Panther Post The
VOL. IV NO. 1 YULA High Schools November 2019 | Cheshvan 5780
NBA Players Practice in Samson Center
SHOTBYJUAN_ – INSTAGRAM
By Yonah Berenson (‘20), Editor-in-Chief
Lakers power forward Kyle Kuzma practices in YULA Boys’ Samson Center.
Several NBA players and the entire Detroit Pistons squad used YULA Boys’ Samson Center as a practice facility this past summer, making YULA’s yellow and black a consistent and conspicuous presence on ESPN’s SportsCenter and all over the internet. “It started out as shtick with Julius Randle for the sefirah competition,” Head of School Rabbi Arye Sufrin said, referring to the then–New Orleans Pelican, who posed for a contest in which students had to guess the name of a sports star whose number matched the day of sefirat haomer, the 49-day period between Pesach and Shavuot. The popularity of the new private gym in Los Angeles, where many pro basketball players live, spread quickly, helped along by sports agents Steve Heumann and Jamie Gelman. Rabbi Sufrin maintains that money was not the goal. Instead, it was “really a great way to celebrate the Samson Center.” Players on the YULA Boys basketball team paired up with NBA players.
They rebounded for the pros and got to see their shooting drills. “If you really want to appreciate their success,” Rabbi Sufrin said, “you have to see the way they prepare and the way they work and how much they put into trying to be the best at what they do.” But that’s not to say this past summer hasn’t been profitable for the school. Though he declined to go into specifics, Rabbi Sufrin confirmed that “there have been donations on top of whatever the fees are because we’ve developed the meaningful relationships.” Some players’ reactions surprised Rabbi Sufrin. “When Julius Randle walked in, he was like, ‘Whoa.’ And I looked at him, and I said, ‘What do you mean, ‘Whoa’? Like, you play in Madison Square Garden, Staples Center. You know, you play in the nicest arenas in the world. Like, is this really that nice?’ “And he said, ‘You have no idea how nice this is.’ ”
What is ‘Hadar’? By Daniella Zisblatt (‘22)
the word “Hadar”? Is it a mitzvah that people are equally careful to perform with as much care as the etrog? This mitzvah is “Vehadarta Pnai Zaken,” a mitzvah that is very important to recognize especially in times of simcha and chagim. Hidur Zkenim, or respecting our elders, is the foundation of a strong
The Panther Preview
YULA Boys installs vape detectors and YULA Girls holds a presentation on the epidemic.
Page 14 YULA Boys’ flag football team set to play in league championships.
Learn about YULA Boys’ newest 9th grade rebbe in this issue’s Faculty Focus.
society. It is a mitzvah that honors tradition and history. Without this mitzvah, communities would fall apart as the wisdom and experience of elders might get ignored. Second, the mitzvah of respecting our elders encompasses so many other mitzvot. These include the mitzvot of kibud horim and veuhavta leracha kamocha. Finally,
the mitzvah of Hidur Zkenim applies to every Jew. There are some mitzvot that only men can perform, like the mitzvah of tzitzit and kriat HaTorah, or only women are commanded to do such as hadlakat neirot. There are also mitzvot
Continued on page 8
YULA Boys Enrollment Breaks 200 By Ben Rubin (‘22) Over 200 students are currently attending YULA Boys, up from 178 last year. The increase in student population demonstrates interest in the school from prospective parents and students. This past year, applications for the Class of 2023 totaled over 100 students, 63 of whom are now attending. To meet the demand of a higher student population, YULA Boys hired five new teach- Rabbi Arye Sufrin takes a selfie with YULA Boys students in the Samson Center. ers, three in Judaic Studies and two in Genthere has been a [significant] increase in applicants,” said eral Studies. The new classrooms fit more students, and the new parking structure allows YULA to Yitzy Frankel, director of admissions and marketing at accommodate more students who live farther away and YULA Boys. “There are so many more opportunities to advance need to commute and park at school. “Due to the growth in population and the excitement at YULA that me and my family just did not see at other behind the new administration, new building, [curriculmn, schools,” said Boaz Edidin (‘22). That sentiment is comstudent opportunity,] and reinvigorated sports teams, mon among many underclassmen like him.
RABBI ARYE SUFRIN
When the mitzvah of the Arbah Minim is commanded in the Torah, the pasuk uses the words, “pri eitz hadar” to describe the mitzvah of the etrog. We know that Jews all over the world go to great lengths to find the most beautiful and kosher etrog, the Pri Etz Hadar. But what is the only other mitzvah in the Torah that uses
Community On August 24th, 2019, a record-breaking, tropical cyclone bound to hit the Bahamas was formed. Hurricane Dorian first hit the Bahamas and surrounding islands on September 1st, with peak, sustained wind speeds of 185 MPH. The hurricane proceeded along the Southeastern coast of the United States and reached Canada. Dorian claimed approximately 50 recorded deaths in the Bahamas, one of the most devastating effects of this category five hurricanes. The Abaco Islands and the Grand Bahama experienced storm surge of up to 23 feet in water. Major destruction occurred such as flooding of streets and beaches, roofs
Hurricane Dorian Strikes to the East
By Daniella Friedman (‘22)
of houses ripped off entirely, and most structures devastated or washed out to sea. Approximately 13,000 homes were destroyed leaving about 70,000 civilians homeless. There is an estimated $7 billion worth of property damage. As Dorian continued to progress, it shifted into a less violent tropical storm. Regardless, mandatory evacuations in Jacksonville, Florida were declared and some city bridges were closed. The states of Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia all announced a State of Emergency for the entirety of their coastal cities and all areas were under a hurricane watch.
This natural disaster has certainly affected our eastern neighbors, but has brought us all pain. As we reflect on the disastrous events of Hurricane Dorian, we assist each other on the long and laborious road to recovery and hope for a speedy rebuilding. *In response to these catastrophic events, YULA Girls Student Council, in conjunction with history teacher, Stephen Eichenbaum, has created a donation drive to collect goods of dire need as our global neighbors recover. Goods such as mosquito spray, diapers, first-aid supplies, toilet paper, and sanitizing wipes are all included in the list and the donation box can be found at the entrance to YULA Girls.
A Glimpse at YULA’s First Decade By Ethan Frankel (‘22) The first graduating class with boys is 1981
Many classes are held in trailers in the parking lot
Rambam becomes YULA and opens its doors In 1980 the first graduating class consists only of girls
Finals take place outdoors in the parking lot rather than in classrooms
Bruce Powell is the General Studies Principal at YULA
In 1986 Chief Rabbi of Israel Mordechai Eliahu visits YULA
Rabbi Sholom Tendler is YULA’s first head of school
New Fund Provides Books, Resources for Jewish History By Akiva Brookler (‘21), Executive Editor Dr. Paul and Mrs. Maralyn Soifer have donated a book collection and established a fund to support the study of Jewish history at YULA Boys High School. The Helen and Hyman Kornfeld Collection in Jewish History adds roughly 250 books to the Szabo Family Library. The Collection is divided into general Jewish history, American Jewish history, Holocaust history, and Eastern European Jewish history sections. Dr. Soifer, History Department Chair, and Mrs. Soifer, a retired YULA Boys English teacher, also founded the Helen and Hyman Kornfeld Fund in Jewish History to promote Jewish history programming at YULA Boys. The money will also finance student-initiated projects and will bring in speakers and exhibits to the school.
I see the history of the Jews in Eastern Europe and the American Jewish experience through their -Dr. Paul Soifer eyes.
The donations are named in honor of Dr. Soifer’s grandparents, who immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe. His grandfather arrived in 1912, and his grandmother in 1923. As Dr. Soifer noted, “I
Shorter School Days at YULA Boys By Eli Poltkin (‘22) Over the summer the administration cut 15 minutes from the school day so that the day now ends at 4:55 instead of 5:10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The Friday schedule is now 35 minutes shorter after the administration cut the lunch period, so it now ends at 12:30 instead of 1:05 p.m. Classes remain 50 minutes each with eight periods per day. Instead of shortening classes, the administration shortened the time allotted for Mincha from 30 minutes to 10 minutes and cut the passing periods around lunch. The longest school day is for Masmidim in the Baum Family Advanced Gemara Track, who arrive at school at 7:20 a.m. and go until 5:45 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thurs-
days, but last year their day went until 6 p.m. Talk of changes started two years ago during the school’s annual roundtable meetings with students. The Class of 2019 asked to scrap lunch on Fridays in order to end the day earlier. Last year the school decided to pilot that schedule with that class. This year the new schedule was implemented schoolwide. Students are happy with the changes. “I really like it. It cuts almost two hours [over the course of a week] … and I would rather be home early than have lunch on Fridays,” said Gavi Steinlauf (‘22). The changes to the Monday through Thursday schedule came after freshmen, sophomores, and
see the history of the Jews in Eastern Europe and the American Jewish experience through their eyes.” The History Department is already putting the fund to use by initiating a Jewish History Day program, a take on the National History Day Program, which is an opportunity for students to learn history
juniors all requested a shorter school day during their roundtable discussions last year. “It was clear from the student feedback we received at the end-of-the-year Table Talks,” said Rabbi Arye Sufrin, YULA Boys’ head of school. “Our students across the board felt the school day was exhausting. So with a collective effort by the administration, we came up with a solution that shaved off [about] 100 minutes from the weekly schedule while not compromising class time and learning.” “I’m proud that our students expressed themselves and their voice was heard,” Rabbi Sufrin added. “It’s part of what makes YULA a special place.”
in unconventional ways. Classes will create projects based on their curriculums. For example, AP U.S. History will create a presentation of Jewish involvement in American wars. The classes will present their projects in May, Jewish Heritage Month, when the school will host a program for the occasion.
