By Mrs. Sandi Swerdloff, SSLI Lower School Principal


Friday, April 28, 2017

April 28, 2017
By Sandi Swerdloff, Lower School Principal

Dear Schechter Families,

On April 22 Earth Day was celebrated across the globe. With the aim to encourage people to be more environment friendly, the day is celebrated with festivals, rallies and support. As we celebrate Earth Day 2017, let's take a moment to think about what we can actually do to help save the planet. Here are some very simple and easy Earth Day tips that will go a long way in environment conservation:


  • Turn off the lights every time you leave the room to save energy.
  • Unplug devices and turn off electronics when not in use.
  • Buy locally-grown produce to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Try carpooling or public transport instead of driving, whenever you can.
  • Use reusable shopping bags.
  • Fix leaky taps and turn off water when not using it to conserve water.
  • Switch from disposable to reusable in order to reduce waste.
  • Recycle and reuse as much as you can.
  • Find a way to plant a tree in your neighborhood.
  • Upgrade your appliances to energy-efficient ones when you have to - it'll save money in the long run.

And in honor of Earth Day please enjoy one of my favorite children's Bible interpretations from "Does God Have A Big Toe?" written by my dear friend and Rabbi, Marc Gellman:

Before there was anything, there was God, a few angels, and a huge swirling glob of rocks and water with no place to go. The angels asked God, "Why don't you clean up this mess?"

So God collected rocks from the huge swirling glob and put them together in clumps and said, "Some of these clumps of rocks will be planets, and some will be stars, and some of these rocks will be ...just rocks."

Then God collected water from the huge swirling glob and put it together in pools of water and said, "Some of these pools of water will be oceans, and some will be clouds, and some of this water will be ...just water."

Then the angels said, "Well, God, it's neater now, but is it finished?"

And God answered: "NOPE!"

On some of the rocks God placed growing things, and creeping things, and things that only God knows what they are, and when God had done all this, the angels asked God, "Is the world finished now?"

And God answered: "NOPE!"

God made a man and a woman from some of the water and dust and said to them, "I'm tired now. Please finish up the world for me, really it's almost done." But the man and the woman said, "We can't finish the world alone! You have the plans and we are too little."

"You are big enough," God answered them. "But I agree to this. If you keep trying to finish the world, I will be your partner."

The man and the woman asked, "What's a partner?" and God answered, "A partner is someone you work with on a big thing that neither of you can do alone. If you have a partner, it means that you can never give up, because your partner is depending on you. On the days you think I am not doing enough and on the days I think you are not doing enough, even on those days we are still partners and we must not stop trying to finish the world. That's the deal." And they all agreed to that deal.

Then the angels asked God, "Is the world finished yet?" and God answered, "I don't know. Go ask my partners."

News From the Science Lab

This year, during science class, the fifth grade students participated in The Pringles Challenge sponsored by The Independent School Educators. Their task was to design a package that would allow a single Pringles Potato Chip to be safely mailed through the US Postal Service to our partner schools, The Tamarac Elementary School in Tamarac, Florida and the Center for Creative Learning in Ellisville, Missouri. Upon arrival, the chips would be evaluated and scored. The students worked in groups of two or three with a goal of creating a package with the smallest mass and volume, while protecting the chip so it arrived undamaged. No substance could be applied to the chip, nor could it be altered in any way. Pre-made Pringles containers could not be used, and there was a 3" x 5" limit on the size of the package.  The chips were given an Intactness Score when the packages were opened. The formula for calculating the overall score was:

Intactness Score
Mass in Kg. x Volume in CC

This project created a tremendous amount of excitement among our students, and reflected our commitment to STEM based learning. The students were given a problem which needed to be solved which included specific criteria and constraints on materials. They generated multiple possible solutions and compared how well each was likely to meet the criterial and constraints of the problem. Designs were drawn and labeled, prior to building. Tests were carried out, and designs were modified to improve the final project.

Our students took this very seriously and created innovative packages which were mailed out. We anxiously awaited the arrival of our partner school's packages. They finally arrived the day we returned from Passover vacation, and we quickly scored them. The excitement in the room as we carefully opened each package and inspected each chip was electric. They cheered as we found two perfect chips out of ten packages!

