Award-winning blood drive. For the sixth straight year, Rambam Mesivta was honored by the Long Island Blood Services Center for their outstanding contribution to saving lives. The Rambam Mesivta blood drive committee, the driving force behind the school’s success, is currently composed of seniors Eli Lava, Avi Gross, junior Netanel Muskat, and sophomore Johnny Wiesel. The impetus behind last year’s award was alumnus Chanani Levy who is now learning in Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush).
Many of the young men were on hand to accept the Long Island Blood Services “Hero-Globin Award.” This award recognizes schools that are able to surpass their expected blood donation counts. Rambam Mesivta had an astounding 195% donation turnout. By manning phones, sending out e-mails, and encouraging local denizens of Lawrence to come in during work breaks, the young leaders were able to ensure that parents, alumni, and family members came out to help in this noble endeavor.
Shabbaton brings school closer together. Over the Shabbat of parashas Lech Lecha, the talmidim at Rambam attended the school’s annual Shabbaton at Camp Seneca Lake.
As always, the freshman class comprises boys from 13 different elementary schools, so Rambam arranged for them to arrive in camp a day early to have an opportunity to bond with their new classmates. Following a delicious lunch, the boys were free to swim; Jacuzzi; and play basketball, hockey, football, and softball. They also threw out the first pitch for the school’s first home-run derby. Freshman Noah Schwartz was crowned ninth-grade champion, with Moe Horowitz a close second. After a day of sports (not to mention the videogame room) and another delicious meal, the boys were introduced to an activity on perspective and individuality by Assistant Principal Mr. Hillel Goldman, who asked them to “zoom” in and out when making decisions. The night ended with a competitive and friendly game of “Crazy Dodgeball: Senior Advisers (and Mr. Goldman!) vs. Freshmen.”
On Friday, the rest of the school arrived and the Rambam freshmen now had an opportunity to bond with the upperclassmen. One of the hallmarks of Rambam Mesivta is that it is close-knit and freshmen and sophomores and even juniors and seniors can know one another by name and forge friendships. Soon the camp was filled with talmidim, rebbeim, teachers, and advisers playing frisbee, softball, football, roller hockey, floor hockey, and basketball in the spirit of achdut. The flag-football tournament also kicked off with the finals for a motzaei Shabbat Super Bowl! Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the games, talmidim could still be seen throughout the landscape with open sefarim.
Kabbalat Shabbat, highlighted by senior Tani Martin’s davening and a dvar Torah concerning the importance of chevrah and its impact on Lot, delivered by Mr. Goldman, was followed by another outstanding meal filled with booming zemirot. The beautiful zemirot continued throughout the night as the dining room was filled with the sounds of boys representing over a dozen elementary schools fusing their voices together to create a sense of achdus that is the hallmark of Rambam Mesivta. Rabbi Avi Haar then gave a profound dvar Torah and the meal concluded with dessert. Following the meal, the Rambam rebbeim and alumni advisers led each grade in chaburahs revolving around “How to Lead the Proper Life as a Torah Jew in Today’s Society.” Rabbi Yosef Ziskind held a special tisch filled with even more zemirot, divrei Torah, and, yes, hot cholent.
Shabbat-morning davening featured a special dvar Torah from Rabbi Friedman highlighting a few aspects of the parashah with a special emphasis on the challenges of the values in Lot’s time as well as today’s time. It also featured a hot Kiddush with words of inspiration from Rabbi Yaakov Weisenberg heard during lunch. The sounds of zemirot reverberated throughout the whole camp as Rambam students, from freshmen to senior, joined together in ruach-filled singing. After the seudah, Rabbi Yotav Eliach, principal of Rambam Mesivta, continued the Shabbaton’s theme of perspective, by giving an erudite discourse on the Yom Kippur War and its impact on emunah and how the Yad Hashem must be recognized in Israel’s success and continued existence.
After some Shabbat menuchah, the talmidim reassembled in the shul, and Rabbi Friedman followed up with an informative and meaningful afternoon shiur. Prior to the shiur, the talmidim pored over marei mekomot with rebbeim and senior and alumni advisors in order to prepare. Rabbi Friedman focused on the Netziv’s hakdamah to Sefer Bereisheet and the importance of being a mensch.
Seudat sheleesheet culminated with moving messages from new Rambam Rebbe, Rabbi Aryeh Young; senior Sam Cohen; and Rambam alumnus Dani Edelman. The boys sang into overtime Shabbat, davened Ma’ariv, and heard Rabbi Arie Chait make havdalah. The entire school then broke out into dancing as they were still clinging to the spirit of Shabbat and chevrah that had been created over the last few days.
Motzaei Shabbat continued with the talmidim once again engaging in sports activities. The Flag Football Super Bowl almost went into overtime as the Tyrannosaurus Tabaks took on the Altman Aardvarks under the lights. In the end, Team Tabak was victorious and freshman Ben Koppel was named Tournament MVP.
Everyone then rushed toward the dining room for a melaveh malkah with pizza, ice cream, and ruach, provided by world-class guitarist–and ninth- and twelfth-grade Gemara Iyun Rebbe–Rabbi Ari Boiangiu. Rabbi Boiangiu’s band included an amazing keyboardist and premier drummer, Mr. Halbfinger, father of junior Shmuel Halbfinger!
The night ended with the final round of the home-run derby, as senior Mendy Duftler hit a dramatic three-run homer that allowed him to take the lead. Senior Eli Chesner was awarded the runner-up trophy, while Yaacov Gross won the runner-up Gold Glove award, with Daniel Petrokovsky winning the first-place Gold Glove award. The seniors then retreated to a late, late BBQ and bonfire by the lake, and a vatikin minyan was held for the early risers.
The Rambam Mesivta Shabbaton promoted Torah, achdut, and new friendships. The Shabbaton was a weekend of profound opportunity and fun that has set the tone for the whole year. The kesher created between the talmidim and their rebbeim and new friends will continue to be strengthened as the year moves forward. Students are already looking forward to the Spring Shabbaton! v