Louis Finkelman Contributing Writer
Photos by Paul Fischer
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Farber students go all out for the Jewish state’s 70th anniversary.
More than a half-century ago, the founders of Akiva Hebrew Day School (Yeshivat Akiva), an Orthodox Zionist institution, intended to create an educational institution dedicated to Jewish and secular studies “while imbuing its students with a love for and a commitment to the land of Israel.”
The Southfield school, now known as Farber Hebrew Day School, put that commitment on vivid display April 19 at a day-long school-wide celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s 70th Independence Day.
The celebration culminated in a multimedia presentation of the history of Israel, performed entirely by students, on the premise of bringing back Israel’s founders to encounter the current reality of the country.
Theodore Herzl got to talk with Benjamin Netanyahu; Rabbi Avraham Kook, chief rabbi of pre-state Israel, spoke with a student at Migdal Oz (a seminary for female students of Torah); Chaim Weitzman, the scientist who served as first president of Israel, talked with Omer Gal, an engineer who designs desalinization plants.
Eliezer ben Yehudah, who invented Hebrew words for new phenomena, pioneering Hebrew as a modern spoken language, got to observe a concert in contemporary Hebrew, filled with even newer words. The program included a short video address in Hebrew from Natan Sharansky, the heroic refusenik who now heads the Jewish Agency for Israel. The event also featured the hope that Jews around the world will make aliyah.
The script for this presentation was written by Merav Edrei, based on an idea suggested by Daphna Feldman, head of the school’s Hebrew Department. Merav and her husband, Yonatan, serve as shlichim (emissaries) of Bnei Akiva, a worldwide Jewish youth movement dedicated to Torah, service and the land of Israel. They came from Israel to head Bnei Akiva Detroit, providing an Israeli presence and leadership for the local branch of the youth movement, for local synagogue groups and for Farber Hebrew Day School.
Merav summarized the theme of the program: “Connecting the people who made the country, and the people who dreamt it, with the people who are now making the country stronger and more peaceful. Maybe 70 years from now, these people now will be the subject of celebrations of Israel.”
Also active behind the scenes in this program are shlichot Avital Parnes, Tohar Barsheshet and Hadar Sagiv, young women doing national service for Israel by staffing Bnei Akiva projects in the Detroit area.
Commenting on the presentation, Avital said it was designed “to connect everyone with Israel.” Hadar emphasized that it “connected us with each other.” And Tohar added that she enjoys it “when the kids get to know the songs that we know in Israel.”
Posters introducing significant individuals in the history of Israel decorated almost every inch of the main hallway of the school. Pairs of students had done the research, producing short essays in English and Hebrew for each subject, along with relevant photos.
Earlier in the day, the entire school took part in a parade on 12 Mile and Lahser roads, carrying Israeli flags and demonstrating their commitment to Israel. When the students returned, they were able to visit stations with projects related to Israel, including cooking and science experiments.