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High School Happenings

 
Students and Faculty Celebrate Chanukah Together
HAFTR High School students enjoyed a week of wonderful special activities in honor of Chanukah. The festivities included a dreidel competition for each grade, followed by a “Spin-off” for the four finalists, where the winner received a $50 Amazon Card. On the third night of Chanukah, students, faculty and HAFTR families joined together for our school-wide Menorah lighting. The Menorah was lit by HAFTR graduate Sean Bokor, who was visiting from Israel. After the Menorah lighting, students and teachers enjoyed singing, dancing and delicious donuts. On December 25, students enjoyed our annual Yom Iyun with a school-wide davening. The following day, the HAFTR PTA sponsored a concert with Uri Davidi, where the students displayed great ruach and excitement as they danced with friends and teachers. Throughout Chanukah, rebbeim and morot prepared engaging and enlightening shiurim pertaining to the chag. This was an enjoyable time for all, as the students enjoyed the company of their friends and bonded with their teachers.
 
Mrs. Sinensky, chairperson of the Science Department, hosted the students in her AP Chemistry class for a celebration of Chanukah. As students enjoyed a delicious dinner together, they played Chemistry Pictionary and Chemistry Headbands, with cards created by classmates Matthew Mizrahi and Leor Oved. Dessert was also a special treat: Students fried and decorated homemade donuts!
 
 
Rabbi Blinder and the students in his 11th grade Beit Midrash Gemara Shiur enjoyed a special Chanukah mesiba, sharing a festive meal and meaningful divrei Torah. A highlight of the evening for Rabbi Blinder and his students was making dreidels out of clay.             
         
The students in Mrs. Guttman’s senior girls class enjoyed getting ready together for Chanukah at a pre-Chanukah party hosted by Lindsay Kalish. The students enjoyed making creative menorahs out of candy, and delivered Divrei Torah on the connection between Parashat Vayeshev and Chanukah itself.
 
Ninth-grade girls enjoyed a dessert party at Mrs. Guttman’s home on the third night of Chanukah. Students decorated cupcakes and linked what they learned in class about miracles in our own lives to the story of Chanukah. One group of girls connected Moshe’s noting of the miraculously unconsumed burning bush to the Maccabees’ later recognition of the small flask of oil that lasted eight days. What beautiful Torah thoughts on the Holiday of Lights!
Students Enjoy Thought-Provoking Sessions on Yom Iyun
 
HAFTR High School held a Yom Iyun, a day of scholarship and learning, on December 25, the third day of Chanukah. The day began with a school-wide davening at 9:00 am. Rebbeim, morot and teachers offered a host of different topics for our students to choose from, such as Halachic issues while serving in the IDF, the search for extraterrestrial life and many others. Students were able to attend three sessions of their choice. The day concluded with a dodgeball game, including faculty, where fun was had by all. The Yom Iyun engaged our students academically, spiritually and emotionally, allowing them to experience learning and activities that were self-selected and were not performance driven.
 
 
 
Girls’ Torah Bowl in First Place at Meet
 
In a streak not seen before, the HAFTR girls’ Torah Bowl team won each match against four other schools meeting at HANC on Monday, December 9. Participating students Racheli Gottesman, Eliana Lev, Kaily Mermelstein, Leah Saitskiy, and Ahuva Cohen gracefully and successfully fielded questions on parshiot Beshalach and Yitro. As a result, the team won two matches and tied two, which count as wins, putting them in first place for the meet. The team, coached by Rabbi Hubner, hopes to keep up its winning streak at the next meet! 
 
HAFTR High School Hosts Two Model Congress Tournaments
 
HAFTR High School hosted two Model Congress Tournaments on November 6 and December 5. In November, HAFTR students, along with those from Chaminade, DRS, Ezra, Lawrence, and Lynbrook, debated topics concerning the drinking age, vaping, handgun licenses, hormone therapy, and marijuana.  
 
At the conclusion of the tournament, HAFTR’s Daniel Singer and David Lederer tied with Chaminade. HAFTR’s Lulu Morse alone took third place while Gabe Kurlander tied for fourth, again with Chaminade. Ilana Sacolick tied for fifth with Ezra Academy.
 
