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Grade 5 Moving Up to JHS Night

Friday June 2nd 2023

The annual 5th Grade “Moving Up to JHS” Night took place on Monday, May 22. Students and their parents gathered to learn about life in Junior High School and tips to successfully make the transition to 6th Grade.

The evening began with Rabbi Landsman addressing students and parents in the Multi-Purpose Room. Rabbi Landsman introduced the evening and shared words of wisdom from the world-renowned Psychiatrist, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski zt”l. Rabbi Twerski once taught a powerful life lesson from an unexpected source, a lobster.

Rabbi Twerski explained that a lobster lives in a rigid shell, and as it grows, the shell becomes too small for the animal. The lobster feels uncomfortable, sheds the shell, and eventually produces a new and larger one. Rabbi Landsman noted that the moral of the story is that times of potential stress are actually prime opportunities for growth. Junior High School can sometimes be a challenging time in a student’s development, but we do our best to help each student grow and mature into successful students in YCQ and beyond.

After Rabbi Landsman’s introductions, parents and students split into 4 groups and attended different sessions in a round-robin style. Throughout the rest of the night, they heard from Judaic Studies faculty, Mrs. Melissa Cohen and representatives from the General Studies department, YCQ’s Counseling department led by Dr. Elana Dumont and Mrs. Elana Joffe, and Mr. Jacob Grossman, the JHS Director of Student Life and Activities.

Teachers spoke about the 6th grade curriculum in all the different subjects in Limudei Kodesh and Chol, and the various academic goals they have for the students. Dr. Dumont, Director of Psychological Services, encouraged parents and students to have serious and thoughtful conversations about the upcoming year, and also described the Social Emotional Learning Curriculum that is in place for next year. Mrs. Joffe spoke about the importance of being properly organized, and provided valuable tips and suggestions for how to do so.

During Mr. Grossman’s talk, students watched a brief video of some of the highlights of the Student Life experience. Mr. Grossman then described in more detail about all the events, teams, clubs, and experiences that students will have the chance to participate in during their time in JHS. YCQ strongly believes in the pairing of a strong academic program with education outside of the classroom, and there are ample opportunities for experiential education in Junior High. These opportunities enable students to develop a healthy sense of self-worth and confidence that will help them mature into successful Bnei and Bnot Torah.

We can’t wait to welcome the Class of 2026 to Junior High School!

On a bright Wednesday morning, May 24, Grade 7 students embarked on a memorable trip to the historic city of Philadelphia.

Their first stop was the renowned Eastern State Penitentiary, a formidable structure with a captivating history. Walking through the eerie cell blocks, they listened attentively to gripping stories of famous inmates, and the impact of the penitentiary on the evolution of the American justice system.

Next, the students continued their journey through time by visiting Congregation Mikveh Israel, the oldest continuous synagogue in the United States. Students heard from the Associate Rabbi of the shul, Rabbi Yosef Zarnighian, who is a YCQ alumnus! They learned about the congregation’s enduring commitment to preserving their faith and the significant role it played in shaping the American Jewish identity.

Energized by their explorations, the Grade 7 students then embarked on a unique adventure with he Big Red Pedal Bike Tour. Students hopped on a special vehicle that requires its riders to pedal to move the giant bike. They worked together to casually pedal around Philly and stopped at historic sites during the tour.

On the way home, students stopped at Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park for some bouncing fun and dinner. Throughout the day, the students embraced the opportunity to delve into history and witness the remarkable progress of a nation. Their visit to Philadelphia left an indelible mark on their understanding of American heritage and history.

On Monday, May 22, Grade 7 Robotics and Grade 8 SET³ students had the incredible opportunity to visit Google’s New York headquarters.

They heard from different Googlers (Google employees) who described the history of the tech company. Students also had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Joel Wein, a Senior Director Of Engineering at Google and the President of YCQ’s Board of Trustees.

Students then broke into 2 groups and participated in a round-robin of activities. Students worked on a step-by-step algorithm to tie one’s shoes, learning valuable coding skills in the process. Students also worked on an activity in which they had to determine the correct path to cross a grid, testing their teamwork and memory skills.

Following the activities, students went on a tour of the huge and state-of-the-art complex and ate lunch on a terrace with a beautiful view of Manhattan. Thank you to Ms. Jessica Faibish, the daughter of Mrs. Faibish, who was instrumental in coordinating the event. Thank you to Mrs. Fabish, Mr. Grossman, Ms. Blackwood, and Mrs. Jaffe for all their efforts as well and for chaperoning the trip.

