8th Graders join with the 9th and 10th Grade for a fun Friday afternoon dodgeball tournament
Friday, October 28, 2016
Rosenblatt High School Students in the Medical Studies Program Visit the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University
Students made their first visit as part of this new program on Friday, October 21st.
The first portion of the day included a research lecture with Dr. Ximena Levy focused on bias in medical journals and media and their impact on medical research. Afterward, Dr. Charles Hennekens spoke with the group about medical evidence, specifically as it relates to how we take information and from there incorporate it into our lives. This lecture was followed by a hands-on activity in a bio-chemical research lab.
The students had a great experience and are looking forward to their upcoming visits.
Friday, October 21, 2016
It’s all about the Schach
Rabbi David Paskin
The High Holidays and Sukkot are in the same month of Tishrei, just about back to back, and seem to be connected. But what's the connection between the solemn Days of Awe and the joy of Sukkot?
The primary symbol of Rosh Hashanah is the shofar. Traditionally, the procedure of blowing the shofar consists of 100 blasts: 60 tekiah blasts, 20 shevarim blasts, and 20 teruah blasts. Gematria is the study of Hebrew letters and their numerical values. According to gematria the Hebrew letter for 60, the number of tekiah blasts, is samech and the Hebrew letter for 20, the number of both shevarim and teruah blasts, is chaf. These letters: Samech, chaf, chaf spell the word - S’chach, which is the Hebrew word for the covering we place on our sukkah.
In our Rosh Hashanah shofar blasts we have a hint of the upcoming harvest festival of Sukkot. But what about Yom Kippur?
The primary service of Yom Kippur in the Tabernacle (and the Holy Temple) was the incense offering, which produced a cloud of smoke known as the “cloud of incense.”
He will take a pan-full of glowing charcoals of fire from the side of altar facing God, and two handfuls of incense of fine fragrant spices, and he will bring them into the curtained enclosure. And he shall put the incense upon the fire before Hashem, that the cloud of the incense may cover the kaporet that is upon the testimony, so that he should not die. (Leviticus 16:12-13)
According to some, this cloud of incense was the source for the “clouds of glory” that surrounded and protected the Jews in the desert.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34)
According to the Tosefta, Aaron, the High Priest who offered the cloud of incense on Yom Kippur, was also the source for the clouds of glory as it says, “As long as Aaron was alive, the pillar of cloud led Israel.” (Tosefta, Sota, 11:1)
These “clouds” are also pointing us toward Sukkot. In the book of Leviticus we learn:
You shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are home born in Israel shall dwell in booths: that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 23:42-43)
The sages of the Talmud discuss what these “booths” are meant to remind us of:
They were clouds of glory; these are the words of Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Akiva says: They made themselves actual booths. (Sukkah 11b)
When we build a sukkah and cover it with schach, we are remembering both the actual sukkot in which our ancestors actually lived and the clouds of glory that we merited because of Aaron and the cloud of incense that he offered on Yom Kippur.
Both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have hints of Sukkot within them. The blasts on Rosh Hashanah and the cloud from the Yom Kippur offering both remind us of the sukkah and the schach that covers it.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are ethereal, personal moments in the Jewish calendar. They are holidays of the soul and spirit; times for reflection, prayer and introspection. We look to the heavens for forgiveness and seek to understand and deepen our relationship with God.
Sukkot, on the other hand, is one of the most physical, interactive, earthly holidays. It is one of the three pilgrimage festivals when whole communities would travel together to Jerusalem. Today, we build a sukkah and invite all of our friends and family to join us in festive meals, sleepovers and celebration. We literally take up the harvest in our hands and shake them in every direction. We cover ourselves in nature under the schach and re-connect to our roots.
The schach, which has to give us enough protection to keep us dry during a light rain but also must be open enough so we can see the stars, links the earthly with the ethereal. From inside our sukkah, with the plenty of the harvest literally in our hands, we look up to the heavens and remember that we are more than physical beings. Our schach, that reminds us of the sanctity of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and the physicality of Sukkot, is the bridge between heaven and earth - between the Yamim Noraim and Sukkot. The schach is where heaven and earth touch.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Art Tefillah Comes To RHS!
This year we have an exciting new offering to add to the list of our tefillah options. Students can now make the choice to attend Art Tefillah!
This is a wonderful option for students who want to express themselves creatively through painting and drawing while learning and studying tefillah. Under the direction of high school art teacher Anita Schwartz and Jewish Studies teachers Eilat Asseo-Brenner and Lydia Zafrir, students explore different parts of the tefillah and then communicate their thoughts about it through art.
In this picture students are holding up their works in progress that show their ideas about the Sh’ma.
Sydney Altschul shared “Sh’ma means that we are all one. We are first and foremost humans. In our world today, we are so segregated based on race and religion. With the lights off, we are all the same.”
Hadassah Richman said that her artwork is inspired by the first line of the Sh’ma. The “1” represents that God is one and the Israeli flag represents the Jewish people. The arrows show how the Jewish people unite through Israel. The words of the Sh’ma are written around the number one.
