Israeli Olympian Visits HALB On Yom HaAtzmaut

This year marks the 70th year of the State of Israel. This momentous occasion was felt deeply at HALB on Yom HaAtzmaut. During the day, groups of students had the honor and pleasure of meeting Olympic athlete AJ Edelman and hearing his inspiring message.

AJ is an American-Israeli four-time Israeli National Champion in the skeleton event, and competed for Israel at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. While meeting with students, AJ detailed his hard-earned accomplishments as well as his struggles, and described the responsibility of representing himself, his nation, and the Jewish State. AJ’s identity as a Jew remained close to his heart at all times and no matter where in the world his travels brought him.

Before each race, AJ shared, he expressed gratitude to Hashem for providing him with the opportunity to represent Israel. He davened that he would make his parents and nation proud. AJ referred to his kippah as a neon sign that clearly states, “I am different. I am special. I am a Jew.” He understood that all of his actions would be examined and that he, in turn, needed to ensure that he was representing the values of Am Yisrael.

HALB students were inspired by AJ’s open, honest, and genuine experiences. AJ’s message was clear. It is our obligation to recognize that each one of us has G-d-given gifts and talents. With effort, grit, and determination, along with help from above, we must use our gifts to better ourselves while representing our nation and our people. Thank you, AJ, for sharing your amazing message and for visiting us at HALB. We will always remember this special day we shared with you!

Am Yisrael Chai!

HALB Lev Chana Celebrates Israel’s 70th Birthday

The day-long celebration began as our children arrived at HALB Lev Chana, showing off their blue-and-white attire and staring in amazement at the multitude of Israeli flags on the walls, windows, and doors of their classrooms. They boarded El Al Flight 70, davened Shacharit, and ate delicious snacks. Their tefillot and Hallel were even more meaningful as they talked about how important the Land of Israel is to them and the world.

Each of the kindergarten classes created a detailed diorama as they focused on a specific city or place in Israel. The children did a magnificent job preparing and decorating the Lev Chana multipurpose room so that their friends could experience firsthand a trip to Eretz Yisrael. Their first stop was arrivals and customs at Ben Gurion Airport, where the “tourists” were questioned as to their purpose in visiting and how long they intended to stay, all done in Ivrit. After having their passports stamped and answering questions at security, they hopped on a bus to visit three of the main cities in Eretz Yisrael—Yerushalayim, Tzfat, and Eilat—and a kibbutz. Their first stop was Yerushalayim, where they gave tzedakah, davened at the Kotel, and left kvitlach asking Hashem for a refuah sheleimah, shalom al Yisrael, or simply saying “thank you.” Next, the children meandered slowly through the cobbled streets of Tzfat, gazing at the beautiful colorful artwork created by their friends. After a “long bus ride,” our children relaxed on the pristine beaches of Eilat, and took a glass-bottom boat ride so they could gaze at the many colorful fish. They refreshed themselves with oranges at Kibbutz Lev Chana, helped milk a cow, and picked some vegetables and fruit. Our children went home with souvenirs to remember the places they visited. What a great tour!

Throughout the day, they smelled the delicious aromas of baking pita bread, frying falafel balls, and cut-up Israeli salad. They tasted as yummy as they smelled! And could a Yom HaAtzmaut celebration be complete without blue-and-white cupcakes and the melodious music of Gary Wallin? The children and morot danced, swayed, and sang together, concluding with the tefillah of “L’shanah ha’ba b’Yerushalayim ha’benuyah!”

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