The Panther Post - November 2019 - Community
CSPA Recognizes YULA Publications and Editor Merit Award for his feature article, “So Who ‘Won’ the Midterms,” published in the Jan. 2019 issue. That award was announced Oct. 4. Another judge gave “Polymatheus” a Gold Medal. In a critique received Oct. 16, the judge also cited “Polymatheus” for an All-Columbian Honor in the Essentials section, which means that “Polymatheus” was in the top 5 percent of all magazines in that category. “Polymatheus” was “the most original magazine I’ve seen this year,” the judge said. The judge praised teachers for crafting “creative” prompts that “stimulate critical thinking.” “Polymatheus” may go on to win a Crown Award. At press time, those awards were not yet announced. –The Boys Staff
YULA Boys Makes Improvements, Renovating Leadership Center By Ethan Frankel (‘22)
YULA Girls Spend the Summer Giving Back at Cedars-Sinai Hospital
By Meira Ives (‘22)
YULA Boys is building the Levkowitz Student Leadership Center. The center will serve as a designated meeting space for extracurriculars.
YULA Boys made some small improvements over the summer. Most important, the new buildings on the YULA campus finally received a permanent certificate of occupancy from the Los Angeles Fire Department. For the past few months, YULA had a temporary permit that allowed the students to use the facilities. The school was able to attain a permanent permit by making some changes to the school over the summer. For example, the school had to add room numbers to all rooms and hallways to pass the inspections. In addition to room numbers, other small changes were made to enhance the campus. Throughout the school, the old fluorescent lights were replaced by LED lights, which save energy by dimming and brightening based on motion and natural light detected in the room. The school received a grant from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which covered the majority of the cost
The Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) has awarded The Panther Post a Silver Medal in an annual critique and recognized Editor-in-Chief Yonah Berenson (‘20) with a Certificate of Merit for news feature writing. This is the first time a YULA newspaper or writer has earned awards from CSPA. The organization, which recognizes exceptional student publications, also awarded “Polymatheus,” YULA Boys’ academic interdisciplinary journal, which features the highlights of what students and teachers do here at YULA, a Gold Medal in a separate critique. A Silver Medal is the second-highest ranking offered by CSPA, and in the newspaper critique, which The Post received Sept. 4, the judge from CSPA wrote, “I enjoyed reading [The Panther Post] more than any [school newspaper] I have seen recently.” Additionally, Berenson won a Gold Circle Certificate of
for the lights. YULA also repainted the walls in the older parts of the campus and replaced many pictures throughout the halls. In addition, vape detectors have been placed in all the bathrooms to alert the administration to any e-cigarette use in the restrooms. YULA is currently creating the Levkowitz Student Leadership Center, which will become a designated area for extracurriculars. The students who work on the Post, Polymatheus, and Panther Productions are particularly excited about the new collaborative work space. “I’m excited that I will have a set place to work on layout and production of my videos with new world class technologies,” said Daniel Sentchuk (‘22). Students appreciate the small improvements. “Everything on the walls looks a lot newer and nicer. It is nice seeing more recent pictures on the walls,” said Gavi Steinlauf (‘22).
Most view summer as a time to relax and as an opportunity to have no commitments or obligations, therefore it is extremely impressive when students choose to use their free time to help others, for no reward in return. This past summer, YULA Girls was thrilled to have so many students representing their school as volunteers. One popular institution, where many YULA Girls spent their summer as volunteers, was at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. The volunteer program at Cedars can be very demanding, yet it is equally as rewarding because girls have the opportunity to positively shape someone’s life unexpectedly. Ruby Krassenstein ’22, says she was elated to have, “Such a
cool opportunity as it gave me a chance at such a young age to understand what working as a doctor might be like. It was also amazing being able to physically help people who were sick and see how much just a smile impacted them.” The volunteers at Cedars Sinai are exposed to rare opportunities where they receive hands-on experience by interacting with a patient in need. Adiel Nourmand ’22 said that, “Volunteering at Cedars was an amazing opportunity I will never forget. It truly made me appreciate everything in my own life.” The volunteers truly felt that they grew so much after the summer and were able to return to school with extensive personal growth.
YULA Girls Hosts 12th Grade College and Seminary Night By Aliza Pollak (‘20) On September 19th, YULA Girls hosted a College/Seminary Night for the Senior parents. The goal of the evening was to inform the parents of the different aspects of applying to and attending college and seminary, allowing them to play an active role in the process. Rabbi Spodek, YULA Girls Head of School, opened the night, speaking about the importance of a college choice and a seminary year as an opportunity to cement everything that’s been taught in school and in our homes. Mrs. Hershoff, Director of Israel Guidance, then spoke about the advantages of taking a gap year in Israel and the skills that can be gained from this year. She made sure to state that, “There is no best school. The best school is the best school for your daughter.” She also informed parents of the procedure and timeline for applying. Rachel Shandalov, Dean of College Guidance and Upperclassmen,
then took over, ensuring the parents that her goal is to get students into the best schools for them and to make the process as painless as possible. She went over the application timelines and explained all the different types of admissions and applications. She spoke about applying to schools locally and gave detailed information about applying to colleges on the East Coast and Midwest, where many of this year’s Senior Class hope to attend college. She concluded by discussing how the students are preparing for the process, including using Naviance and creating a comprehensive college checklist. Shandalov’s goal was to stress the importance of a partnership between YULA Girls, the student, and the parents, to allow for a seamless application and decision-making process. This informative evening was well received by parents eager to hear about their daughters’ applications and their role in the process.
Community - November 2019 - The Panther Post
YULA Boys Installs Vape Detectors in Restrooms Vaping amongst teens is a major epiBy Ethan Frankel (‘22) demic that is sweeping the nation, [and] Amid what the Food and Drug Administration has called an “ep although it saddens me that the school idemic” of teen vaping, and in keeping with the mission of “providing a safe school environment, and at the same time, promoting an atmosphere of health and wellness,” YULA Boys has installed vape detectors has to take such measures, I am happy over the summer in all of the restrooms on the campus. These detectors that they are. will notify the administration if students use e-cigarettes. FlySense produced these detectors, which sense the vapor coming from a Juul or similar device. In addition to detecting vaping, the detectors can also alert the administration to loud noises in the bathroom via instant text messages that indicate the situation and the location. Some students support the administration’s decision to install the detectors. “Vaping amongst teens is a major epidemic that is sweeping the nation, [and] although it saddens me that the school has to take such measures, I am happy that they are,” said Simmy Goldberger (‘22). Others feel that YULA should have more trust in the students. “I get where they are coming from, but the students feel that the administration is losing trust in the students,” said Daniel Sentchuk (‘22).
- Simmy Goldberger (‘22)
Regardless of one’s position on the detectors, attending school or “any school function” while under the influence of controlled substances results in “severe consequences that may include expulsion,” according to YULA Boys’ 2019–2020 “Handbook for Students & Parents.” In the case of off-campus substance abuse, a student would be sent to counseling. Students who test positive more than once are also “in serious jeopardy of being able to remain a student at the school.” YULA Boys has a zero-tolerance policy for the distribution or sale of controlled substances.
Warning the World of the Dangers of Vaping By Nicole Kahen (‘22)
MOHAMED_HASSAN — PIXABAY.COM
Last month, an already prominent issue came to center stage when an 18-year-old student came out with a campaign in hopes of persuading people to stop vaping. Being rushed to the hospital for what she and her family believed was pneumonia, ended up saving her life when doctors discovered she was not sick with pneumonia, but that she was on the verge of suffering lung collapse due to excessive vaping. Since the girl had trouble breathing she was forced onto a ventilator only after her lungs failed in 48 hours. She has since started an anti-vaping movement announcing publicly that, “This is all because of vaping. Vaping is advertised as ‘a healthier alternative to smoking’ which is false.” She further stated, “Whether it’s nicotine or weed, vaping can be fatal. I was lucky. The doctors didn’t think I was going to make it.” This teenager is not the only individual that has suffered, fought, and recovered through an illness caused by vaping. What is known as the “teen vaping epidemic” is spreading rapid-
ly throughout America and globally. There is a rise in the e-cigarette market and not everyone is aware of the negative side effects of these products. Even though vaping has been proven to be many times “safer” than smoking, it comes with its fair share of negative side effects. While these side effects are not as severe as those associated with smoking, they can still pose a health risk to the user. E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine as well as other harmful chemicals that are known to damage health. Moreover, vaping causes many negative, and possibly lethal side effects when ingested in too quickly or excessively, such as bronchitis, asthma, lung damage, signs of inflammation, etc. In many cases, people who contracted bronchitis from vaping have experienced chronic wheezing and coughs. Additionally, people with asthma have difficulty breathing, airway inflammation, and increased symptoms that take twice as long to recover. Furthermore, vaping devices are notoriously difficult to detect in schools, often leaving behind only a quick puff of vapor and a light fruity scent. Students can slide these devices in bathrooms, classrooms, and hallways, where some exhale the vapor into their shirts to avoid detection. Although the use of e-cigarettes is illegal below the age of 18, students nationwide say they can buy them from either older friends, online,
or even in their schools. According to the Surgeon General, “In 2018, 1 in 5 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past month.” The increased use of vaping has led to a great amount of disturbance and concern among parents and federal health authorities. According to the CDC, “There are 805 lung injury cases reported from 46 states...Twelve deaths have been confirmed in 10 states,” additionally, “nearly two-thirds of patients are 18 to 34 years old.” Lastly, during the youthful years, vital brain development happens. It begins the development of the fetus in the womb through adolescence and throughout the age of 25. Nicotine exposure during teenage years and young adulthood can cause addiction and damage to the developing brain. On Friday, September 27th, Rachel Aviv, M.D. (YULA Girls Class of 2005), addressed the YULA Girls’ student body and staff on the effects of vaping and shared research, data, and photographs of its impact. Dr. Aviv is a fellow in the Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Northwell Health. She discussed the countless patients she has treated and told of first-hand issues she’s witnessed as a result of vaping. She made sure to allow time for questions and our students felt very comfortable asking questions regarding vaping and the ill effects vaping causes. Teenagers and adults alike should heed the constant warnings against vaping, in order to avoid dangerous health complications and addictions plaguing so many today.
