Friday, November 7, 2014

13th of Cheshvan 5775


 Parshat Vayeira
Candle Lighting at 5:16 PM

The Payoff Makes it all Worthwhile   


I have the good fortune to be joining the boys varsity basketball team in Memphis this weekend for the annual Cooper Invitational Tournament. The Jewish community of Memphis has opened its doors to treat the basketball teams from sixteen different schools to a little Southern hospitality. How appropriate it is to be given this "Memphis-style" royal treatment as we read Parshat Vayeira, which begins with Avraham providing his own version of Southern hospitality to the three malachim who visit him.


Engaging in the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim takes a lot of hard work. It can involve traveling to the airport, setting up beds and linens, preparing extra food, doing extra laundry, and many other menial tasks - tasks which don't always feel spiritually edifying. Interestingly, the Netziv notes that there are a number of mitzvot bein adam l'chaveiro which, by nature, distract us from spiritually engaging with God.


The Netziv offers a bold interpretation of Devarim (28:9): יקימך ה׳ לו לעם קדוש כאשר נשבע לך כי תשמור את מצות הר אלוקיך והלכת בדרכיו, which means, "God will establish you as a holy people to Himself as he has promised you, if you keep His commandments and walk in His ways." The Netziv explains that God is not promising that the Jewish people will become holy if we do mitzvot, but that God is blessing us that we will be holy even though we do mitzvot. He suggests that when one performs mitzvot like hachnasat orchim, one should focus solely on the individual's needs and not concern himself with his connection to God or other matters of spirituality. Although this single-minded focus on the individual will likely prevent us from focusing on God, the Torah reassures us that we will be rewarded with even greater spirituality. We are to focus on assisting others' gashmiyut at the expense of our own immediate ruchniyut, with the understanding that this is God's will and that we ultimately become closer to God because of it.


Both the legendary hospitality of the Memphis Jewish community and Avraham's famous hachnasat orchim demonstrate our Torah's focus on bein adam l'chaveiro, on the way we treat each other as a vehicle for connecting more closely with Hashem.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Jonathan Kroll
Head of School
Good and Welfare


Jackie Berger ('10) to Yehuda Neuman





Coming Attractions

Mon. Nov. 10
Picture retakes Senior Pictures Dismissal at 12:30 for seniors

Mon. Nov. 10 
Tues. Nov. 11
8:45 Late Start
No Fourth Period

Wed. Nov. 13
Junior Chesed Day
Thurs. Nov. 14
Anti-Drug Program 

Freshman Chesed Day
Students Spend Afternoon with Seniors at Forest Trace 

Graphic by Gabi Frohlich ('17) and Lana Rosenthal ('17)
Article by Eli Litwin ('18)

This past Monday the freshman class participated in a chesed program at Forest Trace at Inverrary, a senior community in Fort Lauderdale. The students engaged in a variety of activities such as playing ping pong and games on the Wii, and treated the residents to musical entertainment accompanied by several student pianists. During this inter-generational activity, students shared their technological expertise, teaching seniors how to use iPads and discussing ways in which technology can connect them to friends and family, while the seniors offered advice based on their life experiences. We returned to school and rounded out an amazing day with a sumptuous barbecue accompanied by our own WYHS seniors.
8 Juniors Attend NCSY Leadership Program in NY  

Graphic by Aaron Senfeld ('17)
Article by Ariella Mamann ('16)

This past weekend I, along with seven other WYHS juniors, attended the NCSY JUMP (Jewish Unity Mentoring Program) national leadership program. Walking into the Garden Inn & Suites Hotel in NY this
past weekend, we were brimming with excitement. Going into the first session of the conference, we were
overwhelmed by the presence of students from various schools from around the country. Throughout the
two-day seminar, students learned about what it means to be a Jewish leader. We were introduced to four challenges which we must complete throughout the year: Fundraising, Poverty, Israel Advocacy, and Texting & Driving. Once schools complete these challenges in their respective communities, five teams will be chosen to return to New York to compete for the JUMP overall championship. We were fortunate to hear from inspirational speakers such as Jason Katz, campaign coordinator for Friends of United Hatzalah, and Ze'ev Ben Shachar, educational director of Jerusalem Online U, who urged us to act when we feel passionate about a cause. We also had the opportunity to view an exclusive screening of the film "Beneath the Helmet," which took us through the lives of Israeli soldiers, not much older than we are, as they went through basic training. We gained more knowledge on the dangers of texting and driving and took a pledge never to do it or to be a passenger in a car with someone who is distracted. Throughout this empowering program, we learned how to become effective leaders who will, one day, make a difference.
Students Visit Hogwarts
WYHS Harry Potter Society Takes a Trip to Universal Studios
Graphic by Ariel Schneider ('17)
Article by Shoshy Ciment ('15) 


WYHS Wizards and Muggles alike ventured on the first annual trip to Universal Orlando this past Sunday. Organized by the WYHS Harry Potter Society, this trip was meant to celebrate the opening of the new Harry Potter park and ride in Universal Studios. The trip was open to all WYHS students, and more than 50 students took advantage of the opportunity. The day started off early in the morning as the buses headed to Orlando. On the way to the park, the students watched Harry Potter movies and received their own personalized t-shirts. Once they arrived in the park, the WYHS Harry Potter fanatics were free to roam and were able to move about from Universal to Islands of Adventure by simply taking the Hogwarts Express. The day ended with a delicious dinner delivered to the park and an exciting Harry Potter trivia game on the bus ride back home. All in all, the trip was a dazzling success. We cannot wait to see what else the Harry Potter Society has in store! 

Political Science Scholar Visits
Dr. David Luchins Addresses Junior Class on Current Events in the Middle East
Graphic by Alex Factor ('16) 
Professional Development
WYHS Teachers Participate in YU Educational Conference
Graphic by Dovi Teitlebaum ('16)
Article by Rabbi Schochet

This past Sunday and Monday, Rabbi Hochman, Rabbi Lanner, and Rabbi Schochet had the privilege of participating in a conference hosted by Yeshiva University at the Woodcliff Lake Hilton in Northern New Jersey. The conference was an opportunity for educators to meet and discuss various educational challenges that they face in their respective schools, and to garner advice and guidance from others in the field who may have had similar difficulties. Many of the conference participants, including Rabbi Hochman and Rabbi Schochet, are part of YU's educational leadership program known as YU Lead. Administrators from around the country, including Rabbi Lanner, had the opportunity to sit together and share their best practices. All in all, it was a great opportunity for continued growth and development for members of the WYHS faculty. 

This Week in Pictures

Graphic by Alec Gelman ('17)