A Message from Dr. Daniel J. Vitow, Headmaster
Every year I get a request from the staff of North Shore Notes to write a welcome message, and this year, when the request came, I smiled. It was yet another sign that despite the strange circumstances that face us in this year of the Covid-19 pandemic, some things don’t change. As I walked around the building during our first week of school, I saw many signs that the things that are different this year, although necessary and important, are all rather superficial, and that we are actually pulling off a mostly normal school experience for our students.
What is school for? There are so many answers to that question, but I will address the very crucial answers. School is for educating the next generation in preparation for their taking their places in the larger world. And as I walked around the building, that is exactly what I saw going on.
Teachers were teaching, students were listening and asking questions. During Schachrit and Mincha and in limudei kodesh classes, young men and women were honoring their heritage and exploring their traditions. In secular studies classes, content was expertly delivered and discussed. Kudos to our teaching staff for their attempts at connecting with all of their students. True, some students were Zooming, but they were part of the classes nevertheless. Social interactions between students were taking place, even though it was at a distance. The guidance offices were humming with plans. It was not all the three R’s: there were science labs, art classes, and even gym classes.
It might have looked a little different because of the masks and the one way hallway rules, but it still looked like a school where discovery, imagination, creativity and a healthy work ethic were being developed.
I was especially proud of our student body. They are each, individually, miracles of adaptation. They were so glad to be back at school! It is their enthusiasm that will make all the necessary but basically superficial safety protocols work so that we can do our job.
Have a wonderful and productive year!
The Fast of Gedalya- Who was Gedalya? By Shira Cohen
The day after Rosh Hashanah, or the third of Tishrei, marks the day in which we commemorate the death of Gedalya Ben Achikam, as we fast in his honor. In the Gemara, the fast is referred to as ‘The Fast of the Seventh,’ as it takes place in the seventh month.
Gedalya was the “governor” over the small contingency of Jews who remained in Israel after the First Temple was destroyed and the nation of Israel was exiled to Babylon. He was killed by Yishmael ben Nesania, one who was jealous of Gedalya’s position of power and unhappy with his tactical alliance with the Babylonians. Out of fear, many jews fled to Egypt, causing the Holy land to be devoid of Jews. All hope was wiped out; however, it was at this point, 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, that Yermiyahu, the prophet, prayed to God for some insight and assurance. God, of course, answered his prayers.
The following question, though, becomes apparent: there have been many righteous people who have died. In fact, there is probably no day in the year which does not mark the death of a righteous person. Does this mean that we should fast every day?
The Maharsha, who asks this question, provides the following explanation. We fast on this day not solely because Gedalya was killed. His death was most definitely a great tragedy in it of itself, holding much importance. We see how great of a tragedy the death of a righteous person is, as this fast is juxtaposed with all the other fasts which commemorate the destruction of the Temple. However, the effect his death had- that all Jews left the land of Israel and went into exile– is the central reason we fast. This is what we should be thinking about as we yearn for food.
Wishing everyone an easy and meaningful fast!
Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg By Talia Dror
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a women’s rights icon and prominent political figure, recently passed away after battling complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. Whether or not one may choose to agree with her points of view, we must look from an unbiased standpoint and appreciate all she has done to advance our country.
While she may have been small and soft spoken, Ginsberg was calculated and steady, translating into a truly unstoppable force as she defied social norms. Her ethical principles of equal liberty and human rights pushed her to break legal barriers which were previously unimaginable, but always warranted. She served as a role model to a multitude of young women, inspiring them to enter the field of law in hopes of continuing her legacy.
In Judaism, when someone passes, we say “זכרונו לברכה”- may their memory be a blessing. Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s memory should not only be a blessing, but fuel to continue our revolution towards equality.
ברוך דיין האמת.