Friday, October 14, 2016
Under the lights this past night, in just its second year of existence, The High School Varsity Eagles Flag
Football Team won their first league championship by defeating Hebrew Academy (RASG) of North Miami Beach by the score of 33-27. The game was a close throughout, as Hebrew Academy and our Eagles both exchanged early points, with Hebrew Academy taking a lead into halftime. Donna Klein's offense, led by quarterback Noah Bick, Adam Salama, Josh Salama, Michael Sherman, Ari Holzhauer, Matthew Levine, Edan Mayron and Adam Saitowitz, orchestrated amazing drives that led to much needed points. The defense, led by Abe Waserstein, Justin Hier, Dylan Joseph, Avi Mayron, Amit Melamed, and Matt Lipson, made plays when it counted most, including a big interception by Abe Waserstein in the end zone as time expired to win the game. With the win, the Eagles completed a perfect season going 8 - 0. The Eagles beat a feisty FAU High School at to make it to the final game by a score of 33-19. Congratulations on a perfect season and look for another banner to fill up our gym.
Shake it till you make it! Sukkot the Festival of Joy. Rav Baruch Plotkin
The Gemura calls Sukkot Zman Simchatanu (the time of our joy) – noting that in the Torah when referring to Sukkot it mentions simcha more times then in any other holiday. Therefore on Sukkot we are commanded to be joyful. But how can one be commanded to be joyful? What if we don’t feel like being happy?
There are two concepts that can help us understand why we are commanded to be happy.
First, in Hebrew there are two different words for joy or happiness. One is Simcha and the other is Ashrei. Simcha is an imposed joy. Just as the Torah states in Leviticus…”And you shall rejoice before Hashem your G?D seven days.” The happiness comes from an external source. For example, it’s your birthday and we are having a party, so be happy! I just got a raise at work, so I am happy. The happiness is dependent on something outside of one’s self. Ashrei is an internal happiness that comes from the state of being happy. It does not depend on outside influences. It is a serene consciousness.
Second, there are several Midrashim that expound on the symbolism of the four species – Lulav, Etrog, Willow, and the myrtle branch. For example the Four Species represent the different types of Jews. The Etrog has taste as well as fragrance, and is compared to Jews who learn and do good deeds. The Lulav has taste but no fragrance, corresponding to Jews who possess learning but not good deeds. The Myrtle branch has fragrance but not taste, like the Jews who possess good deeds but not learning. And the Willow has neither fragrance nor taste, for the Jews who possess neither good deeds nor learning. Hashem says “Let them all be tied together in one band and they will atone one for another.” The Rabbis also compare the four species with the parts of the human body to which they are similar in shape. The Lulav represents the spine, the Etrog the heart, The Myrtle the eyes, and the Willow the lips. By bringing together these species, representing these four organs, man symbolically unites all of his organs. These seemingly unrelated parts work together in unity to serve God. For more examples see Midrash Rabbah (Vayikra, Parshat Emor).
It is difficult to perceive Hashem in our daily lives. How are the seemingly unrelated phenomena in daily life part of a Divine plan? We see suffering and evil and we wonder how there can be a God with such cruelty in the world. Sometimes, there is a flash of insight that makes people realize how all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. At such times we can understand how every note, instrument and participant in God’s symphony of Creation plays its role. The result is an inner joy. This is the great wisdom of the four species. Through the joy of doing the mitzvah of the four species we begin to achieve the recognition of Hashem’s mastery of the world. We see that the seemingly separate parts of the four species when brought together fulfill the mitzvah, but if we are missing but one of them the mitzvah cannot be fulfilled. This is true metaphorically also. The Jewish people who are compared to the species are an inseparable unit made of many different parts, yet we are dependent and bound by one another. This is the joy of Sukkot. We begin with an external imposed commandment that creates within us a consciousness in which we realize that all the apparently unrelated and contradictory phenomena do indeed meld into a coherent, merciful and comprehensible whole.
We begin with simcha and through it achieve ashrei. As it says in the Psalms. Ashrei Yoshvei Batecha “Happy is the one that dwells in your house (booths). May we all merit the joy of the mitzvoth of Sukkot and through them attain and be transformed to an even higher form of consciousness an internal joy, an internal peace. Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach.
Jewish Studies Blog for October 14
The importance of listening.
This week’s Torah portion “Ha’azinu” begins with the injunction to “give ear,” to listen. It is filled with Moses’ criticism of the Children of Israel, criticism designed to make them into a better people. For the sake of the future of Israel, it is crucial that the Children of Israel take Moses’ words to heart.
We, parents and educators, all want our children/students to listen. There are several kinds of listening that we expect from our children/students: obedience to what we tell them to do, paying attention generally to what we say, and taking in our criticism. But often children choose not to or can’t listen to what we tell them. All of these different kinds of listening can be difficult for children/students, whether they simply want to do what they want to do, or because their attention is elsewhere, or finally because it’s hard to hear criticism.
It is difficult to figure out how to help children/students listen when we speak. Listening to them and giving them a sense of control and choice in their lives can help them to listen to us. When they have a sense of control, they are less likely to have a power struggle with us. If they feel listened to and feel that they can shape their own environment, they are likely to be more open to listen to what we have to say, whether it’s about what they need to do, or chit chat, or constructive criticism.
Let’s talk to our children/students about the importance of listening.
Moadim leSimcha - Chagim uZmanim leSasson
(Inspired by the words of Dianne Cohler-Esses - first Syrian Jewish ordained rabbi in 1995 at the Jewish Theological Seminary)