The December Tournament was attended by Chaminade, DRS, Ezra, Flatbush, Lynbrook, and SKA. Topics for debate included a ban on plastic bags, maternity leave, eliminating tenure, dismantling the filibuster, and legalizing prostitution.
 
Both Lulu Morse and Matthew Morse of HAFTR tied for first, along with Tzviki Fortgang from DRS and James DiTredici from Chaminade. HAFTR’s Mikayla Corney tied for fourth with students from Flatbush and Chaminade, while HAFTR’s Racheli Gottesman tied for fifth with a representative from Flatbush.
 
“HAFTR is proud to host monthly Model Congress Tournaments throughout the year,” said Coach Alex Libkind. “Students write bills on very diverse topics and must take a position and deliver three-minute speeches, followed by two minutes of questions. This exercise forces students to think on their feet while showing a grasp of diverse topics.” 
 
 
HAFTR Hosts Debate Tournament, Tackling NBA’s Challenge with Political Speech
 
HAFTR hosted a debate tournament on November 20 attended by schools throughout the New York area, including Chaminade, DRS, HAFTR, Hewlett, Lawrence, Lynbrook, and Rambam.
 
The tournament featured Extemp Debate, Public Forum, and Lincoln Douglas. Shortly after Lebron James was criticized for being tone deaf to the democracy protesters in Hong Kong, students debated the following topic: “The NBA should not preclude its employees and athletes from any political speech.”
 
After four grueling rounds in the JV Extemp Debate Division, HAFTR’s Team of Matthew Morse and Gabe Kurlander were undefeated and tied for first place with James Cullen from Chaminade. HAFTR’s Julia Fox took third place with a 2 and 2 record. In Novice Extemp, HAFTR’s Rachel Sharon took second place with a 3 and 1 record, and HAFTR’s Meir Farkas took third with a record of 2 and 2.
 
“We want to make sure students are closely following the events around them,” said Coach Alex Libkind. More than “following headlines,” students should “understand how these events affect them. We know that speech is protected by the Constitution, but is all speech protected?”
 
 
HAFTR Hawks Athletics Sponsors Israel Sports Center for the Disabled
 
Last month, under the leadership of Mr. Joey Hoenig, HAFTR’s Director of Athletics, the 
the Hawks welcomed Israel’s Sports Center for the Disabled to the Hawks Nest for a galvanizing exhibition game. 
 
Center Executive Director Jennifer Flink and East Coast Director Beth Grafman introduced two stars of the Israel National Wheelchair Basketball team, Asael Shabo and Shay Barbibay. Both men shared their stories of how they ended up in their wheelchairs, and how the Israel Sports Center for the Disabled gave them renewed hope and fresh goals. Then came the excitement! Asael and Shay put on a demonstration displaying the differences between traditional basketball and wheelchair basketball. Asael chose a few volunteers from the bleachers, representing HAFTR students from lower, middle, and high school, to highlight his impressive skills. 
 
The drive and accomplishments of these two men mesmerized the crowd: “We gained a new appreciation for our ability to use our legs, learning and seeing firsthand how much these athletes have accomplished despite their disabilities,” shared HAFTR High School seniors Jessie Kornblum and Eliana Lazar. “They showed us that nothing should limit us, and that we can achieve anything we put our minds to, no matter the obstacles. It was really inspirational and amazing to watch.” 
 
Yachad Club Holds Successful Fundraiser
 
By Molly Feder and Susanna Horowitz
Yachad celebrated its annual “Yachad Giving Day” on December 16 and 17. The goal of this day is to raise as much money as possible in 36 hours in honor of Yachad’s 36 years of helping the Jewish community. Members of our HAFTR High School Yachad Club gladly took part in the initiative. Members sold donuts throughout the day, raising $120. Their donation was then matched by Yachad’s anonymous donor, making their total donation $240! This money will be used by Yachad to continue enhancing and funding their summer programs, shabbatons, vocational services, and more. Tizku L’Mitzvot!
HAFTR Hosts Successful Satran Tournament
 
