by Claudia Sherman, for Friedel Jewish Academy
On stage in the Jewish Community Center auditorium, the Friedel Jewish Academy student body faced the American flag and sang The Star Spangled Banner. Then they turned the other direction and sang the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah.” It was graduation night, May 20, for five students just completing sixth grade at Friedel.
This year’s graduates are Rachel Aoki, Sarah Aoki, Zoe Berman, Destiny Howard and Doron Margalit.
Prior to celebrating the graduates, Pam Cohn, principal of Friedel, thanked the outgoing members of the Friedel Jewish Academy Board of Directors and recognized Jerry Gordman, Debbie Denenberg, and Lloyd Roitstein for their fund-raising efforts on behalf of the school. Cohn also welcomed the new Board of Directors. She thanked the PTO for 100 percent family participation this school year. In addition, Cohn recognized her entire staff and announced the Nathan and Rose Lillian Fine Friedel Teacher of the Year honoree: Ashley Barrow, who will be the school librarian next year.
Directed by Jim Misner, the Friedel String Ensemble performed two musical pieces followed by the Friedel Band Ensemble, directed by Nestor Herzsbaum. Students from each grade level then sang selections in English and in Hebrew.
Presidential Achievement Awards were subsequently announced. Recipients are Gavin Smith, Matan Shapiro, Abby Kohll, Rachel Aoki and Sarah Aoki. Presidential Excellence Awards were presented to Noah Shrago, Shmuel Aaron Shyken, Maayan Zinman, Daniel Denenberg, Rebecca Denenberg, Rachel Kricsfeld, Zoe Berman, Destiny Howard, and Doron Margalit.
To the music of Pomp and Circumstance, the five graduates, in blue caps and gowns, entered the auditorium from the back and ascended the stage. Rabbi Steven Abraham congratulated the graduates, and each girl received a graduation certificate and a flower. The five sang a tribute to their teachers who returned the accolade with a song to the graduates.
Rabbi Jonathan Gross added his mazel tov, noting that this year’s graduation, his last before moving soon to Baltimore, is his tenth. “For touching our lives and touching our hearts,” the graduates gave him a print of a heart defined and filled with fingerprints of all the Friedel students.
Principal Cohn directed the graduates to move their tassels to the opposite sides of their caps. A video, produced by Sam Kricsfeld, depicting the graduates growing up followed by current students along with alums singing Salaam/ Shalom on stage capped off the event.