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.
September 18, 2021 / 12 Tishrei 5782
A good year and a good change

This past week we held our second Kabbalat Shabbat for the Lower School, open once more for our community to attend – something we were unable to do last year due to COVID restrictions and logistics. At this Kabbalat Shabbat we were joined by Schechter friend, parent, and 4th-grade class rabbi, Joel Levenson. Rabbi Levenson brought two important teachings related to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The first has to do with the round challot that we traditionally eat during this season. The roundness we know is symbolic in part of the cyclical nature of the year and of our Jewish calendar. Rabbi Levenson reminded us, however, that a round challah is not simply a circle, but rather spirals up towards the center. This morphological feature teaches that each year we should be improving ourselves (rising up) even while revisiting our traditions and observances. The second related idea that Rabbi Levenson shared has to do with the traditional greeting of Shanah Tovah, which as we know literally means “a good year.” However, shanah can also be understood to derive from the root meaning ‘to change’ (l’shanot). Considered in this way, when we wish someone a good year, what we are also doing is reminding ourselves that a year becomes a good year if and when we build in ‘good changes,’ however small, into our daily practice.

I can think of no better kavanah (intention) for this year, 5782. Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, last year was a very successful one for Schechter. And yet as always, there are changes for the good that we can and should effect in the coming year. To me, the most important one – and the one that will be my personal kavanah this year – is to help promote kindness and menschlichkeit in all that we do at SSLI. We are already a nurturing and loving community, but sometimes (especially given all the pressures we have experienced during the pandemic) we may forget that the primary reason our school exists is to inculcate positive Jewish values in our students and our community more generally. 

Our tradition teaches importantly that “derekh eretz kadma l’Torah,” proper interpersonal conduct takes precedence over learning, and furthermore that deracheha darchei noam v’chol netivoteha shalom,” all paths of Torah are pleasant and peaceful” (which is also the theme for the year decided upon by our student government). We at SSLI understand these verses to represent guidelines for living – ensuring that while we always place high importance on learning and Torah, we do so with the higher goal of derekh eretz (humane conduct) in mind.

May we each merit a “good year” of learning and change for the better. Shanah tovah!

Dr. Scott Sokol, Head of School
During our #Backtoschool2021 Countdown, we asked our community to share their favorite summer adventure. Here is our winner Risa R (SSLI 9th Grade): Thank you so much for sharing!

My Summer Vacation

We couldn’t see, yet we could hear. We heard people talking, yet we didn’t know where the people were. We had our hands on each other's shoulders walking slowly to our table trusting that our waiter, Larry, would keep us safe. This Dinner In The Dark was my favorite memory of my Summer 2021 Trip to Las Vegas and California.

I did many different things throughout my summer vacation but the highlight of my summer would have to be traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada, and California. My family decided to take this trip because, at the time, my oldest brother Jared was working for a company in Long Beach, California. We decided to include a short stay in Las Vegas and then drive to California to see Jared. When we landed in Vegas it was around midnight and the exact words that the flight attendant said were, “Welcome to Las Vegas, Nevada where it is a crisp 100 degrees!”. The following day we walked the Las Vegas Strip, went inside a majority of the famous hotels, and had a delicious dinner in Caesars Palace. That day we walked over 30,000 steps! For our second day in Vegas, my family and I drove to the Hoover Dam where we learned about the dam and saw it in motion from underground. It was really cool. It was also 117 degrees. We then went back to our hotel, swam in the pool to cool ourselves off, and then got ready for Dinner in the Dark. We didn’t know what to expect going into this dinner. We didn’t know what food we would be served; we only knew that it would be vegetarian because the restaurant only serves vegetarian courses and that there were going to be 7 courses in total. Our waiter, Larry, brought us into a room and explained what was going to happen. He then led us to our table with us holding onto each other’s shoulders and we awaited our first course. Each time Larry brought out a new course, he explained to us the type of plate that the food was on and what type of silverware we were expected to use. By the end of the 7th course, which was dessert, we were all full and we all said how amazing the food was even though we couldn’t see it. Our last day in Las Vegas was truly an adventurous day as we went ATV riding in the desert. It was very cool and fun yet some parts were very scary. At night we ate at a Mexican restaurant and the food was very tasty. 

