Despite the driving rain and cold weather, hundreds of people braved the elements to attend Rambam’s 24th annual open house this past motzaeiShabbos. Another large contingent came to the “mini open house” event held two days later to glean a glimpse of what Rambam offers its talmidim.
After the main presentation room was filled to capacity, an overflow room with live video feeds was set up to accommodate the record crowd. The program was introduced by Rambam parent Yosef Aryeh, hailing from West Hempstead, who told the crowd, “Two years ago, I was sitting in your seat beginning the process of choosing a high school for my son. We chose Rambam and are ecstatic with the choice! Rambam truly is an amazing place where our son is flourishing because of the great education and wonderful chevrah that is the hallmark of Rambam.”
Junior Evan Edelstein and sophomore Daniel Yizhaky served as the emcees, trading some joyful banter and introducing Rambam’s founder and roshmesivta, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman.
Rabbi Friedman began by stating, “As Torah Jews, we have a mission to the world. Consequently, education must be more than just covering a certain quantity of material in kodesh or college preparatory studies. It is about being a Torah Jew, the complete package, a mensch, and a future leader of our people.” He then outlined the various unique programs that Rambam offered, from the special morning beismidrash learning program for the ninth grade, which affords almost an hour of learning in small groups of four or five with a personalized rebbe, to the Sephardic minyan designed to perpetuate the proud heritage of the Sephardic talmidim.
Most importantly, he spoke about the emphasis on values, middos, and leadership–emphasizing that Rambam is the perfect fit for a serious, motivated talmid who seeks to grow in Torah, academic excellence, and character. Referring to Rambam’s longstanding and well-known history of Jewish activism, Rabbi Friedman emphasized the significance of playing a leadership role in organizing rallies and political campaigns on behalf of KlalYisrael. “Being a passive participant is not enough in today’s challenging times–we need to teach each of our students the importance and skill-set associated with lobbying Congress, writing press releases, contacting media, and speaking in front of the media microphone, in order to advocate for our people. Over the years, I’ve seen how much good can come out of this both in terms of personal growth of the talmidim and in terms of what they have been able to accomplish.”
Rabbi Friedman closed his presentation by reminding the audience that admission to Rambam was merit-based and that “proteksia” and political connections do not count, referring to a picture of him jokingly wagging his finger at Hillary Clinton, who visited Rambam when she was still the First Lady.
Senior Council President Chezky Frieden and sophomore Noah Schwartz then spoke briefly about Rambam’s outstanding whirlwind of activities directed by Rambam’s assistant principal, the dynamic Mr. Hillel Goldman. Mr. Goldman outlined the numerous clubs available to the students, stating that many of the clubs exist as a result of students’ initiative. “We encourage students to advocate for themselves, think of new ideas, and be involved in the planning and development of these various activities. At Rambam,” he stated, “there is a team for every talent, a club for every curiosity, and a place for every person.”
He also spoke about the famous Word of the Day, Question of the Week, Picture of the Week, Torah Question of the Week, Caption of the Week, and Contest(s) of the Month that have become extremely popular among the student body. He emphasized that all of the clubs, whether academic or sports, are designed to help build teamwork and character, and inspire personal growth. “We are a small school by design, which enables us to get to know each student, cater to their individual needs, and ensure their maximal personal growth. We truly have a great chevrah,” said Mr. Goldman.
Rabbi Yotav Eliach, Rambam’s principal, gave an extensive presentation of Rambam’s academic track record, AP scores, merit-based scholarships, and national science awards, and underscored the outstanding limudeikodesh program at Rambam. “We are overrepresented in virtually every category of achievement, be it in secular or limudeikodesh. From the percentage of semichah candidates at YU chag ha’semichah, to the number of AP scholars which far exceeds the national averages and those of prestigious private schools. This is all possible because of the outstanding faculty that we have and the chevrah of motivated and wonderful talmidim that we accept.” Rabbi Eliach, who is recognized nationally as an expert in religious Zionism and the history of Medinat Yisrael, outlined some of the unique aspects of Rambam’s program and how it inspires talmidim to appreciate the State of Israel and be cognizant of the challenges that face us as a nation and people.
Rabbi Ari Boiangiu, a renowned guitarist and ninth-grade rebbe, closed the presentation by introducing a video produced by the Rambam’s in-house a cappella group titled “Some Nights,” which beautifully evokes the feeling of achdus that ideally should unite Jews throughout the world.
Following the main presentation, parents and prospective students attended mini-sessions, meeting and hearing from rebbeim and teachers. The informative sessions were followed by a melavehmalkah of Carlos and Gabby’s, schmoozing, and musical accompaniment.
According to one parent who attended, the night was summed up with these words: “I really loved it and wish that I could go back to high school.”