Schechter Chai-lights is a monthly newsletter for parents of alumni, alumni, current families, and friends of Schechter connecting you to all things SSLI, the latest news, events and more.
We hope you will share your thoughts and stories with us.
April 18, 2021 / 6 Iyyar 5781
Am Yisrael Chai

Following the holiday of Passover, our Jewish calendar quickly fills up with “the Yoms:” Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Commemoration Day), Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day), and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day). These holidays are not only unified in time (spanning only about a week) but share something of a unified emotional palette as well, one of solemn commemoration and cathartic celebration. Although all of our Jewish studies faculty is involved in planning for these days, the week also provides a unique opportunity for our Hebrew faculty to bring their own sensibilities to the Schechter community. In this way, these holidays carry added weight and authenticity for our students throughout our K-12 program.

As Head of School, I have the zechut, the privilege, to be able to sample a bit from each of our school’s divisions and take part in many of these programs. There were many highlights this past week, but I’ll share just a few.

Upon arriving at the building one morning, I found an entire wall of the lower school corridor had been decorated to look like the Western Wall (HaKotel HaMa’aravi) by a very talented lower school faculty member. Her eye for detail was exquisite, including three-dimensional “stones” (paper crumpled in parts to provide texture and cracks) in which there was space to place a petek/note in the wall, as well as weeds that grew in the cracks. Above this interactive sculpture were flat-screen TVs showing live images of the actual Kotel from Jerusalem. The juxtaposition of these features made one feel as if one were truly at the wall praying along with Israelis. It was breathtaking.

During Yom HaShoah, our students learned about the history of the Warsaw Ghetto and its uprising from third-generation survivor/parent Elaine Benlevi, during a moving Upper School ceremony. Students also interacted with several live and recorded videos throughout the building during the day. At one point I walked outside my office to hear Hebrew coordinator Ruth Meir engaging her 7th-grade students in a conversation, entirely in Hebrew, about the idea of memory and its effect on the present. It was a very high-level discussion, which would have been impressive even if it had been in English, let alone in Hebrew. We also engaged with memory through our continued participation in the Shem VeNer project, giving out a yahrzeit candle to each of our students with a personalized label containing the name and short biography of a victim of the Holocaust. By complete random (read God’s intervention), I received the candle of David Beigelman, a composer and conductor whose lullaby Makht Tsu di Eygelech I had sung at the Lodz cemetery some 20 years ago.

Yom HaZikaron included a moving ceremony narrated and produced by the Lower School Program Coordinator Elana Stern, in which she spoke to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade classes about her own memory of being a student in Israel during the Six-Day War when the famous announcement of Mordechai Gur was heard, “Har habayit b’yadenu,” the Temple Mount is in our hands, giving Jews unfettered access finally to the Kotel. The fourth graders offered a stirring musical accompaniment to Mrs. Stern’s heartfelt account.
And then Yom Ha’Atzmaut was quickly upon us. Although the rain-curtailed some of our planned celebration (which will be taken up at a later date), our spirits still soared as we included Hallel and other special prayers for the day in all our tefilot, shared many Israeli songs, and ate a lot of felafel and chumus! 

Each of these days celebrates one last unifying value at the Schechter School of Long Island: Ahavat Yisrael, love of Israel.  In this issue, you will hear from our faculty and alumni about their connections and commitments to Israel education. 

Am Yisrael Chai!

Dr. Scott Sokol, Head of School
ISRAEL EDUCATION

The nature of Israel education requires educators to possess both breadth and depth of knowledge of Israel's history, society, and culture and the ability to make creative connections across disciplines.

We are delighted to have the opportunity to spotlight one of our finest faculty members:

אחד האתגרים שעומד בפני כל מורה לעברית שמלמד בבית ספר יהודי הוא איך לטעת זרעי אהבה וקשר לישראל בלב תלמידיו. אחתהדרכים הטובות הינה השימוש בתוכנית הלימודים ״נטע״ המשלבת אהבה וידע על ישראל ויהדות, אבל אין זה מספיק.
עלינו כמורים להעשיר את הידע של תלמידנו ולפתח בליבם רצון לדעת ולהכיר יותר את התרבות והמנטליות הישראלית. חלה עלינוהחובה לחשוף את ישראל לטוב ולרע בעיני התלמידים שאינם חיים וחשים את המציאות
הישראלית היום יומית. ובכן, איך עושים זאת?

