11 Dec Spreading Light Throughout the Jewish World

As we lit the Chanukah candles each evening this week, it felt particularly poignant to me. We light our chanukiot right at sunset, as the light is fading and darkness is coming. By lighting the candles at that moment we extend light into the coming dark. I find that to be a powerful metaphor for our responsibility to make a positive difference in the world. When we see darkness coming, we need to take action, to spread light and all that light represents- God’s blessings, hope, peace, and love.

On Wednesday I felt darkness coming, when I read reports that the Rabbi David Lau, Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, had publicly criticized Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett for visiting Schechter Manhattan last week. Rabbi Lau said that Minister Bennett should not have visited us, or any non-Orthodox Jewish educational institution, because, in his view, that at Schechter Manhattan “the education distances Jews from tradition, from the past, and from the future of the Jewish people.” Needless to say, I am deeply troubled by these comments that denigrate the vital work we do at Schechter Manhattan and the legitimacy of our vibrant Jewish community.

Rabbi Lau’s comments make clear that Schechter Manhattan is more important than ever. In the face of שנאת חינם, baseless hatred between Jews, we are teaching our students to love and respect others. Within the larger Jewish world Schechter Manhattan represents something powerful and good, a committed community of Jews that is enriched and strengthened by our differences.

Some, who like Rabbi Lau claim that Orthodoxy is the only legitimate version of Judaism, point to the 2013 Pew Research Center study, that showed higher levels of assimilation among non-Orthodox Jews in the United States. The Pew findings make Schechter Manhattan’s mission even more critical. In the face of apathy and a sense of disconnect from Jewish heritage, Schechter Manhattan is nurturing positive Jewish identity in our students, the future leaders of the American Jewish community.

Celebrating Chanukah this week at Schechter Manhattan it was obvious that Schechter Manhattan is bringing each of our students closer to Jewish tradition.  We started our days singing the ancient words of hallel, joyously and proudly. We came together with parents and friends for a beautiful Zimriyah, song festival, filled with Israeli favorites, connecting us to the culture and people of Israel. Our students gathered in their cross-grade Gesher groups to design and build dreidels that could spin as long as possible (an activity made possible through the Lieberman Family STEAM Center), building their sense of school community and positive feelings about their Jewish practices. And we studied about Chanukah in our classes. The elementary school students learned about the customs, rituals, and themes of the holiday. Middle School students studied selections from classic texts such as the TalmudMishne Torah, and Siddur about the history and practices of Chanukah, grounding their observance in the sacred texts of the Jewish people.

The Jewish learning and living at Schechter Manhattan is extending light in the face of darkness.  May that light join with the light of our Chanukah candles to spread throughout the Jewish people, in Israel and around the world, so that we can see clearly the value of our varied contributions to sustaining our shared tradition.

חג אורים שמח

Benjamin Mann

Author’s Chair



Kitah Aleph students are practicing multi-part stories indicating chronological order of events with our sentences. 

My mom and dad Take me to school. At school I play on my phone. Ekspermint’s (experiments). The eksprmint’s (experiments) zapt (zapped) in to my fas (face). I trnd invisabol (I turned invisible). The techr was sot (The teacher was shocked). Where is Raphie!? She said. When mom and Dad pik (pick) Me up they Say, where is Raphie? They stil coodint (couldn’t) find me. evin (Even) in the haws (house). They went crazy abawt (about) it. Then they relriz (realize) tat (that) I did the invizaBol exspermint (invisible experiment). The end.



Flyig fut Ball (Flying Football)

I went to fut Ball (football). wal (While) I was playeg (playing) i was flyig (flying).I plyd (played) intil (until) the aftrnuwn (afternoon). I was stil flyig (still flying). an than I went home. an than i went to slip. an than i was happy!



Tinkerbell and Perry were playincg (playing) in the sand. Along camE Vydio, anD said Hi can I PLay WiTH You. YEs. Along came silver miss and said Do You want to play wit h ME?



Base Ball in Space

Thar is an Astranot (astronaut) with a snow man. the snow man is the pitchr (pitcher). The Snow man throws the Ball. the Atrant (astronaut) hit it. A Alein and he blue the Snow man and the Astranot awae (astronaut away). Thay (they) land on mars. But thay dant (they don’t) now (know) ware thay (where they) are. Then finale the Astranat (astronaut) got a Home ran (run). And the Astranat (astronaut) went to Eath (earth) and went Home.



