March 13, 2015

22th of Adar 5775


Candle Lighting at 7:10 PM
Constant Improvement


This past week I had the good fortune of participating in the North American Jewish Day School Conference in Philadelphia. Our hotel was packed with educational leaders from around the US and Canada, spanning all denominational affiliations. I was also joined by Rabbi Schochet and Rabbi Hochman who participated as part of the YU Lead program. I attended a variety of sessions on various educational topics and enjoyed the conversations and networking with other professionals from around the country. The most inspirational part of the conference for me was sitting in the main dining room that seated well over 1000 participants and realizing that there are so many people around the country working hard and thinking seriously about the future of the Jewish people. It was an honor to be a part of this group which included school professionals and lay leaders. It was amazing to see that the future of Jewish education is in the hands of people who are tackling big issues and are unafraid to challenge previous assumptions as we all do our best to constantly improve our schools.

This lesson of constant improvement is actually embedded in the construction of the Mishkan, which we finish reading about this Shabbat. When the Torah describes the dimensions of the Mizbeach, the Altar, it emphasizes that reaching the top of the Mizbeach involves walking up a ramp, not a set of stairs. Why a ramp as opposed to stairs? Perhaps the Torah is teaching us that the road towards spirituality and service of God is more like a ramp than a set of stairs. Climbing stairs allows a person to pause and take a break. In fact, someone climbing a set of stairs could potentially remain stuck on one stair for a long time.  A ramp, on the other hand, has no room for breaks or pauses. One needs to constantly be moving forward or he is likely to fall backward.

May we all be constantly seeking ways to improve ourselves and make our school and the world an even better place. Thank you to the Highlites staff for putting together another terrific edition, highlighting the various ways that we strive for greatness and meaning every day of the week.  

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jonathan Kroll
Head of School
Good and Welfare


Joseph and Rachel (Dolgow '04) Bellili on the birth of a baby girl!


Alyssa Muckley ('07) to Jason Estes




Eitan Heering ('08) to Kayla Adler


Brenda Arshawsky on the passing of her father Joseph Smulewicz

Upcoming Events
Saturday Mar. 14
Storm Madness

Tuesday Mar. 17
Bal Harbor Adult Education Program

Those Are Fighting Words!
Rabbi Kroll's Costume Divides Students
 Blue & Black or White & Gold?

 Graphic by Lana Rosenthal ('17) and Gabi Frohlich ('17)

Click on the Thumbnails Below to View Purim Videos

Taking Washington by Storm
WYHS Delegation Attends AIPAC Policy Conference
Graphic by Jonah Rose ('17)
Article by Yitzchak Kaminetsky ('16)

This past week, I had the privilege of attending the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. as part of the Weinbaum Yeshiva High School Delegation. I was joined by 16,000 participants, including over 3,000 students, and had the unifying experience of spending time with those 16,000 people--republicans, democrats, and independents--all of whom have the same goal in mind: strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship. Being in that room was an unbelievable experience that cannot be replicated. Although I have learned so much about Israel and the importance of supporting Israel throughout my life, attending Policy Conference educated me in a way that was different than anything I could have ever learned without attending the conference. I heard from a wide range of speakers who taught us an unbelievable amount--from a Kentucky pastor, to Florida Senator Marco Rubio, all the way to the Prime Minister of Israel himself, Benjamin Netanyahu. Being in the same room as the man that leads the Jewish State gave me a feeling of unparalleled connection and loyalty to my homeland of Israel. The crowd gave a standing ovation for the Prime Minister as he walked onto the stage and applauded every speaker when he or she affirmed Israel's importance. Experiencing this, I felt a strong sense of national pride for Israel that truly made me feel proud to be a Jew.  
Students Watch Prime Minister Netanyahu Address Congress 
School Gathers to Watch Historic Address

Graphic by Ariel Schneider ('17)  
They're On Top of the World
Geography Club Captures 2nd Place in 15-Team Geography Bee  

Graphic by Tamar Ciment ('16)
Article by Ilan Gritzman ('16)

This past Thursday, I, along with 9 others, traveled to Coral Gables to the Independent Schools of South Florida (ISSF) Geography Bee. Our school brought two teams with five players on each. I captained Team A and was joined by Matthew Samilow ('17), Evan Jacoby ('17), Leor Levenson ('16), and Azi Genet ('16). Although my teammates and I struggled a little in the round-robin portion of the bee, winning two games, tying one, and losing one, we remained optimistic.