אחת הדרכים הטובות והיעילות היא להעלות נושאי שיחה הקשורים לישראל ולדון בהם בכנות ובאובייקטיביות. אנחנו דנים בקשתרחבה של ארועים שקורים בישראל הן בתחום התרבות, המוזיקה, הספורט, תאטרון וסרטים, חינוך ויהדות, וגם בנושאים פוליטייםומדיניים רגישים. עלינו תמיד לזכור שתלמידינו אינם גדלים בישראל ולחלקם אין משפחה החיה בישראל ומכאן ברור שנקודת מבטםיכולה להיות שונה וביקורתית. מניסיוני ניתן לומר שכאשר סוגיות רגישות נדונות בסבלנות ובסובלנות, תוך דגש על נכונות לשמועביקורת והסכמה לשמוע גם את הצד השני, תלמידים חשים בנוחות לשמוע ולהשמיע. כפייה והשמעת צד אחד של המטבע אינה מועילהומרחיקה אותם ממטרתנו - אהבה ותמיכה בישראל.

בשיעורים שלנו בשכטר אנו משמיעים ושרים מוסיקה ישראלית, צופים בסרטים ישראלים המלמדים רבות על המנטליות והחברההישראלית על כל גווניה. חשוב לערב ולספר על ישראל מנקודת המבט שלנו וכיצד גדלנו וחונכנו כשהיינו בני גילם של תלמידנו. תלמידים מעוניינים לשמוע על חוויות הילדות השונות שלנו, על השירות הצבאי, על החיים בצל מאבק ההישרדות הקבוע, על אופןהבילוי ועל איך נתפסת חברות בעיני הישראלי הממוצע ביחס לאומות אחרות. חשיפה מתמדת לארועים היסטוריים כדוגמת השואהוארועים יום יומיים המשפיעים על ישראל תורמת את חלקה גם כן. מיזמים על ערים בישראל, אוכל ישראלי עדות ומנהגים חשובים אףהם מאד על מנת לבסס את האהדה, האהבה והקשר לישראל; אחרי הכל כל מה שאנו רוצים זה לשלוח את תלמידנו לחיים  מצויידיםבכלים איתם ישאלו שאלות, יביעו ספקות ובקורת אבל תמיד תמיד עם אהבה ותמיכה למדינת ישראל. כל זאת, כי אין לנו ארץ אחרת. 

One of the biggest challenges that Hebrew teachers face when teaching in a Jewish school on Long Island is to instill love and affection for the state of Israel within their students. One of the ways to create this connection is through the academic program, “NETA.” It combines the love for Israel, as well as the knowledge and history of Judaism. However, that is not enough. It is up to us teachers to inspire, enrich, and spark within our students the desire to learn about the Israeli culture and mentality. It is our duty to expose all aspects of Israel, both the good and the bad, and to also emphasize what it is like to experience the reality of daily life in Israel. Now the question is, how do we accomplish this?

One of the best and most effective ways to accomplish this is to engage in conversations involving Israeli topics and to discuss them both honestly and objectively. We discuss a broad spectrum of topics which includes culture, music, sports, theater, movies, education, Judaism, and sensitive political topics. It is important for us to always remember that our students have not grown up in Israel and most of them do not have family that resides there, therefore their point of view and opinions can be different and full of criticism. From my personal experience, when topics are debated patiently, tolerantly, and openly with an emphasis on different perspectives, students feel more comfortable listening to others and voice their own opinions. Forced and one-sided opinions do not help and ultimately further distance us from our goal, which is to develop love and support for the state of Israel.

