News From Ramaz
HINENI! During Presidents' week vacation, you can find Ramaz Upper School students answering the call in Israel and hurricane-worn Puerto Rico.
In the first-ever Ramaz-chorus mission to Israel, members of the Upper School Chamber Choir and Chorus are traveling north to south, east to west, engaging in chesed activities, political discussions, Torah learning, musical and art workshops, and Israel education—while performing five concerts in seven days! The jam packed days will include a lot including a performance with Israeli Arab and Jewish children, a workshop with the Maestro of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra, and a tour of the Knesset with dignitaries and children with cancer. A highlight of the trip will be the group's performance in front of 300 Ramaz alumni at a special reunion in Jerusalem.
This trip, The Jerry Lefkowitz Ramaz Chorus Israel Chesed Mission, is a fitting tribute to the memory of Jerome Lefkowitz z"l, New York labor lawyer, husband, father, grandfather, and ardent supporter and lover of Israel. Lefkowitz was a true Hebraist who chose to speak to his young children exclusively in Hebrew, teaching them hundreds of Hebrew songs and testing them on their historical context in order to highlight the importance of music and song as a retelling of the Jewish narrative.
In another first, a group of altruistic Ramaz students have also chosen to give of themselves by spending their vacation helping Puerto Ricans affected by last September's devastating Hurricane Maria. As lives and homes have been shattered, there is still much to be done. Students will work side by side with teenage peers packaging needed items at the Relief Warehouse and then personally distributing them to families in need. The packaging will be done during daylight hours as there still is no electricity in the warehouse. The students will meet with the local Chabad rabbi and politicians and go door to door to lend a hand, listen to individuals hurricane experiences, give chizuk, clean debris, paint basketball courts, and plant bananas trees and vegetables. They will connect and rebuild, and hopefully, acknowledge and embrace their lifelong responsibility to mankind and tikun olam (repairing the world.)
All the Ramaz families supporting the Puerto Rico and Israel missions are helping to instill the Ramaz ideals in the next generation. These trips represent the school's mission established over 80 years ago, where the tenets of chesed, commitment to Torah and mitzvot, support of the arts, love of Israel, and responsibility to all humankind are as strong as ever!