Kitah Gimmel has been practicing their writing on multiple themes.

Things You Can do on an Airplane

There are many things you can do on an airplane. You can see movies. You can eat. You can sleep. It is very fun to fly on an airplane.

–Yoav. M


I believe that we should have no HW! We hate HW!! We don’t want HW becasue we already do the work in school. HW takes too much of our time. We get less time to spend with our families.  We stay up too late and that’s not healthy. This is why we should not have HW!

–Yadin I.


Making Pizza

It is easy to make pizza. First, put 99 spoonfuls of garlic. That is only if you want garlicky pizza.  Then put 21 teaspoons of salty tomado. Trust me, it is the best thing in the world. Then put it in the oven for 3 hours. If you don’t want to make it yourself call 212-876-5973.

–Nathaniel F.


Julian can tell ies and is also mischievous. I know he lies when he feels nervous. Julian saw Gloria riding a bike and instead of telling her he didn’t know how to ride a bike, he said his dad needed him to do chores. Julian can also be mischievous. He and Huey justified eating the pudding because they couldn’t leave an holes! Julian is just your average kid.



I took a picture of a mezuzah in my house. It is outside the main door. It lets people know we are Jewish. The mezuzah has the shema in it. It reminds us there is only 1 g-d.

–Ari. W

Kitah Heh is exploring the process of looking at a theme of literature through picture books.  Through a  picture walk, character analysis and zeroing in on the plot, learners approach understanding the theme in multiple ways.


Book: Lipman Pike

What the Picture Shows:  Kids watching baseball and wanting to play. Kids getting excited as they talk to baseball players. A man playing baseball. Kids saying goodbye and leaving a baseball game. A baseball game about to start. He hit a homerun. He got into the newspaper. This makes me think that the theme is follow your dreams

Character: He thinks he can hit anything. What he does – he follows his dream. What he says – ‘You are as fast as a horse.” This makes me think that the theme is follow your dreams

Plot: Beginning – He wants to play baseball. Middle – Begins playing baseball. End – Goes to the Majors. This makes me think that the theme is follow your dreams

Theme: Follow your dreams.



Book: Bully

What the Picture Shows: Moving to a new school. Having lunch. Going home. In class. At group activities. Try outs. Dinner at home. Taking pictures. Awards. Putting on makeup. Sleepover. Bullying. This makes me think that the theme is do what you believe

Character:  LYDA – She thinks Oh yes, I can do anything.  What she does – Tries out for cheerleading and makes it. What she says – “I want to make it onto the cheerleading squad.” This makes me think that the theme is follow your dreams

Plot: Beginning – She makes new friends in school. Middle – Makes cheerleading squad but girls are bullies. End – Stops the bullying. This makes me think that the theme is overcoming obstacles.

Theme: Overcoming obstacles and peer pressure

–Sarah Phillips


Book: Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair

What the Picture Shows: Family in the house watching TV. Women with lots of cats. Boy with women. Women gets up and cats fly. People looking at the tower. People reading books. Building tower. Boy reading with everyone behind him. This makes me think that the theme is discovery.

Character:  ELI – He thinks how he is curious and a good learner.  What he does – Teaches everyone to read. What she says – “How do you get a story from a book?” This makes me think that the theme is new beginnings.

Plot: Beginning – Everybody watches TV, they don’t know how to read. Middle – Eli and Aunt Chip teach all the kids how to read. End – The dam falls and it starts to rain books. Everyone started reading. This makes me think that the theme is new beginnings.

Theme: New beginnings.

–Jared Levy


Book: Fireflies

What the Picture Shows: A boy looks outside and there are fireflies. Boy has dinner and he gets a jar. He makes a hole in the jar. He goes outside to catch fireflies. He catches more. He goes home then to bed. The boy lets the fireflies out of the jar and he cries. This makes me think that the theme is acceptance.

Character:  Boy – He thinks I made holes in the jar but I should let the fireflies go.  What he does – Lets all the fireflies he caught go. This makes me think that the theme is kindness

Plot: Beginning – The boy sees the fireflies Middle – The boy catches the fireflies . End -He lets the fireflies go. This makes me think that the theme is kindness to nature.

