By Maya Rotman
After a lengthy countdown and, in some cases, twelve years of anticipation, the seniors at the Leffell School have started their Lev v’Nefesh journey. Today, the seniors embarked on their two- month Lev v’Nefesh journey, which consists of a week in Poland and seven weeks in Israel. They will begin with the week in Poland, visiting concentration camps and learning in depth about the devastation that was the Holocaust. Then, they will head to the land of our people, Israel, for seven weeks, where they will tour the country and take part in various activities.
The event kicked off with the Star Spangled Banner, sung by seniors Emily Ferry, Karizmah Brauner and Rachel Amar. Following this was a speech by High School Principal Eric Bassin, in which he discussed how this week’s parsha, Yitro, relates to the Lev v’Nefesh experience. Bassin explained that in the parsha, B’nai Yisrael received the Ten Commandments and turned to Moshe for guidance. Similarly, Bassin anticipates that on the trip, while the seniors are in Poland, they will turn to their peers for emotional support, as it is bound to be a very intense experience.
Head of School Michael Kay spoke next, giving a mission to the class of 2020; he hopes that they will take the time to truly understand the nature of Jewish suffering, as well as the hopefulness of the Jewish people, as they enter Israel. He also emphasized that this is one of the last classes which will be able to hear the stories from Holocaust survivors, and that they should not take the opportunity for granted.
Next, High School Tanakh teacher Daniel Mond introduced Brauner, who gave her Senior Drasha about the importance of remembering.
The outgoing Student Government President and Vice President, seniors Daniel Lampert and Lior Ben-David, gave the last speeches of their terms, speaking about how the Leffell community compares to the Jewish population in South Dakota and how, while we may seem small, we are actually a very powerful group. This was followed by the stepping up of incoming Student Government President and Vice President, junior Alex Zelman and sophomore Drew Wilenzick, in which they wished the seniors well as they take their first steps of independence and embark on this incredible journey. They also noted that each grade is stepping up in different ways, such as by taking on new positions in student government, sport teams or clubs.
Elisha Andron then spoke while the shluchim, messengers, gave money to the seniors. This tradition is believed to help ensure that the seniors will make it to Poland and Israel safely, as they will be on a mission to give tzedakah.
After the High School choir’s rendition of Amen, the seniors were invited to the front of the room, and stood in a line, as second grader Benjamin Burstein presented them with cards they had written for their grand-buddies. Next, a few seniors stepped up in the line and shared some hopes for the trip and thoughts on what they were most looking forward to on their journey.
The ceremony concluded with the recitation of Tefilat HaDerech by seniors Heela Rand and Sam Gilman, and the singing of Hatikvah. Families flooded the gym floor as they hugged their seniors goodbye, and friends from all grades shared in this emotional, yet exciting, moment.
The Leffell community wishes the senior class a nesiah tovah and a meaningful experience over the next two months. Make sure to stay tuned to tlroar.com, as we will be posting updates throughout the trip!