01 Dec Spreading the Light of Schechter Manhattan: Chanukah Match to support the annual campaign begins Monday, December 4

Now that we are in the month of Kislev, I am excited to start singing Chanukah songs with students at Schechter Manhattan.  A favorite song for our younger students each year is באנו חושך לגרש, banu choshech legaresh– Click here for a video of kitah alef singing this song.

The lyrics of the first verse and chorus are…

באנו חושך לגרש
בידינו אור ואש
כל אחד הוא אור קטן
וכולנו אור איתן

סורה חושך, הלאה שחור
סורה מפני האור

We came to drive away the darkness

In our hands are light and fire

Everyone is a small light

And all of us are a strong light

Depart darkness, go on blackness!

Depart from before the light!


I love singing this song with our students- especially the way they sing “surah choshech!”, “Depart darkness!”, with energy and passion.  Each one of our students is a light and together they surely represent a strong light.  When they sing this song they seem so ready to spread their light in the world.

The song expresses a core theme of the Chanukah season, that in this time of the year, when daylight is short, we light the candles of the chanukiah to bring light into the world.  Lighting up the darkness of the night also serves as a metaphor, for bringing good things into the world. As we actualize our mission at Schechter Manhattan, our school brings light to our students, their families, and the larger world.

Schechter Manhattan shines the light of understanding to students, as they engage with learning to actively develop their ideas and build their skills.  Schechter Manhattan directs the light of the Torah’s wisdom on our students’ lives, affording them opportunities to ask deep questions about the tradition and discover ways that Jewish heritage can impact them as human beings.  Schechter Manhattan radiates the light of a caring community to our students, families, faculty, staff, and trustees, who support one another and help lift each other up.  And Schechter Manhattan ignites the light of Jewish identity in our students, creating rich Jewish experiences so that students can find and make Jewish commitments that are meaningful to them.

These lights, that make Schechter Manhattan so special and successful, are lit up through investment in distinctive aspects of our school program, such as two bilingual teachers in K-5 classes, differentiated learning so that each child is challenged or helped where needed, and low teacher-student ratios.  The amazing education provided through the expenses of these educational models is available to a wide set of families in the NYC Jewish community by way of generous financial aid.  Overall, the tuition that comes in does not cover the full costs of educating all the students at Schechter Manhattan, and each year the light that Schechter Manhattan spreads in the world is sustained by many people who care about our mission and donate to support our school’s annual fund.

This Chanukah a number of our supporters have stepped forward to lead us in strengthening Schechter Manhattan by pledging $75,000 as matching funds for the Chanukah appeal of our annual fundraising campaign.  Our match donors are parents, grandparents, trustees, alumni, and alumni parents.  I am truly inspired by each of these friends’ dedication to Schechter Manhattan, Jewish education, and the future of the Jewish people.  The Chanukah match will begin this coming Monday, December 4, and continue through the end of December.  During that time any gift to Schechter Manhattan’s annual fund will be doubled!  On Monday you will receive an email about the Chanukah match, which will include the link to the Schechter Manhattan Chanukah match site.

As a part of this campaign, we are asking Schechter Manhattan families and friends to “Light One Candle For Schechter Manhattan” by designating one night of Chanukah to give your children or grandchildren the gift of a donation to our school in their honor.  This will be a great way to connect the light of the Chanukah candles to the light of Schechter Manhattan in your families’ lives.

A special note for current Schechter Manhattan parents: We are seeking 100% parent participation in the Chanukah match.  (For veteran parents, you may be wondering about how this fits with what we’ve done in the past around the Annual Benefit Dinner.  This year we will discontinue the practice of class ads for the Annual Benefit Dinner. We hope you will be able to buy a ticket to the Dinner, but if you can only give once to the school this year, we encourage you to make your donation now.)  Please give at whatever amount you can.

As in the words of the song: כל אחד הוא אור קטן, each one of us is a small light.  וכולנו אור איתן, and all together we are a strong light.  Every donation, of whatever amount, makes a positive difference to our school.  Together, when we all contribute, we create the bright light that is Schechter Manhattan.

Shabbat Shalom

Benjamin Mann

Author’s Chair

Each week we will feature the written work of our students. We hope that you will stop back next week and see what they are writing and thinking about.


We have been learning Hebrew letters in Kitah Aleph!  We recently created a door (delet in Hebrew) collage.  We first drew something to go behind a door.  We then attached a paper “door” to our work and wrote about what is by the door (or if they didn’t want to ruin the surprise, they wrote what or who MAY be by the door!).

ballon ba-delet
(Balloon by the door)
Click here to see work by Daniella

dag tzahove ba-delet
(A yellow fish is by the door.)
Click here to view work by Neva)

oolai abba ba-delet
(Maybe Dad/Father is at the door.)
Click here to view work by Ezra


The 3rd and 4th grade class just published the final drafts of their personal narratives.

Click here to see work by Ariel, Pemberley, Yonah, Galya, Hayley, Amelie


Sixth-grade students just completed a Torah unit focusing on Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. They are about to learn that, once Pharaoh allowed the Israelites to go, he changed his mind and chased after them. To kick off this discussion, each student wrote about a time that someone talked him/her into a decision.

In 3rd grade, there was a girl named Rayzie in our class. One of her moms was on sabatical in NYC from Minisoda so she came to this school for one year. Anyways, she was going to have a birthday party where we would watch the movie padington in the theater. I was really excited to go, but my Mom reminded me that I had a play rehursal at that exact time at my shul. The director of the play said that I couldn’t be in the play if I missed the rehursal, but I would probubly never go to another one of Rayzie’s Birthday parties again. I didn’t know what to do, so my mom researched the movie and looked at the reveiws. They were mostly bad, 3 stars and lower. My mom told me that some of the comments said that the movie was horibal, so I ended up not going. To this day, I regret not going to the party because I relized that the party was not about the quality of the movie, but spending time with Rayzie.
– Batya

At camp, there was a kid who I really didn’t like. One time, I caught him doing something wrong, and I really wanted to tell his counselor, but some other people talked me out of it because that kid was really violent. In retrospect, listening to them was probably good for my health because I don’t want to get punched to the floor with a broom
– Elijah