27 Jan Building community: 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 Schechter Manhattan moment.

Over 160 members of the Schechter Manhattan community gathered together for shabbat dinner last  Friday night. We met all across NYC, at Congregation Shaare Zedek on the West Side, Congregation Or Zarua on the East Side, in the homes of Ruth Servi in Washington Heights, Dror Bikel and Elisa Marcus in Riverdale, and Narda Alcorn and Shelli Aderman downtown. I was so pleased to join the dinner on the West Side. We prayed, ate, shmoozed, and got to know each other better. We enjoyed the beauty of Shabbat together.

As I reflected when I wrote about the Shabbat dinner event last year, it was again 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 families connect to deeply, where we each are welcomed and valued. That is what I felt at Shabbat dinner last week and I am thankful to everyone who helped to make the event such a success. To Rabbi Geffen and Congregation Shaare Zedek, Rabbi Bolton and Congregation Or Zarua, Ruthi, Dror, Elisa, Narda, and Shelli for welcoming us into your homes. To Andrea Brustein and Lisa Schmutter for chairing the event and putting so much effort into making it all happen, and to everyone else who helped out.

I am also 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 back in December and the Shabbat dinners last week.  Building community does not happen by accident, it takes intentionality and hard work, and the Parents Association leadership consistently display both. Co-Presidents, Julie Sissman and Andrea Brustein, 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 Lisa Schmutter, Vice Presidents, Jennifer Abrams, Secretary, Stanley Etra, Treasurer, and Jennifer Rosenberg, Member-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 – Marlene Rinsler, Miri Segal Scharia, Rena Cole, Gayle Goren, Boris Ingberg, Tali Etra, Esther Jaskoll, Asaf Kastner, Sharon Gross, Phil Gross, Idit Polack, and Beth Levine. 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.

Benjamin Mann

Author’s Chair

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


Kitah Aleph

Kitah Aleph has been learning, sketching, and writing about trees here in New York and in Israel during this time of year.  This is part of our study of parks for theme and of the upcoming holiday of Tu Beshvat.




נוי יורק


(yisrael-pracheem, New York-etz)

(Israel-flowers, New York-tree)



סנטרל פארק

יש גזעים ולא עלים


אילן, עצים, פרות, ופרחים.

(Central Park-yesh geza-eem ve-loh aleem, Yisrael- ilan, etzeem, perot, v’pracheem)

(Central Park-there are trunks and no leaves.   Israel- tree, trees, fruit, and flowers)



נוי יורק

לא עלה בנוי יורק


פרחים בישראל

(New York- lo aleh b’New York, Yisrael-pracheem b’yisrael)

(New York-no leaf in New York, Israel-flowers in Israel)



Click here to see the work by Solal, Aviya, and Charlie.


Kitah Gimmel

Kitah Gimmel students are writing non-fiction information books.  They are currently drafting the different chapters of their books.  Each student wrote in paragraph form and included lots of details in their writing.

Click here and here to read work by Ariel, Ike, Renata, Joey, Maya, Sammy, Zack, and Amelie.


Kitah Heh

For the culmination of our unit on Eastern European Jewish history, the 5th graders prepared presentations on food, music, and Yiddish language and culture.

Click here to read writing by ElijahToby, and Gabby.