Hadar Bet Yaakov is Queens’ newest Beis Yaakov, distinguishing itself as a warm growth-oriented school. The school curriculum includes a strong academic core, as well as an array of electives, including public speaking, photography, dance, drama, and swimming. Hadar also prides itself on a rich socio-emotional curriculum presented in daily biur t’filah classes, Life Designs workshops, and therapist-moderated class group activities to hone in on interpersonal relationships.
Hadar Bet Yaakov hosted its inaugural open house for both parents and students in early December with Menahel Rabbi Gavriel Robenov, as well as Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim’s Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt and School Posek Rabbi Lior Dahan. To highlight its focus on the individual student and personal connection, Hadar created a separate student program they titled “Snippets of School,” to give girls a glimpse of what next year would look like.
Snippets of School’s first activity was “Your Story,” given by principals Mrs. Shoshanna Friedman and Mrs. Malkie Ribowsky. Mrs. Ribowsky introduced a video showing a variety of people paying homage to a great rabbi for both his greatness in Torah and extreme kindness to others. Students discussed the video’s meaning and then were given a writing activity, directing them to write their own video or written testament that paid homage to them. “It’s important to learn about the greatness of others so we have good role models,” Mrs. Friedman explained, “but it’s more important to take those lessons and see how they apply to you so you can grow into exemplifying the values you’re learning about.” The girls were given papers titled “Your Story,” with pens, and instructed to write about themselves or write their own “video,” where they star as the hero and role model. Their “story” did not have to be actually true; it could simply be their own imagining of who they wish to become in time. To encourage candid writing, girls were told that their “Your Story” papers would remain private and confidential. The principals told them to each keep her paper with her so that it could serve as inspiration to become that person who was the “star” of her “Your Story” writing.
The second open house student activity was dance-boot camp, where the girls got a taste of a physical education class, HBY style. Mrs. Naz Aziz taught stretches and a slew of exercises that made up a high energy Jewish dance class. Girls loved learning the routines and exercises that made up the different dances. Students joined together with their parents for refreshments afterward and enjoyed meeting and speaking with Hadar Bet Yaakov staff. Hadar Bet Yaakov staff crafted an open house with speakers for the adults as well as stimulating activities geared towards young teens.
“Our school is about connecting to girls and helping them to become viable members of our Jewish community,” Rabbi Robenov remarked in his welcome address to parents. A few rooms away, prospective students were indeed engaged in meaningful “Your Story” writing, Jewish music and dance, and an emergent sense of HBY as an up-beat place of academics and warmth.
By Shoshanna Friedman