D'var Torah: Parashat Noach By Hannah Swartz
Almost everyone knows the premise of this week's Parsha, Parashat Noach. G-d wants to send a flood to destroy the world, so he sends Noah to build an ark and bring two of every animal aboard. It makes a great story, but there are definitely deeper levels within the story that one can analyze. The first obvious question is, what in fact was the great sin that Noah’s generation committed provoking Hashem’s seek to destroy them? The Talmud teaches us that the world was immersed in jealousy, greed, theft etc. The worst of all, Rashi explains, is that people exploited each other sexually. Hashem is known in Torah, as well as everyday life in present time, for performing miracles, so why is it that Noah had to build an ark in the first place? Let alone take 120 years to do so. The Midrash says that Hashem specifically wanted Noah to undertake an usual project, adding onto the oddity by having him construct it on the top of a mountain. This way people would ask Noah what he was doing, and maybe re-evaluate their lives as well as actions. Within those 120 years, one would think that some must have joined the “movement” and been persuaded by Noah. Not a one. Noah treated the ark as his own ticket to survival, a chance to insulate himself from the evils of society. The Kabbalists explain that the word “taiva” in Hebrew has two meanings- ark and word. Each of us wants to build our own “ark”, the best life for ourselves and our loved ones. Simultaneously, we are given the power of words to reach out and influence others. Noah was given 120 years to build his “taiva”, so too are we given 120 years (a lifetime) to do the same.
SCOTUS nomination of Amy Coney Barrett By Shoshana Horn
Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States by President Trump after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away in September 2020. Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination is controversial because many believe that a Supreme Court justice replacement should occur after the November election, to be nominated by the winning Presidential candidate. However, there are others who propose that whoever wins the Presidency may have the option of “packing” the Supreme Court with as many judges as they want. As that debate rages on, Amy Coney Barrett has been facing a contentious Congressional hearing in which she has been questioned extensively about her personal beliefs and legal background. She is known for having clerked for late Justice Scalia and becoming a Federal judge in 2017. If approved, Amy Coney Barrett would become only the fifth woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court. Still, “who does the laundry” at home was not the best question and just highlighted the misogyny of the Senate. Many senators questioned her motivation to become a Supreme Court Justice and speculated if she would overturn many precedent cases, like the Affordable Care Act, or rule in favor of the policies of the Republican party. But Amy Coney Barrett promised to uphold the law and believes that “Judges are not policymakers” and “courts should not try to make policy.” Considering the Republican majority and her nomination by a Republican President, it is most likely that Amy Coney Barrett will become the next Supreme Court Justice and hopefully, keep her promises.
Opinion Piece: TikTok is Corroding Today’s Youth By Chloe Mastour
TikTok is a relatively new social media platform where people are able to share and upload 15-60 second videos with friends and followers. It is the most highly downloaded app today, with nearly 800 million active users worldwide. Of these users, about sixty percent are between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four. While TikTok tends to skew toward the younger generation, it attracts people of all different backgrounds, interests, and professions, and ages.
TikTok, like other social media platforms, is dangerous as it easily leads to child abuse and sexual exploitation, despite the fact that the company has a zero tolerance policy. Most of the posts are overtly inappropriate, discriminatory, and self-centered. Young children and teenagers are dancing in an inappropriate manner. The app also tends to exhibit certain discriminatory videos, such as mocking a certain way of dress, ethnic accents, or being simply cruel to others. This is especially concerning since kids are typically unable to discern when something is mocking, discriminatory or has an inappropriate undercurrent. The app exposes young children to profanities and slurs, often presented with heavily inappropriate music. Young kids are often seen mouthing words to songs with essentially every awful word and phrase you can imagine. It is troubling to see these children post videos doing highly unbecoming dance moves to inappropriate music. What’s more concerning is that most of these kids are not even aware of what these words actually mean. Although this platform showcases this problem, this is obviously an important issue affecting today’s youth in general.
