Excerpts from Danielle Abada’s (SSLI ’10) Address at HS Open House 2016

December 02, 2016
By SSLI Alumni Department

 All my friends from Schechter are following their dreams, and thriving at everything from medicine to government to finance to sports journalism. I felt prepared for college both academically and with the ability to balance different classes and commitments. A lot of other students felt frazzled by the many moving parts of college in a way that I don’t think was as challenging for me, my brothers at Cornell, or my friends after four years of a dual curriculum at Schechter; where we balanced English and math but also Bible and Hebrew, student government and literary magazine, cross country or tennis.

The teachers and administration were interested in every aspect of my development. The faculty room was open every day, so students could pop in and ask questions, whether related to the class or not. Teachers spent time looking at students’ college essays, and were excited to write recommendations, not just because they wanted their students to get into their dream schools but because it was easy to write about students they had formed genuine connections with and had watched grow and develop through high school.

At Yale I am surrounded by Rhodes Scholars, children of judges, and other wildly impressive students. For many of them, the path that led them to YLS was tried and true. When I think about the foundations of my pursuit of a legal career, my first thought is to high school rabbinics classes. They were my first foray into statutory interpretation. The first time I closely grappled with an authoritative text in a deep and sophisticated way. The entire dual curriculum taught me to think critically, engage with differing opinions, and communicate effectively. This is what helps me feel confident among my brilliant classmates, and this is why my friends are also succeeding in such a wide array of professions. The intellectually maturity we developed at Schechter is useful to any pursuit, and has been able to flourish because of its strong foundation.

I am grateful for the Jewish values I learned at Schechter; they remain an important part of my identity. Schechter helped prepare me for my time running the Jewish Law Students Association and for the Jewish Law conference at Yale I’m planning right now. I’m also planning a YLS spring break trip to Israel, and I can’t wait to impress my friends with my Hebrew! But despite the awesome itinerary we’re putting together, I know it won’t compare to my senior trip to Israel, which was the perfect capstone to my time at Schechter and solidified the bond I shared with my classmates, our teachers and administrators, and with our Jewish identity and relationship to Israel.

Schechter is the kind of place where you get to know everyone; there are no divisions by class year. I am still in touch with my peer connector as a freshman, and with the freshmen I mentored as a peer connector when I was a senior. My brothers’ friends have become my friends, and vice versa. Running into a Schechter classmate—whether three years older or two years younger—is always running into a friend. 

Posted in Class of 2010

Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith Actress Natalie Portman Is A Harvard Graduate

August 18, 2016
By SSLI Alumni Department

As seen on the University Herald, August 11, 2016

Not a lot of people know that some celebrities hold a degree. They are often hidden from the fact that they excel in acting and Hollywood likes to push their movies and television shows towards audiences.

For an actress like Natalie Portman who starred in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (Episode III), Black Swan and Thor, it can't be hidden for too long. According to Sioux City Journal, Portman holds a degree in psychology from Harvard College.

Currently, she is not only an actress but a film producer and director too. Born in 1981, she was born in Jerusalem but then moved to the United States. While living in Washington, DC, Natalie Portman attended the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland. Later on, she also attended a Jewish Elementary school called the Solomon Schechter Day School of Nassau County in Jericho, New York.

At a young age, she studied dancing and acting in New York. She started acting at 1994 but her break out role was in Star Wars: Episode I - the Phantom Menace. She acted in this film while she was still in high school on Long Island. She was enrolled at Syosset High School. She also enrolled at the American Theater Dance Workshop and attended the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. One thing to note, she did not attend the premiere episode of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Episode I) because she needed to study for her high school final exams.

Later on, she went to Harvard University to study psychology. They call it Artium Baccalaureus. She studied while she acted. She was able to complete her degree in 2003. During that same time, she also starred in a second Star Wars movie. Talk about a working student. "I don't care if college ruins my career," says Natalie Portman. She explained that she would rather be smart than a movie star.

Watch Natalie Portman's official Harvard commencement speech here.

Posted in Class of 1999

The Intersection of Ethics and Belief by Danielle Abada

March 18, 2016
By SSLI Alumni Department

Danielle Abada is a Schechter LI graduate, from the class of 2010, last summer she attended a fellowship to Auschwitz. She is currently a student at Yale University Law School.  Please read Danielle's article, 'The Intersection of Ethics and Belief' featured in the online journal FASPE below. To read the full journal, please click here.

Posted in Class of 2010


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