HAFTR hosted its 33rd annual Scott Satran Memorial boys varsity basketball tournament last weekend. This tournament is in memory of, and in honor of, the life of Scott Satran, a student athlete who passed away in 1987 at only 20 years old. Twelve different teams from different communities came together for a wonderful Shabbaton as well as great basketball.
This tournament featured the best yeshiva high school teams in the country competing at a very high level. HAFTR hosted all 12 teams in their three gyms in their Lawrence and Cedarhurst facilities. The preliminary rounds saw the HAFTR Hawks and the Magen David Warriors earn the number one and number two seeds, with DRS, Frisch, Shaare Torah and Heschel at the 3-6 seeds in the Tier 1 division. Hillel, from Deal, New Jersey, earned the #1 seed in the tier 2 division, followed by North Shore, HANC, YDE, JEC and Ramaz.
 
After an incredible Shabbat program hearing about Scott Satran and the life lessons we can all learn from him, basketball resumed with the quarterfinals on Saturday night.
DRS knocked off Heschel, and Frisch topped Shaare Torah, setting up HAFTR vs Frisch and Magen David vs DRS in the Tier 1 semi-finals. In a great game on Sunday morning, HAFTR turned back Frisch, who unfortunately lost their gifted forward, Shmuli Coates, as well as Danny Weinberger, their excellent shooting guard, to injury. In the other semi-final game, DRS fought hard against Magen David but fell short, setting up the #1 and #2 seeds in the Tier 1 championship game.
 
The Tier 2 finals were set as well, featuring the Ramaz Rams and the Hillel Heat. Ramaz beat North Shore, while Hillel outscored YDE in their Tier 2 semi-finals games. In a great, well-played double overtime game, Ramaz came out on top, taking home the Tier 2 championship trophy. MVP honors went to Spencer Rubinstein from Ramaz.
 
The final game of the tournament was a thriller: the HAFTR Hawks vs. the Magen David Warriors in the Tier 1 championship. After a well-played first half, Magen David took a 6-point lead going into the third quarter. While the Warriors increased the lead early in the second half, HAFTR fought back and, after a 3 pointer by the Hawks’ Avi Rokosz midway through the fourth quarter, the game was tied. But Magen David proved to be too much for HAFTR as they went on to a 51-46 victory, taking home the championship banner. Congratulations to the entire Magen David Warriors team and to their coach Ikey Dweck and his entire coaching staff. Tier 1 MVP honors went to Joe Sultan, Magen David’s 6’6” center.
 
Congratulations to the HAFTR Hawks, who had a great tournament, and to Jordan Appel and Jacob Steinmetz on earning All-Star awards. Congratulations to Ezra Sicklick from DRS, who took home the 3-point contest trophy. Congratulations to the entire HAFTR community for opening up their homes and hearts for the entire weekend and to all the participating schools!
 
HAFTR is already working hard on next year’s tournament and is looking forward to once again hosting the annual Scott Satran Memorial Tournament in 2021. HAFTR High School extends special thanks to Athletic Director Mr. Joey Hoenig, whose vision, energy and enthusiasm make this tournament so successful and meaningful. 
 
 
HAFTR’s College Bowl Teams Are Off to a Great Start 
 
After the first competition in the Yeshiva High School League, hosted by HAFTR, JV is currently in first place and undefeated with a 4-0 record, while Varsity is sitting in the middle with a record of 2-2. The Varsity team is led by Ben Bodner, David Lederer, Jonathan Lederer, Matthew Morse, and Jeffrey Wolberg. JV is led by Daniel Singer, Benjamin Gettenberg, Joseph Gettenberg, Ezra Wallach, and Gabe Kurlander.
 
The teams have also competed in two Regional League matches, and both teams are 2-0 with the JV team in the top five in all of Long Island. Faculty Advisor Mr. Steven Harris and the teams are looking forward to future successes, B’ezrat Hashem, in the coming months.
 