In our classes at Solomon Schechter, we listen and sing along to Israeli music and watch Israeli films that teach the students about the Israeli mentality, its society, and culture. It is crucial to include and share our own experiences of how we were raised and educated in Israel when we were their age. The students are always interested in hearing about our different childhood experiences growing up, our service in the army, and living through the constant struggle and threat to our home country. They are fascinated by how we conducted our social life and what is the perspective of friendship in the eyes of the average Israeli in comparison to other nations. Constant exposure to historical events, such as the Holocaust, and to current events that have a significant impact on Israel contributes to the expansion in knowledge and understanding as well. Studying development projects in Israeli cities, Israeli food, ethnicity, and traditions are also necessary to strengthen the students’ empathy, love, and connection to Israel. After all, as teachers, our ultimate desire is to send our students off into the world with the tools that will allow them to ask questions, express doubts, and criticize, but always with affection and support towards Israel. 
When it comes down to it, we have only one homeland, and that is Israel.

Shmulik Baumvoll, SSLI US Hebrew Language Department
Alumni Spotlight

"Ahavat Israel - We foster a love and commitment to the State, language, and People of Israel as central to Jewish identity and continuity." (taken from the Schechter School of Long Island Mission Statement and Core Values)

From their first day at Schechter Long Island, each student already has the germination of a relationship with Israel that exists because of close or extended family, media, vacations, or religious practice.

Israel education cuts across a number of academic disciplines including Hebrew language, literature, history, and social studies.  Informal but no less important education takes place during Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations, exposure to ShinShinim (our young Israeli emissaries), and trips to Israel.  Ultimately, the goal of Israel education is to build a relationship between the learner and Israel. 

We hope you enjoy our alumni contributions as they share how their SSLI Israel education has impacted their lives.

Dear Schechter community,

Blessings from Tel Aviv, my birth city and hometown for the past eleven years. 
As we celebrate Israel’s seventy-third anniversary, I reflect not only on the country’s history but on my eleven years living here.

For me, living in Israel is a dream come true, as it says in Psalm 137, “A song to the heights: When the Lord returned us to Zion, we were like dreamers.” But while thousands of years’ worth of Jews dreamed of returning to Zion, this wasn’t always my dream. I grew up from age three on Long Island, quite happily living the American dream: blessed with an incredible Schechter and undergraduate education, with amazing family and friends, and bountiful opportunity to do well for myself in America. 

So what drew me to making Aliyah? The truth is that it was a very personal choice, one that combined idealism and pragmatism, a decision that slowly baked throughout my upbringing. At Schechter, in my home and synagogue community, I learned to embrace Israel and Zionism as part of my identity.  The idea of moving to Israel was planted during my gap year in Israel, when I began to understand that Israel, despite its complexities, is a modern miracle. I began thinking, how cool would it be to one day live in Israel and participate in the ongoing project of forming a more perfect society in the Jewish-Democratic state!

By the time I started college, I had come to believe that the future of the Jewish people – for better or worse – flows through Israel. I was far from sure that I wished to pursue Aliyah after graduating college, but I was intrigued enough that when choosing whether to pursue a Bachelors of Science or Arts degree in environmental science, I choose the former because I believed it would be easier to find a job in Israel with a technical qualification. And indeed, when I graduated, I decided to give life in Israel a shot. Thankfully, I quickly found my first job as an environmental consultant, and four months later, I was convinced: I signed the paperwork to officially make Aliyah. I can honestly say eleven years later that not one day has passed where I haven’t felt immense gratitude for the opportunity to call this place home.

This week, we celebrate Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. For me, Yom Haatzmaut is a day of deep gratitude. The Zionist project may be far from complete, and life in Israel – like any other meaningful pursuit - is not always easy. And yet, despite the challenges, this country is a blessing, brimming with life. So this Yom Haatzmaut, I invite you to join me in my personal holiday ritual: twenty-four hours of gratitude and nocynicism.  May this Yom Haatzmaut be a day whereas Nomi Shemer wrote in “Al Kol Eile” – we appreciate the bitter and the sweet. Our existence here is a miracle, and while there is plenty of work left to do, today we are grateful for what we have.