The next day we began our road trip to Fresno, California to visit and walk around Yosemite National Park. Throughout the journey, we stopped at a few tourist locations which included: Seven Magic Mountains, The World's Tallest Thermometer, Alien Fresh Jerky, Calico Ghost Town, and Peggy Sue’s Diner. When we finally arrived in Fresno, it was late so we checked into our hotel room and went to bed. The following day we went to Yosemite National Park. Hiking throughout the day, we saw many scenic views and waterfalls and took a lot of pictures. After our long day in Yosemite, we began our journey south to Los Angeles but since the trip was too long we stayed in a hotel in Bakersfield, California, and then after that stay, we finished the journey to Los Angeles.
When we arrived in Los Angeles, we hiked up to view the Hollywood sign. We then drove to The Hollywood Walk of Fame where we saw all the stars and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. For lunch, we went to an outdoor farmers market where there were so many options to choose from. Afterward, we walked down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and then visited the Santa Monica Pier. Since Jared was working we didn’t see him until the following night when we went out to dinner at a very nice restaurant on the water in Long Beach. After that dinner, we went to this amazing ice cream parlor near our hotel where the ice cream was so delicious. For our last day in California, we took a boat to Catalina Island where we went on a hike, had a delicious lunch, and did some shopping. Sadly, we then had to say goodbye to Jared and head to the airport where we hopped on the plane at LAX to travel back to N.Y.
After our return, I participated in a 3-week theatre camp at The Cultural Arts Playhouse in Syosset. There I made some new friends and performed in the show Footloose. It was really fun. I also took an online coding camp for 3 weeks where I learned the coding language Python. It was really interesting to learn about coding and how to code. Throughout those few weeks, I also saw many of my friends. 

During the final week of the summer, my family and I went on a short vacation to the Poconos in Pennsylvania. We rented an AirBnb and enjoyed so many fun activities. We went tubing down the Delaware, had amazing ice cream, hiked Bushkill falls, played mini-golf, went to an outdoor flea market, and of course, played our all-time favorite game Catan at night. My family and I really enjoy strategic board games which become very competitive for us more often than not. From there, we drove to Philadelphia to drop Jared off at The University of Pennsylvania for his Master’s degree program. In Philadelphia, we took our annual picture at the “LOVE” sign and went to one of our favorite restaurants, Copabanana. We then said goodbye to Jared and headed home. 

My summer vacation was filled with so many things that I enjoy; travel, theatre, coding, family, and friends. I am so grateful that I was able to do all these wonderful things that will always make summer 2021 a memorable one for me.
2nd Place Winner:

Our children were blessed to have an experience they couldn't imagine in their wildest dreams. We packed up the car with our duffles and pillows, and after a two-hour drive, we arrived to our home for the next month. Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake opened its wrought iron gate and welcomed us into the wet, muddy, slushy glory. It rained on that arrival day, just as it did for many of the days in the next four weeks. Despite the puddles and thunderstorms, the feeling inside camp was pure sunshine and warmth. Our children quickly found trails and friends they looked forward to discovering more about in the coming days. Sam and I had the unique privilege to have a fly-on-the-wall view of the camp magic as we both were fortunate enough to work at Sprout. It is, indeed, magic. No explanation could ever begin to summarize why kids feel like they belong at camp, and why they 'live 10 for 2' with such determination to return the following summer. We get it though-- it's everything. 
Camp for us offered things our Schechter children are used to--- tefillot, Israeli cultural programming, social actions projects, team building, sports, music, and so much more. The one thing that brought everyone on their feet, without exception, was Rikkud. We watched every camper, every staff member, every camp-doggie DANCE their hearts out after havdalah. The dance instructor, along with several other counselors and campers, proudly wore their shirts reading, "Rikkud is my cardio" across the front. Whether brand new to camp or a 30-year veteran, the dance steps were followed by all, and the lyrics to the heart-pumping Israeli tunes were shouted in unison by everyone. We watched our three very different children jump into the special opportunity to be a part of that magic. Sam, as camp doctor, noted those recently pitiful patients who were just run down unable to resist the music and atmosphere. We witnessed 8th graders and 2nd graders dance with the same excitement and cheek-burning smiles.
Although rikkud was not a primary focus of our camp experience this summer, it definitely is something we quickly came to appreciate for our children. As parents, we close our eyes to take things in but leave them open so we don't miss a moment. I watched, welled up with emotion, pride, and thankfulness, as our children and their friends forged bonds and memories while they did something as simple as dancing. Like so many other Schechter families, we are proud to now call Sprout our summer home. 

