29 Jan Gesher on Tu B’shvat: Planting Seeds Together

A group of three students, from Gan, from Gimmel , and another from Zayin gathered around a pile of materials- empty bottles, cereal boxes, plastic containers.  They talked together as they made notes and sketches on their plan for building a planter that could drain water and collect the water as it drained.  The student from Kitah Zayin took a leadership role, making sure that the younger students each had opportunities to contribute to the collaborative effort. When their plan was ready, they worked together with the materials to build their planter, each using their abilities to bring their design into reality. The students were highly engaged and clearly having fun.

Cross grade groups like the one described could be found throughout the school on Monday morning as  we celebrated Tu B’shvat in our Gesher shvatimGesher is a very special program at Schechter Manhattan, in which the entire student body is divided into cross grade tribes or shvatim. Our shvatim gather during the Gesher programs every few weeks to connect, build community, learn and share holidays.

Gesher has a wonderful impact on the culture of our school. As students engage with each other in meaningful ways they develop relationships beyond their own grade. These friendships are seen throughout the school with high-fives in the hallways, shared experiences during exhibitions as well as in a moment when a younger student might need an older student’s guidance or support. The connections that student make in Gesher shvatim extend to school wide events, for example when the Gan students sing the four questions at our yearly model seder, the rest of the school is thrilled for them, not only because they are very cute, but also because the older students really  know them, care about them and in some ways see the passage of time and the growth of the community through a new class of Gan students. And in the reverse, when the Kitah Chet students come back from their Israel trip and share about their meaningful experiences, the younger  students look up to them not only because they are older, but also because they know them well and the 8th graders give them a taste of what is to come. Gesher helps us to nurture a school culture that is welcoming, where “everybody knows your name”.

During this week’s Gesher activity, we celebrated Tu B’shvat, the date on the Jewish calendar when we focus on the importance of planting and caring for trees. The students had the opportunity to mark the day by planting parsley, a fun and hands on activity.  Later in the year students will harvest the parsley for use as karpas at the model seder. Rather than provide planters, the students were challenged to design and build their own using recycled materials, an activity inspired by the Lieberman Family STEAM Center.

During this short activity our students experienced joyous Jewish living through participation in holiday experiences, practiced design thinking through STEAM learning, and developed the social skills and dispositions to interact positively with people of different ages and abilities through mixed-grade programming. Gesher continues to be an important part of how we actualize the Schechter Manhattan mission to nurture the growth of Jewishly committed, creative, and menschy students.

Benjamin Mann

Author’s Chair


Some Kitah Gan students wrote about their weekends while others wrote about things they observed in their classroom.


I Want to a jim and isa adam (I went to a gym and I saw Adam.)



I PLBAC BOL (I played baseball)



A CPCAC (A cupcake)




Kitah Bet is studying Bereshit. The students reflected on day 6 of creation and reflected on why God told people and animals to only eat plants.


I think G-d said people cannot eat animals because then there would be no more animals.



I think Adam and Eve can’t eat animals because if they eat them all God will have to make them agen (again).



I think God told the pepole to only eat plants because the animals are dangres.



I think why is that iff people eat animals the wood not nowe how to cook it



I think GOD thought that the animals have to go in to a herd.




Kitah Dalet is learning about rain forests. They wrote about being a rain forest animal for a day.


I want to be a tiger because there is a variety of food that they like. Tigers do not have much predators, or maybe none. Tigers that live in the Rain forest have Thicker Stripes and darker fur  for better camouflage. Tigers have good adaptations and abilities.



I would be a gorilla. I want to be a gorilla because they are funny, strong, and cute. I would want to be strong because maybe I’d need strength when fighting for territory. This is why I want to be a gorilla for a day.



If I could be an animal in the rainforest I would be a sloth. I would be a sloth because I don’t want to move around a lot. Another reason I would be a sloth is that sloths are good swimmers and I want to be a better swimmer. I also always wanted to be better at climbing like sloths. This is why I want to be a sloth.



If I could be any rainforest animal I would be a jaguar because it’s only forest predator is an anaconda. Also, because I would be able to eat 85 different types of animals (and occasionally eats avocado and a few other fruits). I would also be one because I would be able to swim, run 64 mph and because I could climb very high. I would also be one because I would  have awesome adaptations like sharp teeth, strong legs, a strong jaw, and sharp claws. My favorite is the teeth because they can tear skulls and other bones apart. If I had to be a forest animal for one day I would be a jaguar.

–Eli G.




Kitah Vav just completed their bacteria exhibitions. Here are 4 examples of their research, observations and analysis.


Click here to read Josh’s bacteria exhibition.

Click here to read Ziv’s bacteria exhibition.

Click here to read Lucien’s bacteria exhibition.

Click here to read Lev’s bacteria exhibition.