Yoni Dolgin, SSHSLI '14, brother of Maya, son of Cindy and Morti Dolgin 
I attended Schechter from kindergarten in 2006 all the way through graduating in 2019 (except for 4th grade, but that’s OK). As I sit at my desk designing informative posts about Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut for Hillel at Binghamton’s Bearcats for Israel subgroup Instagram page, I can’t help but think back to all of the Yom HaZikaron services and Yom HaAtzmaut color wars I’ve participated in throughout those years. I barely even had to look anything up. “[Yom HaZikaron] falls the day before Israel's Independence Day to first honor the memories of those who sacrificed their lives to gain and protect Israel's independence.” It all came so naturally.
 
As one of the many children of Israelis that have attended Schechter, I know this is exactly what my parents wanted for my siblings and me. They wanted us to develop a comprehensive understanding of the history of the country from which they came. They wanted us to practice reading, writing, and speaking in Hebrew to ensure that we could communicate with our relatives. They wanted us to appreciate Israel’s existence and the role it played in our family’s survival and that of so many others. Schechter absolutely succeeded in that regard.
 
Not only did our teachers teach us about Israel, but they also exposed us to Israel. Through watching Israeli movies, learning about Israeli culture from Israeli teens year-round, and listening to IDF veterans in our community (like my own dad) speak on Yom HaZikaron, each student is able to experience Israel for themself in a more meaningful way than just studying. One of my favorite parts of the Israel experience at Schechter was witnessing my and my peers' connections to Israel grow through the years, whether I actively noticed it or not. Looking back, I remember how excited everyone in my class was to finally go on our senior year Israel trip. I’ve spent most of my summers in Israel, but I was looking forward to seeing sites beyond my relatives’ homes. Most of my class didn’t relate to that experience but were just as excited, if not much more, to touch down in Tel Aviv for the first time or first time in many years. Whether that excitement came from the anticipation to be in Israel or the idea of semi-vacationing during school, I don’t know, but the enthusiasm alone is enough to show how effective Schechter is at creating a connection to Israel for each student, no matter how many people they know there.
 
Since graduating, actively continuing to educate myself and remain aware of Israeli news has been a top priority. This specifically began when Bibi announced his proposed annexation of the West Bank in the spring of 2020. I had my own thoughts about it but was not prepared for the barrage of social media posts I would see from friends of mine calling for the destruction of Israel. I’d never seen this kind of rhetoric used for any other country before—the lack of nuance was astounding. I started many conversations with these friends about Israel’s history and the current situation, and many of them didn’t end well. The same thing happened when people accused Israel of withholding COVID-19 vaccines from Palestinians when vaccines were just starting to roll out. I experienced first-hand what Mrs. Poniachek was telling us about people in college discussing the conflict without actually understanding the extremely complex history behind it. Not only has this pushed me to join the Bearcats for Israel executive board and educate myself further on Israel’s history and the various perspectives on the conflict, it motivated me to continue strengthening my relationship with Israel beyond listening to Israeli radio on Friday afternoons and calling my grandparents.
 
I can’t talk about my connection to Israel without mentioning Schechter. No matter how many relatives I have in Israel or how many passports I have, I wouldn’t know nearly as much as I do about Israel’s culture, history, or language if it weren’t for my 12 years at Schechter, and I am so beyond appreciative of that.

Noa Rogoszinski (SSLI '19) is a sophomore computer science and math major at Binghamton and the Bearcats for Israel VP of PR. 
Drafting to the IDF wasn’t a quick decision or even a decision that happened all at once. It is something that many of the experiences that I have accumulated led up to.

I was born twenty years ago in New York to two Israeli parents. Throughout my life, I lived in an Israeli household, had Israeli friends, and actively participated in the Israeli community on Long Island. When I was in first grade, my parents sent me to Schechter, hoping that we would integrate into the warm Jewish community that Schechter holds. During my twelve years in Schechter, I learned to love Israel and support the Jewish Homeland as well as someone can, while living in a different country.

When I was almost finished with my education at Schechter, I decided that supporting from afar wasn’t enough for me. AIPAC and the Israeli day parade, and all the Israel fairs that we had were nice and all, but in order to really explore and enjoy the country, I’d have to spend some time living there. So while most of my friends went on to study their interests, I enrolled myself in an Israeli pre-army program, a Mechina.