Grade 8 ventured south this week to Washington, D.C., for their annual Graduation trip. The day began with a stop at the Capitol building, home of the United States Congress. Students had the opportunity to meet with Michelle Schein, Senior Foreign Policy Adviser to New York Rep. Grace Meng.

Students then journeyed to the iconic United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This solemn institution pays tribute to the victims of the Holocaust and educates visitors about the horrors that unfolded during World War II. The visit was emotional and a culmination of all the Holocaust education students had received over the course of Junior High.

Grade 8 then made its way to tour some of D.C’s most famous monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial, and the memorials for those who fell during the Vietnam and Korean Wars.

After a day filled with history and reflection, students stopped to take some photos in front of the White House. After some souvenir shopping, students enjoyed a delicious dinner and a fun night activity of bowling to cap off the busy day.

Day 2 of the overnight trip featured a fun filled day at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. Students enjoyed a day of roller coasters and entertainment including Kingda Ka, the tallest coaster in the world and fastest roller coaster in North America.

A blast was had by all, learning more about our country, having a great time, and bonding with the Class of 2023!

On Friday May 19, the Yeshiva of Central Queens hosted a heartfelt breakfast to honor our esteemed Executive Director, Rabbi Yaakov Lonner. The special event on Yom Yerushalayim brought together the entire Junior High School student body, faculty, and Board of Trustees members to express their gratitude and appreciation for Rabbi Lonner’s exceptional leadership and unwavering dedication over the years.

The program began with a warm welcome from Rabbi Landsman who highlighted Rabbi Lonner’s remarkable achievements and the indelible impact they had on the yeshiva and its community. He described how Rabbi Lonner has devoted his energy to the school for over 30 years and the mesirut nefesh he demonstrated was truly remarkable.

Students from Grades 4-8 then shared anecdotes and memories, illustrating the profound influence Rabbi Lonner had on their lives. Students spoke about how they fondly remember attending Rabbi Lonner’s mishmars and other interactions they had with him over the years. One student detailed how Rabbi Lonner had helped him during his campaign for student government.

A special commemorative booklet was then given to Rabbi Lonner. Hundreds of letters and well wishes from students and staff were compiled into a book as a small token of appreciation for the years of hard work Rabbi Lonner has given to the yeshiva.

After the gift was presented, Rabbi Ophie Nat and the JHS Boys Choir led the lunchroom in 2 moving renditions of “Vazakeni” and “Tov LeHodot.” Rabbi Lonner’s mission was bringing the words of “Vazakeni” to life, and he was instrumental in raising students “who dazzle the world with Torah, maasim tovim, and service to the Creator.” And of course, the YCQ community is grateful towards Hashem for blessing the school with such a wonderful Executive Director.

Acharon Acharon Chaviv, Rabbi Lonner himself had the opportunity to speak and thank everyone for their support. He noted how the breakfast will be one of the most impactful memories of his years at YCQ, and how he greatly appreciated everything involved including the gift. However, he explained that the greatest memento are the students themselves. “Boys and Girls, as I watch you grow, increasingly mature, young men and women, with your beautiful davening, diligent learning, and your exquisite middot tovot, that’s what’s going to be my special legacy,” he powerfully remarked.

For the last 32 years, Rabbi Lonner has been at the center of YCQ’s continued growth. His thoughtful leadership, deep Torah values, and selfless commitment have been the wings that have borne YCQ aloft during this time. An eved Hashem with true humility sprinkled with a dose of humor, Rabbi Lonner passionately steered the Yeshiva over these decades, overseeing its finances, operations, and facilities. He took special pride in ensuring a nutritious lunch would be served each and every day to the precious students and staff, and was a beloved Mishmar Rebbe for countless children.

Rabbi Lonner’s tenure has also been marked by the completion of significant capital projects, including the construction of the Junior High School building, the library renovation, and the substantial HVAC project over this past year, to name a few. These accomplishments don’t include the organization of school dinners, Meleva Malkas, siddur and chumash plays, Celebrate Israel parades, and the countless other events that make our yeshiva so special. Rabbi Lonner has run the yeshiva with the highest levels of integrity, sensitivity and professionalism. The impact that he has left on YCQ is immeasurable and we owe a debt of gratitude to him for all that he has done. He will forever remain an integral part of the yeshiva family and its neshamah.

