestinian militants the summer of 2014. There, the group met with Steve Gar and members of his Darkaynu program. Darkaynu arranges for young men and women with developmental disabilities to spend a year learning and touring in Israel. Lag B’Omer began that evening with a barbecue with soldiers at an army base, and continued the next day at Yad Lakashish, where elderly and disabled Jerusalem residents receive services and opportunities to utilize their skills and sell what they create. The Chesed group went shopping at the gift shop there and spent time with the senior citizens, then headed

Traveling Troupe The Victoria and Jack Aini Pursue Your Passions Traveling Troupe capped off their uplifting year of performing for the sick and elderly by visiting the Young Israel of Midwood Senior Center.

out on a bus to another new stop on the itinerary: Special in Uniform (Yad L’Yeled Hameyuchad).

The Chesed team had dinner with the residents, and spent time singing and dancing with them too.

This project allows young people with special needs to volunteer for service in the IDF. Just imagine the pride of these youths wearing an IDF uniform!

Day Five brought a visit to Emunah, which cares for poor children and offers therapy to their parents; a visit to Kever Rachel; and shopping at Machane Yehuda Shuk erev Shabbat. The last evening rounded out with a candle lighting program with soldiers from Todah L’Tzahal at the spectacular home of Abba and Pamela Claman, with an unforgettable view of the Old City—the perfect way to end an unforgettable trip.

Participants met with injured soldiers (through Tikvot) and patients in the pediatric ward at Tel HaShomer Hospital, where they gave gifts to the children. The day ended at Beit Elazraki, a children’s home housing 240 children who would otherwise have no place to live because of family problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, physical abuse, mental illness or child abandonment.


YOF Chesed

JBHS students sent prayers to the Sassoon family with a colorful and heartfelt mural that was presented to Mr. Sassoon.

JBHS Students Respond with Prayers and Mitzvot to Sassoon Tragedy T Cooking for a Cause participants led prayers for the Sassoon family while creating meals for those in need. Here, the evening’s sponsor, Lorraine Betesh, and her daughter.


he entire community was traumatized by the unimaginable tragedy that befell the Sassoon family. A JBHS senior, Sophia Chabot — under the guidance of Ms. Sara Ovadia — took the initiative and organized a unique memorial, asking her fellow students to take on a mitzvah, with each commitment then gathered on a mural. When a framed picture of the mural was presented to the children’s father,

Mr. Gabe Sassoon, he was deeply moved. Mrs. Gayle Sassoon is a 1987 JBHS alumna. Students also participated in a Cooking for a Cause after school program, led by English Department faculty member Shifra Hanon, and special Sunday Morning Learning program in memory of the seven Sassoon children.


Yom HaZikaron At the Yom HaZikaron assembly at the High School, students and faculty remembered the fallen soldiers of Israel and victims of terrorism. Dr. Lea Gerber coordinated this moving event.

YOF Sends Funds to Nepal in Dire Time of Need

Gifts of Hope for Ayala Shapira


leven-year-old Ayala Shapira was thrilled to receive a special treasure from YOF Lower Division and Middle Division students: a gift basket filled with colorful and heartfelt get-well letters. Ayala was badly injured by a Molotov cocktail thrown at her car by Palestinian terrorists, as her family was driving near Ma’ale Shomron last December. The young girl, suffering from severe burns covering 40 percent of her face and body, thanked the public “for praying and thinking of me so much.”

Elementary School students collected relief funds to send to Nepal.


OF teaches its students that the world is built through chesed. The people of Nepal are struggling after several catastrophic earthquakes that killed more than 8,000 people. YOF students felt compelled to help during this difficult time. The High School Tzedakah Commission collected money for The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and the Elementary School raised money for The Chabad of Nepal

(whose director, Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz, incidently, is a relative of Lower Division Associate Principal of Torah Studies Rivka Zaklikowski). Chabad of Nepal is using the money to purchase tents and other basics for people in need.

Lower Division Associate Principal of Torah Studies Rivka Zaklikowski delivered the letters in person to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, where the girl is recovering. Mrs. Zaklikowski coordinated her visit with that of our own Chesed Mission, led by Dean of Students Rabbi Naftali Besser, who were at the hospital delivering gifts and visiting with the Shapira family and other patients.


YOF Guidance

Students crowd around Eric Legrand after he shared his inspirational message.

HS Guidance Programs Motivate Important Discussions O

ur JBHS students were involved in several transformative guidance sessions this past semester—one bringing motivation to overcome extreme physical hardships, the other offering ways to strengthen one’s inner self through communication.