North Shore’s Reopening Plan By Rebecca Schatz
Welcome back all students and faculty! Over the summer, North Shore has made detailed plans about how school was going to be run this year. To start off, the school is split in half with students with last names A-L going into school Monday and Wednesday, while students with last names M-Z go into school Tuesday and Thursday with alternating Fridays. This decision has limited class sizes, so there is plenty of social distancing in classrooms. The students who don’t go to school are on Zoom on the teacher’s computer. Having some students on Zoom and some in person limits the class size so desks can be spread apart. Despite the fact that we are able to successfully social distance, masks are required in each class for precautionary purposes.
Additionally, everyone is required to wear masks throughout the day, including when walking through the hallways and stairways. There are mask breaks in designated areas, including classrooms and during lunch. Breakfast and lunch is now served in the cafeteria and the gym, prepackaged, with desks 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing while eating. Each stairway is marked and specialized for either going upstairs or downstairs to help retain social distancing during the unavoidable traffic in between classes.
To monitor students’ health, before entering school each day, there is a policy to pass a screening test of 4 questions each morning. The entire building is also cleaned thoroughly after school everyday. Cleaning and sanitization will play a crucial role this school year. However, everyone must continue to be careful by wearing their masks and constantly washing their hands throughout the day. Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and great year. Shana Tova!
COVID-19 Vaccine: a dilemma facing the masses By Shoshana Horn
If there was a deadly virus going around and someone offered you a brand new vaccine, would you take it? That is the question many Americans may face before the end of Fall. COVID-19, the new coronavirus responsible for the pandemic that led to this new Zoom reality and abrupt lockdown in Spring 2020, might finally meet its match in many of the new developing vaccines.
There are currently dozens of COVID vaccines in development. Very few in the United States have entered what scientists call “Phase 3 efficacy trials”, in which the vaccines are given to thousands of volunteers. In fact, Russia completely bypassed these extensive research trials and administered their vaccine. China administered their version of the vaccine to their military; we cannot be sure a lot of consent was involved in either of those cases. In fact, there is a lot of controversy as to whether to take a vaccine that may not have undergone complete testing.
It’s possible that the sore deltoid from the usual flu shot might not be so bad after all. Especially since AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company, and the University of Oxford stopped their COVID vaccine trial because one volunteer came down with transverse myelitis, a rare form of spinal inflammation. Pfizer and Moderna are two companies in the United States that are actively recruiting volunteers for their vaccines, however there is a lot of speculation of when any of these vaccines will be ready for prime time. Hopefully, there will be more vaccine success stories in the future, however for now we must continue social distancing and wearing masks to stay safe.
Anti-Semitism on the Rise By Hannah Swartz
Coronavirus cases are not the only thing taking the country by a surge, along with the rise in cases comes Anti-Semitic tropes and acts. Jewish hatred during times of crisis is not something new to our society or age old history. The hateful rhetoric is one the Jewish people have been facing for centuries; blaming the Jewish people for economic downturns as well as the spread of disease. As of last year, more than half of hate crimes committed in New York City were acts of Anti-Semitism.
Although this issue is drastically affecting the American Jewish community, it would be ignorant to assume that the rise of Anti-Semitism is not growing throughout the rest of the world as well. On the far right, Jews have to worry about the white supremacists, and the anti semites on the far left hiding who now have voices hiding behind the term ‘Anti-Zionist’. These are scary times, but it is nothing the Jewish people have not faced before. It is important to recognize that there are still allies to the Jewish community as well as self reliance to persevere.
Making History in Sports By Gilad Azaharian
In 2016 the Cleveland Cavaliers made NBA history as being the first team to come back from being down 3-1 in the Finals as they made their comeback against the Golden State Warriors. Many NBA fans remember when the Lebron James led Cavs were down 3-1 and thought it was impossible. Well, this year, the Denver Nuggets, led by young stars Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, came back from being down 3-1 not once, but twice.
