May 22, 2024
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May 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

We’re All IN Together; It’s Not About Me—It’s About We

A new school-wide initiative has come to life in RYNJ this year. As we continue to promote and nurture the values and middot our yeshiva has long been known for, we designed a program that would focus on a singular theme for the entire year, throughout the school. “We’re All IN Together” is designed to foster greater awareness and sensitivity around the theme of inclusion. Every two months, we shift the concept of inclusion to another area our students find themselves engaged in—the hallways, recess, lunchroom, class, dismissal and ultimately at home and in shul. The goal is to sensitize our students to the needs, emotions and well-being of their peers.

Each week, students learn, discuss and role-play age-appropriate curriculum with the identical central theme with a connected dvar Torah, story and a real-life scenario that highlights a specific lesson of inclusion. The material comes full-circle at home around the Shabbos table where families have the opportunity to discuss the information with their children across the grades. The particular week’s idea as it relates to inclusion takes an actionable form with the student challenge for the week. Whether it is greeting others, including others during recess activities or demonstrating good sportsmanship, students earn Middos Muffin tickets that can win them a muffin when Rabbi Price, the head of school, visits each and every lower school classroom every Friday.

Over the course of the first few weeks, the weekly topics under the theme of INclusion at recess and in the hallways included protecting others from embarrassment, being sensitive to others in pain, emulating the virtues of others, standing up for what is right and looking for the good we can do. Each week’s dvar Torah and story related these important messages, the scenario brought lively discussions in each classroom, and the Ask Aliza and Ask Ari section elicited great insights and ideas from the students should they find themselves to be in such situations.

Our theme of INclusion has become a cultural centerpiece in our yeshiva. Teachers weave the theme into their lessons throughout the day, and our hallway signs inspire students to engage in helpINg, greetINg, smilINg, carINg, invitINg and encouragINg others. Unit rubrics have been created to monitor our progress, and we anticipate great results. We have also utilized this year’s professional development theme of growth mindset to connect with the INclusion theme, as well.

As the program expands, students will have hands-on creative opportunities to fuel the themes with posters and advertisements as well as leadership activities volunteering in the community, and parents will be brought in as active participants in various ways in the months to come. We are thrilled that this program has really taken off, and we are proud of our students for embracing this meaningful initiative with incredible energy and enthusiasm. We are all making a difference together—because We’re All IN together! For more information or to download our weekly editions, please visit RYNJ.org.

By Rabbi Avi Bernstein

 Rabbi Avi Bernstein is Dean of Students at RYNJ.

 

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