YOF had the honor of hosting Eric LeGrand, former college football player turned motivational speaker. Eric, who was paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury suffered during a game in 2010, has had the resilience and strength of character to become a source of inspiration to all who have encountered his personal journey through recovery. Our entire student body and faculty were privileged to meet Eric during a program consisting of a striking video presentation, a heartfelt speech by Eric himself,

and an inspiring Q and A session moderated by JBHS Principal Rabbi Ronald Levy. Not a sound could be heard in the room as Eric shared his message: believe, be resilient, make good choices no matter how challenging the circumstances, and you can do anything you set your mind to do. Eric took pictures with our students and took the time to personally speak with them. His mother, Karen LeGrand, was an amazing role model to behold as well. In a different kind of guidance program, a select group of juniors and seniors comprising our Choices Commission participated in a studentled program coordinated by Chaya Zimmerman and facilitated by the High School and Middle Division Guidance Departments.

The 6th graders were treated to a video presentation created by the High School students, watched skits, and interacted in small group discussions. Themes explored included communicating kindly with one another and using words and actions to convey respect in all aspects of communication. One glance across the room revealed animated discussions and reflections on various challenges faced by students of all ages. A special thank you to JBHS Director of Guidance Dr. Etty Mizrahi, Project SAFE, Yossi Sirote, Shira Berkowitz, Chaya Zimmerman, Avi Smus, the Middle Division PPS Department and the Choices Commission for their hand in helping to plan these events.


Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Thanks to faculty member Avi Smus and PPS, 5th through 8th graders participated in an interactive program meeting ATF & E agents and their Labrador retriever, Cara. Cara demonstrated her ability to sniff out spent ammunition.

S.T.A.R.T. Starts in Fifth Grade S

tudents Talk About Real Things (S.T.A.R.T.) is a 5th grade program that was created to help address our students’ social, emotional and physical well-being. The program aims to provide opportunities for conversations about a variety of topics while developing positive traits such as respect, trust, empathy, and persistence. It also focuses on learning how to manage anger, anxiety, frustration and sadness. In addition, they learn about bully prevention, nutrition and physical exercise. The program’s overall goal is to empower our students to make good, healthy choices, build empathy, and develop leadership skills. Social/Emotional Groups Lower Division students participated in a series of social-emotional learning programs over the course of the school year, implemented by PPS. First, second, and third grade students take part in the “Friends and Feelings” program, which uses hands-on, structured-yet-playful activities to teach students about their feelings and foster positive interpersonal interactions. Each first grade class engaged in a program that used puppets and stories to learn more about what it means to be a good friend to others. The second grade program taught students to recognize and respond appropriately to a wide range of emotions. The third grade program used theater as a medium

to teach and build teamwork skills, as students learned to cooperate, compromise and listen to one another in order to successfully put on various theatrical performances. The fourth grade’s Koach program, short for Kulanu Chaveirim, integrates various musagim from Pirkei Avot and other sources into students’ daily interactions. Students are taught to appropriately deal with anger, prevent the spread of rumors, increase their self esteem and compliment others. They topped off the year by engaging in the Bucketfilling program, which aimed at building confidence and self esteem in themselves and others by encouraging students to “fill the bucket” with slips of paper identifying their acts of kindness, hopefully feeling a boost in their self-esteem and self-confidence as their own bucket got filled as well! Kids Speak With a growing number of students affected by divorce each year, the Kids Speak program aims to provide age appropriate support to these students and their families within the school environment. Students are grouped according to their grade, and groups are facilitated through the use of Creative Arts Therapies. The curriculum for this program includes storytelling, role-playing, claywork, puppets, theater games and other creative arts-based techniques. Kids Speak recognizes that parent involve-

ment is essential and facilitators are in constant contact with them to discuss students’ needs. iPads in Step Up The iPad initiative was introduced this year as a means to help students who are diagnosed with learning difficulties become more organized and improve their note-taking skills. Prior to receiving a school-issued, secure iPad, students, parents and principals sign contracts outlining guidelines for proper iPad use. Rabbi Yonah Krainess, Elementary School Coordinator of Educational Technology, has met with students providing workshops to help familiarize them with the approved note-taking and educational apps. Student Teachers are Some of Our Own Students taking Principles of Education at JBHS are welcomed into several of our 5th grade classes each week as student teachers, working alongside our classroom teachers. This is an opportunity to develop skills they will need for their future careers as teachers by learning from our own experienced staff. Additionally, these High School students (many of whom attended the ES) are placed in classes with their former 5th grade teachers. This program is under Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) supervision and in conjunction with JBHS guidance.


Yeshivah of Flatbush 919 East 10th Street Brooklyn, NY 11230

Yeshivah of Flatbush Elementary School 919 East 10th Street Brooklyn, NY 11230 718-377-4466 Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School 1609 Avenue J Brooklyn, NY 11230 718-377-1100

Yeshivah of Flatbush Presents

Robert Frastai PRESIDENT



THE BIG GAME Drawing: 07/28/2015




Rabbi Ronald Levy PRINCIPAL













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Yeshivah of Flatbush Bulletin Summer 2015