With only one day of school before erev Rosh Hashanah, the students of the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls were given an incredible opportunity to heighten their awareness of the upcoming holy days. On Tuesday, September 3, the entire student body viewed a stirring video, produced by alumna Jordana Bienenfeld, with stark images of the U’nsaneh Tokef prayer.
Noted speaker Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein then addressed the students with a powerful message for the new year. Focusing on a mishnah in Pirkei Avos and using a colorful story as illustration, Rabbi Wallerstein kept his audience enthralled as he got his point across. Hashem gave us a soul, he said, and the soul doesn’t want to be here; it wants to be with Hashem. The body doesn’t want to take care of the soul–it wants material items. Only at the end of life does the body realize that only the soul is going with him–not money, possessions, etc. The soul is always with you. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we stand before Hashem who sees how we treat the soul he gave us.
“We have been given these days to do teshuvah,” Rabbi Wallerstein urged the girls. “Let us use them the right way.”
Returning to school, many girls commented on how powerfully Rabbi Wallerstein’s words had affected their yom tov davening. With this week’s second annual “Inspirational Davening on the Beach” and a memorable “teshuvah-thon” with Mrs. Charlene Aminoff and the miraculous story of her daughter’s survival, the students of SKA are sure to enter Yom Kippur with a truly meaningful focus on their tefillos. v