The theme of this Hanukah-centered program was “The Miracle of Jewish Survival,” with each grade representing one vital element in this overall theme. The Freshman team, led by Leo Esses & Jennifer Anteby, represented Avodah/Service. The Sophomore team, led by Yoni Hadar and Gloria Terzi, represented Emunah/Faith. The junior team, led by Leon Betesh and Rosie Mosseri, represented Gevurah/Strength, and the Senior team, led by Jack Anteby & Rachel Tawil, represented Mesorah/Tradition.
Throughout the week, students presented special dibre Torah at all of the minyanim. The Thursday evening program began at the high school where each team presented two short films that they wrote, directed and acted in – one serious and informative and the other humorous. This was followed by a challenging Torah Bowl competition hosted by our own Rabbi Joey Haber.
After Arbit, students and staff proceeded to the former site of MDY Elementary School for a delicious and festive meal arranged by MDY’s Mrs. Rochelle Beyda and Mr. David Shamah. The dinner was followed by a Cupcake War Competition directed by Ms. Stephanie Shamah. Each team displayed cupcakes they had baked, reflecting their theme. The cupcakes were judged on creativity, culinary artistry and of course, taste. (We now know where the Food Network’s next rising stars will be coming from!).
The heart and soul of the evening took place in the school’s spacious gymnasium. The competition included singing, dancing and banner presentation. Each team was judged on originality, artistry and participation. Each grade presented three songs including one for which they provided original lyrics. The singing was enthusiastic, tuneful and heartfelt. The melodious strains of the beautiful Hebrew and Jewish themed songs reverberated throughout the room and at times brought the onlookers to tears.
In a climate where our children are exposed to elements so foreign to the spirit of our holy Torah, it was uplifting to see the unity and religious feeling the students displayed. It is difficult to adequately express in words what the feeling in that gym was like – the sight and sound of hundreds of students singing so beautifully, speaking so eloquently and joining together in an unprecedented display of ahdut was so much beyond mere words. It touched the neshamah of everyone who had the privilege to witness it. The spirit was electric, and the room shook as students and staff swayed in time to the music.
The winners of the Shiriyah were the 11th graders, Team Gevurah. Yet, everyone who participated went home a winner. Some of the comments I received during the program and emails that were sent afterwards reflected the impact on all who participated. One student remarked that, “I can honestly say this was the greatest night of my entire high school career! It was amazing and so touching to see how close our school can really be.” Noted another, “Magen David is unique because we can have so much ruah and a challenging program at the same time.” A member of our faculty said, “I feel as if I’m witnessing history in the making.” There is no doubt that the legacy of this Shiriyah will continue to inspire students and staff for many years to come!”
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