After unimaginable tragedy in Israel, students take action with prayer, learning and chesed

It has been a devastating week for the Jewish nation and its allies. With the news coming out of Israel many of us are feeling helpless and horrified. We are anxiously waiting to hear from loved ones, worrying about friends on the front lines, and mourning more than 1,300 heart-shattering losses.

At NSHA, we are doing our best to speak to your children about what is happening in our beloved homeland frankly, age-appropriately, and with empathy. Each of our core values comes into play as we guide every learner to understand that though we are far away, we can stand with our people in Israel – and we can make a difference. Through Torat Yisrael, we internalize that our homeland is at war, and we have the ability to learn and pray on behalf of its protection. Through acting with Derech Eretz and mobilizing our efforts with Achrayut, we support our brothers and sisters in Israel. By bringing Simchat Chaim to our studies, we strengthen our Torah learning in zechut of Am Yisrael.

Since school began on Monday morning, our community has mobilized with nonstop efforts in support of Israel. Elementary school students wrote letters of support and encouragement to soldiers while middle and high schoolers led fundraising efforts to raise funds for Israelis in need. Middle schoolers decorated a beautiful Achdut banner showing their unwavering support for the State of Israel, while others joined an initiative organized by our Shluchot in which they pledged to perform acts of kindness as a tribute to Israeli soldiers. Our lower school PTA led the NSHA parents in to collecting thousands of needed items that were sorted, packed and sent on a chartered flight to Israel Wednesday evening.

Each morning, students of all ages joined other Jewish day schools over Zoom for tehillim, and came together as a school community for davening and divrei chizzuk. Rabbi Joel Cohn, Director of IsraEd in Israel, joined high schoolers virtually for a presentation on the war in Israel, and Hebrew Studies Department Chair Ms. Rachel Taylor facilitated a Zoom conversation between NSHAHS students and their peers in Israel. Students also took political action in history classes, writing letters to members of Congress urging support for Israel.

On Thursday, high school students launched a school-wide tehillim whatsapp chat with students volunteering to say tehillim. Although their initial goal was to complete the first four chapters, within the first 45 minutes the entire book of tehillim had been completed and chat is continuously saying tehillim around the clock.

By Thursday evening, our community was participating in our community challah bake led by all of the Great Neck Bat Ami shluchot including Halleli and Shira, standing vigil with Legislator Pilip in Firefighters Park and supporting Maccabi Ra’anana at the Barclays Center.

On Friday morning all elementary, middle and high school students joined yeshiva day school wide tehillim zoon sessions, bringing together thousands of students across America to pray in unity for Israel. The week concluded with 5th grade and middle school grade-wide onegs and kumzits, during which we sang and prayed for the State of Israel, our people, and the soldiers defending our homeland.