- Heilicher Community
Our Heilicher Kehilah/Community
By Gigi S., Molly S., and Lauren V. (pictured left to right)
Guest writers Gigi S., Molly S., and Lauren V. share their reflections on what makes their Jewish day school a kehilah/community.
Heilicher is a great school for many reasons. We can’t fit them all in this limited number of words, but we will try. At Heilicher, we have a special bond that makes us a kehilah/ קהילה (which means community). We build our kehilah in many ways, including weekly Friday all-school lunch. Last year everyone was assigned a table with at least one person from each grade and a teacher. Most students will stay at the same table together for all nine years at Heilicher. All-school lunch is one way our community is developed.
Another great part of Heilicher is Wellness Wednesday. Every Wednesday morning the entire school participates in an elective class related to physical or mental wellness. Students from different grades participate in these activities together. These activities help us bond as a school.
There are lots of advantages to being in a small school that help us learn and make us a stronger kehilah. Teachers care about us and know us individually. They ask about our families and are genuinely interested in our lives. We get lots of one-on-one time with teachers so we can learn better, and it is a lot more like the teachers are talking to us instead of at us.
Not only do we have better relationships with our teachers, we also have better relationships with our peers. At Heilicher we create relationships that will last a lifetime. There are 23 kids in the eighth grade and everybody has been there since kindergarten. In seventh grade, we went to everyone’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah and it was great to see each other every weekend and party together. This helped our kehilah grow strong.
At Heilicher we get to create unique and fun learning opportunities, especially as we get older. Our seventh grade project is a debate that focuses on current issues. In eighth grade we do a Capstone project to research a problem in society and try to create awareness about the issue. During our projects we use skills we’ve a learned in classes such as Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Jewish Studies.
What we do in seventh and eighth grade prepares us for high school. In science we’re not just given a textbook, we are taught strategies to help us understand it. In Judaic Studies we have deep conversations about Torah and how it relates to the world. In Hebrew we learn words from songs and stories along with grammar. In almost every class we write and write and write. At Heilicher we are able to create lifelong relationships and go beyond the basics with our learning.
After graduation, Heilicher alumna Simone P. encountered an uncomfortable situation at basketball camp. She decided to take a brave step to educate the camp about Jewish history related to an unintentional, yet offensive, long-standing camp practice.
New this year, on Monday mornings, we will have an All-School T’filah (prayer) service in the Dolly and Edward Fiterman Theatre. Our students will chant Torah each week. We’ll celebrate birthdays and milestones. And we’ll have a place to pray, whether that means working on our character, connecting with God, reflecting and/or rejoicing.
As a gift to her eighth-grade class for graduation, Ms. Weiss gathered student reflections and crafted them into a poem. These words of inspiration will stay with her students for years to come.