At Schechter Manhattan we pride ourselves on our commitment to caring for others through acts of chesed (community service), as well as through giving tzedakah (monetary donations.) Each year beginning in third grade, students go beyond the walls of our school to participate in a year-long service project in our larger Upper West Side community. These hands-on experiences enhance our students’ understanding of the value of chesed. The move to Distance Learning pushed us to think creatively of ways for our students to still make a difference in our community from the confines of our homes. Our 6th grade students have been making phone calls to their DOROT seniors and our Kindergarten students have written letters to first responders and health care professionals, thanking them for their heroic work.
With the needs in our community being both great and immediate, I decided to turn to our students to see what they would like to do as a school to make a difference. And thus came the creation of the very first Schechter Manhattan Student Chesed Committee. The committee, composed of representatives from 3rd-8th grades, has been thinking creatively about additional Community Service opportunities for the remainder of the school year. Additionally, they helped to reshape this year’s Tzedakah Roundtable because of the unique needs that exist today. Their ideas in collaboration with myself and Schechter Manhattan parent Dana Morgan led to the selection of the five organizations that our students will be choosing from to allocate their tzedakah money that was collected this year. This coming Tuesday morning, May 19th our students will engage in thoughtful discussion and respectful debate as they decide whether they would like their money to go towards feeding the hungry, masks for first responders, the animals at the Bronx Zoo, or Mt. Sinai’s Covid-19 relief.
You are invited to join us that afternoon, on Tuesday, May 19th at 3:00, for a school-wide assembly where students from each grade will share the results of their class’s roundtable discussion and vote. (See details and Zoom link below.) In addition to donating the money that was collected each Friday in classrooms from the part of the school year when we gathered in person, we will be supplementing it with a two-week tzedakah drive in each class community to raise additional funds.
I look forward to seeing you next Tuesday, May 19th for what is sure to be a meaningful and important Tzedakah Roundtable.