As soon as our results are posted, we will let you know how well our teams did in this great STEM challenge. A million thanks to Mrs. Seidman for bringing such excitement to our students' learning.

Enjoy additional photos of our 5th grade Pringles Challenge

The third grade students enjoyed reviewing the Phases of the Moon in Science class this week using Oreo Cookies. Working in groups, the students removed the top layer of the cookie and scraped the cream on the remaining cookie to illustrate the different phases. Of course, the best part was eating the finished project!

This week was a busy one beginning with a Yom HaShoah presentation on Monday led by our fifth grade students. The program opened with the lighting of 6 Yahrzeit candles to remember the more than 6 million Jews who perished during the Holocaust. The students eloquently read prose and sang songs to convey their thoughts and emotions. Cantor Carol Chesler joined us to  sing El Malei Rachamim and her beautiful voice served as a spiritual reminder to "Never Forget". 

For additional photos, click Here

Every year our fifth grade students are invited to participate in the Creative Arts Competition at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove, that is centered on a theme pof social justice, tolerance and respect for diversity. The competition offers students the opportunity to showcase their creative talents and reflect their understanding of the issues of history. Categories include poetry, visual arts, photography, music and multi-media. This year's  theme was, "First They Came For..." Students were asked to show their understanding of what it means to stand up for others, to be an ally, and the obligations and responsibilities of being an ally. Martin Niemoller, a German clergyman, famously stated after World War II that when other groups were targeted, he didn't step in, and when the Nazis came for him, there was no one left to speak up. Students were asked to have their Art submissions reflect on Niemoller's quote and on the consequences of choosing to make a difference or not. We are always very proud of our students for entering a competition that is designed for 6th graders and this year we are extremely proud to acknowledge the following nine students for taking first, second and third place with their entries in prose, paining/drawing and multimedia.

Rachel S. and Maya S., 1st place, prose

Naomi A., 1st place, painting/drawing (MS)

Taliah G., 2nd place, painting/drawing (MS)

Mia K., 3rd place, painting/drawing (MS)

Sean S., 1st place, multimedia

Logan H. and Ari N., 2nd place, multimedia

Noah Y., 3rd place, multimedia

It will be my pleasure to join the students and their parents at the Holocaust Center on Sundaywhen they are presented with their certificates and awards.

On Thursday, thanks to the generosity of the Schechter Parents Association, we welcomed Izzy Ezagui to speak to all our students about his commitment to the IDF. Izzy, an American born soldier, is a decorated squad commander in the Israeli Defense Forces. He is recognized as the only soldier in the world who lost an arm in combat and returned to the battlefield. The students loved listening to his story about growing up in Central Florida and moving with his family to Israel in 2007 and enlisting in the IDF the following year. While he continues to serve in an elite unit in the reserves, Izzy is an active and charismatic public speaker who delivers inspirational talks. He was chosen as one of 100 people who positively influence Jewish life. He helps raise millions of dollars for hospitals, rehabilitation programs and other charities such as the Birthright Foundation. Our students listened intently as Izzy spoke and asked very thoughtful questions afterwards.

Izzy's talk was warm, funny, heartfelt, sincere and certainly brought home the point that we all can choose how we decide we handle life's challenges and adversities. A positive attitude coupled with a dose of humor can make a huge impact on healing. If ever there was an example of making lemonade out of lemons, this was it! Our students listened intently as Izzy spoke and asked very thoughtful questions afterwards. A huge thank you to the Parents Association for bringing Izzy to Schechter.

Our guest darshan for this week was Rabbi Steve Conn of the Plainview Jewish Center. It is always very special when our rabbis are parents of students in our school. Rabbi Conn's son is in fifth grade and while dad was talking it was so beautiful to see him with a proud smile on his face. Rabbi Conn told a story and spoke about the importance of judging a person not on their outward appearance, but rather by their actions and the goodness in their hearts. 

I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the Schechter Shabbat dinner tonight at the Midway Jewish Center and again at Midway on Sunday evening at 6:30 for the Memorial Day Ceremony for the Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism.  Click here for additional information.

May you enjoy the week ahead and have the time to view the wonders of the world and the beauty of the earth.


Shabbat Shalom,


Sandi Swerdloff
Principal, Lower School
Posted in April 2017


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