 
Sophomores Discuss Making Healthy Choices
 
Tenth-grade students met with social worker Menachem Posnanski during their lunch periods to discuss young adults struggling with addiction. Mr. Posnanski runs The Living Room, a subsidiary of Our Place, a program for people in recovery. Students enjoyed pizza and had an open discussion with Mr. Posnanski about making healthy choices when it comes to substance use and peer pressure, and how they can help any friends who may be struggling with these issues. The program served as a catalyst for many productive discussions.
 
HAFTR Hosts CIJE Robotics Tournament
 
HAFTR hosted the CIJE Robotics Tournament on December 19. Over 20 yeshiva day schools participated, and students created more than 50 Vex robots for the event. HAFTR was represented in the tournament by over 60 students from our High School and Middle School. Our High School team made it deep into the playoffs. Our Middle School teams finished in the top six places, cruising their way to a HAFTR-only playoff, making our school champions in every category.
 
As House Votes to Impeach Trump, HAFTR Hosts Debate on “Abuse of Power”
 
HAFTR hosted another Extemp Debate Tournament on December 18. The same day that the House voted to impeach President Trump, students debated whether “abuse of power should be enough of an impeachable offense to remove a sitting president.”  
 
The tournament had both JV and Novice divisions. HAFTR’s JV team of Jesse Muller and Julia Fox, with their 3-1 record, tied for first place with Rambam. HAFTR’s team of Ilana Sacolick and Matthew Morse placed second, with 2-2 record. In the Novice category, HAFTR’s Rachel Sharon once again took second place, with a 2-2 record.
 
“I am proud of all the HAFTR teams that did so well in this tournament,” said Alex Libkind, Coach and Director of the South Shore Speech and Debate League. “Extemp Debate takes a special kind of mental dexterity and stamina. For students to be able to absorb in 45 minutes both sides of a complex topic and then effectively communicate their position is really a challenge. I am so glad that this event has become a regular feature of our debate program and has been adopted by yeshivas and public and parochial schools alike.”
 
(Ilana Sacolick 2nd from left, Lulu Morse 4th from left, Gabe Kurlander 5th from left, Daniel Singer 6th from left, David Lederer 7th from left, Coach Alex Libkind on right end)
 
 
Junior Workshop Focuses on College Admissions Process
 
Eleventh-graders joined parents, teachers, and administrators for the annual Junior College Workshop on December 10. After introductions by Ms. Lippman, Mrs. Parmet, and Rabbi Wienerkur, guidance counselors presented a PowerPoint on the procedures and information needed for the college application process. This included explanations of transcripts; the importance of school and community activities and of standardized tests; factors to consider in selecting a college; and of course visiting the colleges themselves. Essay writing and Naviance, our college planning tool, were also key topics of discussion. Finally, Mrs. Maryanne Boufall-Tynan from Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York led a discussion of what admissions officers are looking for and what Macaulay is all about.
 
Empowering Seniors to Combat Anti-Israel Rhetoric
 
By Jordana Mastour
HAFTR seniors were privileged to hear a presentation on November 25 by Dalia Zahger, a former commander in the IDF 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 all over the country. Unfortunately, when confronted with attacks on Israel, Jewish students are often unprepared to debate the issues and refute the anti-Israel rhetoric. Ms. Zahger talked about the anti-Israel incidents that she personally encountered at Columbia. Ms. Zahger then provided students with the necessary tools and strategies to combat the anti-Israel rhetoric they will face on college campuses. Ms. Zahger’s invaluable presentation empowered HAFTR seniors, soon to become college freshmen, who will likely face similar occurrences.
Students Support Shalom Task Force Purple Day 
 
HAFTR students joined Jewish schools worldwide on Tuesday, November 9, to promote awareness of domestic violence. Students wore purple and purchased purple donuts to show their support for Shalom Task Force, an organization that educates the public and that supports victims of domestic abuse.
AP Government Students Visit Kings County Court
 
By Shoshana Reichmann and Lea Karasanti 
Mrs. Parmet’s AP Government and Politics class took a trip to Kings County Family Court on November 18. The students had the privilege of meeting Judge Esther Morgenstern, who explained the court system and her role as a family court judge. After meeting with Judge Morgenstern privately, the visiting students took their seats and observed cases from the jury box. As proceedings continued throughout the day, public defense attorneys explained to students what was happening and what exactly they were witnessing. At the time of the trip, the AP Government and Politics class was learning about the judicial system; the trip brought to life this academic learning in real time. 
 