YCQ celebrates Rabbi Lonner’s esteemed tenure and is forever grateful for all that he has done for the yeshiva in the past and present. As the Yeshiva of Central Queens look forward to the future, they are excited to announce the appointment of Mrs. Malka Fishman as the new Executive Director, effective July, 2023.

The YCQ community is forever indebted to Rabbi Lonner and his beloved wife, Simi, for everything they have done for the yeshiva, and wish them continued mazal, bracha and nachat from their family.

“Color War Breakout!” Last Friday, when superstar Nissim Black said those three words via video to the Junior High School, cheers erupted in the lunchroom. After the teams aish (orange) v.s. mayim (blue) and their respective leaders were announced, the activities began. 

Friday afternoon featured the boys playing football, soccer, and basketball in the yard while the sixth grade girls ran across the multi-purpose room in an action-packed game of ‘Coke and Pepsi.’ Meanwhile in the gym, the seventh and eighth grade girls competed in a game of dodgeball. The day concluded with musical chair competitions throughout the building. After an afternoon of action, students headed home to rest up over shabbat for 2 more days of friendly competition. 

After tefilah on Monday, students from each team presented Divrei Torah connected to their respective team theme. A breakfast filled with team cheers gave students energy for a busy day. The morning was filled with competitions in freeze dance, cake wars, Family Feud, a “talk-a-lot” activity, hockey, basketball, dodgeball, and Torah Bowl. 

But wait, there’s more! 

After lunch and more Divrei Torah, everyone turned to participate in and watch the amazing apache relay race. Students participated in wacky activities such as flipping a water bottle 5 times, or moving a ping pong ball with a spoon in their mouths, and then passing a baton when the task was completed. 

Trivia competitions, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, team meetings, and a debate, were some of the many activities that students participated in for the rest of the day. 

To celebrate Lag Ba’Omer and the final day of Color War, students spent Tuesday morning outdoors. The talmidim ventured to Cunningham Park while the talmidot headed to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Students enjoyed the beautiful weather playing sports and enjoying the fresh air. When they returned to school, students had a delicious BBQ lunch waiting for them. 

After a few final activities and team meetings, students were ready for the final presentations. Hebrew and English songs, stomps, dances, skits, and videos wowed the students, teachers, and administration. Banners were presented by students who had spent days creating masterpieces connected to their team themes. A third achdut banner that was created by both teams in unison was also presented to the packed crowd in the lunchroom.

After tallying up all the scores, Rabbi Landsman announced that Team Aish, the orange team, had emerged victorious! This Color War was closely fought by both teams, and a great time was had by all. 

While of course, students enjoyed the days of activities, this was more than just a fun time. YCQ strongly believes in the pairing of a strong academic program with education outside of the classroom, and Color War was a tremendous opportunity for experiential education. Every single student had the chance to apply their individual talents and strengths. From athletes to artists, to techies to Torah bowlers, everyone had the chance to shine and develop their personal and collaborative skills, alongside their leadership abilities. These opportunities truly enable students to develop a healthy sense of self-worth and confidence that will help them mature into successful Bnei and Bnot Torah. 

A huge thank you must be given to Mr. Jacob Grossman for organizing the best Color War to date. Thank you to all the teachers and staff for helping Mr. Grossman execute his grand plans into a reality. Special shout-out to all the student leaders who really shined during this year’s competition. Captains: Sara Ruben, Eitan Berkowitz, Ava Sternfield, and Chaim Peled. Lt. Generals: Noa Davis, Ysrael Gherman, Gabi From, and Sammy Szlechter. Generals: Emily Baturov, Benjamin Toobian, Adelina Gavrilov, and Eitan Gol. 

Chanukah Celebrations at YCQ were jam-packed. Or should we say jelly-filled! Monday kicked off with beautiful renditions of Hallel heard throughout the classrooms and in the shul. Throughout the morning, Grades 3-8 each had the opportunity to experience a Silent DJ. Students were given headphones controlled by DJ Eli Arshadnia and danced along and celebrated the miracles of Chanukah, without any music blasting over the speakers. Students enjoyed witnessing the funny sight of dancing “silently” while showing off their Chanukah moves.

