Rambam Seniors Celebrate End of Year With Shabbaton, Siyum
Everyone knows the excitement and sense of accomplishment that comes with making a siyum. The talmidim in Rambam rosh mesivta Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman’s Gemara shiur experienced it firsthand as they successfully completed Maseches Sukkah, comprising 55 blatt. The boys accomplished this by participating in Rabbi Friedman’s Iyun shiur and the Bekius shiurim given by both Rabbi Shlomo Kovitz and Rabbi Yaacov Weisenberg. For many, this was not their first siyum.
This year marked the occasion with an amazing Shabbaton in Bethlehem, New Hampshire! They arrived on a Thursday night and were treated to a sumptuous barbecue sponsored by Rabbi and Mrs. Friedman. Friday featured davening, learning, breakfast, biking, and hiking the Flume Gorge in Franconia.
Shabbos was ushered in with a rousing Kabbalas Shabbos, with divrei Torah and zemiros punctuating the seudah.
After more of the same for Shabbos day, the boys had the opportunity to visit the new Arlington Hotel in Bethlehem. They joined other guests and a walking tour of Jewish Bethlehem led by Mrs. Friedman.
They continued learning and snacking (some even rested) up to Minchah and shalosh seudos and later were treated to a masterful and melodious Havdalah by Rabbi Weisenberg.
A kumzits rounded out the evening with the experience continuing a few hours later with Shacharis, breakfast, and a hike up Mount Agassiz.
The boys departed with lunch bags in hand, preparing for the trip back to Rambam.
Just a few days later, Avrumi Klein, who never missed a blatt, made the formal siyum. Some of the fathers were able to join the festive meal at Traditions. Singing, dancing, and divrei Torah enhanced the seudas mitzvah and was a wonderful testament to the joy that the boys had in making the siyum.
Rambam’s 23rd Graduation Celebrates Chesed, Excellence
Rambam Mesivta graduated its 23rd class of talmidim committed to Torah, middos, and excellence. With graduating seniors Eliyahu Levy and Daniel Ganopolsky serving as the emcees, it was a student-centered affair that highlighted the diverse accomplishments of the last four years.
The night began with the senior members of The Harmonides, Captain Yosef Kuperman, Adam Cohen, and Aaron Azose, leading the proud parents, grandparents, and family members in the “Star-Bangled Banner” and “Hatikvah.” The emcees then introduced rosh mesivta Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, who shared words of Torah and chizuk with the graduating class. Rabbi Friedman recognized the learning accomplishments of the grade, noting that they served as the core of the school’s Masmidim extra-learning program. He also reflected on the role the students/activists played in standing up against anti-Semitism in their successful efforts to have Nazi war criminal Jakiw Palij deported from the United States.
The salutatorian, Josh Koegel, then spoke to the audience and his fellow graduates. He shared how the grade came together over a shared sense of mission and noted that the school “expounds values like reflecting on Torah, middos, and scholastic excellence, and it also encouraged us to cultivate other values, like a sense of civic duty for activism, to take a stand against injustice, and use our voices to impact our local and global communities.” Josh also thanked his parents and family for their support and acknowledged the role the faculty played in his success.
Following Josh’s speech, awards for academic excellence, for both limudei kodesh and general studies, were distributed, and students were also recognized for leadership, chesed, activism, Zionism, sports, and a host of other categories that highlighted the eclectic skillsets, interests, and accomplishments of the Class of 2019. During the award ceremonies, Dovid Lichter, who was awarded the Torah Communications Network Keter Shem Tov Award, spontaneously asked if he could take the microphone. After being granted permission, he took a moment to thank the school’s custodial engineer, Bernardo, for all his hard work. The Class of 2019 greeted this moment with thunderous applause.
The awards concluded with the director of college guidance, Professor Joanne Stevens, calling up the Arista awardees for their outstanding academic accomplishments, and assistant principal, Rabbi Avi Haar, calling up the Masmidim.