Different from other gap year programs, Mechinot are value-based army prep programs primarily structured for Israeli high school grads, with only a few spots allocated for kids like myself who grew up in the diaspora and for whom army service was a choice yet to be made. Throughout the year, I learned about Israeli politics, history, philosophy, and of course; the army. I made amazing friends in the program, with the knowledge that they were all going to draft by the end of it. I was the only one who wasn’t sure of this at the time. After a few months on the program, it became pretty clear to me what my future held. I spent many years supporting Israel from afar, and it was time for me to give from myself, same as all other Israelis, and draft to the army. Once I made this decision, I went through the process of making Aliyah and various screenings determining the specific unit I would be joining, once drafted. Eventually, I decided to join the armored brigade (tanks). Today, I have already been in the army for five and a half months, and I am almost finished with my advanced training, with aspirations for the commander's course in the future.
While I cannot point to one component in my upbringing that led me to where I am today, I can safely say that Schechter, as well as the other communities that I was involved in, certainly had an impact on my life and choices. My advice to everyone who is now deciding what to do with their future: don’t make decisions based on what others are doing, do what is right and what is meaningful to you.

Omer Neutra (SSLI '19) brother of Daniel (SSLI 11th grade), son of Ronin and Orna Neutra, BOT
My name is Ari Kantorowitz, and I am a proud Schechter alum, having attended Schechter for 11 years. In the fall of 2020, I chose to do a Gap Year program in Israel before starting college. I am currently participating in Young Judaea’s Year Course Program in Israel. I spent my first 4 months living in Jerusalem and am now spending 5 months in Tel Aviv. I have been taking classes and traveling throughout Israel. I am also now working as a trained EMT with Magen David Adom, Israel's National Emergency Pre-Hospital Medical Service Organization, giving treatment and escorting people to the hospital in an ambulance. This has been a very rewarding and transformative experience as I have been closely engaged with a variety of citizens and residents of Israel. 

Living in Israel has definitely deepened my connection to Israel as I feel like I have come further in understanding what Israel represents. Schechter has served as an impetus to many different facets of Israel for me. With Schechter’s dual curriculum in Judaic Studies and Hebrew, I was exposed to many parts of Israeli society that I would not have been otherwise. Schechter gave me the tools and a great amount of knowledge. Nothing can compare to the experience of physically being here surrounded by the people and cultures of Israel. The reason I use cultures as a plural instead of as one culture is that living here, I have learned that Israel is very much a salad bowl, a mixture of components blended together. There is quite an eclectic bunch of people that I've met on my journey, people with all kinds of backgrounds, ideologies, and stories. 

Although I chose to do my senior year outside of Schechter and attended public school, both my Schechter experience and public school experience opened my eyes to how different but special a Schechter education is. Coming from Schechter, I was baffled by how much more knowledge I had regarding Israel and Judaism than my peers. Walking through the halls of the new school, my friends would ask me questions about Judaism and Israel, and because of my last name Kantorowitz, I was often referred to as “the Cantor.” Then again, as I have been in Israel with kids who didn’t go to Jewish private school, I have found myself being a person that often has answers to their questions. What I’ve come to realize is that, because Schechter kids usually grow up with only other Schechter kids, the amount of knowledge and special community does not become clear until you leave the place. 

Schechter provided the foundation for my connection to Israel through what I experienced there as a student. For instance, as part of the Shinshinim program, we had Israeli teenagers come to do seminars and hang out with us during the year. This was my first time getting to know Israeli kids that were close to my age. We talked a lot about our different upbringings and experiences living in different countries. What was even more interesting was that we also discovered we had things in common as well. We were able to relate to each other and develop real authentic connections. These connections continue, so much so that since I have been in Israel, I have met up with and continued to be in touch with several of the Schechter shinshinim. And Guy, the shinshin whom my family hosted for 4 months during my junior year at Schechter, has become a close friend. While in Israel, I’ve met his friends, gone on hikes with him and his army friends when they have time off, and his family has become my “Israeli” family. 

