Each year that I have taken groups to Israel, we encourage the students to experience the trip through all of their chumshim (senses): sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing. As we walk the land, we want them to experience the trip at this basic level and then begin to process the more complex thoughts and emotions churned up by a trip to Israel.

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about using my senses as I’ve walked the halls of the Upper School. Close your eyes for just a moment and concentrate with me as I walk you through my sensory experience at school.

Touch – The feel of a diligently built bridge being taken apart in Sci-Tech to figure out why it failed. It is just as important to understand why something did not work as it is to get it working as these students learn the principles of engineering.

Taste – We shared cookies, donuts, and juice with our neighbors at St. Aidan’s at our second annual Thanksgiving celebration. We gathered the middle schools of both institutions together for an opportunity to reflect and appreciate all that we are thankful for this holiday. Students heard Father Kevin and Rabbi Josh talk about the things that they have taken for granted and now realize how important they are. Mrs. Joan Friedman Cohen organized a group of 6th and 7th graders on drums and recorders to teach the students a song and the St. Aidan’s choir performed.

Sight – The image of a coalition of Muslim and Jewish schools, synagogues and mosques
gathering together  at Hempstead Town Hall to present Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray with blankets, warm coats and non-perishable food items that they have collected to donate to Hurricane Sandy victims. These items will be distributed by the Town of Hempstead to families in hard-hit communities throughout the Town, whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and many of whom are still unable to return to their homes.       

Hearing – Take an audio tour of many of the classes and other experiences that the Upper School students have had through Sounds of Schechter.

Of course, I have not left off the important sense of smell. Naturally, this week brings with it the smell of turkey roasting in the oven and all of the delicious smells of Thanksgiving. In these post-Sandy days, we have heightened our sense of gratitude towards our blessings. Take a look at what the 10th grade minyan thought about gratitude through the bracha מודים אנחנו לך in the עמידה. Here is a visual representation of their responses.

I wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving.

Shabbat Shalom!

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