Theme: Respecting nature. Kindness to nature.

–Liam Dekel

The students of Kitah Zayin did a review of the scientific method with a data collection lab of their choosing.


Alexandra Dagen and Bella Rosenblatt         November, 24, 2015

Scientific Method: Lab Report

Inquiry– who can jump the most on a tile in the hallway of Solomon Schechter in 30 seconds, teachers or 7th graders?

Hypothesis- we think that 7th graders are going to be able to jump more times because they use their energy in a way that is more athletic than adults.


  1. test a teacher
  2. record the time
  3. test a 7th grader
  4. record the time
  5. repeat
  6. collect data when done
  7. compare


  1. timer
  2. teacher
  3. 7th grader
  4. tile
  5. paper
  6. pencil
  7. computer

Collect Data-

Teacher Jonah 73 jumps in 30 seconds
Teacher Yael 94 jumps in 30 seconds
Teacher Jake 90 jumps in 30 seconds
Teacher Sarah 88 jumps in 30 seconds
Teacher Eti 65 jumps in 30 seconds
Teacher Yolanda 67 jumps in 30 seconds
7th Grader Riley 84 jumps in 30 seconds
7th Grader Max 87 jumps in 30 seconds
7th Grader Ari 115 jumps in 30 seconds
7th Grader Hannah 100 jumps in 30 seconds
7th Grader Mia 113 jumps in 30 seconds
7th Grader Itamar 92 jumps in 30 seconds


Average: 89 jumps in 30 seconds

Observations / Analysis- our data was scattered but the overall range was between 65 and 115. The 7th graders range was between 84 and 115. The teachers range was between 65 and 94. The 7th graders seemed to have had more jumps in terms of their range, but there are some 7th graders and teachers who have very similar jumping results.


Our hypothesis (2)- our hypothesis was correct. The 7th graders had a higher range of data than the teacher’s data but there were some 7th graders who jumped within the teachers data range too.

Errors- we think that our data might be a little inaccurate because it was hard to count the number of jumps teachers and 7th graders made.

Real World Application– our experiment connects to the real world because it is important to know who has more energy, adults or kids.


Raphy Jacobson & Max Dekel 11/23/15

Lab Report

Question: What do you like more, Harry Potter or Percy Jackson?

Hypothesis: Raphy: If you are older, then you will like Harry Potter. Max:If you are a girl, then it is most likely that you like Harry Potter.


  1. Fifth Graders (Independent Variable)
  2. Seventh Graders (Independent Variable)
  3. Laptops


  1. Ask tests subjects what they like better.
  2. Record answers.


Fifth Graders Seventh Graders
Neither (Didn’t Read or Can’t Decide)
  1. Caleb
  1. Annie
  1. Zoe
  2. Maya
  3. Kenzie
  4. Tal
  5. Sammy
  6. Liam
  7. Sarah
  8. Samuel
  9. Jared
  1. Ari
  2. Raphy
  3. Henry
  4. Mia
  5. Riley
  6. Bella
  7. Hannah
  8. Allie
  1. Valentina
  1. Itamar
  2. Noah
  3. Max
  4. Asher
  5. Ariela
  6. Tomer
  7. Ben

Observations / Analysis-

88/176 of seventh graders prefered Harry Potter.

77/176 of seventh graders prefered Percy Jackson.

11/176 of seventh graders did not read either of the books.

16/176 of fifth graders have not read either of the books.

16/176 of fifth graders prefered Percy Jackson

144/176 of the fifth graders preferred Harry Potter


Analysis: More fifth graders liked Harry Potter than the seventh graders did, by one person. More seventh graders liked  Percy Jackson, but we did not ask all the fifth graders what books they liked more. The difference between Percy Jackson likers and Harry Potter likers is much smaller between seventh graders than fifth graders.

We had one major error. The two classes we surveyed were different sizes, 11:16.

The real world application of our experiment is to know what books to order. If I were to order a book series for fifth grade I would get Harry Potter. I would do the same for seventh grade.

Raphy: My hypothesis was incorrect because a larger fraction of the fifth grade prefered Harry Potter.

Max: My hypothesis was (MOSTLY) correct because I know that not all of the girls read Percy Jackson.