Blue and white were the dominant colors in the halls of the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls on Wednesday, May 4, in recognition of and solidarity with Yom HaZikaron. The observance of Israel’s Memorial Day at SKA was an inspiring way to acknowledge the contributions of the thousands of Israeli soldiers who gave their lives defending the State of Israel, and mourn with the families of those who lost loved ones to war and terror.

In SKA’s limudei kodesh classes, students were given cards with the names of fallen soldiers, and learning all day was dedicated in their memory. Throughout the day, the girls wore “Yizkor” stickers, reminding everyone of the solemnity of the day.

The Seniors sat spellbound in the SKA Library as they listened to Mr. Shahaf Segal, a former Israeli IDF soldier speak about his wartime experiences and how he now fights terror in an international and legal way in New York. In a moving assembly in the auditorium, 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students heard from Ms. Sarri Singer, Founder and Director of Strength to Strength, an organization that brings together victims of terror from around the world and provides psychological and emotional support, and who is herself a victim of terror.

In the afternoon, the SKA girls joined together for a special student-led kumsitz in the auditorium, bestowing a deeply spiritual aura to the day. Then, in a “from darkness to light” moment, the pain of remembrance turned into joyous celebration, as the girls decorated the school building and hallways for the next day’s salute to Yom HaAtzmaut.

Blue and white were once again the colors of choice on Thursday, May 5, in honor of Israel’s Independence Day. At the schoolwide “Tefillah Chagigit” held in the morning of Yom HaAtzmaut, the entire school davened together in a special program. Especially meaningful, before the saying of Hallel, we were honored to hear from SKA Math teacher Dr. Mila Klahr, whose son is in the Israeli army. Dr. Klahr spoke of the miracle that is Eretz Yisrael and what it means to her to have a son in the IDF, protecting the same places we read about in Tanach. Another highlight of the day’s program was hearing from SKA Tanach teacher and Israel Awareness Committee advisor Mrs. Penina Bernstein, on why she is making aliyah. Mrs. Bernstein, who is going to move to Israel with her family this summer, has taught countless students through her teachings and example of her love for Toras Yisrael, am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael.

This year, SKA sponsored WALK FOR ISRAEL in support of Israel’s absorption of the Ukrainian Zhitomir Orphanage which has been relocated to Beit Shemesh. The war in Ukraine, and Israel’s quick and efficient response to the resulting refugee crisis, moved the SKA community to help in any way they could. Before the walkathon, SKA students had already raised over $5,000 in various fundraisers for the orphanage. The chagigah held after the walkathon was filled with much ruach and dancing!

Yom HaAtzmaut at SKA was both meaningful and fun! Our thanks go to Mrs. Penina Bernstein and her Israel Awareness Committee members who organized these incredible programs.