Meanwhile, students in Grades 1 and 2 had the chance to decorate donuts in the lunchroom. Students were given donuts and lots of different options to top their donut with, or even dip it in chocolate. Creativity was in the air as students made all sorts of delicious and unique combinations and gave their sufganiyot quite a makeover.

The celebration train was full steam ahead on Tuesday. After davening, JHS students began their mornings with parties with their Rebbeim and Morot, while Grades 1-5 witnessed a spectacular magic show from Magic Mehl. Students (and faculty) were wowed by his impressive tricks. Although they were disappointed when he was unable to make their homework disappear for the rest of the year, students were nevertheless amazed by his magic repertoire.

That afternoon, Grade 1 decorated beautiful Chanukah themed mugs in their classrooms, while Grades 2-5 ate some menorahs. You read that right, students created edible Menorahs!

The activities did not slow down on Wednesday. Grades 1-5 were amazed at the skills of Juggler Keith Leaf who put on quite a performance in the gym. Students from Grades 3-5 then had their turn at donut decorating in the afternoon.

Back in the Junior High, boys and girls each competed in their respective fierce (and friendly) Dreidel competitions with exciting prizes. We are a little suspicious that Director of JHS Student Activities, Jacob Grossman, “coincidently” decided to make ‘Gimmel’ the winning letter though.

JHS students later stared in awe as a truck filled with TVs, video game consoles, and comfy seating suddenly appeared in the YCQ yard. Students piled in as they got to choose from a staggering amount of titles.

The YCQ faculty was treated to their own party on Wednesday afternoon. They enjoyed a dairy buffet from Bravo Pizza, dessert from Queens Pita, and a mocktail station with two mixologists. Travel toiletry bags with the YCQ logo were also distributed as gifts.

A tremendous amount of hakarot hatov and thanks to Mrs. Shirly Pourad-Kaikov, Mr. Jacob Grossman, and everyone else who made this Chanukah so special!

The fun continued throughout the rest of the week, but looks like we’re out of room here. Stay tuned for next week’s edition for the rest of the highlights of Chanukah at YCQ!

The YCQ Boys Torah Bowl Team swept through the opening week competition defeating Manhattan Day School, Mazal Day School, and the Yeshiva of Flatbush. The Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills graciously hosted the event.

The Girls Torah Bowl Team also had a great first meet. They put in a lot of effort and time studying Parshiot: Bereishit, Noach, and Lech Lecha. They played against Mazal Day School, Manhattan Day School, RAMAZ, and Flatbush. They won two games, and did an awesome job.
Thank you Rabbi Rosenfelt and Ms. Rosenblum for coaching, guiding, and cheering the Girls and Boys Torah Bowl Teams!

The anticipation for the YCQ Hockey Home Opener grew throughout last week. On Thursday, the Wildcats arrived in their game-day suits ready to take the court like pros. Cheered on by a packed house of family and friends, the opening night ceremonies began with player introductions, followed by the Israeli and American National Anthems. As the ball was dropped, everyone was standing, waving their YCQ Wildcats rally towels and cheering loud. The game started fast – twelve seconds in, Yisrael Gherman scored, making it 1-0 early. The game continued to go in YCQ’s direction. By the time four minutes came off the clock in the first period it was 4-0 Wildcats. Shortly after the fourth goal by YCQ, Magen David intercepted a pass and had a player all alone on a breakaway. Goalie Justin Schikman made an amazing blocker save to keep Magen David off the board and maintain the momentum for the Wildcats. The game ended 9-1 Wildcats, highlighted by a six goal performance by Captain Ozzy Weiss. It was an unforgettable night for everyone in attendance, as YCQ secured a season opener win.

The three-year-old and four-year-old classes have been participating in a unit called “All About Me.” The children are learning about what makes each of them unique and special, and also how they are the same. They have measured themselves using building cubes. One class even measured their feet. The fours painted self portraits and the threes made family trees. They will learn next about how to be a friend and part of a class.

The Kindergarten classes have had so much fun making Parsha come alive. Last week, we learned about Avraham, and the students invited each other to share treats to experience Hachnasat Orchim like Avraham. This week the children learned about Sara, and how Yitzchak found a wife. They learned the medrash of how the candles, the challahs, and the cloud returned to Sara’s tent when Rivka and Yitzchak got married. The classes made candle holders they can actually use – we can’t wait to learn next week’s Parsha!