Friday, September 12, 2014

167Elul 5774 


Parshat Ki Tavo 
Candle Lighting at 7:25 PM

  Constant      Excitement  


Our parsha lists a series of punishments that the Jewish people will suffer if we don't follow God's ways. What precise crime, though, is the cause for these punishments?  The Torah actually gives a startling answer to that question: תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה׳ אלוקיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרב כל. The pasuk seems to suggest that the serious crime here is a lack of joy when performing mitzvot! Is it possible that such awful punishments will be meted out for simply having a poor attitude? In fact, the Kotzker Rebbe and others have interpreted the pasuk otherwise; Jews will suffer the punishments because: "They didn't worship God--and they were happy about it!" In other words, it's not that there was performance of mitzvot with a lack of joy, rather there was no performance of mitzvot with an abundance of joy. The simple explanation of the pasuk, however, is codified by the Rambam in his Mishneh Torah in a discussion of the mitzvah of lulav. The Rambam writes that joy is an integral part of our service of God and he cites our pasuk as proof of joy's importance and of the negative consequences if we lack joy in our service of God.


New beginnings are times of excitement and happiness. The beginning of the school year brings with it a sense of optimism and joy. Our challenge is to harness that excitement and happiness and then perpetuate it throughout the entire school year. Involvement in myriad activities that complement classroom learning help create that sense of newness and excitement that we hope will lead us to serve God בשמחה ובטוב לבב. 


Shabbat Shalom!


Rabbi Jonathan Kroll

Head of School


Good and Welfare


Dov and Jessica (Struhl '04) Quint on the birth of a baby girl    


Sam ('04) and Sara Cohen on the birth of a baby boy


Willie and Shulamit (Atkin '04) Roth on the birth of a baby girl    



Ilana Borzak ('05) and Mateo Aceves


Mimi Begas ('06) to Akiva Friend

Dr. Karin Blumofe and Talia ('15)
on the loss of their mother/grandmother Carole Malkin 

Faculty Mazel Tovs

Doug and Claudia Cohen on the birth of a grandson

Coming Attractions

Tues. Sept 16
7:30 College 201 for Seniors and Parents

Sat. Sept 20 
9:45 Selichot Program at Brauser Maimonides Academy 

Family Elul Program
Families Gather for Israel-Themed Event 

Graphic by Ariel Schneider ('17)
Article by Yael Attias ('16)

This past Sunday, WYHS hosted a Family Elul Program. The morning began with davening, followed by breakfast and a keynote address delivered by Rabbi Mordechai Smolarcik, who set the tone for the Israel-themed learning by sharing his experience in Israel this summer, including visiting the grave of fallen lone soldier Max Steinberg.  WYHS students and their parents were then able to choose from four shiurim to attend. Mrs. Kanner spoke on the topic of "Women and Israel," Rabbi Kroll on "Zionism and Messianism," Mrs. Horowitz on "Aliyah: A Torah Perspective," and Rabbi David Shabtai on "Medical Ethics in the IDF."  At the same time, there was an Israel-related arts and crafts project for elementary school students. The program closed with speeches from Kayla Gross ('15), Ben Gurvitch ('16), and Rachelli Goldberg ('16), three WYHS students who shared their personal stories about their summer experiences in Israel in the midst of war.

I was also privileged to be in Israel this summer and was able to relate to the stories and feelings they shared. What made the program particularly special was being able to learn with my family and later reflect upon what we had learned and heard that morning. This insightful and inspirational program helped me gain a better understanding of what we can do for Israel, as Jews and as high school students living in America.   

Come One, Come All 
Students Learn about the 52 Clubs and Extracurricular Activities at WYHS

Graphic by Jonah Rose ('17)
Teaching about Teshuvah
Rabbi Hershel Schachter Speaks to Upperclassmen about the Power of Repentance

Graphic Alex Factor ('16)
Night Seder Begins
WYHS Students Stay After School for Learning, Dinner and Fun 

Graphic by Aaron Senfeld ('17) 
Article by Jolie Davies ('16) 
Night Seder takes place every Wednesday after school, when WYHS boys and girls go their own separate ways to learn Torah and partake in a delicious dinner. Not only is Night Seder a great way to study for Judaic tests with friends, but it is also an unparalleled opportunity to elevate yourself by learning Torah "lishmah," just for fun! The Night Seder environment is warm and inviting; if a student has questions they can ask their friends and teachers or find the answer on their own in one of the many sefarim which line the shelves of the Beit Midrash. In addition to the extra learning Night Seder allows, students gain the added bonus of making friends and connections they would not have made otherwise, all in an uplifting environment of Torah-learning.  
Yeshiva University Visits WYHS
Seniors Gear Up for College Application Season

Graphic by Shara Saketkhou ('16) and Yoni Mayer ('18)
Torah and Science
WYHS Rabbis Address Freshmen on the Jewish Perspective of Evolution and the Age of the Universe 

Graphic by Gabi Frohlich ('17)
Article by Rabbi Danny Kroll

This week, all 9th grade science students attended classes led by either Rabbi Jonathan Kroll, Rabbi Josh Grajower, or Rabbi Danny Kroll, who spoke about the topic of Torah and Science. Students had previously learned about the age of the universe and evolution in their Biology classes, and the "guest" rabbis discussed the various Jewish approaches to dealing with apparent conflicts between Torah and Science. Students walked away with the knowledge that Orthodox Jewish beliefs and science can harmoniously coexist.

Remembering Steven Sotloff
Rabbi Kroll & Students Visit the Sotloffs for Shiva

Article by Maya Borzak ('16)

On Monday, several students joined Rabbi Kroll on a visit to the home of the Sotloff family, who were sitting shiva for their son, Steven. This past week was replete with news articles and media links about 31-year-old Steven Sotloff, an American-Israeli journalist who was murdered by the Islamic militant group, ISIS. As our inboxes overflowed and our phones buzzed, we learned of Sotloff's true zealousness, as he watched and went to Dolphins' games frequently,  made aliyah to serve the Zionist cause, and risked his life to simply convey the truth to the world. Hearing the news of his death, we felt a need to comfort the family of a hero, especially since his family resides locally in South Florida.


"How much comfort could this really be?" we thought. Our intentions were genuine--paying our respects to the grieving family--but how much could we really accomplish? In the 90-minute car ride down, we discussed our expectations of masses of people and little intimacy. Yet that was not the case. In fact, we spoke to Sotloff's friends and grieving parents, and we were surprised and touched by the family's appreciation of our visit. His mother hugged us sincerely and said how much our visit meant to her and her family, how it is people like us--with neither a relationship with the family nor an obligation to come--that keep them moving forward. Surprised yet satisfied, we left the shiva house and drove home, feeling fulfilled by our meaningful act of nichum avelim for Steven Sotloff z"l.  


This Week in Pictures

Graphic by Efraim Shachter ('16) and Alex Factor ('16)