At its best, TikTok can be really creative and fun. At worst, it can be discriminatory, self-promoting, and even recently deemed by some as a threat to our national security. Even if it does net somewhere in between, I am sure there are much better ways we could all be spending our time. Furthermore, the company profits off the exploitation of kids. TikTok is designed to be as addictive as possible, as the “For You Page” is customized based on what the user had previously liked. Mechanisms are in place to prevent boredom, such as an endless stream of 60-second videos. Thus, people are likely to spend hours on the app. Most people don’t even realize how much time they are spending since the app takes up the entire phone screen. This is not healthy or productive, and should be an issue that is both recognized and addressed.
Opinion Piece: Does Tik Tok have its benefits? By Gabby Kahen
I'm sure everyone already knows about “TikTok,” a popular app where people can post short videos and can also combine it with music. Although it's very addicting, and many people find it to be pointless and foolish, there actually are some benefits to it. Some videos on TikTok, believe it or not, are educational. For example, there are many people on this app showing how to cook or bake. These people give out fun, simple, and easy recipes that a younger audience is most probably able to make at home. Also, particularly since March of last year, when all schools closed, there was a surge in health, fitness and exercise oriented videos. Many users have been persuading people, especially students, to take the time that they now have at home to start working out. I've also found TikToks that have helped me, personally, with school. Whether it be Chemistry, Spanish, or Math, I came across many TikToks explaining tips and tricks on how to understand particular topics. The thing is, I never even searched for all these videos! They all came up on my “for you” page which is a page of recommended videos. When Tik Tok sees that you like certain content, they put these types of videos there that they think you will like, or that are “for you.” Of course, not everyones “for you” page consists of these types of videos. Truthfully, my “for you” page is made up of mostly cute dog videos. But once TikTok notices which videos you watch until the end, or ones that you like, they will put more of those types of videos there for you. So parents, if you are thinking of making your child delete TikTok, maybe go on their account and like some educational posts so they'll see it more often!
Macroeconomic Trends- A Shift Towards Technology By Daniel Kovan
Throughout the business world, even before coronavirus and the subsequent lockdowns, there was a notion of an eventual shift to an online-based economy. This inevitable shift became the new reality during the world of COVID-19, as companies in various sectors were forced to adapt and shift to the online applications of their businesses. Companies that once relied almost entirely on the retail aspect of their business have seen their online platforms grow exponentially. For example, Nike, whose online sales accounted for under 30% of its business in 2019, has seen that number double to 60% in 2020. Similarly, local businesses have begun to take part in the shift to online business, creating online platforms to be able to financially recover from the burden the pandemic puts on small businesses. This shift, which was intended to be temporary, is proving to be far from that. The shift allows for a more efficient way of doing business, linked to an increase in margins for the businesses, and a more convenient way of shopping for consumers. In addition to the change to an online-based retail economy, there is also a drastic shift online within businesses. With the increased familiarity with platforms like Zoom, remote work has become a permanent option. Companies such as Twitter and Square have announced that they will no longer require employees to work in offices. This approach is not unique to Twitter and Square, but with many other large corporations who have decided to move in the same direction. Remote work has become increasingly practical, and with the help of modern technology, everything from conference calls to signing papers can now be done online in a more efficient fashion.
The Battle of New York: A Sports Special By Yonatan Hourizadeh
As we all know, this year has been wild and we have endured so much change in our lives, but if there is one thing that stayed the same, it’s the miserable play of the New York Giants and Jets. Both have had a poor start to the season and have the best odds to get the 1st pick in the NFL draft. The question many are asking is if either team is in the position to draft Trevor Lawerence, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. 's top quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, will they pull the trigger and draft him? Both teams have young quarterbacks who have shown glimpses of their authentic craft but have struggled. Giants QB Daniel Jones, who in the 2019 NFL draft was taken with the 6th pick showed promise last year as he led all rookies in touchdowns thrown with 24 in 12 starts (13 games); the downside to Jones’ play is that he threw 12 interceptions and lost 11 touchdowns in the same time frame. The Jets took Darnold with the 3rd pick of the 2018 NFL draft and he has struggled tremendously since then. He has given us a few highlight reels this season but overall has played poorly. A big reason for his struggles is the lack of surrounding talent. His only viable receiver in 2018 was Robby Anderson, who the Jets decided not to resign this offseason, and in 2019 he received the addition of Jamison Crowder. These players should not be the only options that you give to a young quarterback. Darnold is also being coached by the worst head coach in NFL history in Adam Gase, who refused to help utilize running back Le'veon Bell and recently contributed to his release. Time comes April, and either one of these teams is on the clock with the 1st pick in the 2021 NFL draft, it would not be a surprise if either team went in the direction of drafting a quarterback. Jones still has 11 more games to show us what he’s got, and Darnold a less as he is currently nursing an injury.
