Friday, December 18, 2009

Happenings at the Yeshiva

This week, in addition to the busy-ness around the move, we continued our end-of-semester learning, with years 1 and 2 learning Chanukah topics, and years 3 and 4 spending three days on a leadership training retreat with Eitzah and then beginning their review for a major test in hilkhot Niddah.

As it was Chanukah, we took a break from our regular post-mincha dvar halakha, and each day a student from a different year presented a dvar Torah on Chanukah. They all spoke beautifully. Jeremy Baruch, a year 2 student, referred to the field of narrative psychology - how the stories that we tell both reflect and reinforce our values and ethos - and he brought this to bear on the different ways in which the story of Chanukah is told (in the Gemara, Rambam, and the Al HaNissim), and how these different tellings shape the chag in different ways. Following up on this, we had the wonderful opportunity on Thursday to hear a lecture from Noam Zion, father of our student Mishael, and master educator from the Harman Institute. His lecture described how Chanukah had been appropriated in radically different ways in the 20th century by three different groups - secular Zionists, American Reform and Conservative Jews, and Chabad - each one re-telling the story and shaping its message to reflect and broadcast their distinctive, and often diametrically-opposed, ideologies and worldviews.

We also had a lovely Chanukah Chagiga in Riverdale on Wednesday night. It was a wonderful chevra event with music, dancing, latkes, quiches, dreidels and Chanukah gelt, and many students and staff, including myself, came with our entire families.

Also this week, Josh Frankel, a fourth-year student, made a siyyum on completing his intensive learning of mesekhet Niddah. May he go from strength to strength.

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