Moreover, students noted that the Kings County courtroom was the most diverse space students had ever been in. This was an eye-opening experience, especially for those students interested in pursuing a career in law. The members of Mrs. Parmet’s class were grateful for the unique educational opportunity.
 
To Kill A Mockingbird:
Mrs. Stern’s 9th Grade Goes to Broadway!
 
Forty-one happy 9th graders found themselves in the audience of nine-time Tony-nominated To Kill a Mockingbird last month. After studying Harper Lee’s classic text, Mrs. Stern’s English students were able to see Aaron Sorkin’s radical and compelling adaptation, replete with a flawed and contrite Atticus Finch, and a saucy and judgmental Calpurnia. “But isn’t it the same story?” one might ask. Students learned the difference between an adaptation and an original work, broadening their understanding of character and of social context. Mrs. Stern’s 9th graders became critics, ultimately comparing the novel not only with the Broadway play, but with the iconic 1962 Gregory Peck movie, as well. We all look forward to our next Broadway romp!
 
HAFTR High School Dedicates Library Box in Dr. Krinsky’s Memory
 
Principals, faculty and students gathered in the Beit Midrash after davening on December 31 to dedicate a Little Free Library Box in memory of Dr. Hindi Krinsky, a”h. Dr. Krinsky, a beloved English teacher and curriculum coordinator, passed away suddenly in August 2018. Ms. Lippman welcomed Dr. Krinsky’s students, colleagues and family members to the dedication ceremony. She noted that Dr. Krinsky was an extraordinary teacher, brilliant scholar and cherished colleague who promoted literacy throughout HAFTR High School. Rabbi Ira Wallach, coordinator of Limudei Kodesh, who had worked closely with Dr. Krinsky on curriculum, spoke about her inspiring leadership. He described Dr. Krinsky as a visionary, who focused not just on her own classroom, but on expanding intellectual rigor and literacy on an institutional level. The Little Free Library Box was designed by talented artist Shelley Wapniak, who worked with two of Dr. Krinsky’s colleagues, Mr. Jason Gelman and Mrs. Malka Akerman, to create a beautiful structure reflecting Dr. Krinsky’s interests and passions. Following the moving ceremony, participants enjoyed a special breakfast sponsored by Hindi’s Libraries. 
 
 
HAFTR Hosts Yeshiva College Guidance Counselors
 
HAFTR’s Academic and College Guidance Department hosted a well-attended Counselor Advocacy for the Jewish University Experience (CAJUE) event, with counselors from 15 yeshiva high schools throughout the metropolitan area. Counselors discussed new National Association of College Admissions Counselors’ policies and ramifications; CUNY application updates; up-to-date ACT testing procedures; reductions of funding at Queens College; art portfolios; how schools send first quarter grades; schools with OT, PT, and Pharmacy programs; as well as general admissions guidelines and changes.
 
Varsity Teams Participate in Glouberman Tournament
 
A group of 26 HAFTR High School student athletes boarded a plane to Los Angeles on Wednesday, November 6, to participate in the fifth annual Steve Glouberman Basketball Tournament hosted by Shalhevet High School. The HAFTR High School Hawks boys and girls varsity basketball teams were each invited to represent in the tournament. The girls started early Thursday morning facing off against SAR. In an intense game with 9 lead changes and 7 ties, the HAFTR girls ended up with the win. The boys followed with their first game of the tournament, also against SAR, taking control of the game from the very beginning, and were able to hold on to a lead the entire game. Going into Shabbat, the girls were 3-0 and the boys were 2-1. 
 
Shabbat in LA was beautiful, with the teams each eating Shabbat dinner all together at a different host home, and then joining together afterwards for a tournament-wide oneg at the Young Israel of Century City. Shabbat davening and lunch included all 19 teams in the tournament, giving all the basketball players a chance to mingle and make friends from across the country. After a restful Shabbat, the players quickly changed gears to get ready for the semifinals. 
 
