Solomon Schechter schools complete project for Israel

MARLBORO – David Ben-Gurion once said, “In Israel, to be a realist, one must believe in miracles.” Indeed, the themes of miracles, hope and community were what the seventh- and eighth-graders from the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County, Marlboro, and the Solomon Schechter Academy of Howell spent Oct. 17 exploring.

Hosted by the Marlboro Schechter, almost 30 students gathered to support the efforts of the OneFamily Fund.

According to a press release, OneFamily provides direct financial, legal and emotional assistance to victims of terrorism in Israel. They are able to forge a sense of family among the survivors: by helping one other, learning from one other and drawing strength from one other. OneFamily opened a new community center in Jerusalem six months ago and was looking for something cheery to decorate the walls.

As the school year began, Chaya Friedmann, director of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County, was looking for additional opportunities for her students to show their support for Israel. With the help of Nancy and Izzy Steinberg, current school parents, the school made the connection with OneFamily.

The Steinbergs’ connection to this organization began when their rabbi asked them to host Israelis impacted by terror, who were visiting this area representing the organization.

Nancy Steinberg said, “American Jews want to give, but they don’t know how and they don’t know where. This is an amazing organization to be connected with – they do so much good.”

According to the press release, Friedmann seized the opportunity to provide a lesson about community both here and abroad. She invited the middle school students from the Solomon Schechter Academy in Howell to join Marlboro’s students to create a colorful patchwork quilt of well wishes to hang in OneFamily’s new center. Students were given quotes that represent the spirit of Israel from a variety of religious, humanitarian and political sources and asked to create squares inspired by the quotes.

Nathan Buchbinder, an eighth-grader at the Marlboro school, was given Ben-Gurion’s quote cited above. He agrees that miracles play a large part in Israel’s story. He chose to illustrate his quilt square with a lit menorah.

“It’s true. In Israel you must believe in miracles. I drew a menorah because it is a sign of miracles and the lights offer hope and spread joy,” Nathan said.

Victoria Czabafy, an eighth-grader who attends the Howell school, liked the fact that she “was doing something for the soldiers in Israel who protect us and who stand proud for Israel.” She also liked the fact that she had the chance to meet like-minded students from another school.

In addition to this mitzvah (good deed) project, the students had the chance to learn about the current situation in Israel and the meaning of Klal Yisrael – the Brotherhood of Jews – and had the opportunity to meet and socialize with one another. In fact, at the end of the day’s program they had made plans to meet each other again, according to the press release.

A representative from OneFamily center said, “In a manner of speaking, the center provides Israelis with a quilt against the cold, harsh realities with which they live – their pain, their memories and their anguish. The quilt being prepared by the Solomon Schechter schools is a perfect symbol for what we are doing here every day. It is being created with warmth and love, and will show to all the warmth and love (and protection) that the victims need and that we provide.”