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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ma’ayanot Students Perform to Save Lives

Heartbeats: A Night of Song, Dance and Connection

Started six years ago by three students in the Class of 2009, Heartbeats is an annual student-initiated, student-created and student-directed performance open to women of the community.  Each year Heartbeats organizers choose a charity to which the proceeds of that year’s performances will be donated, and over the years well over $20,000 has been donated to a variety of organizations that work to benefit women and children, including Sharsheret, Miklat, Shalva, Nechamah, and the Yad Eliezer Kol Kallah Fund.

Heartbeats debuted in 2008 at the brainchild of Margot Reinstein, when she was a junior at Ma’ayanot.  “A close family friend was struggling with breast cancer. The doctors said there was really nothing that we could do but pray, but I wanted to do something more, and that is where the passion for raising awareness and funds for breast cancer came from,” explained Reinstein.  “The idea of raising these funds through a school production actually stemmed from my English teacher, who knew that I was an active member of Ma’ayanot’s choir and had participated in school musicals.” With that idea in place, Reinstein worked with two classmates, Chana Tolchin and Rachel Weber, to create what has become known as “Heartbeats: A Night of Song, Dance and Connection.”

Preparations for this year’s production, which will take place on Tuesday evening, May 28th at Ma’ayanot, began almost a full year ago when the current Heartbeats staff, then rising seniors, were chosen; Avital Siver and Rina Landsman were chosen as business managers, Chedva Weissler and Amira Tepler as dance directors, and Adina Schwartz and Elise Rosenthal as song directors. Ms. Elana Flaumenhaft, Assistant Principal for Student Life, serves as faculty advisor for the event.

After doing research over the summer, the Heartbeats staff chose Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) as the charity to which all proceeds from the evening will be donated.  SACH, an Israeli-based international humanitarian project whose mission is to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease, seemed like the perfect choice because, in Silver’s words, “there is an obvious connection to our Heartbeats —  at SACH they give extra heartbeats to sick children.”

Planning began in earnest when the staff chose “gevurah,” strength, as the theme for the evening. “This theme seemed applicable to the charity we had chosen because everyone who works for SACH is just so committed and so strong, and with their strength they make such a difference in the lives of these sick children” commented Silver.  With the theme decided upon, the dance directors choreographed four dances in four different genres (ballet, hip hop, robotic hip hop, and contemporary) and the song directors worked on arrangements for eight songs, all of which personify, in some fashion, the chosen theme of gevurah.

Students were invited to audition for the various performances in January, and practices have been ongoing throughout the second semester.  With the performances nearly perfected, recent efforts have concentrated on staging and publicity.  Publicity is crucial as the business managers have set a significant goal for the evening: “we want to raise ten thousand dollars, because that is what it takes to save one child’s heart,” explained Landsman.

While Ma’ayanot students believe the evening is all about giving back to the community, both by raising funds for charity and by providing meaningful entertainment for the women of the community, the experience of planning a major production provides enormous benefit to the students as well.  “Working on this project helped me to become a skilled manager; I’ve learned how to work with lots of people, and how to be flexible,” exclaimed Landsman.  Rachel Weber, one of the original creators, concurs; “founding Heartbeats taught us to be confident in our abilities to organize something professional, and the lessons we learned have carried us through college as well.”

“We are so proud that Ma’ayanot students have continued our tradition,” continued Weber, “and we love coming back to see the shows that the current students have put on!”

For additional information, or to purchase tickets, email Hbeats2013_gmail.com.

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