Members of senior council, SeniorCorp, and the yearbook committee were then called upon to present the senior gift. Jonah Matlis, Jakey Semel, Avrumi Weinberger, as well as junior Elliot Speiser, all worked to craft a one-of-a kind mosaic that reads, “Am Yisroel Chai,” that they gave as a gift to the school in the spirit of hakarot ha’tov. The yearbook committee then called up recently retired Rambam administrator Shirley Levy and bestowed upon her a yearbook, which, to her surprise, was dedicated to her for all her years of service to the school. Before sitting down, however, there was one more surprise when Avrumi called up his father and bestowed upon him a plaque thanking “Coach Steven Weinberger for his six years of service as the Rambam Robotics Coach.”
The principal of Rambam, Rabbi Yotav Eliach, then took center stage. He offered the graduates advice on how to make the most out of the year in Israel, urging them to hit the ground running and have a true, religious Zionist experience. Benjy Wiener, the valedictorian, was then called up to address the audience. Benjy focused on the idea of “The Rambam Man” as seen through the prism of Masechet Shabbos and the life of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, zt’l. He concluded by quoting Pirkei Avos,urging the graduates that “When there is a place where there is no man, strive to be a man,” and in the words of Benjy, “Be a Rambam Man.”
To conclude the night, associate principal Hillel Goldman was asked to speak. Mr. Goldman began with the Rambam tradition of presenting a “Graduation Mezinka Award” to a family who is graduating their last son from Rambam. Mr. and Mrs. Szpigiel were presented with a plaque thanking them for their commitment to the school in allowing them to educate all of their sons: Sruli (Class of 2007), Yossi (Class of 2010), Eli (Class of 2012), and Yoni (Class of 2019). He then concluded the night by reflecting on the accomplishments of the grade and exhorting them to, in the words of Rabbi Norman Lamm, raise a “degel” to all they encounter showing they are proud of their lineage and that a “Halachic Man” can thrive and lead the way wherever he goes. He then pronounced them “the Class of 2019” and, following Ma’ariv, dessert was served, tears of joy were shed, and memories made. Special thank you to Mrs. Renee Friedman for another meaningful graduation ceremony.
Meet Rambam’s Val, Sal, And Keter Shem Tov Awardees
Rambam Valedictorian: Benjy Wiener
Benjy was captain and lead programmer of the Rambam RamBots Robotics Team, and led them to a second-place finish in the RoboCup Jr. competition in 2017. He was a consistent top-scorer for the Rambam Radicals Math Team. He is an independent software developer, and recently started freelancing. So far he’s released three mobile apps on the App Store. He is in the process of rolling out a cloud-based “Mi Shebeirech” list service for shuls, which aims to help gabbaim keep their lists up to date, while also being more convenient for congregants. Benjy is also an AP Scholar and Arista member. Next year, Benjy will be studying at Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush) after which he will be attending the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program at Yeshiva University to study computer science.
Salutatorian: Joshua Koegel
Josh is known around school for his humble demeanor and desire to get involved. He was involved with the Meet the Author Book Club, fencing, EMT, mock trial, robotics, soccer, the Poe Pack, Model Beis Din, chess, College Bowl, the Math Team, and so much more. He was a Rambam Ultimate Frisbee team captain; a Shakespeare Festival winner; Survivor winner; and is an AP Scholar and a member of Arista. Next year he is learning in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh and then going to Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn. He is hoping to study pre-law or pre-med.
Keter Shem Tov Award Winner: Dovid Lichter.
The Torah Communications Network Keter Shem Tov Winner, Dovid Lichter, is humble, kind, and always there to help anyone who needs assistance. Dovid was involved in the Jewish Action Committee; Math Team, where he placed in the Top 50 in Nassau County; Soccer Team; and was captain of JV basketball. He was a starter for the varsity basketball team and helped lead them to one of their most successful seasons. He is also an AP scholar. Next year he plans on going to Migdal Torah in Israel and then will continue learning while going to college in the states.
Three unique individuals, all exemplary in their own way, but alike in their dedication to the values of Torah, middos, and excellence.