Andrea Bitton (SSLI parent)

This year has many enhancements in store:

  • NEW COURSES: SSLI is participating in "Exploring Black Narratives" an immersive two-week program that foregrounds plays by contemporary Black writers with the goal to sharpen students’ ability for critical and deep thinking, curiosity, textual knowledge, and research.
  • NEW IN THE BUILDING: The gym is back! We are happy to report that we have re-established some of our pre-pandemic spaces like the cafeteria, the music and art room, as well as the gym.
  • NEW STUDENTS: This year, we welcome 45 new students to SSLI.
  • NEW FACULTY AND STAFF: Please find below some of our new faces at Schechter LI:
Chana Fuld comes to Solomon Schechter with over a decade of varied experiences that include working with a wide age range of students in a variety of settings. She has taught and supervised staff in public and Jewish day schools, Camp Ramah’s Tikvah Program, as well as social groups for individuals with special needs. She has worked privately with students providing them with extra academic and other support. She has collaborated with families to design and prepare her students and their families for a meaningful and attainable bar/bat mitzvah. Chana has also designed and launched inclusion programs in large Hebrew schools that ultimately influenced the way their congregations adopted a synagogue-wide approach to inclusion.
Rabbi Dr. Boaz Tomsky received a Masters of Business Administration from Barry University and his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Hartford. He has served as Religious School Director of the Ohr Chadash Hebrew School in Flushing, as Judaic Studies Coordinator of the Solomon Schechter School of Queens, and as Adjunct Professor at Touro College.
Monika Markacs joins SSLI as the Lower and Upper School Art teacher. Monika's journey in art began as a child in Hungary when her mother introduced her to the work of sculptor Margit Kovacs. This is where her passion for ceramics began. During her time at Queens College, she began painting and fell in love with the acrylic medium influenced by her respect for Rene Magritte.
Jonathan Horowitz joins SSLI as a Lower and Upper School Jewish Studies teacher. Jonathan's Jewish journey, which started in Sharon, MA, has brought him across the US (and world!). An alumnus of New England region USY, Ramah Nyack (Tzevet), the Native College Leadership Program, and Binghamton University, Jonathan brings his love and passion for all things Jewish wherever he goes.
Karen Hayungs is an upstate New York native that has had the privilege of traveling all over the United States. Throughout those travels, she has always enjoyed the wonder of nature and enjoyed the unique beauty of each part of our country. Karen loves teaching science because she was always that kid asking the question "Why?", and she now gets to teach this generation's children the answers to that very question. Karen loves photography and tends to take lots of pictures especially when she is out hiking with her dog, Bella.
Vicki Borman comes to SSLI with over 20 years of teaching experience. She received her BA & MA in Early Childhood Education from Queens College. Vicki holds a permanent certification in Pre-K through 6th grade. She has substantial training in literacy and math education. She had also been a dance and movement specialist and has developed curricula in both for schools she has taught in.
Elizabeth joined the Schechter LI Family in 2021 as the Director of Admissions and Community Outreach. Not only did she bring with her over ten years of experience as a real estate attorney, but she also has an extensive background as an independent fund-raising consultant for Jewish nonprofit agencies. Elizabeth loved her involvement in Jewish Day school growing up, and as a current Schechter mom, passes this on to her children. In her free time, Elizabeth loves working out and is an avid runner, always ready to spring into action for a good cause and to share joy.
As the new Director of Admissions, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and tell you what is new and exciting in Admissions.

We secured a grant for Engagement which will allow us to plan several events with community groups so that we may showcase our school, students, teachers, and families.  It’s time we let the world know what they are missing by not being a part of the Schechter Family.

Our Gan 2022-2023 Application Portal is open and accepting applications!  Due to overwhelming interest, we have opened the portal for Kindergarten September 2022 and have begun receiving applications. If you have a 4-year-old or know someone with a 4-year-old child, get your application in while there are spots!  We are predicting waitlists!!

Stay tuned for more Admissions News in the next Chai-Lites.

G’mar Chatima Tova

Elizabeth Kahn
Director of Admissions

To contact Elizabeth Kahn, email or call 516.359.3700 ext.1115.

Saturday, September 11th marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was a day that changed our country and our way of life forever. It became the type of “where-were-you-when?” moment for a new generation. It was also an event that inspired millions of people to step up and serve this country; to turn tragedy into meaning.
As the legacy of 9/11 transitions from living memory into U.S. history, the stories of that day, along with those who were inspired to serve must be retold. Our students, not yet born at the time of this monumental disaster, are encouraged to be inspired by the great acts of service in the 20 years following that fateful day. It is incumbent upon us all to recall not just the unfathomable loss, but the compassion, fortitude, and resilience that was demonstrated and to be mindful of the ongoing repercussions of the 9/11 attacks.

