Last week, the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County Elementary School in West Hempstead joined together with many other Jewish day schools in the Shabbat Project. The Shabbat Project’s mission is to bring all Jews together to experience the magic of one full Shabbat. Throughout the week, the HANC 609 students prepared for Shabbat through fun and interactive programs.
With the help of their teachers, the students learned about many of the halachot, customs, and traditions of Shabbat. Their learning culminated in a schoolwide Shabbat Fair which took place in the evening. At this extravaganza, students and parents had an opportunity to create gift boxes for Chai Lifeline, decorated Shabbat candles, made besamim kits, and braided Havdallah candles.
The Shabbat experience continued with grandparents and special guests joining together with students in grades kindergarten through second grade for more Shabbat-themed fun activities during the annual HANC Grandparents’ Day. The kindergarten students performed for their guests, singing songs and choreographing dances to enhance the performance.
All the children sounded like winners as they got on stage to sing and dance. Guests decorated washing cups and played Shabbat Bingo. The first-grade students sang Shabbat songs for their guests and then came together to decorate a frame with the blessings for lighting candles. The students gave their guests roses to be used to enhance their Shabbat tables.
The second-grade students and special guests had a Havdallah workshop where they built a Havdallah candle, created besamim bags, and designed a mat to use during Havdallah. The program concluded with a delicious brunch enjoyed by all. Grandparents and special guests went home with Shabbat creations that they can use and memories of an amazing and meaningful day at HANC 609.
The festive week ended with a cholent cook-off and a zemirot competition. The students in grades three and four were assigned a song to learn, as well as the words and meaning behind the lyrics. Each class had a chance to perform, and the winning class was treated to potato kugel the following day.
For the cholent cook-off, the fifth- and sixth-grade students collaborated together to invent the best cholent recipe. It was a hands-on cooking experience as they measured and prepared all the ingredients. Many students commented that preparing the onions was the most taxing job for their cholent creations. As the students entered the building the next morning, there was a true smell of Shabbat in the air. The different cholent dishes were judged by taste, appearance, and creativity. Some secret ingredients that made the cholents unique were tomato paste, barbecue sauce, and potato sticks.
The students of HANC 609 had an amazing week experiencing Shabbat. They left school on Friday excited for the upcoming special Shabbat that was now filled with more meaning and joy.