YULA Boys Introduces Engineering Course for Upperclassmen By Yoni Merkin (‘21), Opinion Editor YULA Boys has added a third year to its Engineering program. The new class for upperclassmen focuses on circuitry and the principles behind concepts of engineering, including voltage, current, and resistance. The first two years of Engineering are more project-oriented and teach coding and basic
circuits. The class, taught by Mr. Alec Gomez, has only a few students, but all are very motivated and engaged in the class. Daniel Tarko (‘20), a senior taking the class, explained that the class “gives me the opportunity to explore electrical engineering to see if I want to
pursue it as a career.” The new Engineering section will, like the two existing classes, be part of the Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE) program. To that end students will compete in the CIJE Engineering contest at the end of this year. Students taking this class are ju-
niors and seniors who have already taken the first two years of the CIJE Engineering program. They already have an understanding of coding and circuitry, which allows them to learn topics that are usually only taught in college.
YULA Boys Hires New Faculty
By Benji Mansano (‘22)
Rabbi Shua Rose Rabbi Shua Rose joined the Judaic Studies staff after teaching in Jerusalem. He attended the University of Maryland and earned an M.A. in Jewish Studies and Talmudic Law from Ner Israel Rabbinical College and Mercaz HaTorah. Rabbi Rose teaches Jewish Thought and Chumash to sophomores and Gemara to freshmen. Rabbi Rose plays the guitar weekly on Fridays and at school events.
Rabbi Ari Bensoussan
Rabbi Ari Bensoussan is the new head of the Night Seder program, which he has rebranded as Fire Seder in an attempt to drive up attendance and excitement. He also teaches the Joy of Being a Jew (JOBAJ) class once a week during lunch. This class includes topics like God’s being infinite but creating finite things.
Rabbi Moshe Union Rabbi Moshe Union is a new addition to the Friedman Beit Midrash Program, which provides students a chance to learn with their rebbeim in a smaller shiur (class) with more one-on-one time. He teaches the 11thgrade section of the program. Aside from teaching at YULA, Rabbi Union learns at Merkaz HaTorah Kollel.
Mr. Julio Castro Mr. Julio Castro teaches Algebra I, Informal Geometry, Intermediate Algebra, Statistics, and Microbiology. Prior to working at YULA, Mr. Castro worked as a tutor at Cerritos College.
Mr. Lance Kruse Mr. Lance Kruse teaches Physics, AP Physics, Chemistry, and a 9th-grade STEAM Studio. Mr. Kruse has 20 years of teaching experience in science and technology, most recently at YULA Girls. Mr. Kruse is very excited to strengthen YULA Boys’ physics program.
Academics - November 2019 - The Panther Post
AP Scores Spike at YULA Girls
RABBI SHUA ROSE
By Leora Teichman (‘22)
By Eitan Gelb (‘22) Rabbi Shua Rose, born and raised in London before he made aliyah to Israel, taught at Ohr Somayach in Israel for the last 10 years before moving to Los Angeles to become YULA Boys’ newest rebbe. As a child, Rabbi Rose never saw being a rabbi as his future. He was not interested in learning Torah until he met Rabbi Chanina Geisler, who inspired him to become a rabbi. Rabbi Rose originally planned to return to England to study psychology but became a rebbe instead. Rabbi Rose believes that, just as his rebbe was able to connect him to his Judaism, “there is a way to connect to every single yid.” He said that he implements this belief into his teaching by connecting to his students every day. Rabbi Rose teaches Gemara and Halacha to freshmen daily. He also teaches Chumash four times a week and Jewish Thought twice a week to sophomores. “He inspires me to work on my Judaism every day,” said Ilan Rosenbaum (‘23), a student in Rabbi Rose’s Gemara class. “He is always here for you and his home is always open for Shabbos or any day of the week,” said Menachem Nissim (‘22). “And his wife is an amazing cook,” he added. Rabbi Rose, who used to be a member of a band back in London, ran a Jewish music show as a teenager and has worked with several Jewish music stars. So it’s only natural that he can usually be found leading kumzitzim (singalongs) at YULA on Fridays and at many after-school events.
Percentage of YULA Girls students who passed (scored a three or higher on) their AP exams.
As AP courses become more popular, AP scores become more of a means by which to measure student and teacher success. Measured on a scale of 1-5, a 3 is deemed a passing score. The last couple of years have allowed for tremendous growth in AP scores, showing an increase from 70% to 88% of YULA Girls students earning above a 3 on their AP exams. In just this past year, our students from 10-12th grade did exceptionally better on their AP exams than compared to the year prior. Of all the AP tests given to YULA Girls students this past year, the exams with the most significant growth were AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, and AP US History. Many of our teachers believe the source of the AP averages increase was due to the faculty investing a greater focus on teaching the skills necessary to succeed on the test. By using the College Board rubrics, they were able to focus on the teaching techniques that allowed students to excel both in class and on the AP exam. “All YULA instructors are always researching new strategies to maximize opportunities for stu-
dents to achieve at the highest level possible,” Mr. Simon, the head of the History department and AP US History teacher said. “An additional reason YULA achieved at such a high level is the tremendously supportive administration, who always prioritizes the AP program. All of our amazing accomplishments at YULA, are the result of collaborative team efforts.” Furthermore, the new faculty have brought their own expertise and experience to the AP classroom that has helped bring even more growth to the AP exams. Mr. Bolton, last year’s new addition to the YULA Girls math department, has incorporated many new and outstanding suggestions to the math curriculum. He explains, “I focus more on connections between ideas, rather than on individual ideas themselves. I want my students to understand the concepts behind Calculus, rather than focusing on specific cases so that they each have the ability to answer any question that is thrown their way, regardless of difficulty.” What is also very exciting is the 5 year comparative AP scores that the College Board shared with
YULA Girls, allowing us to see and compare the tremendous growth YULA Girls has had over the 4 year period from 2015 to 2019. College Board maintains, “that success on an AP Exam is defined as an exam score of 3 or higher, which represents the score point that research finds predictive of college success and college graduation. These findings have held consistent across the decades. One example of such a study comes from the National Center for Educational Accountability, which found that an AP Exam score, and a score of 3 or higher in particular, is a strong predictor of a student’s ability to persist in college and earn a bachelor’s degree.” The YULA Girls faculty and administration have truly made it their focal point to continue to enhance the AP curriculum, and break boundaries; both in the classroom, and in how every girl is able to apply what they have learned in their everyday lives. Every year allows YULA to showcase their continuous growth and strength. Continuing in this impressive path, who knows what we’ll be able to achieve and attain in the years to come.
Torah & Israel
Night Seder Rebrands as Fire Seder
Rabbi Ari Bensoussan, one of YULA Boys’ new rebbeim, leads a revamped Night Seder program he has redubbed “Fire Seder” in an attempt to bring new energy to the program. Fire Seder is an additional class for students in the Baum Family Advanced Gemara Track that meets after school Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 to 5:45 p.m. The additions to the program this year include more food and raffles, with a grand prize of an all-expenses-paid trip to the Siyum HaShas with Rabbi Shimon Abramczik and other students. Rabbi Joseph Schreiber teaches upperclassmen on Tuesday and underclassmen on Thursday; Rabbi Bensoussan, underclassmen on Tuesday and upperclassmen on Thursday. Rabbi Abramczik reviews material from the last two days of his Friedman Family
By Akiva Brookler (‘21), Executive Editor
Rabbis Arye Sufrin and Ari Bensoussan pump up the students before “Fire Seder.”
Masmidim class during Fire Seder for students of that class. Despite the school’s efforts, Fire Seder is still attended only by a small percentage of students. Even the students who attend regularly would still pre-
fer not to take the class, though they appreciate the changes. “I don’t like the fact that we have to stay for an extra hour,” Simmy Goldberger (‘22) said, “but I enjoy the extra learning and very much appreciate the school’s efforts to revamp it.”
