Rambam’s Mock Trial team
Rambam’s Mock Trial team

Scientific excellence. Benjamin Akhavan, a member of the senior class in Rambam, continued the school’s longstanding legacy of excellence in science by participating in the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair. This prestigious fair attracts students throughout Long Island and enables them to display their innovations and advancements in science and technology. Benjamin submitted the project he worked on over the past summer, when he was chosen to do research at the Garcia Center at Stony Brook.

Proton-exchange membrane (PEM) hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen gas, by passing it through a membrane, into electricity. It is a sustainable energy source which doesn’t give off carbon dioxide, is versatile, and could be portable. Proton-exchange membrane fuel cells are consistent, with no reliance on outside factors such as the sun or wind. Obstructing the commercialization of PEM fuel cells is the high cost of platinum and other materials, or catalysts, used to enhance the efficiencies of fuel cells. The purpose of this project is to find a relatively inexpensive material with which to coat the membrane.

Metal-nanoparticle/graphene was synthesized to enhance the fuel cell membrane, particularly platinum-graphene and gold-graphene. These are mixtures of the metal nanoparticles with graphene, a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb pattern, which previously has not been shown to significantly enhance fuel cells. However, gold nanoparticles have been shown to significantly enhance fuel cells. When compared to a membrane with no catalysts, the metal-nanoparticle/graphene increased the power output by 150%. The theoretical energy production of the gold-graphene could increase the efficiency of the fuel cell 18 times more than a fuel cell with gold nanoparticles.

The gold-graphene seemed to display a synergy between the two materials where it performed better together than the sum of its parts. In the gold-graphene synergy, the Au nanoparticles changed the chemical nature and abilities of graphene, offering a promising future for proton exchange membrane fuel cell technology.

Rambam rosh mesivta Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, shared that “We are so proud of Benjamin, because he truly is a ben Torah and outstanding student. He is a real mensch and exemplifies the standard of Torah, midos, and excellence.”

Upon graduation, Benjie plans to learn in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh before returning to the States to continue his pursuit of learning and scientific/engineering knowledge at Columbia University.

Another victory in mock-trial competition. For the second week in a row, members of the Rambam Mock Trial team swept the competition, winning both in the case and on points. The Nassau County Mock Trial Tournament is sponsored by the Nassau County Bar Association, whose stated goal is to provide the opportunity to hundreds of students from close to 50 regional high schools to “further their understanding of the law, court procedures, and legal system, while honing this speaking, listening, reading, and reasoning skills.”

According to the team’s mentor, Professor Joanne Stevens, “The boys at Rambam are a pleasure to work with because they have sharp, analytical minds and are very articulate. They can certainly go all the way to the state championships in Albany!”

Rabbi Yonason Sacks visits Rambam. On Monday of last week, Rabbi Yonason Sacks, rosh yeshiva of the Lander College Beis Medresh, spent the morning at Rambam Mesivta “farhering” the boys and later addressing the student body.

Talmidim in Rambam’s masmidim double beis medrash program had the opportunity to present chidushei Torah they learned with their rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Ziskind, on various topics in Maseches Shabbos. Rav Sacks later presented to the entire mesivta an incisive analysis of Taanis Esther and its relationship to Purim. “This fast day is different from all others,” he explained. “The other four fast days which are related to the destruction of the Temple commemorate a tragedy and involve an element of mourning. In contrast, Taanis Esther reminds us of the fasting and teshuvah that Klal Yisrael engaged in under the threat of annihilation. Because of these efforts the decree was lifted and the community was saved. Hence, the fast day played a vital role in bringing about the redemption and is thus a happy day.”

Rav Sacks explained that it would be theoretically possible to both fast and read the Megillah the same day. The two things are not contradictory but rather complement each other and offer the full picture of what the fast is all about. Rambam’s talmidim truly enjoyed meeting with and learning from Rav Sacks and look forward to his next visit . . . and “farher.”

Purim chagigah and talent show draw huge crowd. The Purim chagigah at Rambam Mesivta was a night of ruach, chevra, and talent. The evening began with the Rambam Band, Chaim Dov Cohen, Ari Roth, and Rami Teeter filling the Rambam shul with the cheerful sounds of Adar. Teachers, rebbeim, and talmidim, all dressed in costumes worthy of Purim, were dancing and singing along.

Following the dancing, the huge crowd was treated to some traditional Purim food, Carlos and Gabby’s, before returning to the Annual Purim Costume Contest judged by the rebbeim. Students lined up to introduce their personas and everything from clowns, to Israeli soldiers, to hot dogs, to Fraggle Rock characters, to the Rambam himself were represented. In the end, freshman Moses Bibi, in his inflatable green suit, was the winner.

Next came the Annual Purim Talent Show/Contest, where the diverse aptitudes of the school take center stage in a celebration of skill, creativity, and diligence. The bar was set extremely high by the Rambam Choir, The Harmonidies, who delivered stirring renditions of “Lecha Dodi” and a mash-up of “One Day” and “Umacha.” Sophomore Zach Beer then gave a three-minute Pun Routine that was very punny. Instant Art with Yekuciel Jacobs featured the eponymous sophomore drawing pictures on a canvas after starting them off as words. For instance, after writing the word alien, Yekuciel then proceeded to use that word as the foundation for creating an alien landing. Avi Martin and Rami Teeter also rocked the Rambam house with their dueling drums. At one point in the night, Shmuel Halbfinger, a late addition to the show, suddenly picked up a guitar and gave a spot-on rendition of Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Senior Dani Miller, who performs for Lev Leytzan, the Compassionate Clown Alley, showcased his “clowning” ability and brought smiles to everyone’s faces. After a student vote, the Talent Show Prize was awarded to Gavriel Adler, Shmuel Rosenthal, and Dovid Sokolov of “Rambam Comedy Club” for their Purim Shpiel Video, which highlighted faculty and students alike.

Singing, dancing, chevra, and the joyous ruach of Purim filled the halls of Rambam as most of the school came, from Plainview, Queens, Brooklyn, Great Neck, West Hempstead, and the Five Towns, for the opportunity to dance with their friends and rebbeim. v


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