On September 10th, all of the Schechter students in grades 7-12 met in the gym for our Friday minyan and 9/11 Memorial Service. Minyan was led beautifully by Avital Aaron and Arielle Rezak. After minyan, our student body vice president shared some words discussing why we all met in the gym today, to discuss the tragedies of 9/11, and to mourn for the Americans we lost during the attack. We were then shown a clip of an inspirational documentary, "Boatlift" about how a normal, everyday man used everything in his power to save as many people as he could during the 9/11 attack. He said, “I just want to at least save one life.” Soon after the video, Schechter parent Josh Charry spoke to the school. He is an ex-chief firefighter who was on duty during the 9/11 attack. Josh Charry spoke about the people he lost, what he saw, and what it felt like to see the aftermath of the 9/11 attack. Then Milla Zabib, Micah Bidner, and Lily Weissberg said prayers that are specific to 9/11. The Schechter community came together and created a beautiful service to remember, honor, and mourn the victims and the heroes of 9/11. 

Zoë A. / SSLI Student Government
*If you have not yet had the opportunity to visit
9/11 Memorial Museum
180 Greenwich Street
New York, New York
Start your year with Tzedakah
We are the “people of the book” who believe in the power of the book, 
the power of education.  

We need you to unite with us in this belief, to ensure that all our children can access a Schechter School of Long Island education of excellence, 
so that they can become a vibrant part of Jewish life and learning.
This month @Schechter LI

To see more pictures and events, please follow us on Facebook and Instagram and visit us at
Mazal Tov to our Third Grade Jewish Studies and Hebrew Teacher Mrs. Lean Biton and her husband Eliyahu on the birth of their daughter Miley Esther, born September 8th 8lbs 4oz.
Mazel tov also to big brother Lenny!
Mazal Tov to Rachel Nussbaum Barnwell (SSHSLI ‘10) and Brendon Barnwell on the birth of their son Logan (Hebrew name Lavi) on August 30, 2021.
Mazal tov also to proud grandparents: Sandi and David Nussbaum, and Thomas and Deborah Barnwell.
Mazal Tov to Dr. Marissa Steinberg Weiss (SSLI MS '01) & Dr. Max Weiss on the birth of their daughter Naomi Rose, born August 7, 2021 in Ann Arbor, MI.
Mazel tov to big brother Eli Brody and to
to proud grandparents SSLI Board Member Jeff and Beth Steinberg.
Mazal Tov to Yoni (SSLI '05) & Clara Dolgin
on the birth of their son
Amos Raz Dolgin, born June 6, 2021, in Tel Aviv.
Mazal tov also to proud grandparents Cindy and Moti Dolgin, Catherine and Philippe Weil.
Mazal Tov to Josh Tallis (SSLI '09) and Esther Baruh who were married on Sunday, August 1, 2021. Proud parents are Carol Tallis and
Rahel and Haim Baruh.
Mazal Tov to Rachel Lelonek (SSLI '14) and Ezra Gould who were married on Sunday, July 25, 2021.
Proud parents are Laura & Dr. David Lelonek and
Betsy z"l & Spencer Gould.
Mazal Tov SSLI Alumnus Melissa Tallis & James Nachamkin on the birth of their son:
Jeremy Bennett, born on January 23, 2021.
Mazal tov also to proud grandmothers Carol Tallis and Denise Nachamkin.
Jeremy Bennett is named after both of his grandfathers.

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 or call 516.935.1441 ext.1131.

In the October issue of Schechter Chai-Lights, we will focus on those in the medical field and the many unsung heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This month we invite members of our community who work in the helping professions to share their journeys and how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted their lives.
Exclusive Event:
On behalf of the
Schechter School of Long Island
We are so pleased to invite you to view the eclectic
private art collection of
Diane and Howard Wohl
Thursday, October 28, 2021
7:00 to 9:30 PM
141 Heather Lane
Mill Neck, New York
Light Dinner and Wine Tasting

This exclusive event is for donors pledging $5,000 or more towards SSLI’s Annual Campaign.

Space is limited. RSVP by October 8, 2021, to
Yvonne Lyon, Advancement Manager
(516) 935-1441 ext. 1133 or

For the safety of all guests, we ask that you submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination minimally 2 weeks prior to the event to the email above.

Dietary Laws Observed

Coming Up:
  • Giving Tuesday: 11/30/21

  • Champions For Charity: 12/2-4/21