Having received a foundation about Israel, its history and culture, and learning Hebrew while at Schechter, it made it easier to immerse myself in Israel society during my gap year. My Hebrew has gotten much stronger, and now I am able to empathize and love Israel while also recognizing many struggles and aspects that sometimes conflict with my thinking. Because Israel was a strong part of my experience at Schechter, now I can form my own opinions and continue to deepen my connection to Israel in different ways. I have to say I owe a lot of thanks to Schechter.

Ari Kantorowitz (2020 Graduate, in the middle of picture) on his Young Judea Gap Year program
Innovation and Creativity: Tefilah Games at Schechter LI

SSLI was awarded a Microgrant from the Jewish Education Project for the 2020-2021 school year. The Jewish Education Project is the only organization that works across the New York Jewish community across denominations and institutional settings to help educators develop new, innovative ways to engage and educate Jewish kids, teens, and families. The funding allows us to engage students more interactively in the high school minyan program with innovative educational games that supplement their participation in traditional daily prayer.
 
Rebecca Friedman-Charry is leading the initiative, which is a collaborative effort of the Upper School Minyan Faculty. Together, they develop, create (and play) in-person and computer-based games for our high school audience to teach about the liturgy and practices of Jewish prayer. This team has devoted many extra hours to learn from MIT games-in-education expert Scot Osterweil and develop these fun learning activities. Students have fun playing Tefilah Taboo, Shema 20 Questions, and a host of other games that enrich their experience of traditional prayer. 
Made possible with a grant from The Jewish Education Project®
UPCOMING MAY ISSUE SCHECHTER CHAI-LIGHTS

Our May issue of Schechter Chai-Lights will be distributed on May 18 the last day of Shavuot. During rabbinic times the festival became associated with the giving of the law at Mount Sinai. Many of us love the opportunity to stay up for an all-night party of Jewish learning. The study marathon is worth the fatigue, and the cheesecake is worth the calories.

This month we invite our alumni who have become attorneys or are currently attending law school to share their journeys and impressions of "the law" and how it impacts the life and conduct of our community.
 CHAI Club- Monthly Giving at SSLI
Use the opportunity to honor our Schechter Faculty in time for
Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3 - May 7)

At the Schechter School of Long Island, one of our goals is to continue providing the highest quality education possible for all students. By becoming a Schechter Long Island Monthly Giving Club Contributor, you can help us make Jewish education accessible for everyone and ensure that our students succeed in school and thrive in life.

Advancing our mission as a Jewish day school with a dual curriculum of excellence requires constant investments in our educational platforms, faculty development, and infrastructure. We rely on our generous supporters to help us make these required investments. With your monthly gift, you will join a dedicated group of Schechter supporters who understand the importance of providing the tools and opportunities necessary to educate our students at the highest levels and to prepare them for a lifetime of advancement and Jewish community involvement.

With each donation of $18 or more, we will send a tribute card to those you’d like to honor.
For more information or other opportunities please contact 
Eileen Olan Bohrer, Director of Institutional Advancement 
by calling 516.935.1441 ext. 1131 or 
by emailing ebohrer@schechterli.org.

Jewish education is the key to the survival of our community. Your monthly gift will help sustain our school for the future and thereby help ensure that our community benefits from the positive contributions of our students and alumni. Of course, you can always change your monthly amount or modify your preferred method of payment by calling our Development Office. 

On behalf of all the students we serve, thank you for making an ongoing investment in their future. Your gift provides an extra level of certainty as we expand existing innovative educational programs and develop new ones for every child, every classroom, every day.
This month @Schechter LI

To see more pictures and events, please follow us on Facebook and Instagram and visit us at schechterli.org
MAZAL TOV
Mazal Tov to Rachel (Rosenberg) Shoch (SSLI '13) and her husband Daniel on the birth of their daughter, Talia Rose Shoch who was born on March 9, 2021.
Proud grandparents are Audrey Halpern-Rosenberg and Steven Rosenberg and Jaana Holm and Yossi Shoch.
Mazal Tov to Samantha and Lee Nussbaum (SSLI '05) on the birth of their son, Casey Dylan Nussbaum who was born March 27, 2021.
Proud grandparents are Sandi and David Nussbaum.
Mazal Tov to Esther DuBow, SSLI Jewish Studies Coordinator (K-8), Special Programs Coordinator, and Matthew Scott Fruithandler on their engagement, April 9, 2021.

