Every lesson, conversation and idea at Bernard Zell begins with our Jewish Values. These same values serve as the foundation of our annual day of giving back—the Bernard Zell Day of Service. Since 2016, in memory of Judd Horowitz, late husband of the former Head of School, Dr. Alyson Horowitz, students at every grade level engage in acts of service to support the broader community. Through kindness and compassion, our students embody the values of:
Tikkun Olam (repairing the world)
Tzedaka (obligation to give charitably)
Gimilut Chasadim (sympathetic consideration to others; sometimes good deeds)
Achrayut (responsibility, especially for each other)
Last week, our Lower and Middle School students were captivated by motivational speaker, Jahkil Jackson of Project I AM, who is on a mission to influence kids around the country to get involved in their communities. During the pandemic, Jahkil creatively engaged over 200 youth from over 70 cities to make and distribute 7,500 blessing bags to those in need.
Using the inspiration from Jahkil and all of the amazing donations from our community, students in Nursery - 8th grade put together Blessing Bags for the organization StreetWise, empowering the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. We are proud to announce we collected over 613 bags (613 is the number of Mitzvot in the Torah)! Kol HaKavod (great job) to our entire community for another successful Day of Service!
How We Celebrate Shavuot at Bernard Zell 🌾
🌾 How We Celebrate Shavuot at Bernard Zell
Rachel Jury, Director of Jewish Studies
The holiday of Shavuot—the celebration of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai—begins this Thursday evening at sundown. Our BZ celebration of Shavuot exemplifies how we celebrate Jewish traditions in a way that is both meaningful and joyful. Throughout the year, we invite our students to see Torah as part of a toolbox for living well and as a way to use tradition to add meaning to their lives. Below are a few highlights of our special Shavuot celebrations!
Our SK students receive a symbolic mini-Torah as part of a celebration of their EC learning. We call this ceremony, Bikkurim, in recognition that the first learning for our students complete. One of the names for Shavuot is in fact, Chag HaBikkurim, the holiday of the first fruits.
In SK students learn Torah stories each week and are regularly applying it to their own lives. When asked what they’ve learned from the Torah, the students recalled learning to respect their parents and teachers, being kind, telling the truth, not hurting someone more when they are down and not engaging in gossip. The students remembered to love your neighbor like you love yourself, and felt that this best summed up their Torah learning.
Students stand under a chuppah (wedding canopy), that they create as they mark the end of the Early Childhood Jewish journey. In eight years, they will stand under that same chuppah when they graduate from Bernard Zell as 8th graders.
Fourth Grade Siyum
Fourth grade students have been learning about the value of Hachnasat Orchim, welcoming guests and new friends, all of this year. In Jewish Studies class students read the text from the Chumash (5 books of Moses) about Abraham and Sarah welcoming three guests into their home and discussed how we can implement the model of welcoming that Abraham and Sarah exhibited. In their General Studies classes, 4th grade students learn The Nora Project, a disabilities education curriculum, and together 4th graders think about connecting the values in Chumash to their learning about welcoming people with disabilities in society.
Eighth Grade Tikkun Leil Shavuot
This evening, our 8th-grade students are leading their families in a Tikkun Leil Shavuot evening, the practice of learning all night in preparation for receiving the Torah. The evening will begin with a private installation and explanation of the 8th grade Rychnov Torah Holocaust project, an appropriate connection to the holiday of Shavuot in which parents learn about the process students went through while exploring the history of the Torah and the potential designs for it.
The students planned and will present lessons to their families on topics they learned this year while connecting them to Jewish theme, value, text or prayer. The topics included “Ideas have an impact”, “The Beduin people and why details matter”, “Learning from the past” and “Jewish Persistence”, just to name a few. The evening will conclude with a symbolic Havdalah service and the blessing over the children recited by the parents to symbolize the students' transition from Bernard Zell to the world beyond.
Earlier today, we watched these students do a dry-run for the 7th graders. They did a phenomenal job exemplifying how they can find points of connection between their personal interests and values and their Jewish identity. We hope they will continue their Jewish educational journey finding opportunities of continued study and exploration. B’Hatzlacha (Good luck), Kita het!
The end of the school year is filled with lots of excitement and activity. While eager for the summer adventures ahead, students often have mixed feelings about leaving their friends, the comforting structure of school, and their teachers. They can also be worrying about what next year will bring and how they will fit in a new classroom, with new classmates, and new teachers.
This can be expressed in many ways. Children may seem a bit more emotional, push boundaries, or seek out your attention more than normal or in uncharacteristic ways. We see this at school, too! What children are really communicating is that they need the adults around them to provide the structure to help them continue to feel safe and to have a place to share their thoughts. This can be hard for parents as, often, you may have the same concerns.
In my final communication for the 2022-23 school year, I would like to continue to share my gratitude for your loyal partnership. I have much to be thankful for this year at BZ, but at the top of my list is working together with our amazing families. Your support has been integral to the success of our program and has enabled tremendous growth for your children. It has been my absolute pleasure to help guide our Lower School this year, and I look forward to continued work next year.
This year was thankfully without COVID restrictions, yet we continued to talk about its impact, reminding us of the importance of consistency and structure and also identifying the need for additional layers of social/emotional support throughout the year. We also pinpointed the need to help students practice sitting with difficult tasks, further developing tenacity and stamina. Kids are accustomed to hearing me say, “You can do hard things!”
As we near the end of another school year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the wonderful journey we have shared together in Middle School.
Our students have embraced a variety of challenges presented to them and have risen above expectations, both academically and personally. They have often shown resilience, creativity, and a thirst for knowledge. From outstanding performances on the stage to building models in Science classes, from engaging debates in the classroom to impressive athletic achievements, our students have demonstrated some exceptional abilities! But it's not just about the academic and extracurricular accomplishments; it's also about the relationships that have been forged and the character development that has taken place. We have witnessed acts of kindness, empathy, and inclusivity, which have helped foster a warm and welcoming school community.
This spring, as our students began to witness the changes that were taking place in nature outside of our classroom window, incredible changes were taking place right inside our classroom as well! During our insect study this month, students had the opportunity to watch butterflies move through the beautiful process of metamorphosis. The change from a crawling caterpillar to a gracefully airborne butterfly is nothing short of a miracle.
Over the past month, first graders became experts at stating and writing their opinions. Opinion writing improves critical thinking skills and helps students work on writing structure. To express their opinion in writing, students stated their opinion, provided reasons and examples, and restated their opinion in a different way at the end.
Heather R. Segil, 7th Grade Advisor & Humanities Teacher
Our 7th grade students are going out with a bang as they experience all of the culminating events that make the end of the year so special at BZ. From their play, Circus Olympus, which demonstrated their ability to truly work toward a common goal as a grade, to their final projects that wrap up their learning for the year, our sevvies (7th graders) are working hard, staying positive, and making these last weeks count. And nowhere was this more evident than on our annual trip to Washington, D.C.