For the partner schools in the Greater MetroWest Day School Initiative, the 2017 Celebrate Israel Parade was more than a celebration of Israel. This year, for the first time, these schools marched together, united under one umbrella, in a show of achdut that resonated strongly with the schools, the Jewish Federation and the greater Jewish community.
“We are always proud to march up Fifth Avenue in support of Israel and it was made even more special to march alongside our partner schools this past Sunday,” stated Adam Shapiro, head of school at Golda Och Academy in West Orange. “It is yet another wonderful example of the strong collaboration between our schools.”
Adina Abramov, chief marketing officer at JEC in Elizabeth, agreed. “Marching together with other local New Jersey day schools under the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest banner was the natural extension of a strong collaboration that we have enjoyed ever since joining the Federation’s day-school partnership. There is strength in numbers and, together, as a united community, we have been able to achieve a game-changing tuition cap for our families that is drawing unprecedented numbers to our area. We also work together on professional development and other initiatives for our day schools, giving us a competitive edge in our classrooms and for our students. We look forward to our continued creative collaboration and unity moving forward,” she said.
“The annual celebration of Israel parade is one of the highlights of our school year. Celebrating Israel and the unity of the Jewish people are core values at JKHA/RKYHS. This year, to underscore the importance of, and our commitment to, our shared Jewish community, all the schools of Greater MetroWest marched together. We hope that this gesture of solidarity, like the parade itself, will strengthen the common bonds of the Jewish people,” noted JKHA/RKYHS Head of School Rabbi Eliezer Rubin.
Debbie Finkelstein, principal of JKHA, added, “The Greater MetroWest schools marching together show our Jewish community’s support for the State of Israel. It is important to show our children what we have in common, and we are proud of the schools that contributed to the theme of ‘together we are stronger.’ Our love for the State of Israel unites us.”
This idea to march together came directly from the schools themselves, and was instantly welcomed by Rebecca Hindin, manager of the Day School Initiative.
“I loved the idea right away. We worked on it for four months and were so proud to be able to get the schools together when each had marched independently in the past,” Hindin said.
The four schools that participate in the Day School Initiative are Golda Och Academy, Gottesman RTW Academy in Randolph, Jewish Educational Center (JEC) (including the Lower School, Bruriah MS and HS and RTMA MS and HS) and Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School (JKHA/RKYHS) in Livingston. Of the four, only Gottesman RTW did not participate this year as the school did not get a large-enough contingent to bring to the parade.
“As this idea takes off and we build on it next year and beyond, I am sure we will have full participation from all four schools,” noted Hindin.
Each school had its own T-shirt, as in past years. However, this year’s shirts united the schools by including the Day School Initiative logo on the back.
This unity was seen throughout the parade as students, faculty and parents from each of the three participating schools were able to talk, walk and celebrate Israel. Together.
The schools are not strangers to one another, as they have been collaborating regularly on issues such as academic excellence and affordability. They welcomed another opportunity to stand together—as one—for Israel.
“Israel is visible in so much of what we do as a school, and the parade provides yet another outlet for our community to show their love and support for Israel,” said Shapiro. “We feel fortunate to be able to offer this experience for our students. Beginning with their first ‘flight’ to Israel in gan, all the way through until our high school travel experiences to Israel, our students learn about and experience Israel both inside and outside of the classroom. We feel confident that the learning—both here and in Israel—provides our students with a deeply-rooted love for the land and people of Israel.”
The Greater MetroWest Day School Initiative is one of the many community resources offered by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. For more information, please contact Hindin at 973-929-2962 or [email protected].
By Jill Kirsch