Elections Without Results By Yael Gluck (‘20) Who’s the new Prime Minister of Israel? It seems to be a question on everyone’s mind. The answer is still unclear. However, in order to understand the complexity of the most recent September elections, reflecting and understanding the cause and result of the April Election is imperative. In April 2019, according to NBC News, Prime Minister Netanyahu was facing “one count of bribery and three counts of breach of trust”. The courts planned on indictment, forcing the Prime Minister to call for an early election in April rather than in June. These elections resulted in the Likud Party (Netanyahu) gaining the majority of votes. This required them to seek to build a coalition with other parties in order to retain majority and control of the Knesset. However, Netanyahu fell short one seat of the majority. He had only managed to obtain 60 out of the 61 required seats for the majority. Unable to keep power over the government, Netanyahu was forced to give in and allow the country to hold reelections. Despite Netanyahu’s attempts, President Reuven Rivlin did not allow for Netanyahu to be-
come an exception to the Israeli democratic system. Fast forward 6 months. The preparations for the September 17th elections was nothing but messy. The major political parties involved in this election include: Likud, Kachol Lavan (Blue and White), Yisrael Beiteinu, and The Arab Joint List. Likud is under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu and Kachol Lavan is under Benny Gantz, former Chief of Staff of the IDF. Yisrael Beiteinu is led by Avigdor Leiberman, former Defense Minister who broke away from the Likud Party in November 2018 over a dispute with Netanyahu about the Prime Minister’s lack of response to barrages of rockets fired by Hamas into Israel. He became the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu Party and has led it in opposition to Netanyahu since. Lastly, the Arab Joint List, led by Ayman Odeh, consists of a political alliance of the major Arab Parties in Israel, including: Balad, Hadash, Ta’al, and the United Arab List. This party is significant due to the results of the September
elections. According to the results, there was a standstill, or so called “deadlock”. The Blue and White Party reached 33 seats while the Likud party reached 32. However, both parties remained in a situation where neither could reach a majority. All party heads met with President Rivlin to give their endorsements for Prime Minister and Netanyahu received more endorsements, therefore, he was given the task of forming a coalition government. However, there were talks of a Unity Government. A Unity Government would mean two polit-
ical parties, who are on two different sides of the political spectrum, coming together to form the government coalition. Netanyahu would lead for two years, and Gantz would lead for the other two. As discussions continue, it is still unclear who will be prime minister due to the intensity of the discussions
and the refusals to form a unity government from Gantz. As of now, October 2019, the country remains without a solution and without a leader. Although the Knesset has been sworn in, in order to operate the government, there is still no clear path to take to resolve the crisis that elections created.
As of now, October 2019, the country remains without a solution and without a leader.
Torah & Israel - November 2019 - The Panther Post
Prenuptial Agreement: A Halachic Perspective By Coby Karben (‘22) The Halachic process for divorce requires a man to grant a document, called a get,to his wife. However, the man can refuse to provide his wife with the documentation necessary for her to remarry Halachically at a later date. Additionally, he must give it willingly, without being forced, in order for it to be binding according to Halacha. A woman whose gethas been withheld is known as an agunah, which means “chained” in Hebrew. A woman in this situation cannot remarry according to Halacha and remains “chained” to her husband. Several movements that use cultural and legal methods to limit the potential for abusive situations have been started to help avoid such situations and their many psychological and practical effects. If a husband were to give a get because of monetary penalties or other forms of coercion, however, then he would have given what is known as a get meusah, which is Halachically invalid. The question posed by Modern Orthodox leaders became: What methods of Halachic pressure could be brought on the husband so he
gives his wife a get? In 1994, Rav Mordechai Willig, as a representative of the Rabbinical Council of America, drafted a Halachically grounded agreement to be signed prior to the wedding. This prenuptial agreement obligates either spouse to appear in beit din (rabbinical court) while their divorce is pending, should a divorce be desired. If the husband and wife no longer live together, then the agreement stipulates that the husband must monetarily support his wife at a daily rate of $150 (approximately $54,000 per year). This financial obligation isn’t enough to force any man to divorce his wife, since he may not necessarily mind remaining married to her. Rather, it is a considerable incentive to give her the get in order to avoid paying the $150 a day. This payment is not a penalty or fine. Rather, the sum represents the husband’s obligation to sustain his wife’s basic needs, such as food (mezonot) and shelter as long as they are Halachically married. The payment also serves as a Halachically acceptable way
of applying pressure on the husband to settle the matter properly in beit din. This process is Halachically approved and endorsed by numerous poskim (decisors), including Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg; Rav Ovadia Yosef, zt”l; Rav Asher Weiss; Rav Hershel Schachter; and other roshei yeshiva (heads of yeshiva) at Yeshiva University. Additionally, a postnuptial agreement is also available for couples who are already married, even after many years. Although many poskim endorse this prenuptial agreement, it isn’t universally accepted. In Israel, batei din have the ability to convict those who refuse to give a get and sentence offenders to jail time or other forms of punishment. Outside Israel, however, rabbinical courts do not have these powers of applying pressure to the husband, so rabbis devised other methods, such as public shaming, to compel a man to give his wife a get. The beit din also has the power to issue a seiruv,a document that says that a man has been held in contempt of beit din for refusing to come when
summoned. This allows the community to ban him from synagogues. However, the beit din cannot force the man to give a get, as the get must be given of the man’s own volition. The seiruv allows the community not to count him as part of a minyan (quorum), not to give him an aliyah (call to the Torah), not to do business with him, and to refuse to bury his deceased family members.The goal of these sanctions is to pressure the person to appear before abeit din in hopes of persuading him to ultimately give his wife a get. The effect of a seiruv is limited because a person can move easily to another community or neighborhood. Get refusal remains a pressing issue, but Halachic prenuptial agreements have limited the frequency of refusal. There are many rabbis in our community who will only officiate at a wedding if the chatan and kallah (groom and bride) have signed a prenuptial agreement. Because these issues are so complex, one should consult a knowledgeable and recognized Halachic authority to deal with these matters.
More Countries Open Missions in Jerusalem By Boaz Edidin (‘22) diplomatic offices in Jerusalem to recognize it as the capital. In early September, Honduras opened its first trade office in Jerusalem. President Juan Orlando Hernandez called the trade office a “first step” in his plan to move the embassy to Jerusalem sometime soon. In return, Honduras asked Israel to open an embassy in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. Honduras also felt a debt of gratitude to Israel for its assistance in the aftermath of a 2018 earthquake there. Israeli organizations were the first to arrive and establish a field hospital at the scene. Nauru recently announced its decision to “continue to strengthen Jerusalem and to bring about the recognition and opening of diplomatic missions and embassies in [Israel’s] capital.” The tiny, mostly Christian
Pacific island country has a population of just 14,000. Hungary has also made a significant advance in its relationship with Israel by establishing an embassy branch in Jerusalem. The embassy moves represent a “historical justice,” Hillel Newman, Israel’s consul general to Los Angeles, said. “Israel was one of the only countries in the world which had its capital under dispute. Every country in the world [has been] allowed to determine which city is their capital, except for Israel.
Recognizing Jerusalem reaffirms [the] facts and corrects an absurd situation.”
Almost two years ago, the United States formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced that it would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Other countries have hesitated to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital out of fear of angering the Arabs and endangering a potential peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. But some have decided to follow President Trump’s lead. Two countries, Guatemala and Paraguay, moved their embassies to Jerusalem mere days after the United States’ move. However, after four months, Paraguay moved its embassy back to Tel Aviv. Around six months after the United States moved its embassy, the Czech Republic also opened diplomatic offices in Jerusalem. Recently, Honduras, Nauru, and Hungary have shown support for Israel by establishing new
GRAPHIC BY DANIEL SENTCHUK
What is ‘Hadar’? Continued from front page that you can perform only in Eretz Yisrael. In contrast, everyone is capable of doing the mitzvah of vehedarta pnai zaken. It is a mitzvah that applies to every Jew at all times, in any country, and under almost all circumstances. Moreover, it’s a mitzvah that one performs for others but, eventually, can become the recipient of himself.
During sukkot it is vital that we focus on this mitzvah, especially because we are spending the chagim at many times with our families. Our elders also organize and prepare the beautiful sukkah and seudah. As we put away our etrogim at the end of Sukkot, after having been so careful to choose the
best and guard over the fruit so meticulously, we must remind ourselves of the other mitzvah the Torah hints we should perform with as much care— that of respecting the most precious members of our community—our zekenim.
Artificial Intelligence Brings Promise and Problems By Judah Pardau (‘23)
skills. AI could, therefore, allow people to focus more on activities that they are passionate about instead of chasing professions they do not want to pursue. AI
ANALYSIS Artificial intelligence (AI) is a system that mimics human thought and intelligence. Today, we use AI on a daily basis, from digital assistants like Siri to programs that help doctors interpret CT scans to detect lung cancer. AI has proven itself to be remarkably helpful in the navigation of our quickly developing and ever-changing world. But AI does have its shortcomings. In July 2015, a 22-year-old worker was pinned against a wall by a malfunctioning robotic arm at a Volkswagen factory in Germany. The worker’s body was crushed. A few hours later, he died at a local hospital. In March 2018, 49-yearold Elaine Herzberg was killed by an autonomous Uber in Tempe, Ariz., the first reported incident of a pedestrian being killed under such circumstances. Since then, there have been four other known cases of deaths related to semi-autonomous vehicles. The rise in fatal accidents related to AI raises serious questions regarding its safety. In addition to safety concerns, many are worried that AI could put people out of work. AI expert Kai-Fu Lee predicts 40 percent of the world’s current jobs will be made redundant by AI. Most of the jobs Dr. Lee refers to involve predictable, repetitive physical work, such as food preparation and assembly line work. But, according to Geoffrey Hinton, that does not necessarily mean that a good education will save you. Dr. Hinton, who writes AI algorithms for Google, proclaimed that “we should stop training radiologists now.” Even with AI, however, it seems implausible that robots will ever be able to properly emulate a person’s creativity, compassion, leadership, and other social
could take do the less fulfilling jobs. Challenges posed by self-driving cars illustrate another ethical issue of AI. When a driver swerves to avoid a pedestrian and, as a result, plummets down the road into a ditch, sparing injury to the pedestrian but causing great physical harm to himself, he makes a conscious moral decision to do so. What will be the
criteria for AI to make this decision? Will it prioritize the safety (or even the life) of the person in the car or the cyclist on the road? A recent study conducted by Iran Rahwan, a computer scientist at MIT, found that the decisions made by human drivers in such cases vary from region to region based on cultural values. Most people from East Asian countries would save an elderly woman over a young girl if one had to be hit. In Western countries, however, those surveyed were far likelier to try to save the young girl. Researchers also found that the higher a country’s economic development is, the more people are willing to hit a homeless person over a business executive. What do these findings mean? Will engineers have to code AI based on the region it is being exported to? Is morality relative? Interestingly enough, many car companies have voiced their opinions and believe that society should come to a consensus on ethically correct decisions. But can manufacturers expect 7.5 billion people to all agree on so many different scenarios? If we can’t come to a consensus, who gets to decide what the “correct” ethical interpretation of a situation should be? AI can be hugely beneficial for society if we implement it correctly and effectively. While AI may take over people’s jobs, it also promises new occupations and opportunities. By taking over monotonous, repetitive jobs AI can give humans the opportunity to pursue what they enjoy most. While autonomous cars do have their dangerous downsides, they can eventually make driving significantly safer and easier. Like it or not, AI likely has an inevitable future in our society, so it’s more important to work on how to implement this technology than to try to fight it.
