Graphic by Ariella Mayer ('23)
Years ago, before Zoom was a noun, my students and I had the opportunity to join a virtual shiur (Torah class) given by Rav Meir Goldvicht. This was before attending a shiur online had become commonplace, and we were excited to join other classes from Jewish high schools around the country and hear words of Torah from a scholar of Rav Goldvicht’s caliber. 

Not only was the whole setup unique, but the wisdom that Rav Goldvicht shared was equally unforgettable. I had often wondered, when reading the Haggadah year after year, how the section about the five rabbis having a Pesach seder was essential to my own seder experience. Why did this little vignette make it into our Haggadah text? Rav Goldvicht raised a next-level question: why, he asked, was the seder held in Bnei Brak at the house of R’ Akiva, when R’ Akiva wasn’t the leading sage of that generation? Wouldn’t it have been even more respectful to hold the seder at the house of R’ Elazar ben Azarya, a leading member of the Sanhedrin, or at the home of R’ Eliezer or R’ Yehoshua, who were the elders of the generation?

Rav Goldvicht explained that the five sages gathered at R’ Akiva’s house because R’ Akiva had a unique quality that the other sages felt they needed to tap into that year on Pesach night -- his optimism. Of the many Talmudic stories about R’ Akiva, one of the most famous is his reaction to seeing a fox darting around the ruins of the second Beit HaMikdash. That sight devastated his colleagues, who were horrified to see their holiest site become a playground for wild animals. R’ Akiva, however, laughed! He reminded the other sages that this was part of God’s plan, revealed to the Neviim. If this part of the prophecy of destruction of the Beit HaMikdash was true, then we could count on the fact that the second part of that prophecy -- the message of our redemption -- would also come true!

It was R’ Akiva’s optimism, his ability to see brightness in the darkest of times, that made the other four rabbis decide that they wanted to celebrate Pesach in R’ Akiva’s house that year. The Roman regime continued to be oppressive and Judaism was struggling to survive in the aftermath of the second churban. Dark times indeed. The sages of that time hoped that R’ Akiva’s optimism would be contagious, and they just wanted to breathe some of that same air.

This Pesach we also need to imbibe some of R’ Akiva’s positivity. We are no strangers to challenging times, and for many of us this will be the second Pesach that we sit around a smaller seder table, yearning for Pesachs past where we celebrated with extended family and friends. As we drink the four cups representing the four leshonot of redemption, let’s indeed do so with optimism that better times are coming. Let’s shout out our “L’shana haba’a b’Yerushalayim” with real faith that redemption is once again just around the corner!

Good Shabbos and Chag Kasher v’Same’ach,
Mrs. Horowitz
 KYHS JUMP Team Gets the "W"
Graphic by Rivka Reich ('24)

On Wednesday, March 17, Katz Yeshiva High School took part in the NCSY JUMP Final Boardroom. In November, our team of six juniors attended the first JUMP meeting, where they were tasked with identifying an issue in the Jewish teenage community and coming up with a solution to that problem.

In November, the KYHS JUMP team decided to focus on the issue of disordered eating. They recognized that disordered eating is something that many teens struggle with, usually in silence. The team has been working tirelessly to create, a website that educates people on what disordered eating is, connects them with professionals, and offers the site’s visitors a supportive community.  

The KYHS JUMP team was chosen out of over 20 teams from other schools to take place in the Final Boardroom alongside ten other teams. The night began with a short introduction and then every team had two minutes to present their projects and how they have so far made a difference. After the presentations, the five judges went into a breakout room while the teams had the amazing opportunity to watch Hart Keene perform some of his amazing tricks.  

After the magic show the judges announced the four winners, who then had the opportunity to pitch to investors how much money they needed to continue to grow their projects. Our KYHS team was one of the four that won and had the opportunity to continue on to the next round. 

With excitement in the air, the team then asked for $1,500 from the investors to continue to build their website and grow beyond the boundaries of KYHS. The investors decided to award the Katz Yeshiva High School JUMP team with their full ask of $1,500. Mazel Tov to the KYHS NCSY JUMP team on their big win!

