More than 100 students graduated from the Great Neck-based yeshiva North Shore Hebrew Academy High School on Thursday night, with school leaders charging the students to challenge themselves, be kind and find strength in their heritage.
Daniel Vitow, the headmaster of the North Shore Hebrew Academy, shared stories of composer Benjamin Zander and the story of Rabbi Meir, a Jewish sage, on how a leader’s success can be gauged by the shine in those they inspire.
And in doing so, Vitow described the class of 2019 as “one of our finest and best classes ever.”
“Your eyes have always had a special shine, but now they really do,” Vitow said. “You are warm, you are kind, you are respectful, you are caring and you are nurturing in ways that are extremely rare, even in people who are much older than you, let alone people of your age.”
Danielle Muller, the president of North Shore Hebrew Academy, advised graduates to be ambitious, even though there will be challenges, don’t worry too much, as there will be missteps, and to not compare oneself to other.
But most important, she said, is to be kind.
“Many times what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a special heart that listens,” Muller said.
Rabbi Noam Weinberg, the principal of the school, said that students will be entering a world of rising anti-Semitism both overt and subtle. He also described college campuses as “the new breeding ground for anti-Semitism,” but said the graduates should not shy away.
Students should instead embrace their Jewish heritage and that they are royalty, Weinberg said, and realize there is an obligation to succeed “because the price of failure is too high.”
“Our response to anti-Semitism and assimilation is to go through life asking the question, ‘What makes me great?’” Weinberg said. “Not ‘Am I great,’ but, ‘I know I’m great, what are the parts that enable that to be.’”
“Each one of you is a prince and a princess,” Weinberg added. “Each one of you is royalty.”
Also among the speakers were Rabbi Yehuda Chinskey, who offered the Tefillah, Andrew Gottlieb, the speaker of the class, and Dalia Etessami, the valedictorian.