The Trade War: What Is It and How Does It Affect You?
By Moshe Epstein (‘21), Photos Editor ANALYSIS “Trade war.” “Tariffs.” “IP theft.” We hear these terms on the news and in some spirited discussions over Shabbat meals. But what do they mean? A trade war is an economic conflict between two or more countries; the casualties can include jobs and your money, but no soldiers. America has been engaged in a trade war with China for almost a year now. Presidential candidate Donald Trump had promised repeatedly throughout his campaign to negotiate a better trade deal with China. His election to the presidency in Nov. 2016 gave him the power to put pressure on China by levying fees, called tariffs, on imported goods. President Trump placed tariffs on Chinese-made products in March 2018, and the Chinese retaliated by imposing their own tariffs on U.S. products. The tit for tat has led to tens of billions of dollars in tariffs between the two countries. Manufacturers almost always pass on these costs to consumers.
So why did Mr. Trump go through all this trouble to impose taxes that just make everything more expensive? The first reason is to cut a trade deal. Mr. Trump has claimed that China has been taking advantage of the United States through trade, and he sees tariffs as a way to put pressure on China to fold to his demands so that he can get a better deal for the United States. Another reason is to protect America’s domestic products. Mr. Trump
has expressed his outrage that China does not prosecute intellectual property (IP) theft, which means that Chinese companies take ideas from U.S. patents and use them to create knock-off products. This practice alone costs the United States $225 billion to $600 billion annually, according to the International Trade Commission. This trade war has continued to develop over the past year. Mr. Trump tweeted Aug. 23 that Amer-
GRAPHIC BY DANIEL SENTCHUK
has hoped that imported goods would get too expensive, and U.S. consumers would start buying from American companies that make their goods in the USA. Lastly, Mr. Trump
ican companies should start looking for an “alternative to China.” A couple of days later, Mr. Trump explained at the Group of Seven (G7) summit that the United States and Chi-
na are looking for a deal. The most important question to ask is how does this war actually affect the rest of us? Products made in China are becoming more expensive. In 2018, the United States imported $539 billion worth of goods from China—mostly supply machinery, furniture, toys and sports equipment, and plastics. Tariffs have caused all these products to surge in price, so Americans pay more for them after manufacturers pass on their costs. Also, anyone who is investing in or even looking at stocks knows that Mr. Trump’s often arbitrary and impulsive comments about the trade war set the markets soaring or plummeting. Will the conflict soon come to an end? It’s hard to say. A lot depends on the results of the 2020 election. Mr. Trump is unlikely to surrender from this trade war, no matter how unwinnable it might become. His Democratic opponent might. In the interim, it’s American consumers who pay more for their goods.
Features - November 2019 - The Panther Post
‘Stranger Things’: Season 3 Review (*CONTAINS SPOILERS*)
By Maya Wertheim (‘23)
The Georgia-filmed series, Stranger Things, has been a hit since its debut. In fact, its growing popularity has jolted both its audience and Netflix’s user growth. With scenes that are both convoluted and exhilarating, it managed to keep the viewers fixed on the incredible acting and storyline. Set in 1985, several months after the iconic snowball at Hawkins Middle School, it is undeniable that the kids we saw in Season 2 have sprouted into fullon teens. As the continuation of the plot begins to unravel, to Hopper’s (David Harbour) dismay, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) are dating. Meanwhile, our boys, Mike, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb Mclaughin), acquire an escalating disinterest for Dungeons and Dragons— which later crushes Will (Noah Shnapp). Nancy (Natalie Dyer) and Jonathon (Charlie Heaton) spend their summer together interning at the local paper. On the other hand, Dustin, anticipating his return was forgotten, returns from summer camp when he is startled by a surprise planned by the group: Eleven, Mike, Lucas, Max (Sadie Sink), and Will. Insisting he has a girlfriend, he drags the crew up a mountain in an attempt at communicating to her through a walky talky. The rest of the group gradually head home one by one, leaving Dustin alone with the machine. He overhears something. Little does he know that his creation could be used to spy on an evil secret Russian organization. Will begins to sense the Upside Down and realizes the
entities that live there could still be lurking around Indiana. Additionally, a plot involving “evil Russians” is introduced. Billy, Max’s older brother (Dacre Montgomery) plays a more substantial role because he gets taken over and becomes a vessel for the Mind Flare that’s getting larger and more present in their dimension because of the factory lead by evil (Russian) scientists. At this point, the group begins to drift apart. Lonely and friendless, Dustin creates new bonds with a new (scoop) of people Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) who both scoop ice cream at Hawkin’s new Star Court Mall, along with Lucas’ sarcastic little sister, Erica (Priah Ferguson). Meanwhile, Nancy and Jonathon track an infestation of noxious rats. Stranger Things does a fantastic job of accurately capturing Hopper’s transformation from a lean-backand-relax, small town sheriff version of Hopper to a combative don’t-mess-with-me version of Hopper. Throughout the season, we witness Hopper’s change in behavior. Despite his hostile nature, we have all come to love him and regard him as our Stranger Things dad. Like in the previous seasons, Stranger Things played with a lot of relationships this season, both familial and romantic. Between Joyce (Winona Ryder, Will’s mom) and Hopper, Mike and El, El and Max, and Steve and Robin. Humorously, the show introduces yet another brand new character, Alexei, who to our surprise,
probably turned out to be our favorite character. He was a little defecting and his comrades viewed him as a traitor, but he decided to help Joyce, Hopper and Murray (Brett Gelman) find the gate to the Upside Down through the heavy security of the factory. The show really embraces the notion of an evil Russian organization under a mall which Dustin, Steve, Robin, and Erica intercepting this signal and having to decode it and figure out its source. Steve starts playing more of the role of a babysitter rather than a teenager, and Dustin later defeats all the evil Russians after Steve and Robin get drugged. In the season finale, we see all our main characters coming together to try to defeat the monster from the Upside Down. Billy is a total vessel for the monster, and Joyce (Winona Ryer), Hopper, and Murray try to close the gate to the Upside Down. The emotional scene between Eleven and Billy in the Star Court mall before his eventual tragic fate was heartbreaking to watch. Whether Hopper is killed or not is still a mystery; however, in the end credits, there’s an intimation given that Hopper (the American) was arrested and put in a prison cell in Russia. After the surprising ‘death’ of Hopper, the characters mourn him, and the Byer family move out of Hawkins, Indiana, and bring El with them. We look forward to a Season 4 and many more to come, featuring the telekinetic heroine, iconic monster, bloody nose and an Eggo waffle.
Understand Abby Govindan By Sarah Nachimson (‘21)
Neither stand-up comedy nor Twitter are easy to master. Yet, the talented comedian Abby Govindan has managed to do just that, all while preserving her own life experience within her humor. The tour de force on the stand up scene believes that both the stand up and twitter comedy genres intersect, but it’s important to find what works for each medium. Some joke formats work for Twitter and not for stand up or vice versa. “It’s all about finding a balance,” Govindan said. Her Twitter presence has led to some wild moments. She was invited to meet with presidential candidate Julian Castro by his communications director after sharing posts in support
of his campaign. She is followed by the husband of current presidential candidate Kamala Harris. She was most surprised when Adam Conover, the creator of the show “Adam Ruins Everything,” followed her. “I remember watching his show since I was 16—half of my knowledge comes from there.” While she thrives in the art of comedy, Govindan’s talent in humor isn’t her career’s only remarkable aspect. She’s also breaking barriers as a Desi woman. According to a 2018 study by UCLA, women remain underrepresented almost everywhere in entertainment. Male directors outnumber females by seven to one, writers four to one, and creators of scripted shows three to one.
