Upstate Hebrew School Celebrates Accomplishments

Chabad of Orange County’s Hebrew School Awards Ceremony was full of spirit and excitement.  Held at the Pavilion of the Chester Commons Park in upstate New York, the nearly 100 students and their families gathered for a memorable June afternoon.

The program began with a barbeque buffet and the students singing the Hebrew School theme song.  Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston, directors, welcomed the crowd.  Chana Burston emphasized the message that when we love and value our religion, the responsibilities are not a burden, but rather a gift.

Representing the parent body, Mathew and Lauren Greenbaum of Monroe, along with their 9 year old daughter Samantha, surprised the audience with an originally composed “Chabad Rap,” with a theme line of “Chabad – Fun with family and friends, Chabad – Jewish learning never ends!”  The catchy rap got the entire crowd clapping and rapping along.

Parents Seth and Lorie Ingber of Goshen spoke of the warmth and education their three children have enjoyed at Chabad Hebrew School.

Teen volunteer Annabelle Pulver of Highland Mills addressed the audience and spoke of how she felt privileged to volunteer as an assistant teacher for the past two years, and emphasized that Chabad creates a non-judgmental learning environment.  “At Chabad Hebrew School you are not judged for not knowing something…but you are taught and accepted for wanting to learn.  Rabbi Pesach and Chana – you have helped not only everyone here today, but the hundreds of people who have passed though Chabad.”

Students Joshua Caplan, 12, of Highland Mills, and Maya Reich, 9, of Woodbury, shared their experiences at Chabad Hebrew School.  Joshua Caplan’s presentation highlighted the “Top 10 Reasons You Should Send Your Kids to Chabad Hebrew School,” some of which included “You get to learn about Jewish history, holidays and culture of the Jewish Religion”, “The teachers and staff are all very friendly” and humorous reasons like “you don’t have to worry about your kids for two hours!”

For Hebrew reading, Chabad Hebrew School uses the acclaimed Aleph Champion Reading Program. Based on the martial arts motivational philosophy of color-coded levels and testing, it provides excitement and inspiration, leading the students into a winning cycle of learning.  Games, flashcards, workbooks and rewards make every step along this remarkable journey a fun and educational success. Symbolic of the student’s achievements in the Aleph Champ program, students were delighted to enjoy a unique rainbow colored popcorn bar.

Kitah Aleph, the youngest division of Chabad Hebrew School, presented drawings of their favorite part of the year, and were presented with an award for completion of the Hebrew Aleph Bet.

Chana Burston, along with Sabina Pashkin of Highland Mills and Reilly Crowe of Washingtonville, led the “Aleph Champ Roll Call.”  As each Aleph Champ level was called out, students of that color cheered and waved their color streamer.

Students were then presented with awards for their accomplishments and levels passed. Each family also received a photo book of pictures which highlighted the exciting lessons and projects of the past year.

Chabad also expressed their appreciation to the staff and volunteers, including 14 local teens, who have helped on a continuous basis and presented them each with a gift of recognition.

Special honor was also given to Chabad’s donors as well as the Gregg Wenzel Scholarship Fund.  “Chabad’s policy is that no one will be turned down due to lack of funds” said Rabbi Pesach, “and our supporters make that happen!”  A gift was presented to Gladys and Mitch Wenzel.

The evening finale was an interactive comedy-magic show, and students enjoyed pictures at the “Chabad Hebrew School Instagram booth.”

Chabad’s Hebrew School offers a choice of classes Sunday mornings or Sunday mornings. The First Taste program is geared for ages 5-6, and Hebrew School caters to ages 5-13.

Registration Hebrew School next fall is now open. For more information, and to request registration forms please contact Chabad at 845-782-2770; write or visit

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