THE PASSOVER QUESTIONS YOU NEVER THOUGHT TO ASK
Yeshivat Shaare Torah has a long-standing and well-earned reputation for being one of our community’s most respected institutions. Over the years, the yeshiva has consistently produced talmidei hachamim, community leaders, and successful business people. This year is no exception, with the Boys Elementary Division having yet another stellar year. The students are engaged, their academic levels are soaring, and the ‘ruach’ is palpable. What is Shaare Torah’s secret?
The answer is, there is no “secret!” The success has been achieved the hard way, through devoted collaboration. The tireless Hanhala, Rabbi Amram Kuessous, the fabulous Rabbanim, excellent teachers, devoted parents, and outstanding students all contribute to make Shaare Torah the wonderful yeshiva that it is.
Let’s have a closer look at what makes the school work so well:
If reading is the foundation of education then shorashim, the roots, is its cornerstone. Under the guidance of Rabbi David Sutton, the yeshiva’s Education Coordinator, Shaare Torah has implemented a Hebrew program that is hyper-focused on developing their students’ Hebrew etymological skills. This foundation will allow for their unbridled growth in Humash and Mishna.
In the middle grades, students are developing what is the core of a ben Torah’s learning - Mishnayot and Gemara skills. Their Rabbanim are keen on imparting their thirst for Torah knowledge and its accompanying enjoyment.
Though most lessons are learned inside the classroom, they are often best reinforced outside of the classroom. With that in mind, Shaare Boys Elementary has organized an exciting lineup of celebrations, galvanizing students as they progress through the yeshiva cycle.
Our 1st grade talmidim, and their parents were treated to a fabulous Humash celebration, replete with beautiful lighting, student choir singing and audio/visual accompaniment. The highlight, of course, was when each talmid received his very own Humash from the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Hillel Haber, shlit"a. This special memory will surely stay with each and every one of them. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders enjoyed a beautiful morning, praying and spending quality time together at Shaare’s annual Grandfather-Father-Son Breakfast. Both of these events capture the philosophy of Shaare Torah: brighten our children’s future by connecting them to their heritage.
The Shaare Torah administration continues to enlighten students on the weekends. On Shabbat morning, Perashat Va’era, the 5th grade students joined together for an inspiring tefila with hazanut, providing them ample opportunities to read the Torah, and bask in the presence of their loving Rabbanim, including the great Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Haber.
As far as special events go, our Junior High stole the show with their fabulous Shabbaton at Camp Nageela. The students engaged their senses with a jam-packed itinerary: laser-tag and rock-climbing at The Castle, bowling at Kiamesha Lanes, and bouncing off the walls (quite literally) at The Sky Zone. The Shabbat itself however was the true highlight.Students prayed, sang, laughed and ate delicious Shabbat meals together. The Shabbat was capped off by a down-to-the-wire Torah Bowl, won by Rabbi Avraham Dabbah’s 7th grade. Being away together for Shabbat gave all a sense of achdut, one that will certainly prove memorable.
New and Exciting Programs
In its second successful year, Rabbi Sonny Cohen’s Hidon-Parasha program continues to serve as an excellent tool to encourage review and long-term retention. So far the talmidim have traversed and conquered Sefer Bereshit, with grades exceeding all expectations. The highest scoring talmidim were rewarded with a grand raffle that caused quite a buzz. By the time this issue goes to print, they will also have, be’ezrat Hashem, completed a Hidon on the entire Sefer Shemot.
At Shaare Torah, we don’t aim to produce mere academics, but rather be’nei Torah. The process begins by laying a foundation of middot, and tangible emunah - one that translates into action. To address this crucial need, Rabbi Yaakov Bijou and Rabbi Yosef Abboud of the Junior High have come to the fore with an amazing initiative. In the new Emunah program, talmidim are encouraged to be more cognizant of the need for emunah, and incorporate it into their daily lives.
The Shetika be’Tefila program is also unique its noble attempt to recapture heretofore all but forsaken ground: quiet during tefila. With a unique one-two punch of incentives, like Oh-Bagel breakfast, the program has yielded astounding results. Indeed, several other yeshivot have expressed interest in importing the program.
Just as there is a time for silence, there is a time for commotion. Walk down Yeshivah Shaare Torah’s halls, and you may initially be taken aback by the shouting. What is the ruckus about? Get a little closer and you’ll realize the exchange is one of sweetness - the sweetness of Torah learning. Question! Answer! Proof! Rebuttal! What you are hearing are the sounds of their Shakla Ve’Tarya Be’al Peh program. The program encourages boys to take ownership of the Gemara that they have learned and shout out their knowledge!