Govindan combats this misrepresentation by “showing up and being good.” Govindan also noticed that women in comedy are much more scrutinized than men. “A certain female comedian made some racially charged comments like seven or eight years ago,” she said. She recalled that people still bring up these comments as an attack against the comedian to this day. While Govindan acknowledged that everyone should be held accountable for inappropriate or offensive rhetoric, she noted that male comedians are held to a much lower degree of responsibility than female ones. “Everyone’s favorite male comedian has a past. Maybe a problematic comment from seven years or one [as recent as]
five years ago, but it’s not discussed as much because they’re appealing or they’re funny men. Women who have these same qualities are seen as annoying or irritating while [these] men are seen as charming,” she said. Women, she explains, should not be looked at with more criticism and skepticism than men in comedy. The same 2018 UCLA study exhibits how minorities are also grossly underrepresented in the entertainment industry. People of color are outnumbered five to one by caucasian broadcast and cable script writers. They account for less than one out of every six film writers, and no show created by a
Continued on next page
The Panther Post - November 2019 - Features
Understand Abby Govindan Continued from previous page minority won an Emmy award in 2015-2016. Govindan estimates that there are hundreds of Indian men pursuing comedy, but the number of Indian women pursuing the field pales in comparison. She attributes this to conservative social values that South Asia has embraced in the past that “both the east and the west are moving away from.” But Govindan’s South Asian heritage also helps her connect with people who share her ethnicity in ways people from a different background might not understand. One night she performed for a South Asian crowd and sent her routine to her managers. “It totally went over their heads, but it was important for the audience to hear those jokes,” she said. The joke she said was one that people without an understanding of South Asian culture would comprehend.
When Govindan was younger, she struggled with her Indian identity. “Now I get to use it for this platform and this audience,” she said. “Having my identity be something that people engage with is so cool.” She remembered messaging comedians such as Hasan Minhag and Hari Kondabolu about how much she admired them, and now she receives messages of praise and other South Asian girls come to her for advice on how to start their own comedy careers. “There’s never going to be a such thing as too many South Asian women in comedy.” She has also been messaged by people who have told her that it is very cool to see someone of Indian descent on the “mainstream Twitter scene.” Twitter, as she sees it, provides a platform for a diverse pool of comedians to access a wider audience. “I would not be
where I am in comedy if I did not have social media as a platform,” she notes. “The first thing that put me on a public platform was [when] I had a tweet that went viral about PTSD,” Govindan said. Many South Asian women suffer with PTSD, and a lot of girls reached out to her saying how meaningful it felt that someone was talking about the issue they struggled with.
I Don’t Know What the Electoral College Is, and at This Point, I’m Too Afraid to Ask By Aaron Silvera (‘23) EXPLAINER The Electoral College is one of the oldest and least understood processes in the United States. Some feel that it’s a way to give all Americans a voice, while others feel it unfairly discriminates against people based on their location. Let’s take a look at the Electoral College’s history, its intentions, how it works, and some of the arguments for and against it. Established in Article II, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution, the Electoral College is a part of the original version as written in 1787 and ratified a year later as the method for selecting the president. On Election Day, votes for every candidate are counted in each state separately. The candidate with the most votes in a particular state wins all of the state’s electoral votes (except in Nebraska and Maine, which award some electoral votes to the overall winner and some for each congressional district’s winner). Those votes determine who becomes president. States’ electoral votes are tallied based on population, so California gets 55 electoral votes; New Hampshire, only four. But not all states are given a number of votes proportional to their population. Because the number of electoral votes corresponds to the number of House seats (based on population) plus the number of Senate seats (two for every state), small states usually get more votes than a completely proportional system would allot, and bigger states get fewer votes. While California does get 55 votes of the 538 total electoral votes, under a proportional system, it would have 65. That gets us to the Electoral College’s intentions. The Framers feared a direct democratic election would give
us demagogues. They therefore established the Senate, a house of Congress that would be elected indirectly by state legislators, and the Electoral College, a process for selecting the president who would be elected indirectly by people called “electors.” Furthermore, the Electoral College’s not-quite-proportional system would ensure that smaller states would not be ignored. Nowadays, the electors vote according to the wishes of the vote in their state and their votes in December come over a month after the election has been decided. But, as a recent appellate court decision confirmed, once chosen, the electors can vote for whichever candidate they choose and are not bound by their state’s vote. Electors who vote for a candidate other than the one they are supposed to choose are called “faithless electors.” Five times in U.S. history, the Electoral College has enabled a president to win the election while his opponent won the majority of votes cast. We’ll just talk about the two most recent here. The 2000 election had been the most contested race in recent American history. Republican George W. Bush ran against Dem-
ocrat Al Gore, and the popular vote went to Vice President Gore by 540,000 votes, just 0.5 percent of the votes cast. In Florida, the race was so close that the entire election was thrown to the Supreme Court. On election night, Bush was declared the winner. The ballot count in Florida was so close that it triggered an automatic recount under Florida election law. The Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision, stopped the recount, saying that there was no time to ensure a recount stayed within the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Florida’s 25 electoral votes were given to President Bush by just 537 ballots, and he won the Electoral College by just five electoral votes. (A faithless elector abstained.) The most recent case of conflict between the electoral and popular votes was the 2016 election. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote with almost 3 million more votes than Republican Donald Trump, but President Trump won the electoral vote. There have been calls to abolish or reform the Electoral College, so let’s take a look at some of the arguments for the Electoral College and against it.
GRAPHIC BY DANIEL SENTCHUK
Those who oppose the Electoral College say that it unfairly disenfranchises people just because they live in a larger state. Under a popular vote system, they contend, states have to split their vote between two or more candidates, so just California and New York deciding an election by themselves is unlikely. In the case of the Electoral College, just one state can decide the election. Voters in most states are completely ignored in favor of those in battleground states. But people who support the continuation of the Electoral College argue that the Electoral College ensures America’s status as a republic, not a pure democracy. Making sure the small states have a voice, they say, is more important than the whims of the easily swayed and usually uninformed American public. They believe giving outsize power to smaller states is the only way to ensure that candidates pay attention to issues facing a variety of Americans, rather than just a majority of Americans. The Electoral College is probably here to stay. Amending the Constitution requires two-thirds of both houses of Congress to approve the amendment and three-fourths of the states to do the same. Attempts to circumvent the Electoral College, such as an agreement where states give their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote, are on their way, but getting enough states to sign on to make a difference has been difficult. With a better understanding of what the Electoral College actually is, we can have an informed discussion on how to best pick who should lead us into the future.
Features - November 2019 - The Panther Post
iPhone 11 Review
PSY: Good but Pricey
By Yael Kohanteb (22’)
By Ethan Frankel (22’)
‘The Spy’ Hooks With Eli Cohen’s Story By Ethan Frankel (‘22)
From 1961 to 1965, Eli Cohen spied for the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. A new Netflix miniseries, “The Spy,” dramatizes the story of Eli Cohen’s time as an undercover agent in Damascus. Sacha Baron Cohen plays Eli Cohen, and his acting is impeccable. He portrays Eli Cohen’s life undercover so well that even Sophie BenDor, Eli Cohen’s daughter, appreciated Mr. Baron Cohen’s portrayal of her father, even though she panned the show’s treatment of the subject in general. I found myself glued to the TV and finished all six episodes in one night. Each episode left me in enough suspense to keep hitting “Next episode” until two in the morning. Since the series portrays the challenges a spy endures while in a hostile country, I felt the emotional challenge Eli faced when separated from his wife. Though sad, the show inspires the audience by showing Eli’s intense love of Israel. I was speechless when I reached the conclusion. The show is riveting, and I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys drama and cares about Israel. It starts off a bit slow, but once you get into it, you’ll be hooked. By the second episode you will not be able to leave the couch.
Yet another kosher restaurant has opened on Pico. PSY Street Kitchen is located next door to Nagila Pizza, where Nagila Meating Place used to be. PSY also has a Sherman Oaks location, which has been open for over two years. When I walked into PSY, I loved the atmosphere. The walls are graffitied, and it does feel like a “street”-themed restaurant. I was greeted by the staff behind the counter, who were filled with welcoming energy. When I ordered, they gave me a neon colored buzzer. Since it buzzes when your order is ready, you don’t have to listen for your name or go up to the counter every five minutes to check if your order is ready. I had the double decker special because the people behind the counter told me that if I were to get only one thing, this was the best thing to get. The double decker is a burger with a piece of bread in the middle and topped with smoked brisket and a fried egg. The burger was grilled excellently and was super juicy. The smoked brisket and fried egg went together very well with the burger. The only problem was that it was messy, but it was well worth it. I also got a variety order of fries that included regular, seasoned, and yam fries. I found the yam fries to be the best; the regular and seasoned fries were a bit bland. Although the fries were not amazing, the burger made up for it. The food is good, but PSY is expensive. My order totaled about $25, which is a lot for a “Street Kitchen” burger place. Even though it is pricey, PSY has not had trouble getting business, but that’s another problem: Almost every night you have to wait for over an hour to get your food because there are so many people waiting for orders. At the restaurant’s opening Oct. 2, people lined up around the block. Even on weeknights the restaurant is packed. As for competition with other burger places, PSY is different enough to carve out its own niche because it offers crazy specials. Also, the atmosphere at PSY is more trendy and attractive than the average place. PSY is a lot of fun because of both the quality of the food and the atmosphere. As long as you are prepared for the high prices and long wait, you’ll definitely enjoy your meal. DANIEL SENTCHUK
September 20, 2019 was the official release of the three newest iPhones. Apple’s new and improved iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, each include new fascinating features. All three phones include a U1 Chip which allows for an ultra wide band (UWB). The UWB measures how long it takes for short radio pulses to travel between devices and works out a precise location for the item. In addition, there is an advanced airdrop accuracy, where the U1 chip recognizes devices wanting to be paired creating faster response to deliver better quality photos. With the two camera back the photos and videos capture higher contour and enhanced portrait photos. The ultra-wide camera allows for pictures to capture bigger scenes and breathtaking views. The iPhone 11 pro comes with a faster charger and offers four modern colors: lavender purple, mint green, pastel yellow and bright red. Another new adjustment made is that the Apple logo was placed towards the middle of the phone rather than higher up. However, the most significant change in the iPhone 11 pro and pro max are the three cameras on the back of the phone. Each camera has a contributing purpose: telephoto, ultra wide and wide lenses. All these lenses make for a crystal-clear picture, in addition to the front camera which can shoot in 4k and slow motion. The back of the phone is also less slippery due to the matte finish. Overall the new iPhones have outstanding reviews and are known for the high definition cameras.