Article by Penina Kahane ('22)
CooCoo for Chesed Club
 From Coffee for a Cause to Letters for Veterans, Leila Brown (‘22) and Emma Schenker (‘22) Do it All

Graphic by Abby Rosenthal ('23) and Leeanne Mizrachi-Mann ('23)
Performing true chesed requires authenticity; acts of kindness are not done for applause or potential benefit but rather to enrich others’ lives. The Chesed Club, created by Leila Brown (‘22) and Emma Schenker (‘22), is a wonderful representation of true chesed.

As Leila explained, because many in-person chesed opportunities have been curbed due to COVID-19, this club “provides students with a great opportunity to help others.”

Through organizing food and toy drives, collecting almost 400 letters for veterans, and reviving Coffee for a Cause, the club has already greatly impacted the South Florida and Jewish communities. In addition, club members are currently making a video dedicated to healthcare workers to demonstrate our tremendous appreciation for their efforts during this time.

The primary goal of the Chesed Club, Emma said, is to “recognize the immense struggles of people all over the world” and “to help, even just a few of them.” 

Though the idea of helping others is always relevant in our lives, it is especially important as Pesach approaches. The Shalosh Regalim—Pesach, Sukkot, and Shavuot—each represent one of the three avot, and Pesach represents Avraham, who is known for his warm hospitality.

Like Avraham, we should all strive to improve the lives of those around us, and the Chesed Club provides KYHS students with an amazing avenue to pursue this. Our community deeply appreciates the club’s efforts and looks forward to what they have in store for the future!  

Article by Gavi Melintsky ('23)
Out and About
The Class of 2024 Goes on a Fun Outing
Video by Highlites Staff
First Day Jitters
Ariella Mayer (‘23), Rebecca Adler (‘23), and Orly Dimont (‘23) Give an Inside Look into What it Looks Like to Return to in-Person Learning
Graphic by Rebecca Adler ('23) and Orly Dimont ('23)

While many KYHS students enjoyed the privilege of having school in person this year, some students opted to continue to learn virtually via Zoom. This past week, a small group of students decided to leave their bubbles and come to school for their first in-person day all year. Mishael Sommers (‘23) learns about the differences between in-person and remote learning with Rebecca Adler (‘23), Ariella Mayer (‘23), and Orly Dimont (‘23), former online students who have just returned to school. 

What were the benefits and drawbacks of Zoom learning, and how did it affect your academic and daily life? 

Rebecca: I liked the extra hour of sleep and doing class with Ariella, my neighbor-in-law. It was hard to pay attention in some of my classes so I’m happy to be back in the building without constant Wi-Fi issues. Overall, my teachers were great over Zoom and tried their best to include me in class discussions.

Ariella: The benefits were that I had classes with some of my remote-learning friends, namely Rebecca and Orly. The drawbacks were not seeing many of my friends in person and not being in a classroom environment.

Orly: The greatest benefit was being in my bed. The main drawback was that it was hard to focus during school. 

What made you change your mind and decide to become an in-school learner? 

Rebecca: We realized that we needed to set a deadline to come to school; otherwise, we would be on Zoom the whole year. We made a collective decision to finally come to school together, easing the transition from Zoom to in-person school. (More importantly, Atara was lonely.)

Ariella: Naomi Reichenberg.

Orly: We thought that it was a good time to come back before Pesach and about time we come to school!

What are the pros and cons of being an in-school student, and what changes have you felt since you have become one? 

Rebecca: The pros of being an in-school student are being able to connect with and know my teachers from a different perspective. The greatest challenge of being in school is having to wear a mask all day, but I’ve gotten used to it.

Ariella: The pros are that I learn firsthand from my teachers and get to hang out with friends constantly. The cons are not having access to our kitchens. Another change I feel is that I now participate more in class. 

Orly: I feel a better connection with teachers and students in school because being at home is isolating and makes it difficult to be part of class discussions. 

What are your hopes and wishes about the rest of your school year? 