At the semi-finals, the HAFTR girls faced the team that turned out to be the best in the tournament, Maimonides, from Boston, and held their own. Unfortunately, although they played hard and kept it close, Maimonides pulled ahead and won by 7 points, with our HAFTR Hawks girls varsity basketball team coming in 3rd place. The boys had a chance for a rematch against the Shalhevet Firehawks in the semifinals. This second match up was a much closer game, and Hawks gave the Firehawks a real contest. They fought hard but could not hold out in the end. The HAFTR Hawks boys varsity basketball team also came in 3rd place. It was a fantastic experience for both varsity basketball teams, as well as being great practice for all their upcoming games. Go Hawks!
 
 
HAFTR Wins Championships at Baltimore Tournament
 
The HAFTR High School boys and girls varsity basketball teams traveled to Baltimore on Wednesday, December 4, for the 33rd Annual Beth Tfiloh-Weiner Tournament. Teams from Canada, Dallas, Baltimore, New York, and Jerusalem were present at this special shabbaton and sports event.
 
After five games of pool play, the HAFTR Hawks girls and boys earned a place in the semifinals. The Varsity teams advanced to the championship games on Motzai Shabbat, after playing exceptionally well during the semifinals. 
 
In front of a packed house, HAFTR boys and girls faced the Yavneh Bulldogs from Dallas. Varsity girls pulled ahead early on their way to a convincing victory over the Bulldogs and their first tournament championship. Varsity boys overwhelmed their opponents by taking a quick 13-0 lead. The Hawks never looked back in a dominant performance that resulted in their second consecutive Beth Tfiloh-Weiner Tournament championship. It was a truly wonderful experience of achdut and leadership for our HAFTR varsity basketball teams!
 
Congratulations on Class of 2020 College Acceptances...So Far!
 
Mazal Tov to the students in the Class of 2020. We congratulate the following students on their college acceptances during the early decision/early action process, and we look forward to more wonderful news next semester.
 
Adelphi University
Zachary Gononsky
 
University at Albany
Cory Hiller
Jordan Katz
Michelle Khanan
Julia Mann
Samuel Maron
Miriam Reiss
Zachary Schindler
Samuel Spitzer
 
Barnard College
Emily Silverstein
 
Binghamton University
Susanna Horowitz
Matthew Jedwab
Alexander Kaufman
Jolie Mastey
Ethan Oliner
Benjamin Perl
Jennifer Rabinowitz
Rami Rudensky
Nathaniel Schlussel
Sarah Well
Haley Wiener
 
University at Buffalo
Jordan Katz
Douglas Mandel
Samuel Maron
Miriam Reiss
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Columbia University
David Lederer
Jonathan Lederer
Jeffrey Wohlberg
 
University of Delaware
Benjamin Flores
 
George Washington University
Matthew Morse
 
Harvard University
Jennifer Rabinowitz
 
Hofstra University
Alexander Kaufman
 
Long Island University, Post
Gabriel Gononsky
Jadyn Harari
 
University of Michigan
Matthew Jedwab
Matthew Nathan
 
Molloy College
Jadyn Harari
 
New York Institute of Technology
Samuel Spitzer
 
New York University
Lea Karasanti
Shoshana Reichmann
 
SUNY Oneonta
Zachary Aaron Gononsky
Miriam Reiss
 
Pace University
Gabriel Gononsky
Michelle Khanan
Jacline Rivkin
 
St. John’s University
PharmD Program
Tara Willner
 
University of Tampa
Benjamin Flores
 
Yeshiva University
Benjamin Bodner (Deans’ Scholars)
Molly Feder (Honors)
Rachel Gottesman (Honors)
Lindsay Kalish (Deans’ Scholars)
Joshua Wiener (Deans’ Scholars)
 
Shabbat Shalom!
 
Ms. Naomi Lippman, Principal
Dr. Joshua Wyner, Associate Principal
Rabbi Yitzchok Riselsheimer, Dean of Limudei Kodesh
Rabbi Ira Wallach, Limudei Kodesh Coordinator