HAFTR Highlights

Meaningful messages, inspiring programs


Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway High School opened its doors to prospective students and their parents at the annual Open House on Nov. 17. The program began with presentations by students and administrators.

Senior Molly Vashovsky served as emcee and spoke about how HAFTR High’s warm atmosphere, faculty and college guidance counselors shaped her high school experience and helped prepare her for future success. Freshman Effie Willner spoke on how he is already involved in many of the unique programs HAFTR offers, as well as his appreciation for the teachers and rabbis, who are always steering him in the right direction.

Principal Naomi Lippman, Associate Principal Dr. Joshua Wyner and Dean of Judaic Studies Rabbi Yitzchok Riselsheimer discussed HAFTR’s inclusive culture, tight bonds between students and teachers and the excellent education in both general and Jewish studies.

After the presentations, students and parents divided into smaller groups to tour the building and the new Technology and Innovation Center, which includes a Media Studio, two state-of-the-art classrooms, a brand new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lab and art room.

Prospective students and parents heard presentations about college and Israel guidance, Judaic studies, humanities, student life and student support. Families also had the chance to hear firsthand from teachers, department heads and students, who were all available to answer questions. The event conveyed to all that HAFTR is a place that aims to facilitate the success and growth of its students.

Helping hoops

The HAFTR Hawks partnered with the Israel Sport Center for the Disabled on Nov. 19 to host a wheelchair basketball exhibition, performed by two world-class wheelchair basketball players. ISCD provides physically disabled Israeli children and adults from all backgrounds with assistance in physical and psychological rehabilitation through sports, with the goal of helping them to lead productive and successful lives in Israeli society.

The representatives played basketball side by side with HAFTR student-athletes in the Hawks Nest, HAFTR’s gym on Frost Lane, while fans cheered as they watched the inspiring exhibition. This demonstration was not only fun for the community and players but also raised awareness about the important work of ISCD.

Supporting Israel

HAFTR seniors were privileged to hear a Nov. 25 presentation by Dalia Zahger, a former commander in the Israel Defense Forces and a May 2019 graduate of Columbia University, where she was co-founder and president of Students Supporting Israel. The anti-Israel and pro-BDS movement has become widespread on college campuses across the country.

Unfortunately, when confronted with attacks on Israel, Jewish students are often unprepared to debate the issues and refute the anti-Israel rhetoric. Zahger discussed the anti-Israel incidents that she personally encountered at Columbia. She then provided students with the necessary tools and strategies to combat the anti-Israel rhetoric they will face on college campuses. Zahger’s invaluable presentation empowered HAFTR seniors, soon to become college freshmen, who will likely face similar occurrences.