Rebecca: I hope I continue to enjoy in-person school and not miss Zoom too much. My teachers and friends have made in-person school a great experience! I also hope I don’t get quarantined!

Ariella: My greatest wish is to get a vaccine!

Orly: My greatest wish is for COVID-19 to end so we can get back to our daily lives.

Article by Mishael Sommers ('23)
 I'm Gonna be a Pizza Man
Naomi Teaches Us How to Make the Nosh of the Week, Matzah Pizza!
Graphic by Chantal Newman ('22)

Hola noshers and welcome back to Naomi’s Nosh! This week, I will be teaching you how to make the most amazing matzah pizza! It’s super complicated though, so make sure you follow along super closely. 

You will need matzah, cheese, and sauce. Now, we all know that matzah is perhaps not the most amazing food, but turning anything into pizza will fix that problem. 

First, lay out the matzah (better known as cardboard). Make sure you are using a very flat surface. Next, get a spoon to spread that sauce; make it real saucy. Now is the most crucial part: grab a handful of cheese and sprinkle it. To heed proper sprinkling requirements, make sure to flick your wrist in the proper direction. Once you flick your wrist properly, either use your microwave or oven to cook that luscious matzah pizza. 

Once the cheese melts, eat right after serving, but of course make a heilige hamotzi first. If it does not burn your tongue, you made the matzah pizza wrong. 

Although some people don’t like Pesach food, Naomi’s Nosh just enhanced your Pesach to the highest degree. Chag kasher v’sameach! Eat lots of kosher-for-Pesach Lays chips for me. 

Naomi Chaya aka Naomi’s Nosh 

Article by Naomi Reichenberg ('22)
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
 Ariella Gives Her Angle on the Positive Outcomes of the Pandemic
Graphic by Olivia Kahane ('23)

A year ago last Friday, I went to my friend's house to complete an assignment. Little did I know that would be my last time in someone else’s house in over 371 days (and counting). Before March, we had all heard rumblings of a supervirus, but only on March 13 did we really feel it in school, on the last day before a supposed two-week shutdown. Since then, we have seen skyrocketing numbers of COVID-19 cases, food and supply shortages, and widespread panic. This past year has been truly tragic and, though I do do not mean to discount our struggles in any way, I’d like to shed some light on some of the silver linings I have found. 

The unfortunate closing of schools and country borders meant that students around the world were forced to return home. Though this posed a challenge to the learning environment, it gave families an unprecedented opportunity to reconnect. Often we are too busy and distracted to spend quality time with our families and, for those like me, siblings living far from home further hinders this precious time. But, living together during quarantine, we enjoyed board games, TV shows, and other household activities that we would have never done together before. 

Further, since the pandemic struck, we have bonded as a global community. We’ve prayed and mourned, not just as individuals, but as members of a larger whole, and together we’ve applauded ordinary people who transformed into heroes. Whether it’s individual donations to relief funds, restaurants donating food to frontline workers, or companies manufacturing ventilators, the comfort and support we have provided each other is truly inspiring. 

Additionally, though we have always appreciated our healthcare workers, watching their tireless efforts this past year gave chesed a whole new meaning. While most of us remained home to protect ourselves from the mysterious virus, healthcare workers put themselves at risk to save strangers. They served as beacons of hope throughout a tumultuous year, and now they pave the way for our eventual return to normalcy. They are role models to us all, and I cannot overstate the tremendous medical and emotional encouragement they have given us. 

Though this may sound trite, I have gained profound gratitude for the little, mundane joys in life. From seeing friends in person to going grocery shopping, so many parts of our daily routines pre-COVID were actually privileges we took for granted. It’s easy to label 2020 as a year of hardship, the virus, the murder hornets, the Australian fires, or whatever spin you put on it. And while those sentiments hold true, let’s not merely remember the past year as a compilation of challenges; instead, let’s recall united efforts to protect people, our self-sacrificing heroes, and the many lessons we have gleaned.

Article by Ariella Gross ('21)
Highlites Staff