April 16, 2024
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RKYHS Students Pay Shiva Visit to Jersey City Family

In Norma Mintz’s RKYHS course, Charting One’s Own Jewish Path, the 12th grade class learns various texts to consider different elements that comprise a Jewish identity, and they ultimately reflect and articulate what a Jewish identity means to each of them as individuals. As they were about to begin their unit on the subject of chesed, they decided there would be no more effective way to learn about chesed than to engage in it, and the class made plans to pay a shiva visit to the family of Leah Mindel Ferencz, a”h, a shooting victim in the Jersey City attack.

Prior to the visit, the class reflected on the tragedy. While the students discussed their horror and sadness, they also acknowledged the distance they felt from the Satmar community. They therefore looked forward to meeting the mourners in a more personal, individual way. The class prepared for the visit, considering how to dress so that they would be respectful of the cultural sensitivities of the Satmar community. They also created a card for the family, signed by students and faculty of RKYHS, with the words “kol Yisrael areivim zeh lazeh” emblazoned on the front. Before they went, the class also reviewed basic practices of how to comport oneself when making a shiva call.

The experience of the visit itself was extremely powerful. The class sat with Mrs. Ferencz’s sisters, who were very appreciative. They spoke of their sister as a pioneer in the community and a baalat chesed who has been the bedrock of the Jersey City Jewish community. The women’s words exhibited strong emunah as they reflected on their gratitude to Hashem that the nearby yeshiva had been saved from the attack. At one point an RKYHS student, Nava Chefitz, shared some words of comfort and solidarity in Yiddish. When it was time to go, the RKYHS students emotionally stood together to comfort the mourners. It was a powerful experience that the class will not soon forget.

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