This month's tributes:
In Honor/ in Memory

If you would like to honor a person's memory or mark a celebration with a contribution to Schechter LI, you may make an online donation, or send your donation to the Development Office. The family will be notified of your contribution.
To discuss making a donation to Schechter LI, please email Eileen Bohrer, Director of Institutional Advancement to ebohrer@schechterli.org or call 516.935.1441 ext.1131.
Community Events:
We apologize for publishing the article written by Schechter grandparent Jill Saravay in the March Schechter Chai-Lights with numerous typos. 
The corrected version is below for your enjoyment. 

I grew up in a small city that most New Yorkers and Long Islanders consider being located in upstate New York. Not even close to true!! There was a reasonable-sized Jewish community in the city and its environs, big enough to support three synagogues and a JCC. Yet the opportunity for a broad range of Jewish activities was limited. I'm not sure at age 11 or so, how bothered by that I was, but my parents clearly wanted more for me and my younger brothers. They found one such likely experience in Camp Ramah. 1960 was the first year of Camp Ramah in Canada. It was quite difficult to secure a spot in the few existing Ramah camps, so off I went. My parents' foresight and my instant love affair with Ramah heavily influenced the direction of my life and the life I hoped for in the future. My Jewish ties became more and more firm and lasting. When I had a family of my own, it was imperative that they be offered a Hebrew Day School education. (Note: a day school eventually came to the city where I grew up though too late for me and my siblings). My three children all attended day schools from pre-K through 12th grade. (I also have three stepchildren who entered my life after their schooling). Happily, they all now live committed Jewish lives and send their collective seven children to Schechter schools: Long Island, Westchester, and Dallas. For me, it has been a beautiful continuation and commitment to traditions we all hold dear. I cherish their deep love and the joy they constantly show for their Jewish lives. And I adore their happiness, their thriving, and their connection to the wonderful and nurturing Schechter world. I feel enormous confidence that their schools are giving them the education and guidance to see them on their journeys through life.

The sense of community and the desire to reach out to those in need which is strong in our Jewish tradition and in the Schechter philosophy bring me to a different string of memories. The city where I grew up was home to a large college. My parents always welcomed college students to join us for Shabbat and Holiday celebrations and meals. Over the years, we cultivated several close and fun relationships that were particularly exhilarating for me as I often got to hang out with the college crowd who seemed so super cool to a younger me. Then several years later I was the recipient of that kind of community generosity. After college, I lived for several years in Dublin, Ireland. I went there knowing no one, only having the name of one Jewish family. That family became an invaluable entre for me into life abroad as I was immediately embraced by them, and by a few other families in the small, tight-knit Jewish community. As Pesach approaches, I reminisce about the grand seders we had in Ireland with our Dublin friends, who also embraced any of our relatives who traveled to spend time with us. And, as my parents had done, these families also included other international students temporarily living in Dublin. We should all share our diverse family traditions, enlivening seders for all.

When my parents visited for Pesach, they came laden with kosher for Pesach products, some totally unknown in Ireland where options were extremely limited and basic. Even back in 1968-72 when choices were limited in the United States, they far exceeded the Irish market. When questioned in the airport about what they were bringing into the country, the answer was simply "religious items". In very Catholic Ireland that was all one needed to say. You can only imagine the pleasure and delight it was for our friends to sample these goodies from abroad. Huge smiles and bright eyes!!! I'm still in contact with some members of one of my Irish angel families these many years later. We often share memories of those Pesach moments and much more.

As we approach the second consecutive year without the typical large seder my husband and I have hosted for so many years, I recall with extra heartwarming thoughts so many marvelous Pesach experiences. I feel the simultaneous sadness that we currently need to refrain from big get-togethers and the joy of wonderful memories. I can only hope Pesach 2022 will bring the return of the kind of seders so many of us miss which will surely be celebrated with enormous zest, enthusiasm, and love. AND three cheers for Solomon Schechter schools everywhere.

Jill Saravay, Schechter grandparent of Samson, Ezra, and Zamir M.