The first comeback came against the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. Utah, led by New York-native Donovan Mitchell, took a 3-1 lead after winning a tightly contested game 4 (history was made in this game too, as for the first time in NBA playoff history two opponents scored 50 points against each other, Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell both exploded for 50 points a piece). Following the game 4 loss, the Nuggets would go on to win the next 3 games including a nail-biter for fans in game 7, as Mike Conley missed an opportunity for the series winning shot at the buzzer.
The second (and more shocking) comeback followed the Jazz series as Denver would go on to play the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round. Many, many analysts and fans had selected the Clippers to win this year’s NBA title, following last summer when they signed the reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, and traded for league MVP runner up, Paul George. When LA took a 3-1 lead, many had written off the Nuggets, and rightfully so. Denver had played poorly in the first game 4 and, in game 5 it looked like Los Angeles would close the series as the Nuggets were down by 16 entering the fourth quarter. With their backs against the wall, Denver would go on to win the game and save themselves from elimination. They would go on to win the next two games, led by unbelievable performances from Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. I think it’s safe to say that we all can’t wait to see them match up against the Los Angeles Lakers next in the Conference Finals.
September Student of the Month By David Yagudayev
The September student of the month is none other than Jack Henry Applebaum. Jack Henry’s time at North Shore has been filled with many accomplishments. Whether it’s being the President of the Investing Club, or earning a medal in Hofstra’s prestigious Math Fair, Jack Henry is heavily involved in the extracurricular activities here at North Shore. Jack Henry is interested in working in Investment banking and has already, as a high school student, learned so much about this interesting field. He is currently working on starting a new Global Finance Club and has not only taken, but also tutored other students in College Accounting.
Despite it being his senior year, Jack Henry has loaded himself with challenging classes such as AP Calculus AB, AP Statistics and Double Gemara. He loves learning and takes on the challenge. Jack Henry believes that his focus and confidence have really helped him excel in North Shore Hebrew Academy High School and achieve Student of the Month. He also loves helping others. He has participated in Tomchei Shabbos which is an organization that delivers food to the needy, Friendship Circle which consists of working with special needs children, and Yachad, an organization that helps special needs adults. Jack Henry is working hard toward his goals and trying to be the best he can be, and doing so wonderfully.
Congratulations Jack Henry!
Advice Corner- a word to the wise By Chloe Mastour
Welcome home North Shore Hebrew Academy High School! It is good to be back! As school opens its doors (or Zoom waiting rooms), students met the first day, eager to embrace new challenges and experiences. While this year may seem overwhelming, I have a word of advice for all grades: from the incoming freshmen to the fully acclimated seniors, that will hopefully facilitate a wonderful year.
To the freshmen: You will quickly navigate and adjust to the demands of high school. Don't be afraid to take on new classes or establish relationships with teachers and peers. Most importantly, maintaining a positive mindset will ultimately set yourself up for success, and will allow you to make lifelong memories.
To my fellow sophomores: While we are all juggling our busy schedules, remember that physical organization leads to mental organization, especially as we are all floundering about the new-found foreign territory that is A.P courses. Creating a structured, consistent routine helps maintain organization, reduces stress, and leads to increased productivity. And although it’s tempting, attending class on your bed, in front of the TV, while texting, or while playing video games is a gradual deterrent from our schoolwork.
To the juniors: Welcome to the home stretch! Junior year is usually when students feel the biggest change of pace. With rigorous APs and standardized testing, this year will surely keep you busy. As preoccupied as you may be, it is critical to make time for yourself as well.
Last but not least, to the class of 2021: as this is your last high school back-to-school, savor the moment and enjoy! Wishing you a spectacular year as you complete your college applications and await hearing from colleges, yeshivas, and seminaries. I hope you all get into the college of your choice.
As we embark on this new school year together, I am sure the year will prove to be both challenging and exciting. To all my fellow North Shore students, despite our hectic schedules, I know we will surely succeed in our endeavors. I look forward to sharing the school year and its opportunities with you all!