Students at Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway (HAFTR) High School were excited to return to school last month, and they have quickly gotten into the routine of being back in our school’s classrooms and hallways.
Although the timing of the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur holidays resulted in a number of days off from school, our freshmen were still able to have a wonderful freshmen retreat, which took place over a span of three days at Camp Seneca Lake, in Honesdale, PA.
There, the freshmen enjoyed a surprise color war, which began when the senior advisors revealed the teams by distributing different colored shirts. The freshmen engaged in a variety of games and team-building exercises in which they not only scored points for their respective teams, but also had the opportunity to bond with each other. After team songs, team cheers, and a fireworks display, the yellow team won the inaugural color war.
We have also had meaningful assemblies to start the school year. On the morning of Sept. 11, HAFTR High students commemorated the 9/11 attacks with a special presentation by Dr. Alan Cherson, who was the Medical Director for the Fire Department of New York when the attacks on the World Trade Center occurred in 2001. After students viewed a video of footage from the World Trade Center on 9/11, Dr. Cherson shared the horrors that he witnessed that day, which included suicides and the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.
He described the heroism of firefighters and other first responders who sacrificed their own lives to try to rescue people in the Twin Towers. He reminded students that the whole nation came together to mourn, recover and strengthen our resolve after the events of 9/11. Dr. Cherson’s message was inspiring, and students gained a new perspective on the tragic events of the day.
The following day, Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, the regional director of New York NCSY, gave students an insightful, uplifting pre-Rosh Hashana message, to help us prepare spiritually for the approaching High Holidays. Rabbi Lightstone was introduced by Annette Kaufman, a HAFTR parent. The Kaufman family has sponsored a series of inspiring special lectures in memory of Kaufman’s beloved sister.
Team tryouts are underway, and the seasons for the respective teams will start after Sukkot. HAFTR held its annual Club Fair on Oct. 10. The school offers a wide range of activities, including scholastic teams, cultural clubs and programs, recreational clubs, and community service and chesed projects.
During the fair, students will have the opportunity to visit the many clubs that are offered this year and hear a detailed description of the clubs’ goals and activities from the faculty advisors.
Also, please watch for the HAFTR Varsity College Bowl team — next month they will be competing on “The Challenge,” a trivia game show on MSG Varsity. The team is very excited and can’t wait to compete in the MSG Varsity television studios on Nov. 5.