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Hamakor- the Source Friday, January 24, 2020/27 Tevet 5780

meet our incoming head of school

Preparations are underway for next school year, when Dr. Darin Katz takes the helm as our new Head of School! Dr. Katz will be in Detroit next week, and parents are invited to a couple of meet and greet events to become acquainted with him.

"This is a unique opportunity to spend some time with Darin in an informal setting," said Ellen Folbe, president of the Board of Trustees. "I encourage parents to attend, and I look forward to seeing you there."

Both evening and a morning times are available: Wednesday, January 29, at 7:00 p.m., and Thursday, January 30, at 8:15 a.m.

See you there!

students experience the spiritual power of blessings

In Clara Gaba’s sixth grade Torah class, students are learning about the priestly benediction, Birkat HaKohanim, recited by kohanim, descended from Aaron and who served in the temple, in synagogues today, typically on holidays during Musaf. It can be a moving moment of the service, when the kohanim beseech God to bless and protect congregants, and often, children stand under their parents’ talit, as all congregants avert their eyes from the kohanim during the blessing. Naty Katz, our Interim Head of School, and parent Adam Kaplan, who are both kohanim, demonstrated the blessing to the sixth graders on Thursday.

“The priestly blessing is unique in that God’s blessing flows through a human being. The kohen is merely an intermediary,” Mr. Katz explained.

In our ECC, teacher Helayne Shaw has been ending her day with the priestly blessing for 25 years. “I remind my class that they are special and blessed by God, and I want them to know everyday that they are loved, blessed, and protected,” she said.

Birkat Hakohanim can be a powerful, spiritual experience,” Morah Gaba said. “I felt it when I saw the four-year-olds doing it with Ms. Helayne,” she said. So as an additional part of her instruction, she invited the ECC4s to come give the benediction to her students.

Ms. Helayne was happy to oblige. “There is a power in blessings, and no one can have too many!”

cheer on our hillel hawks

By Nicole Miller, Athletic Director

The winter athletic season brings basketball to Hillel. We are happy to share that we have five teams comprised of 50 participants. We are currently mid-way through the competitive season, and can easily identify growth and development in many of our athletes who have never played before. During practice it is wonderful to see the dedication and focus our athletes bring. Their desire to strive for more is evident as many participants use recess time for additional practice.

If you have not yet joined us for a game, next Wednesday, January 29, you can watch our 7-8 girls’, 7th grade boys’ and 8th grade boys’ teams all compete at home. Games begin at 4:00 p.m. and will end at 7:00 p.m. We would love the added ruach - GO HAWKS!

Thanks to Hillel parent Jeff Kowalsky for these amazing photographs!

second graders build early skills in physics

Second grade science and simple machines are better together in our MakerSpace. Working in pairs, students made their own simple machines, and then demonstrated to one another how they work. It’s a unit they will return to in fourth grade, building upon early skills in physics and the science of motion. Students said they felt lucky to build in the MakerSpace, where they have a variety of materials to work with!

trees add layer of connection between hillel and israel

Tu Bishvat is February 10, and our fifth graders are taking part in an annual tradition to plant trees in Israel on the date when, according to Jewish law, tree growth begins. Tu Bishvat is commonly known as Jewish Arbor Day, or the birthday of the trees, and also signifies the end of winter (in Israel - not Michigan!).

Please help them out! Send your child to school with a $1 for a cookie on Thursday, January 30, when the fifth grade will hold a bake sale, and a shuk (50 cents per item) during lunch and recess. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of trees from a nursery in Nof HaGalil, where our students are pen paling with students from the Ksulot School. The fifth graders at Ksulot will plan the trees on their school grounds, and erect a plaque commemorating the Hillel donation.

Seventh grader Ellery Gnesin is preparing for her bat mitzvah, and invites the Hillel community to help her fulfill her mitzvah project to raise funds for organizations providing relief in the aftermath of the Australian fires that have decimated nature, towns, and wildlife. Please place cans and bottles in the donation bins located in the lobby. Todah!

alumni focus: luke zeff (class of 2019)

Luke Zeff (class of 2019) has always applied his sports mentality to his academics -- he maintains focus, works through challenges, and helps out his classmates as he does his teammates.

This attention has made his transition to Groves High School, where he is a freshman basketball player, easier. “Sure, it’s a bigger environment, and I had to ask people for directions the first couple of days," he says. "But Hillel did a great job of preparing me because we had public speaking opportunities and presentations, so it’s not hard for Hillel graduates to approach strangers, ask for help, or advocate for themselves,” he says.

