Westchester Torah Academy in New Rochelle had what many students, including four-year-old Sarah Weinberg, called its “best day ever.” Starting with a parade that involved 125 students and community rabbis, including Rabbi Chaim Marder from the Hebrew Institute of White Plains and Rabbi Shmuel Greenberg of the Young Israel of White Plains, the contingent marched around the entire school, joined by students from Westchester Hebrew High School and the Kehilla Early Childhood Center.
It was a beautiful day with excellent weather to raise flags, sing songs and lead cheers, not to mention the students were joined by a marching band that included two trumpets, two saxophones and a percussionist. A trumpet call raised the Israeli flag in the presence of all the students. With children being dressed in blue and white to celebrate the holiday, there was a deep sense of unity when the parade ended with outdoor dancing and singing followed by the singing of the Hatikva.
That extended to individual classroom activities as well, where the youngest students took a “tiyul,” a trip, to Israel. With passports and a teudat zehut (Israel’s identity document) in hand, they had a realistic experience with related activities, food and music. Older classes took a trip to the park where they got a taste of Israel with sports, music and a picnic lunch of falafel. Each child was placed in a group that represented an Israeli city.
As Rabbi Rami Strosberg said, “Yom Ha’atzmaut has always been my favorite day of the school year because we are a nation that is obsessed with its homeland, and the programming and activities of the day allow us to share our love and passion, our history, language and our culture with our students all day long.”
By Tamar Weinberg