Fidget Spinners and Fiesta Highlight Awards Ceremony

Chabad of Orange County, NY’s Hebrew School, directed by Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston, celebrated student accomplishments at a festive Moving-Up Awards Ceremony. The event was attended by many of the Hebrew School’s 90 students, along with their families.

It was held at the Orange County Sports Club in Florida, thanks to the generosity of club owner Eric Muhlrad and his dedicated staff.

The program began with gymnastics and bounce fun as well as an Aleph Champ Taco Bar, a creative color-coded dinner according to the various levels of Hebrew reading taught at Chabad Hebrew School. The fiesta also included Aleph Champ Snow Cones, songs, acknowledgments, rewards, and, of course, a piñata.

Representing the parent body, Jodi Hershkowitz of Highland addressed the spirited crowd. “We were a family in search of a new Jewish home, one that would embrace and celebrate children and the wonderful tumult that comes along with them,” recalled Hershkowitz about her first encounter with Chabad. “We joined a joyful Purim celebration and then a Shabbat Service, when the rabbi called on the children, including our young son Max to assist him at the bima (Torah table), to which they came yelling and giggling. I remember turning to (Chabad President) Gil (Goetz) with apologies for the commotion. He turned to me and said, ‘We never apologize for the joyous sound of children at Chabad.’ It was at that moment that Sid and I knew that we had found our new Jewish home. In Chabad we have found a congregation where we both feel comfortable, welcome and respected.” “Chabad Hebrew School has nourished our family’s Jewish soul,” Hershkowitz continued. Through “Model Seders where marshmallows were hailing from the sky, Chanukah menorah’s filled with chocolate and meaningful services,” she said. “Chabad has given us comfort in tough times and celebration in joyous ones.”

Tami Siedler and her husband Robert Hinkelman of Chester also shared words from the heart that filled the room.

Hebrew School students Hailey Reich of Harriman, Ryan Leeds and Lizzie Deskin of Monroe shared their reflection on what Chabad Hebrew School means to them. They each shared the joys and meaningful experiences. “There is no better testament to your efforts than the testimony of the students themselves,” expressed Chana Burston, principal of the Hebrew School.

Acknowledgements and Awards were given to supporters, staff, volunteers and the students, including local teens, which help 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!”

Students were presented with awards for their accomplishments and levels passed. Each student received a gift as well, including a “Proud 2 be a Jew” fidget spinner.

The event was made possible thanks to the generosity of Eric Muhlrad, Lee and Michelle Sentell, Mitch and Gladys Wenzel, Irene Johnson, Guy and Limor Einav, Philip and Jen Reich for their sponsorship. Also thanks to the wonderful help of volunteers Ira Kanis, Betty Grossman, Elise and Boris Mansfield, Hillary and Erin Cohen and Jodi Hershkowitz.

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

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