The Midrash (Esther Rabba 9:4) states that the miracle of Purim took place because of the devotion and dedication of young students who studied Torah with Mordechai. Their commitment to Torah learning moved Hashem to save the Jews of the Persian Empire. This Midrash displays the power our children possess to impact the fate of the Jewish people. Some commentaries point out that it also highlights the priority we should place on teaching our children. Mordechai, a member of the Sanhedrin and one of the most prestigious sages of his era, during a period of community crisis, spent his precious time... teaching children Torah! Educating our children has been and always will be a top priority for our people and our community. We are thankful to our many supporters who live by this Torah value and regard Moriah as a top priority when giving of their volunteer time and financial support to ensure that our students continue to receive the strongest of educational experiences.
Our honorees tonight all live by this Purim message.
Scott and Abby Herschmann live the values that they instill in their children and model for their community on a daily basis. They understand the unique era in which we live, and the importance of educating the next generation about the watershed events of our time. Names Not Numbers has become a flagship program at our school and impacts on every student who is privileged to participate in it. Scott and Abby brought the program to Moriah, and Abby ensures that every aspect of the program runs smoothly, efficiently and professionally. Scott and Abby recognize the centrality of the State of Israel to our people and the importance of working to ensure that it continues to flourish. Their involvement in so many aspects of the community, their boundless energy and their willingness to always give 110 percent of themselves in pursuit of holy missions are an inspiration to us all.
Dana Septimus and Joe Feldman '96 are continuing a Feldman family tradition, while representing the best of the young leadership and new generation at Moriah. It is rare to find a couple who can give to Moriah in such a wide variety of capacities. The diverse ways they have helped the school include almost every aspect of school life! Whether serving on the Board, creating a committee to engage our young families, serving as a grade liaison, filling in as a member of our Guidance Department when needed, being involved in our capital campaign, running a professional development workshop for our faculty, or assisting us with building related issues, Joe and Dana are always looking to help Moriah grow and thrive. Joe and Dana live lives of kindness and chesed; characteristics that are central to the Moriah culture. We are privileged to benefit tremendously from their unwavering commitment to our school.
Morah Nini and Morah Shoshi are two of our most veteran and most beloved teachers. They have made their mark on hundreds of students with whom they have developed a strong loving relationship. Both have played a major role in our focus on Hebrew language and ensuring that Moriah students develop a fluency in Hebrew. This is work that becomes even more important today with our renewed focus on Hebrew as one of the keys to Jewish identity and deeper textual understandings of Tanach. Morah Shoshi and Morah Nini stand as bookends of our children’s Moriah experience, with Morah Shoshi ushering in our youngest students and Morah Nini applying the final special touches as we prepare to send our graduates off to high school. We recognize them for the invaluable role they have played in educating two generations of Moriah students,
Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to ensure that this year’s dinner would be a success. Moriah is a special place. Our strength lies in the passion of our teachers, our students, our parents and all our stakeholders, who are committed to ensuring that we continue to prepare our students to thrive in the world around them, lead vibrant Jewish lives, and make a difference.
Because of a happy confluence of events, our annual dinner this year coincides with the week of Purim, which is always an especially joyous time for our school. A highlight of the megillah reading on Purim is when, at the crescendo of the story, the entire congregation recites in unison:
לַיְּהוּדִים, הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה, וְשָׂשֹׂן, וִיקָר
"The Jews had light, and joy, and gladness and splendor."
At The Moriah School, we seek to provide our children with a place full of physical joy and gladness, but also imbue them with values that serve all Jews -- so that we may all live up to the ideal set in this pasuk. As parents, educators and community members, we all play a vital role in educating the next generation, and Moriah's achievements are the result of the collective efforts of faculty and lay volunteers alike. The Annual Dinner is the moment when we thank exceptional community members and faculty for their efforts on behalf of our school.
We are thrilled to recognize Abby and Scott Herschmann as Guests of Honor at this year's dinner.
To say that Abby and Scott have wholeheartedly dedicated themselves to volunteering on behalf of Moriah would be an understatement; supporting the school has been central to their lives since they moved to Englewood in 2000. In addition to her manifold roles in community life, including as a board member at Ahavath Torah, and the past president of Emunah, Abby has distinguished herself as the driving force behind "Names, Not Numbers." Nearly everyone in the Moriah family recognizes "Names, Not Numbers" as a marquee event for our school and its prominence in our educational program; its founding, expansion and success is due, in the fullest sense, to Abby's efforts. It is not an exaggeration to say that, by virtue of her stewardship of this program, Abby has influenced generations of Jews, from survivors of the Shoah to young students, and has made enormous contributions to the cause of Holocaust remembrance. Scott's activities in communal organizations, including the Moriah Board of Trustees, the board of Congregation Ahavath Torah, the board of Frisch, CSS, Norpac and many others have influenced Jewish life in Englewood, Bergen County and beyond. (Somehow Scott manages to also run, play tennis, and soccer competitively and still learn with a chavrusa.) Recently, Abby and Scott dedicated the Israel Advocacy Center at the Frisch School to prepare students to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses. Abby and Scott's deep involvement in communal life, commitment to Zionism and lifelong dedication to Jewish causes is surely a sterling example for their children, Emily '13, Julia '15, Sara '18 and Rae '21.
Moriah is fortunate to claim over 70 alumni who have returned to Moriah as parents. When alumni assume leadership roles in the school, they bring a special quality -- a love and appreciation for the school and a kinship with their children that can only be cultivated by shared experience. It is even more extraordinary when our alumni are joined by dedicated spouses who are equally committed to ensuring the excellence of our school. That is why we are excited to honor Dana Septimus and Joseph Feldman '96 with the Young Leadership Award. Dana and Joe are parents to second generation Moriah students, Aaron '23, Evie '25, Charlie '27 and Eliana '31. Despite her busy psychology practice and commitment to her patients, Dana has made the commitment to serve on various Moriah committees, including the Lifecycle Committee, the MAP Board, and currently as the Third-Grade Parent Council Liaison. In addition to volunteering at numerous Moriah events, Dana also serves as the co-chair of the Youth Department at Kehilat Kesher. Joe is a member of the Executive Board of Moriah and is the driving force behind the Young Families Committee and the admissions committee, working to enlarge our circle of Moriah families. Together this extraordinary couple has made an indelible mark on our school since they moved to Tenafly in 2013, and their unwavering dedication to the advancement of Moriah has benefited us all.
We are lucky to count amongst the Moriah faculty a vast number of teachers who are deserving of recognition for their merit and longevity of service to our school. We are presenting this year's Rabbi J. Shelley Applbaum, Z"L Service Award to two long term members of the Moriah family: Morah Shoshi Hason and Morah Nini Berger.
Both have served Moriah for almost 30 years and are remembered fondly by both recent students and many of their parents. It is not an exaggeration to say that hundreds of Moriah students and alumni owe their Ivrit skills and love of Medinat Yisrael to these amazing educators, and both continue to inspire students as they take the Hebrew immersion curriculum to the next level.
The annual dinner will be held on Saturday night, March 3rd at MetLife Stadium. Not only do we encourage you to attend and to contribute, we also encourage you to get involved in the planning of the event. You can do so by contacting our wonderful committee of volunteers, whom we thank in advance for making this the most successful dinner yet: our Dinner Co-Chairs, Talia Gollender, Rachel Heumann, Shira Forman, Nira Feldman and Lisa Schechter and our Campaign Co-Chairs, Alen Gollender and Alex Solomon. We look forward to celebrating with you as a united community.
Thank you for your continued support,
Aaron Yunis, PresidentZvi Rudman, Chairman