‘Educated’ Deftly Explores the Challenges of Intellectual Growth By Jake Stephen (‘23) Tara Westover’s memoir “Educated” tells the story of a young girl who struggles to succeed amid poverty, emotional imprisonment, and her family’s radical Mormon ideology. We see Tara’s internal struggle between family loyalty and independence. And we learn about resilience as we see Tara refuse to surrender to her surroundings as she battles the ignorance that destroys everyone close to her. “Educated” takes place in rural Idaho, where Tara spends her childhood stockpiling canned peaches and ammunition for when “the end of the world” comes.
She helps collect scraps in her father’s junkyard while she dodges flying shrapnel. Her father does not believe in the education system or medical establishments because he believes they are “corruption facilities imposed by the government.” When one of Tara’s brothers goes to college and brings back knowledge of the outside world, Tara becomes set on getting into college herself. Her mother had homeschooled her, but the learning was inconsistent and always lacking. Despite all this, Tara is admitted to Brigham Young University, where her thirst
for knowledge opens up her mind to new beliefs and ideas. After many challenges she graduates at the top of her class and transfers to Cambridge University. But after going so far, she must contemplate whether destroying all ties to home and starting a new life is really the right decision to make. She is educated, but she is also isolated. “Educated” is about defying overwhelming odds and realizing one’s true self. Tara’s memoir records the sacrifices we all make for intellectual growth.
Fantasy Football Craze Strikes YULA Boys By Aidan Stephen (‘22) The notorious fantasy football craze has hit YULA Boys. Fantasy football is a game that is played online, where people draft teams of NFL players and receive points each week based on how well their players do. When walking through the halls of YULA Boys, one will hear the constant chatter about who won the past Sunday. Not which pro team, but whose fantasy teams.
Some say fantasy is a lot of fun and brings people together. “It helps take our minds off of school,” said Eitan Gelb (‘22). “It is a conversation starter.” Others feel fantasy has monopolized students’ time and energy. “I didn’t think that the level of engagement would be this high. It’s near impossible to walk through the halls and to not overhear a conversation pertaining to fantasy. I feel like students that
don’t enjoy fantasy feel left out,” said Benny Dallal (‘22). Some faculty members also enjoy fantasy football. “Our Athletics staff are very into the trend in a nongambling way,” said Mr. Damian Rodriguez, who heads YULA Boys’ Athletics Department. “The kids really enjoy having things to talk about with the coaches, rather than having a strict coach to player relationship.”
“Fantasy sports have really enhanced my relationship with our coach as well as the teams,” Benji Mansano (‘22) said. “It makes practices and interactions with our coach more enjoyable.” Whether you enjoy fantasy sports or not, it seems that this craze is here to stay.
YULA Girls’ New Coaches Take Athletics to the Next Level By Leora Teichman (‘22)
YULA Girls Varsity Volleyball Team hears a pump-up speech from Coach Megan before shutting out the Shalhevet Firehawks 3-0. This athletic season brought several new coaches to YULA Girls and a spike in athletic successes and involvement. Athletic Director, Ms. Alexandra Novak, spent countless hours over the summer searching for and interviewing coaches, in order to ensure that they would be good role models and motivators for the YULA Girls students. Varsity Volleyball coach, Megan Sanger, an outstanding athlete and coach, was referred to as “the epitome of a role model” by one of her seasoned players. Coach Sanger has been strongly implementing the ideas of hard work, communication, and drive, which has allowed for the varsity girls to
truly push themselves to excel. The varsity volleyball team has had tremendous growth since the beginning of the season. The varsity team has been pushing themselves to dive for the ball and to be prepared for anything that comes their way. The girls have been working very hard and you can see their improvement every game, whether it be in bumping, setting, or working together as a team. Elise Cregg, the JV volleyball coach is an amazing mentor who helps guide her team in growth and victory. She balances being an authoritative figure while simultaneously creating a fun environment that allows everyone to want to work hard
and push themselves. “She motivates us to improve,” said Sophomore Meira Ives. After a few losses, the JV Volleyball team stepped up to the plate and won their first game against Pacifica Christian. Every girl on the team contributed to the win, as they truly worked together in a cohesive manner in order to attain their goal. The YULA Girls tennis team also gained new professional coaching this year. Charlie Herman runs the Yula Girls tennis practices, while Jonah Anderson runs the tennis matches. Coach Werman was an outstanding Jr. High School Tennis player who then became an incredible collegiate
player, and Coach Anderson was a spectacular athlete who now serves as the Assistant Director of Athletics at YULA Boys High school. The tennis team has been pushing themselves very hard by working on their technique and focusing on becoming a tight-knit team. “Since the tennis season is so short and intense, we really got to bond as a team and develop a strong sense of camaraderie,” explained Sophomore, Yasmine Torbati. The team credits their new coaches to the team’s success. Demetrus McCray, a former NFL player, is the current flag football coach at YULA Girls. He puts immense effort into the team by showing up
to practice early, helping players hone their technique, and pushing each player to achieve her full potential. Coach McCray has a great work ethic which makes each player want to emulate his ways. In the beginning of the season, there were a lot of new and amazing additions to the team. Each and every week the team has continued to develop and enhance their skills. The players have been playing with amazing passes, communication, and passion. YULA Girls is excited to see all the newfound talent connecting with students and guiding them towards victory.
Coach Oliver Preps Varsity Basketball for Successful Season By Aidan Stephen (‘22)
Vince Oliver, head coach of varsity basketball at YULA Boys, is looking forward to another successful season. Last year Coach Oliver made practice more rigorous, which “was a success because the foundation was laid in how I envision YULA basketball,” Coach Oliver said. “It was full of highs and lows and learning experiences. But, overall, I thought we competed, improved, and
the returnees are hungry for more.” Last year the team went from a sixgame winning streak to a devastating buzzer-beater loss to Shalhevet. But after a summer of hard work, the Panthers are ready to win. “The team is focused and committed. … I am excited for their hard work to pay off,” Coach Oliver said. As part of their practice, the team
runs up and around the Santa Monica Stairs, goes to the beach, and runs in the heat to improve their conditioning. “We are continuing with that trend and ensuring we are in the best physical shape possible,” Coach Oliver said. “We are also doing more work in the classroom, watching the [game] film.” Coach Oliver intensified the practices rather than change the playbook. “I
have just challenged the guys to remain committed and trust the process,” he said. “It started this summer with guys working on their games and making sacrifices to do so.” With Coach Vince Oliver at the helm, it should be another exciting season for the Panthers.
Sports - November 2019 - The Panther Post
Flag Football Team Eyeing a Championship Win
The flag football team davens Mincha before one of their games.
Flag Football Regular Season Record Vistamar W 13–12 (OT) Valley Torah W 35–0 Ribet W 28–0 de Toledo W 12–0 de Toledo W 12–6 Ribet W 13–12 AGBU L 14–16 AGBU L 0–16 Vistamar W 28–7 Shalhevet W 34–6 Shalhevet W * Valley Torah W 32–2 *The game would not have changed the outcome of either the Panthers’ or Shalhevet’s playoff seeding, so Shalhevet gave the Panthers the win.
The YULA Boys flag football team has always been good. But this year, they made the leap from good to great. The team finished 10–2 in the No. 2 seed. The Panthers beat Vistamar in the semifinals 20–14 in overtime Oct. 29. Many factors have contributed to the team’s success. First, they have a stellar defense: For three games in a row they shut out their opponents. Second, their offense is equally effective: The team scores multiple touchdowns every game. The Panthers compete against Ribet Academy. YULA won 28–0. But the most basic reason for the Panthers’ success is the teamwork and chemistry that the team brings to each game. “What makes the team so special and so great to be a part of is the fact that everyone feels that they belong and that they contribute to the ultimate success of the team,” linebacker Doni Berenson (‘22) said. Quarterback and Captain Hayden Klein (‘20) is optimistic about the team’s chances. “This is the best team I’ve been on in high school, and I know we’re going to go far,” Klein said. The combination of talent, gritty determination, and cohesive teamwork has been paying off for the team. They’ve got the championship in sight and are looking to bring it home.
