October 9, 2013 | 375 views
Learning history, joining a club
Two exciting events kicked off the first week in October at the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway (HAFTR) High School: the school-wide Exodus assembly and Club Fair. The Jewish holidays came early this year, deferring our first full week of school until late September. The students’ energy and excitement was palpable in the HAFTR High hallways, and they seemed genuinely happy to be back to class and to be with their friends.
Having the entire school read the same book was a tremendous undertaking and a momentous occasion. Over the summer, every student in the high school was required to read Leon Uris’ novel, “Exodus.” The book is about the birth of the State of Israel, the founding of our Jewish homeland. It describes the Jews’ fight for survival, the horrors of the Holocaust, and the challenges the European Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors encountered in their attempt to reach Israel.
The keynote speaker at the assembly was Rabbi Kenneth Hain, spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Sholom of Lawrence. In his address, Hain spoke about the effect of the novel on American Jewry. “Exodus” helped us to realize that being a Jew means being a part of a people! You know you are part of something bigger than yourself. He spoke about how fortunate we are in our ability to visit Israel whenever we choose versus the difficulties the people on the ship Exodus had in reaching the shores of Haifa. He urged students to use the occasion of reading this important historical novel to reflect on and strengthen our own personal connection and commitment to the modern State of Israel.