By Sophie Fisher ‘21 and Marley Kronenberg ‘21
In keeping with tradition, spirit week took place in the week leading up to Purim, this year from Monday, March 18th to Thursday, March 21st. Each day students were encouraged to dress up according to a particular theme, culminating on Thursday with Heschel’s Purim celebration, where the whole community came to school in costume. This year, in an effort to make the week feel more cohesive, the spirit council came up with the theme of growing up, with each day representing a different stage of life; the week included baby day, middle school day, and high school day.
In honor of baby day on Monday, ring pops were distributed upon arrival at school; the nooks were decorated to look like cribs; bibs were handed out at lunch; and during mincha math teacher Farah Farhadian read stories in the student lounge, where milk and cookies were served. For middle school day, silly bands were given out before school, and students had the opportunity during lunch to play Just Dance, a popular Wii game. “We really tried to throwback to those times to get people a little nostalgic and thinking about growing up,” shared Spirit Council Faculty Advisor and Limudei Qodesh teacher Rabbi Jonathan Klatt.
On Monday, in line with Purim’s idea of v’nahafoch hu, meaning ‘turn upside down’, hypnotist Ronnie Baras put on a show for the high school. Once students were under hypnosis, he asked them to do tasks such as imitate a teacher, pretend to be an elderly person and talk about their experiences in high school, and reenact a piece of the Purim story. Senior and Spirit Council Vice President Omri Benichou explained that he first saw Baras perform at a Heschel basketball tournament and fought to get him to put on a show at the Shabbaton, though that never worked out. “Getting the hypnotist was the students’ initiative… that was a risk and they took it and it really paid off,” Rabbi Klatt added.
Benichou explained that this change of spirit week was due to the observation that “students weren’t as engaged in the dressing up aspect and spirit part” of the week. The council therefore worked hard to ensure that the week and its activities felt different from past years.
“[The Spirit Council] wanted to try to immerse the school in a certain theme and feeling and I think they did a good job,” Rabbi Jonathan explained. However, given that spirit week is such a significant event, changes made to the program are not necessarily permanent. The council has already debriefed about what worked throughout the week and what needs improvement in order to give students the most meaningful and fun experience possible.