(Courtesy of ACHI) ACHI, American Communities Helping Israel, has designated 2023 as the Year of the Klee. In Hebrew, a klee means a vessel, like a bowl or plate. ACHI’s commitment is to keep the klee filled with foods or other goods made in Israel. Many Jewish day schools across the US have participated in this project by decorating bowls and plates in honor of Israel’s 75th birthday. The project aims to strengthen the relationship between the students and Israel.
Noa Friedman, a kindergartener at Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, brought home her klee before Passover. Her school surprised her by sending home additional surprise items for her klee, creating excitement for the youngster. Noa has shared her enthusiasm with her grandmother, Miriam Atali, who reports that Noa keeps her klee in her room and checks that all items from candy to magnets are from Israel. The proud grandmother says Noa is very excited to have her own klee and to keep the klee commitment.
At JEC in Elizabeth, Jessica Bienenfield, coordinator of the project, praised the beauty of the Israel- themed designs her students created, especially that of the Kotel.
In New York City, the Ramaz school had a successful experience with their seventh grade and hopes to always include ACHI in future Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations.
Many schools chose Yom Ha’atzmaut as the time to make a klee. At the Posnack School in southern Florida, children all wore T-shirts that featured birthday wishes for Israel’s 75th birthday. In a video showing the children enthusiastically decorating their klee, they exclaimed, “I love my klee! I love Israel.”
In Baltimore, Krieger Schechter Day School’s lower school students made a klee in grades K-4. Toby Kaplowitz, director of Jewish life, described this project as unique and meaningful for students. For many children, she said, this was a way of displaying something from Israel in their home.
Ohr Chadash Academy, another Baltimore Jewish day school, co-chaired an Israeli-type carnival with Congregation Shomrei Emunah, which featured all kinds of Israel-related activities, as well as food (which no Jewish event should be without!). The ACHI booth, which of course featured klee-making, had not anticipated the amount of interest the klee would bring. They ran out of plates and bowls sooner than expected and realized they will need to double the amount of supplies next year.
In Los Angeles, Emek Hebrew Academy had a school-wide event, where all 1,000 students made a klee. Hillel Hebrew Academy also had klee-making, but as one activity among many for their special Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration. Other schools, like JEC (Jewish Educational Center), also chose this option.
The Team at ACHI feels the success of the klee project in the schools should be carried over to Jewish camps. First on the agenda, though, will be ACHI’s participation in the Israel Day Parade on June 4 in New York City, where ACHI’s float will feature a klee from Israel, designed by the Israeli artist, Emanuel. The Israel Discount Bank is co-sponsoring the float.