Shulamith High School Book Day
To his dying day, Morrie Schwartz talked about the importance of living. And by living, Schwartz, an elderly man who suffered with and eventually passed away from ALS, didn’t mean just living. He meant living in a way that allows one to “experience the world fully.” Living in a way that allows one to live life to the fullest, to live a meaningful and real life; living in a way that allows one to open himself up to experiences, relationships, and opportunities and turn the hard and painful parts of life into opportunities for growth. This was Morrie Schwartz’s philosophy. After reading and learning about this philosophy from the inspirational biography “Tuesdays with Morrie,” Shulamith High School girls and their mothers spent an immersive morning delving into this philosophy at Shulamith High School’s annual and much anticipated Book Day.
This year’s book day was in memory of Dr. Hindi Krinsky-Kanarfogel. Hindi was an educator, a mother, a wife, a friend, and a voracious reader. She made learning come alive — in her home, with her five beautiful children, and in her classroom as an English teacher and curriculum coordinator at HAFTR High School. Hindi left an incredible legacy of love, laughter, and learning that lives on in the hearts and minds of all who were, and are, lucky enough to have been touched by her impact.
Each year, Shulamith High School hosts Book Day for mothers and daughters. Focusing on a specific book and its relevant themes, Book Day is designed to bring those themes to life, engender deep thinking, questions, and conversations surrounding those themes, and introduce participants to people and ideas that embody those themes.
This year’s Book Day accomplished all that and more, beginning with its keynote speaker Charlie Harary. Starting off this powerful day, Mr. Harary captivated his audience while speaking about the transformative power of recognizing the greatness within ourselves. Seamlessly tying together themes of the book with Purim and some of his own trademark inspiration, Mr. Harary framed the day, making the lessons from Tuesdays with Morrie relevant to the crowd as individuals and as Jews. As Chevi Charlap, a senior at Shulamith, put it, “Charlie Harary brought a Torah perspective to the day, and even though the book isn’t inherently religious, it still has a lot of religious values that we can learn from.”
With these ideas in mind, mothers and daughters made their way to sessions and workshops led by Shulamith’s faculty. They attended the session of their choice where they explored one of a wide array of topics including dealing with regret, accepting fate, fostering meaningful connections—from both a technological and scientific point of view—and living life with meaningful, if sometimes unpopular, values.
Yet, however nice it is to discuss these meaningful topics in theory, Shulamith believes in taking what was learned and turning it into reality. The next part of the program, an elaborate Chessed Fair, challenged the girls (and their mothers) to do just that: “Take the ideas of inherent greatness, of meaningful connection, of strong values, and do something with them.”
It’s a challenge that was easy enough to meet given the array of chesed organizations that were present at the fair. With representatives from the JCC, Ohel, Make A Wish Foundation, Friendship Circle, Sharsheret, Hatzalah, Chai Lifeline, and the ALS Association, among others, there was at least one cause, if not many, that spoke to each participant. Mothers and daughters alike were encouraged not only to understand what it is that each organization does, but to participate in a hands-on chesed activity such as making cards or packaging mishloach manot to be sent to recipients through the organization. Every girl was also encouraged to leave her contact information with an organization of her choice so that she would be able to be notified of any giving opportunities in the future.
Having taken the lessons of the day and made them very practical and accessible, the Chesed Fair was a tremendous success. Yet, there’s also another reason to have a Chesed Fair on Book Day says Esty Munk, who spearheaded the fair. Asked why, Ms. Munk quotes Morrie, saying, “Giving to other people is what makes [us] feel alive.” Giving is a value unto itself. It was a value of Morrie’s and it’s a strong value at Shulamith High School on Book Day and every other day.
Following the fair, the pace slowed a bit for a beautifully arranged and relaxing Lunch n Lit. An opportunity for mothers, daughters, and faculty to eat and take a break together, Lunch n Lit gave everyone a chance to unpack the morning and discuss the themes of the day before engaging in the final part of the program.
After lunch, mothers and daughters again had the opportunity to choose between three sessions, each focusing on a social-emotional aspect of the themes of the day. Shulamith welcomed Yael Fischman, LMSW, and Rachel Tuchman, LMHC, as well their own Shira Botnick, to lead meaningful sessions on topics such as handling peer pressure, fostering authentic relationships, and (for moms only) the importance of modeling realistic parenting.
To close a meaningful, thought-provoking day, Shulamith had the privilege of hearing from the inspirational speaker and founder of The Frock NYC, Simi Polonsky. It was clear to everyone in the room that Simi spoke from her heart and had no qualms about being honest and real as she told over her personal story of sudden, tragic loss and her slow climb to recovery. Simi’s message was one that centered on grappling with pain, being real with the pain, and finding happiness even in the darkest moments.
Simi started her speech with one of her favorite quotes from “Tuesdays with Morrie;” “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” At the end of her speech, her audience understood why that quote meant so much to her and how she embodies that message. This message of Morrie’s, that Simi took to heart — that everyone who attended Book Day took to heart—is that one of the greatest things one can do with his life is seek to make it deep, meaningful, real, and full of happiness.
Shulamith could not have had such a successful and inspirational Book Day without the tireless efforts of the faculty and administration, notably Tamara Klein, Esty Munk, Ricky Gaerman, and Rabbi Craig Lubner
Shulamith Fourth Graders Bring Adar Joy To Seniors
The fourth-grade girls of Shulamith School for Girls took time last week to visit senior citizens who reside at the Nautilus. They sang and danced and surprised the residents with homemade flowers. The seniors had tears in their eyes and gave the girls a berachah that they should always bring joy to everyone they meet. What a wonderful kiddush Hashem!
Spirits Soar During Rosh Chodesh Color War!
The students of Shulamith enjoyed Color War! The three teams were: the Yellow Team, Rachamim, led by Penina Feldman, Tamar Abittan, Sarit Berg, and Fay Wolf; the Red Team, Bayshanut, led by Ayelet Mandel, Miriam Landau, Daniella Turner, and Avigayil Chait; and the Blue Team, Gemilut Chasadim, led by Tamar Pilevsky, Leora Spirgel, Talia Brenner, and Talía Rockoff. There were so many different opportunities for each girl on each team to shine, whether it was creating the beautiful mosaic banners, shooting hoops in basketball, winning points for dance, singing and writing the theme song, or even acting in the skit! All of the teams showed teamwork, effort, and achdut throughout the games. At the end of the hard work and beautiful presentations from every team, the Red Team went home as the winners. At Shulamith School for Girls, Color War is about achdut and friendship!