Eighth graders and their parents from neighborhoods around the Long Island area, Brooklyn, and Queens, packed HAFTR High School’s auditorium on Sunday for the annual open house.
HAFTR High School is certainly proud that their graduates attend the finest seminaries and yeshivot in Israel, as well as the most selective universities in our nation, but just as important as the wonderful schools they attend is that HAFTR graduates are fine young men and women with middot tovot who embrace Modern Orthodoxy and are leaders on college campuses and in the Jewish community.
The open house program began with engaging student and administrator presenters. HAFTR senior Molly Vashovsky, currently in her 13th year as a HAFTR student, served as emcee and passionately spoke about her strong connection to the school and how the warm environment, teachers, and college-guidance counselors helped pave the way for her to activate her potential and her future successes. “As I reflect on my past three years at HAFTR High School, I realize how much I have benefited from all that HAFTR has to offer its students,” she recalled. As co-captain of HAFTR’s Mock Trial team, a head of the big sibling program, an editor for the yearbook, a columnist for the school newspaper, The Tattler, a member of the Environmental Action Committee, an editor for the school Spanish newspaper, and a member of the Science and Engineering Institute, Molly truly has taken part in so much of what HAFTR High School has to offer during her tenure.
Freshman Effie Willner shared that he really “enjoys being surrounded by so many great rabbis and teachers who care about you and what’s truly the best for you.” Effie added, “In addition to its unique atmosphere, HAFTR has an outstanding academic program that meets each and every student’s needs with diverse offerings in both limudei kodesh and general studies. Each student is assigned a guidance counselor who stays with them all four years. If a student needs to switch classes, they work with their counselor to find one of the several different levels of the same course offered at the same time, so it doesn’t impact the rest of their schedule.” He noted, “I am proud to already be involved in many programs at HAFTR, including Sci-Tech Engineering, a double Gemara class, and the accelerated mathematics program.”
Principal Ms. Naomi Lippman, associate principal Dr. Joshua Wyner, and dean of limudei kodesh Rabbi Yitzchok Riselsheimer discussed the inclusive school culture, close kesher (connection) of staff and students, and excellent academics of HAFTR High School. “Yes, our academics and Torah learning are extraordinary, and our co-curricular activities, guidance, and mentoring programs are breathtaking in scope and substance, but there is one more ingredient that makes us such a wonderful and successful yeshiva high school: our unique school culture,” Ms. Lippman stated.
“Dr. Wyner, Rabbi Riselsheimer, and I know every child in our yeshiva, and every student knows that we appreciate him or her as a unique individual,” said Ms. Lippman in her address to the audience. “Our engaging, gifted teachers are devoted to the learning of every student they teach. Our students are warm, mature, respectful young men and women. They are inclusive of each other, and they celebrate their classmates’ special talents and accomplishments.”
“We understand that our students come to HAFTR with a range of skills and abilities, and we have developed different level courses to facilitate the success of every child.” related Ms. Lippman. “We create an individualized schedule for every HAFTR student, allowing each child to excel in his or her areas of strength. With the assistance of our renowned college and academic guidance department, our students are admitted to outstanding universities, including Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Penn, Cornell, YU and Stern Honors, Macaulay Honors, and a range of wonderful private universities and city and state colleges that are the best match for the individual student.
“HAFTR High School is constantly innovating to enhance our students’ educational experience,” she continued. “Last year, we opened a magnificent new state-of-the-art STEM and Innovation Center, equipped with sophisticated science and technology tools to allow students to engage in advanced research and development.
“I am so proud of the students who addressed you this morning. They are truly representative of what we effectuate at HAFTR,” said Ms. Lippman, now in her 22nd year at HAFTR. “We have created a culture of warmth, kindness, caring, support, and achdut (unity). Our students’ parents tell us that their children love to come to school every day, and that is because every student has a sense of belonging and value in our school community. Our students are imbued with a love of Hashem, a love of learning, a love of Israel, and a desire to achieve their own unique potential as dedicated, religious Orthodox Jews.”
During his remarks, Dr. Wyner emphasized that HAFTR High School prides itself on being patient, empathetic, and genuinely kind to students. “The Torah education, academic program, school spirit, and co-curricular activities are superb, but what makes our yeshiva unique is the fact that these pillars are built on a foundation of heartfelt, mutually respectful relationships between rebbeim, morot, teachers, administrators, and students, with the goal of perpetuating the mission of Avraham and Sarah to build a nation that thrives in middot tovot, chesed, and unconditional care and concern for others,” said Dr. Wyner. “This event is a wonderful display of our warm, positive, and inviting school culture. We’re looking forward to welcoming many new faces to the HAFTR High School family.”
Rabbi Riselsheimer noted, “The kesher our students have with our rebbeim and morot is created in and out of the classroom, during highly engaging shiurim, on school trips, Shabbatonim, mishmars at the rebbeim and morahs’ homes, Friday nights at a morah’s house, our Friday ‘Kumzitz and Kugels,’ at athletic games, or just schmoozing in the halls.” He added, “We have designed our limudei kodesh curriculum to empower our talmidim and talmidot to be challenged, involved, and excited to learn in a meaningful way.”
“It is always nice to see that the success of HAFTR is being recognized and has piqued the interest of so many,” commented Mr. Ari Solomon, executive director, on the large turnout for the open house. “With our incredible administration and talented faculty, it’s no wonder so many students are interested in attending our school.”
After the presentations, prospective students and their parents joined smaller groups to tour the building and experience what makes HAFTR’s educational programming so special, including HAFTR’s impressive new STEAM space. The Technology and Innovation Center includes a Media Studio, two state-of-the-art science classrooms, a brand-new STEM Lab, and an all-inclusive Art Room. Prospective families were also treated to presentations about college and Israel guidance, limudei kodesh, humanities, student life, and student support.
It was clear to every prospective family that HAFTR students have many opportunities to expand their interests and talents. HAFTR is known for its school spirit, competitive sports teams, and cultural initiatives such as the Fine Arts Institute.
Dr. Lisa Perl, chairwoman of HAFTR’s board of education, noted, “This is definitely the premier and most innovative Modern Orthodox Jewish day school in our own community and on Long Island, and there are many reasons why HAFTR High School students are highly motivated to learn and are truly happy to attend school every day. We know that HAFTR High School is the place where students of all abilities excel and are supported academically both in general studies and limudei kodesh, and we know firsthand that the principals and teachers really know students and care about them.”
What more could you want in a local yeshiva high school? For more information about HAFTR High School or to arrange an appointment, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for applications online at haftr.org is December 6, 2019.