A very passionate group of Secondary V students at Bialik High School in Côte Saint-Luc’s District 2 completed another mitzvah – a good deed – for all students at Bialik! They spent last week hammering nails, transporting lumber, removing scrap all so that Bialik would be equipped with a succa (a structure that has since been decorated and can now be used by all students during Succot on a year-to-year basis).
Many Jewish families have been busy building their own succot, in preparation for the seven-day long Festival of Sukkot which began on the evening of September 22. It is in honour of the holiday’s historical significance, remembering the children of Israel wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters over forty years. Bialik’s succa was built to Judaic law specifications under the direction of Rabbi Mark Fishman, Bialik’s Judaic Life Coordinator. Now Bialik will have one to call its own, and be able to focus on the yearly ritual of its decoration and eating in it.
The students who participated in this project were more than happy to volunteer to make this happen. As Hanna Eliashiv, Bialik’s Judaic Studies Curriculum Coordinator, explained, they see it as their “legacy” to the school, as a lasting testimonial of special Judaic significance. The mitzvah of “Kol Israel arevim ze laze”, all Jews are responsible for one another, has been demonstrated by the volunteers.
None of this would have been possible had JPPS-Bialik parents not donated their time, expertise and materials. This includes architectural design services, foundation work, general contracting and carpentry services, from Georges Elbaz, architect, Steven Miller, John Mendelson JPPS ’77, Richard Stern ‘87, and Ron Mashaal. Hanna Eliashiv and Rabbi Fishman encouraged this project as being mission-appropriate and a tangible way in which to engage the students, not just in its building, but also in its use throughout the Succot holiday.
Large enough to fit a class of 25 students, it is not a small undertaking, and involved some heavy lifting and getting dirty. This did not bother any of the students, probably because they are following in the footsteps of students who have come before them who had participated in Habitat for Humanity projects in New Orleans and San Diego. And, as Principal Butman said, why not start at home!
In the photo at the top we have, from left to right, Shireen Butman, Principal, Bialik High School; Secondary V students Sydney Wajcman, Max Segal, Adam Amar, Zachary Neuman, Samuel Sheiner, Kyle Miller, and kneeling Michael Landsman and Dylan Halickman.