Over 200 parents and guests filled the Bal Harbour ballroom for the Commencement Dinner for Chabad After-School of South Florida, directed by Rabbi Moishe and Layah Kievman.
By Morris Levy
Over 200 parents and guests filled the Bal Harbour ballroom for the Commencement Dinner for Chabad After-School of South Florida, directed by Rabbi Moishe and Layah Kievman, last Sunday.
Participants were mesmerized as the children ages 5-12 performed 'Around the Year", singing songs about the Jewish holidays in 4 languages. South Florida being a melting pot of so many nationalities, gives Chabad's Hebrew School a mix of children from so many different backgrounds.
For many children, Chabad's program is their only connection to their Jewish roots. "This is my child's 2nd year in the program and she absolutely loves it," said the MC Sylvia Vega, mother of 7 year old Miriam. "She comes home each day relating something new she learned. The teachers are warm, friendly and responsible. Its incredible to have this program offered in our own backyard. We owe so much to Chabad and the Kievmans."
Three generations beamed as children received awards for their accomplishments throughout the year. Golden trophies engraved with an Aleph on top and the childrens Hebrew names on the bottom were presented to each child who mastered Hebrew reading. They also received medals for their accomplishments in Taekwandoo and certificates for excelling in the study of Jewish Traditions. On display was framed art made by the children.
8 year old Solomon Assouline told the crowd that he loves going to CHS so much, "if I had my choice, I would skip all my public school classes and just come to Hebrew School all day! My Morah - that's teacher in Hebrew- is so special" He then introduced his teacher, Morah Yakira Leah Dorfman who was honored as Teacher of the Year. "She has a way with words to bring the stories of Torah to life" said her young student.
Parent of the Year, Marcia Specht was honored for her dedication and devotion. When Marcia first came from Brazil 2 years ago, one of her first stops was to sign up her son Eric for Hebrew School. At least that's what she thought. What she in turn did, was sign up herself as well! In addition to being an incredible parent, Marcia volunteers at least 3 times a week with the 1st and 2nd graders. Greeting each child with a warm smile, feeding their hungry tummies (and boy are they hungry) and filling them with love! "Marcia has this contagious enthusiasm that uplifts everyone around her," said CHS principal Layah Kievman.
11th grader Moshe Frey was honored with the Young Leadership Award. "After Crop, EVERY day, Moshe WALKS to our Chabad House to help complete the kids day, just giving them a great time! Moshe's heart is made of gold! The example of “giving” you show our kids is priceless and there is so much in you that we all have to learn from" said Rabbi Moishe Kievman who directs the program together with his wife.
The room was filled with tears of joy and laughter, as parents and grandparents 'kvelled.'
"It's not for no reason that these guys are rated the #1 after-school program in all of Dade County," said Irving Cohen from North Miami whose has 2 grandchildren at CHS. "I'll be honest with you," said another father who introduces himself as a reform Jew from New Jersey, " I was very skeptical that they would be too religious and pushy. I am now so happy to have taken the chance. They are the finest people and I'm glad to be associated with them."
Rabbi Kievman announced that for the coming academic year, transportation will be available from 3 more public schools; Highland Oaks, Ojus and Aventura Charter. "Our goal for next year is to have 300+ happy students. We want to outgrow the new building before we even start building," said Kievman.
Run by Chabad of Highland Lakes, CHS is open Monday to Friday for boys and girls ages 5-12 offering Hebrew Language, Holidays, Traditions, Art, Ceramics, Martial Arts, Music, Drama, Tikun Olam, Homework Help and more. They also have a Chess Club, Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes and occasional trips. To register, apply for a position or to learn more about CHS go to www.HebrewSchool.info or call (305) 770-1919.