Yeshiva Day School of Las Vegas plays host to area Day Schools
By Devorah Locker
February 1 was a different kind of school day at Yeshiva Day School of Las Vegas. The students of YDLV were joined by students of Ner Tamid, Midbar Kodesh, and Gan Las Vegas to celebrate the Birthday of the Trees 5770. Rabbi Goldman, headmaster of YDLV, and Mr. Larry Monkarsh, president of the local Jewish National Fund began the program, followed by a shiv'as haminim (seven species of Israel) song presented by YDLV's younger students. The upper grade students acted out "An Attitude of Gratitude", a skit that merged the laws of trees and their fruits and the midda (character trait) of the month, hakaras hatov (gratitude). The younger group then partnered up with their visitors to play a game that reinforced understanding of the shiv'as haminim. "I helped my partner know which fruit she had on her card," beamed 1st grader Devorah Katz.
Under the guidance of Mrs. Judy Berkovitz, JNF Community Director, the students divided into groups as they focused on various aspects that relate to Tu BiShvat, including planting flower seeds in individual pots and planting all of the shiv'as haminim in large pots on school grounds. Weeks before the event, research was conducted by the older grades on how to plant and care for each of the species. Mrs. Berkovitz and YDLV teacher Mrs. Locker approached nurseries and farms to obtain the items and information needed to properly plant the trees and grains. "The climate of Las Vegas is similar to the climate of Israel," Mrs. Berkovitz explained. "We are hoping that the 7 species of Israel will prosper here." At the event, students took charge of planting and watering with the help of the younger students. "It was very cool how we researched different fruit trees and then we got to plant them," commented 5th grader Menachem Roberts. The students are continuing to care for the trees, watering and fertilizing at the appropriate times.
Jewish National Fund made this possible by providing educational materials prior to the event for the students to understand the concept of ecology and how it relates to Tu BiShvat and better caring for our environment.
The program was a great way to combine the Judaic curriculum and Science curriculum and to build and strengthen research skills. "So much potential was presented at the event. No matter what the grade level, teachers were able to pull out what they could to integrate the materials into their curriculum," commented Mrs. Isabella Abram, Secular Studies Principal of YDLV. The event also promoted unity in the community as Jews from different backgrounds joined for one common goal. Mrs. Abram observed an example of a lesson from which we can all gain. "I was struck by the harmonious and cooperative interaction there was between all the children of the different schools. They didn't care about labels. They just wanted to learn and have fun." Torah is compared to water, which nourishes the soul. YDLV together with JNF, in an effort to bridge the gap, have taken a leap over the stream.