Most recently, the yeshiva celebrated a special night of inspiration when the parents, students and faculty coalesced in a wonderful display of ahdut – unity. On Rosh Hodesh Adar, Shaare’s 15th annual Boys’ Choir welcomed the month with a festive, spirited performance. With hazan Salem and Rabbi Chaim Block at the helm, the boys’ shone - as did the excited 1st-3rd Graders in their musical debut. Altogether, this year’s performance was very memorable, and the school’s best yet.
We have discussed much about what goes on inside the school, but what of the school itself? In an effort to keep their environment stimulating the faculty has given many of the displays a ‘face-lift’. Walk into our lobby and you’ll be immediately struck by the gorgeous new display of Gedolim, highlighting the heritage Shaare Torah lovingly embraces. Continue into the Beit-Midrashto witness the colorful ensemble of posters that attract the eye and educate the mind. Head down to the lunchroom and you’ll see our walls bedecked with colorful berachot posters and jumbo Birkat Hamazon and Al Ha’michyabanners, bringing the berachot to life for the children.
Shaare Torah’s ambitious mission is to educate the whole child, preparing them for all of life’s challenges. To that end, the Boys Elementary General Studies Division has skillfully balanced the state’s demands of Common Core with their students’ needs. Additionally, they have placed new focus and strong emphasis on the writing process, beginning with personal narratives. Grades 1-8 explored the steps needed to transform life experiences into stories. These budding writers have been immersed in the many forms of nonfiction writing – biographies, narratives, photo- essays and literary nonfiction. These genres teach the valuable skills of research and inquiry and are an important part of the NYS Common Core Curriculum.
Shaare students in Grades 1-5, are buzzing about books! They are reading classics, humorous fiction, mysteries and nonfiction. For every book they read, the boys complete a Book-Buzz Card, reflecting upon the books they read with their peers, and finally making book recommendations that they can post on an amazing “buzz” bulletin board for all to see. Students who recommend at least five books get a special certificate from the principal, Rabbi Schwebel.
Additionally, teachers in Grades 1-5 have implemented the 'Fab Four'. This original, research-based approach to comprehension focuses on the strategies that strong readers have been found to employ before, during, and after reading. These skills and strategies will be practiced in class so that student becomes proficient enough to use them independently. Look out for the “Fab Four” bookmark coming to the boys’ division very soon!
Oh so that’s how you do it!Experimenting runs wild here in the Shaare Boys Science Lab! The children learn to put theory into practice through experiential learning that is educational, exciting and fun. Mr. Guzik, Shaare Torah’s dedicated, and brilliant scientist, masterfully guides his class with a hands-on approach that engages every student. Our adorable first graders light up as they experiment and create real projects they take home, reinforcing all that they learned. The second graders delight in getting messy: they squash, mold, build and finally, record their scientific data. Third graders are totally blown away as they witness chemical changes. The fourth grade recently experimented with live wires, via hands-on assembly and construction tasks. Students are learning about energy and how to use it efficiently. They perform experiments involving simple machines, force and energy. Eventually they will design and test their own machines. Once they understand mechanical energy, they will start working with electrical energy and circuits. The fifth grade science curriculum has become even more sophisticated. The boys recently dissected frogs and learned to identify their organs.
Shaare has recruited Mr. Javitt to work directly with Shaare Torah’s students and teachers as he bring his engineering and business experience to Shaare’s new Science (STEM) program. This new initiative for middle-school students prepares the boys for the future. Studies show that STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] jobs are on the rise. These professions command better salaries and work environments and thus have become popular choices for new professionals. The STEM model of education promotes integrative learning. Instead of learning math only in Math class, and science only in Science class, STEM combines science with math and applies them both to engineering and technology. Science and math help students understand their world. STEM, with its engineering component, prepares them to change it.
Computer Science Program
We live in an increasingly complex and technological world. To address this reality, the school has developed a comprehensive computer science class -one that prepares students by equipping them with the knowledge they will need to thrive. Beginning from 1st grade, boys learn basic typing skills. Additionally, they learn skills such as how to create word art and use shortcut keys. As they progress, the boys tackle essential Microsoft programs including: Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. With these programs they can create beautiful, professional looking graphs and business presentations!
Shaare is also very excited about its after-hours program recently instituted for Middle School students. Directed by Rabbi Moshe Friedman, our tireless Assistant Principal, the program is a joint effort with the Council of Jewish Organizations and is sponsored by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development. As a result of this effort, our students have begun a comprehensive, fun, and educational after school program very different from others of its kind.
Additionally, on Sundays and Wednesdays the students are exposed to an amazing sports clinic run by Shaare Torah’s Coach Elbaz. In the clinic, the boys perfect the finer points of the various sports they love to play during recess, like basketball, football and hockey.
Above all, Shaare Torah has come to be known for its ability to balance warmth, professionalism, and excellence - educating the community’s children like no other school can. The administration looks forward to many years of beracha and hatzlaha with the community’s children!
To arrange a tour of the yeshiva, please contact Mrs. Dina Gitty Yarmark at 718-339-9752 x123.