After eating Lenny's Pizza and playing frisbee during our lunch break, our two teams were ready for the playoffs. Team B narrowly lost their first round match 8-6, while Team A was able to pull off a 9-4 win. In the quarterfinals, Team A faced a daunting challenge: the talented B team from Ransom Everglades School. My teammates and I eked out a nail-biting 12-11 win. We then cruised past Riviera Prep B, winning 11-6 in the semifinals and advancing to the finals against the top seed, Ransom Everglades A Team. Our Team A put up a strong effort, yet the top seeded Ransom Everglades was the better team that round, winning 20-8 and giving us a respectable second place finish. The competition was enthralling and exhilarating, and we look forward to next year when we plan to bring home the first place trophy!

Going Undercover
Mr. Comis and Mrs. Hochner Spend the Day as Students
Graphic by Aaron Senfeld ('17)
Interview by Mathew Samilow ('17)

Mr. Tom Comis and Mrs. Shaindi Hochner each shadowed select students during a typical school day to get the "student experience." I sat down with them to talk about their experiences.

Matthew Samilow: I understand that you each followed a student or group of students for a day. Who specifically did you shadow?

Mr. Tom Comis: I had the opportunity to follow the 9th grade boys' davening in the morning and stayed with 9th grade throughout the day.

Mrs. Shaindi Hochner:
I shadowed an 11th grade girl.

MS: How would you describe the experience?

MTC: It was great. All of the teachers were great, the classes were engaging and interesting. Interestingly, I found it difficult to transition in and out between Judaic and General Studies.

MSH: It was definitely a learning experience for me. It was very interesting to be on the other side of the desk again.

MS: What would you say was the purpose of this activity?

MSH: The purpose was to learn more about being a student at WYHS, helping us understand what it is like to sit through multiple classes of varying subjects, as opposed to just teaching one. If we can empathize with our students, perhaps we can be better teachers.

MTC: It was to gain the students' perspective. For me, it was so enlightening to go through an entire day of different classes, instead of just teaching a few periods of one subject. One thing that stuck out to me was the three-minute break between classes--it felt so short. Overall this will help me move forward with a better idea of how our students think and feel.

Aside from just a getting a better idea of what being a student is like, what personal effect did this have on you? How will it change the way you teach or interact with your students?

MTC: I don't know any Hebrew. So, when I sat in on Hebrew class I was totally lost. This has made me more sensitive to kids who are totally confused in class, because now I know exactly what it feels like.

MSH: It reminded me how amazing it is to be able to just sit and learn. As a high school student, it is easy to take for granted what a wonderful gift that actually is. Trust me, you will miss it when you are older and have so many other responsibilities to deal with. It also really helped me as a teacher. I not only gained insight into the life of a student, but also from the teachers who so graciously allowed me into their classes for the day. It helped me to realize what works best in a classroom setting, and gave me new ideas to implement in my own classroom.

MS: After attending a full day's worth of classes, which one was your favorite or the most interesting to you, personally?

MSH: The Chumash class I sat in on was amazing! Surprisingly, I also really enjoyed A.P. Biology, even though I am not a science person.

MTC: I really enjoyed Human Geography. It's not just history, it's a study of different people and their interactions. It's almost a sociology class. I also really liked Hashkafa. In it, we spoke about the upcoming Israeli parliamentary elections. I found it fascinating, because I never had any class like that when I was in high school. It was all open dialogue and discussion.
This Week in Pictures

Graphic by Shara Sakethou ('16)