At Hillel, "I learned to manage my time as a student athlete, and so now I don’t feel overloaded by homework or finals, or projects,” he continues. “And our Hillel teachers always knew what we were capable of before we did, so they pushed us, and I do feel ahead” of some peers, he says.

Outside of school, Luke maintains his Hillel friendships via group chats, and on Sunday nights at Adat Shalom Synagogue, where he takes conversational Hebrew. He says his Jewish education is “a big part of me,” and the eighth grade Israel trip remains a highlight of his Hillel education. “It was great to be educated about Israel in Israel,” he says.

In the immediate future, the sports lover is predicting a win for the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. Long term, he hopes to play college sports, and “is open-minded about my future.”

And of course, a visit to Hillel, where his younger brother Dane is a sixth grader, is in his plans, too.

“The school year won’t end,” he says, “before you see me!”

advancement news

k-7 grandparents & grandfriends day is all new

Classroom visits, a musical performance, and more fun is planned for our reimagined Grandparents/Grandfriends Day for K-7 students on Friday, April 24, 2020. Be sure to tell Savta and Saba to save the date for an opportunity to share in our learning. Make sure we have updated contact information for grandparents here.

ecc courtyard bricks

Are you looking for a gift for your parents or your children? Consider purchasing a brick for our ECC courtyard, and leave a lasting legacy at Hillel Day School. Bricks come in several sizes. All purchases and/or donations are tax deductible. Purchase a brick and/or learn more here.

support hillel with amazonsmile

Did you know your purchases can make a difference? Don’t forget to use AmazonSmile for your Chanukah shopping. AmazonSmile donates to Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit when you do your shopping here.

more news to know

added safety tool in place at hillel

In partnership with our Detroit Jewish Federation’s Community-Wide Security, we have installed a new emergency alert/notification platform that allows us to both request police assistance and to send/receive emergency notifications in the event of an emergency in our building or other locations on the same system. You may notice these devices mounted to the walls around campus. These devices are intended to raise our level of safety, and streamline our ability to both summon help and to notify others of an emergency situation.

As always, the safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. Please feel to contact Ronen Meir, our Director of Security, if you have any questions or desire further clarification.

steam night success depends on you!

Our upcoming ECC-8th grade STEAM Night, with engaging stations provided by the Hands-On Museum of Ann Arbor, will focus on life, physical, and earth sciences, and offer fun activities for all ages! We need volunteers to help out! STEAM night is Thursday, April 23, 2020, at 5:30 p.m; volunteers should arrive at 5:00 p.m. Sign up here to volunteer! Thank you!

check out careers at hillel

Take a look at career opportunities for teachers here.

DVAR TORAH: parashat Vaeyra

By Rabbi Raphi Ozarowski, Judaic Studies teacher

How is community built, and what is its purpose? In a passage that might be familiar from our Passover seders, God tells Moshe how he plans to form our nation: “ “I will release you from Egyptian bondage, I will save you from their hard labor, I will redeem you with an outstretched arm…and I will take you as My nation.” This section is understood by our tradition as the ‘Four Promises of Redemption,’ which serve as the primary basis for drinking four cups of wine on Seder night. Each cup corresponds to and helps us recall one of the dramatic actions God took to take us out of Egypt.

There is one more oft-forgotten promise in the verse: “...And I will bring you to the land which I swore to your ancestors.” In fact, certain manuscripts of the Talmud debate whether or not to drink a fifth cup of wine, corresponding to this fifth divine promise. Although we do not drink a fifth cup at our own Sedarim, it is worth trying to glean a lesson from its existence.

Community can be built from shared suffering, shared freedom, shared redemption, and shared purpose. However, simply having community is not enough - we must use what we have built in order to somehow bring about positive change in the world. We must take the fifth step too: emulating God’s fifth promise of bringing us to a place where we will thrive and be a role model by bringing our own communities to a place where they are needed.This week we celebrated MLK day, in which we shared our hopes and dreams of making Hillel, and the world, a better and kinder place. What is our community worth if we don’t utilize it to somehow improve ourselves and the world? Too often we have the means to make change, whether in our homes or our schools or the world, but we do not take that final step to locate where we are needed and to bring our resources and values to those who need it most. This is our greatest task -- and our greatest honor as Jews, and as a community at Hillel.

upcoming events at school & around town

Any family who receives PJ Library or PJ Our Way Books can apply to receive up to $100 to get together with two or more other families raising Jewish children to do something Jewish. Families can receive up to four grants between now and April 30.

Before you go, check out pictures from our week!

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