By Eitan Gelb (‘22)
Trump Betrays an Ally. Is Israel Next? By The Boys Editorial Board President Trump announced via Twitter Oct. 7 that he would withdraw U.S. troops in Syria. The troops were there to ensure that the Islamic State, which Mr. Trump has taken credit for defeating, would not regain a foothold in the region. They were also protecting the Kurds, an oft-persecuted ethnic group that has consistently allied itself with the United States and with U.S. interests. Since Mr. Trump’s announcement, Turkey has launched a full-scale attack on Kurdish areas of Syria, and hundreds of Islamic State detainees have run free. Turkey and Russia are divvying up Syria. The president has rationalized his decision to abandon a faithful ally by asserting that the Kurds “didn’t help us
with Normandy.” No organized Kurdish force fought in World War II because no organized Kurdish force existed, but individual Kurds who fought, fought with the Allies. Mr. Trump doesn’t want the United States to “police” the Middle East. But shouldn’t we, when the alternative is genocide? Our forces in Syria were not there to effect regime change; they were there to fight terror and protect a stateless people in the most dangerous area of the world. U.S. troops aren’t even coming home as the president claims; they’ve moved to Iraq, whose prime minister is now trying to evict them. If the president could so callously discard a mutually beneficial relationship with one Middle Eastern ally, that bodes badly for another. Mr. Trump
has repeatedly called himself the most pro-Israel president, but moving the embassy to Jerusalem would mean little if the president were to abandon Israel as Tehran aims nukes at Jerusalem. Conducting policy over Twitter has been a disaster since Mr. Trump was elected. The president’s impulsive foreign policy has alienated allies and appeased dictators without considering the bigger picture. Bypassing career diplomats and advisers, Mr. Trump has executed foreign policy based on his own whims, embarrassing the United States in the process. That’s great for Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and really bad for allies like Israel and the Kurds. Following a ceasefire that gave Turkey everything it wanted, Mr. Trump
contradicted his own “great and unmatched wisdom” by lifting all new sanctions on Turkey. A similar policy of appeasement toward Iran would be disastrous for Israel. Thankfully, condemnation of Mr. Trump’s decision has been swift and bipartisan. Leaders of both parties have recognized that the president’s actions are dangerous for the Middle East and for the United States. Mr. Trump recalled a preventive force, which may now force him to send in a reactive one. It remains to be seen how much damage the president has caused with this blunder.
A vital part of The Panther Post is our extensive opinion section, which includes both the Editorial Board’s opinions as well as op-eds written by the student body. But these pieces should not be the end of the conversation; instead, they should catalyze a meaningful conversation within our community on important issues. So we want to hear your opinions. Any article you read––whether you agree, disagree, or have a relevant comment––we want to hear how you feel. Letters to the Editor are an essential part of all newspapers, and ours should be no different. We ask that you send your brief reactions (an edited 150 words) to email@example.com, so that we and all our readers can hear our community’s diverse opinions.
The Panther Post YULA Boys
Editor-in-Chief: Yonah Berenson (‘20)
Editors-in-Chief: Alana Bess (‘20) and Julia Benarroch
Executive Editor: Akiva Brookler (‘21)
Managing Editor: Jake Fishman (‘20)
Executive Editor: Aliza Pollak (‘20)
Faculty Adviser: Ms. Pam Felcher
Faculty Adviser:Rachel Shandalov
Community Editor: Michael Mankowitz (‘20) Academics Editor: Daniel Tarko (‘20)
Community Editor: Daniella Zisblatt (‘22)
Torah & Israel Editor: Gavriel Gershov (‘20)
Academics Editor: Ruchama Benhamou (‘20)
Sports Editor: Hayden Klein (‘20)
Israel Editor: Yael Gluck (‘20)
Features Editor: Ariel Mansano (‘20)
Sports Editor: Leah Tabibi (‘21)
Opinion Editor: Yoni Merkin (‘21)
Torah Editor: Adiel Nourmand (‘22)
Photos Editor: Moshe Epstein (‘21)
Opinion Editor: Sarah Nachimson (‘21)
Layout Editor: Daniel Sentchuk (‘22) The Panther Post is a shared publication of YULA Boys and YULA Girls, each with its own writing and editing process. Please be mindful that this publication contains words of Torah and should be treated with respect.
Opinion - November 2019 - The Panther Post
Too Bad ‘Palestine’ Couldn’t Let Tlaib, Omar In By Ben Rubin (‘22)
The Entry Ban Was Foolish By Akiva Brookler (‘21), Executive Editor
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s move to bar Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D–Mich.) and Rep. Ilhan Ohmar (D–Minn.) from Israel may have made him look like a strong leader at first glance. But when really examined, it made Mr. Netanyahu look like President Trump’s pawn. With elections
KAMUSI ELEZO HURU — WIKIPEDIA
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D–Mich.), a constant critic of the State of Israel and an adamant supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, does not deserve to be let into the State of Israel. Nor does Rep. llhan Omar (D–Minn.), who like Tlaib has made anti-Israel and anti-Semitic remarks. In early August, the Israeli government denied Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar entry into Israel in accordance with a law passed last year that gave the government the authority to bar BDS supporters from entering the state. A week before the kerfuffle, a diplomatic mission of 72 members of Congress traveled to the state of Israel and were all let in, regardless of political party. But before Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar were scheduled to travel to Israel, they decided to get some media attention by calling Israel, “Palestine.” They decided to almost Rep. Ilhan Omar exclusively tour Palestinian areas of the West Bank. (Ms. Omar later said she had planned to meet briefly with Israeli officials.) coming up, Mr. Netanyahu was concerned only The Israeli government understood the congressabout his current image and did not take the long women’s ploy. Ms. Omar and Ms. Tlaib were not going view. to the State of Israel for any sort of fact-finding mission. Israel banned the congresswomen because They went to confirm their own prejudices and cast Israthey support the movement to boycott, divest el in a negative light. from, and sanction Israel, called BDS. BDS is a despicable form of applying double standards to the
Ban Summer Work—It’s Counterproductive By Boaz Edidin (‘22)
Jewish state, but banning Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar for supporting it looks like a suppression of free speech. Though bad for Israel, the decision made perfect sense for Mr. Netanyahu, who was acting in the interest of Mr. Trump, who dislikes Ms. Omar and Ms. Tlaib. Mr. Trump had urged Israel to bar their entry as a favor to him. Mr. Netanyahu, who was up for reelection Sept. 17 after he failed to form a coalition last time, chose to do Mr. Trump this favor to show his electorate that he is friends with the supposed leader of the free world. Many Israelis see this friendship as important because Israel relies on U.S. foreign aid, so Mr. Netanyahu made this move to showcase the relationship between him and Trump. What Israelis fail to realize, however, is that their foreign aid is determined more by Congress than the president, the very branch of government Mr. Netanyahu spurned by banning two of its members. Mr. Netanyahu, however, knows exactly where the aid comes from, but he chose his own popularity over his nation’s interests. Israel should make decisions based on its own self-interest, but bowing to Mr. Trump’s request gives the impression that Israel is for sale to the highest bidder and, therefore, sets a bad precedent. When Israel bans elected officials for criticizing it, Israel does not look like the democratic country it really is. If Ms. Omar and Ms. Tlaib had criticized Israel as undemocratic while in Israel, their criticism would have looked ridiculous. But by creating an entry ban, Israel turned these fresh-
I Hate Summer Work. But We Need It. By Moshe Epstein (‘21), Photos Editor
One would think that high school students spend the end of their summer break relaxing and enjoying themselves. But not for many YULA Boys students and other high schoolers across the country. Most use the summer’s last few days, or even weeks, to finish their piles and piles of summer work. Teachers hand out summer assignments in hopes of refreshing students’ learning skills and giving the class a head start going into the new year. But these assignments make summer, meant to be a break from the burdensome work of the rest of the year, just a continuation of the stressful school year. Because the summer work so often fails to accomplish what it is supposed to, I propose YULA Boys end the assignments and give students a real break. The point of school is for students to learn from their teachers. Learning without a teacher, as summer work demands, proves difficult for many students, so they cannot properly learn from summer assignments that present new information. Therefore, especially in private schools like YULA, where parents pay top dollar for their students to be taught by top-notch teachers, students should be helped along by those teachers to learn and review the subject matter, not teach themselves the first few chapters of a subject from the textbook. Summer assignments are not only ineffective, but they also negatively affect students’ lives. People are more than just a sum of their studies. During the school year, students should use their
time to study, but in the summer they need to play and hang out with friends to master teamwork and social skills, which are crucial in the long run—and to have fun. In fact, research shows that one’s social ability is more vital to success than one’s IQ. Sufficient physical activity is also necessary for proper physical and mental health. Summer homework takes away these meaningful experiences that not only help students explore new things, but also can help them discover their passions or their future careers. The extra time spent on work also takes away from quality family time, which is harder to schedule during the school year. In addition to their negative impact on students, summer assignments make students view school unfavorably. Countless textbook pages, books, and packets over the summer put students at risk of being sick of school before it even starts. Starting the new school year with this mentality depresses and exhausts high school students and makes the year feel even longer and more miserable than it might have otherwise been. Without summer work, students would go into school fresh and ready to learn, rather than already burned out. Summer assignments should be banned, or at least restricted, for their inefficacy and negative impact on students. Although some claim that summer homework is needed for the recollection of information, a ban on summer work would allow students a couple months’ reprieve from their stress. If high schools really want their students to succeed, they should ban summer homework.
I know what most of you are thinking. “How did The Panther Post get a student to talk about how we should all get summer homework? Was there a bribe involved?” I’m going to start by saying that I do not love summer homework. I don’t even like it. Every time I get excited for summer to start, the dread of downloading all the files and buying all the books weighs down on me like a brick. I don’t enjoy doing the work, but, like the government, I see summer homework as a necessary evil, something we should and must deal with in our lives, even though we all despise it. First of all, honors and AP classes were responsible for 12 of my 16 assignments this past summer. One of the reasons we should have summer homework is to see who can handle honors and AP classes. A lot of students drop out of classes due to the summer work, and that’s a good thing. You don’t want students walking into a college-level course without having the slightest clue of what’s going on and dropping out a couple of weeks in with a failing grade. Summer offers a lot of downtime; it is, after all, 10 weeks of no school. If someone decides to do absolutely nothing productive or educational during these weeks, then his brain will turn to mush from sitting on his couch and watching Netflix all day. By the time he comes back to school, he will take weeks to get used to academic work again. When people grow old, it is always the people who are still working or who have a real hobby that keep their minds in order. Don’t get me wrong, I do not like sitting down at my desk when I could be sunbathing at the beach, but I can understand why the school puts us through this torture during our break.