05 Jan Building community: the Schechter Manhattan Parents’ Association

Parents were holding their children tight, offering hugs and kisses and whispers in ears. They then expressed their care and love through the traditional blessing over the children, recited on erev shabbat. “יברכך ה וישמרך, May God bless you and protect you.”  As we recited the ancient words together, and I looked around at the full room of nearly 100 people, I was moved by this authentic expression of Jewish community and continuity. I felt privileged to be a part of that very special moment last year at the annual Schechter Manhattan community shabbat dinner.

The Schechter Manhattan Shabbat dinner is coming up this year on Friday, January 19, 2018.  We will meet all across NYC, at Congregation Ansche Chesed on the West Side, Congregation Or Zarua on the East Side, in the homes of Andy Ingall and Neal Hoffman in Washington Heights, and Narda Alcorn and Shelli Aderman downtown. I am looking forward to joining the dinner on the West Side. We will pray, eat, shmooze, and get to know each other better. I hope you will also join us to enjoy the beauty of Shabbat together.  Click here to register for the Schechter Manhattan Community Shabbat Dinner.

The shabbat dinner event is a wonderful expression of the Jewish community we aspire to build at Schechter Manhattan. Schechter Manhattan should be more than a place for parents to drop off their kids each day. It should be a place that families connect to deeply, where we are each welcomed and valued. I am so thankful to the many parents who have made it their mission to nurture such a warm community at Schechter Manhattan- the Schechter Manhattan Parents’ Association. Our Parents Association makes such a powerful impact on the character of our school by implementing programs that bring us all together, like the Family Night Out and Book Fair back in December, and the shabbat dinners coming up.

Building community does not happen by accident. It takes intentionality and hard work, and the Parents’ Association leadership consistently displays both. Co-Presidents, Andrea Brustein and Lisa Schmutter, have gathered a committed group of parent leaders to work together towards their shared goal of enriching the experience of families in the Schechter Manhattan community.  Thank you to all the members of the Parents Association Executive Committee: Sarah Bloch-Elkouby and Asaf Kastner, Vice Presidents, Jennifer Abrams, Secretary, Anne Tishkoff, Treasurer, and Jennifer Rosenberg and Tali Etra, Members-at-large.  Thank you to the Class Parents, who are helping build community in each class and getting the word out about Parents Association activities and events – Elvera Baron, Joshua Rabin, Marlowe Rinsler, Miri Segal Scharia, Avital Lazar-Paley, Anna Karp, Matt Abramowitz, Shelli Aderman, and Ellen Shapiro.

Thank you also to everyone who is planning the shabbat dinners: To the planning team- Shelli Aderman, Effi Gez, Yael Hammerman, Andy Ingall, Sarah Klagsbrun, Dorit Podchlebnik, and Cherise Solomon-Feld.  To Rabbi Kalmanofsky and Ansche Chesed, Rabbi Bolton and Congregation Or Zarua, Andy, Neal, Narda, and Shelli for welcoming us into your homes.   And thank you to the many other parents who help with Parents Association programs and events. It is a privilege to be in partnership with all of you to make Schechter Manhattan the strongest school community possible.

I encourage all of our parents to get involved in the Parents’ Association. Check out upcoming programs and events on the Parents Association page of the school website. The Parents’ Association leaders are looking to plan programs that best meet the needs of the Schechter Manhattan community, and they can always use input and help. Our community will be as strong as what individuals contribute to it, so please consider joining the ranks of the many parents who volunteer through the Parents Association, planning and implementing community building programs. Your participation and involvement in the Parents Association and the life of our school will surely strengthen your sense of connection and satisfaction within the Schechter Manhattan community.


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.


Our classroom has been buzzing with excitement as we’ve discussed four different ways that authors come up with ideas for their writing: wondering, remembering, imagining and observing. Kitah Aleph’s authors created their own writing pieces and practiced their editing skills. These works will be published in a book that we will add to our classroom library.

Click here to view work by Eitan

Click here to view work by Amalia



The 3rd and 4th grade students reflected on whether or not they would want to be friends with the main character in the book they are reading at home.

Click here to view work by Gefen, Jory, Joey, Tsofia, Eliya & Yonah



For Chanukah, the 6th grade students studied the Talmud’s account of how to light the Chanukah candles, including the disagreements between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. They then wrote songs to teach the material they had learned.