New York is on the clock…
Advice Corner: How to Vote this November By Ella Hakimian
As you may know, America is embarking upon an exciting yet nerve racking election this November. If you go on social media platforms, you will see many people trying to push their biased views and perspectives onto naive voters to help their candidate win this election. Although Trump and Biden both have huge fan bases, there are still some individuals who are lost on who to vote for because so much rely on the outcome of this election. Therefore, my advice goes more towards the teachers in this school since only some students are eligible to vote: make sure that the Presidential nominee that you vote for is one that you are knowledgeable about and truly support. Because main media outlets such as CNN and Fox News are so heavily left and right winged, it has become very difficult to find bipartisan information nowadays. My favorite way to make sure I am well rounded in understanding a topic is by reading articles from both democratic and republican perspectives. Boths sides of the political spectrum have a lot riding on this election. Democrats want to replace Trump with a nominee that will better support the minorities in our society, aid in reforming our police system, advocate for women's rights and create a COVID- 19 relief plan. Republican, on the other hand, want to keep law and order in check, keep our economy open as we battle coronavirus and have private health care. During this time when American’s will do anything in their power to have their candidates elected, we must make sure we are relying on credible sources to give us honest information. Please make sure that the name you write on your ballot is one of a person you truly believe will better our great country.
Art of the Week: "Human Connection" By Emma Hematian
This issue’s ‘Art of the Week’ is a piece done by Raquel Blatter in the 11th grade. The title of this breathtaking piece is called “Human Connection”, and here’s how Raquel interprets it. “The top hand reflecting in the mirror represents the disconnection between us during this pandemic, and how we are reaching for each other to make that connection that we so desperately crave. The middle hand is holding a dove, which I view as a symbol of hope, or in this case a vaccine. I want this dove to symbolize the hope that we have that one day, this will all go away and we can reconnect. And finally, the bottom hand is the final point of a desperation for reconnection, reflecting in the mirror just like the top hand.” This work of art gifted to us by Raquel can settle within each one of us, because at the end of the day, every person is going through the exact same thing right now. That’s the beautiful thing about a good work of art- no matter who you are or where you came from, we can all find ourselves in one.
To view the piece, please refer to the original post.
Club of the Week: Girls Who Code By Rachel Hanan
Girls Who Code is a club brought to North Shore by our very own Mrs. Wilensky, the director of Educational Technology. Mrs. Wilensky started the club a few years ago in hopes of exposing more girls to the STEM and computing fields. It first started when Mrs. Wilensky noticed a lack of women in Computer Science classes. Ever since, the club has met every other week to work on coding. This year, the club is focusing on learning Python, a common computing language, on various websites such as Codesters and Code High School. Members of the club also have the opportunity to learn about Web Development and Design on CodeCombat. The goal for this year is for each member to successfully learn to code with Python or design and develop websites. During club meetings, participants communicate and collaborate with each other to answer questions and help each other. The club does not consist of just in-school meetings though; last year during the lockdown, Mrs. Wilensky assembled a panel of women in STEM fields who taught the members more about job opportunities in various STEM fields, as well as their experiences as women in STEM. Girls who join the club find coding fun, as it allows them to be creative and imaginative. Girls Who Code is always open to new members interested in exploring the coding world, we look forward to seeing you at the next meeting!