Just last year one of the freshman parents brought it to our attention that parents who are new to The Frisch School do not necessarily know what Shiriyah is all about and, therefore, cannot possibly comprehend why hundreds of students will be in school voluntarily all day today (Sunday) and will be staying late into each of the next three nights. But as we write this we think it makes sense to send this to all of our parents, even to long-time Shiriyah veterans.
Those of you—we hope nearly all of you—who will be at school on Thursday night will really be experiencing only the tip of the iceberg. You’ll be hearing the songs that the kids have been practicing all week; seeing and hearing the presentation of each grade’s banner (each of which is created behind locked doors by a group of student artists somewhere in the building); and experiencing the stomp presentations of the juniors and seniors which express the teams’ themes. (The freshman and sophomore stomps are presented to the entire student body after school, but before the start of the official Shiriyah presentation, late Thursday afternoon). Each grade is accompanied by its own band made up of some of our incredibly talented young men and women.
Much of the work of Shiriyah goes into the creation of each grade’s corridor. The kids spend time exploring the concepts of their theme—e.g. for ninth graders, Chessed— through specially designed classes and through the study of biblical and rabbinic sources with their grade advisors and then both decorate their corridor—although, as I hope you will see, the word decorate does not begin to express what they create—and create a narration, including small dramatic vignettes, which they present to the judges (and which we film and you can subsequently view) on Thursday afternoon. The combination of art work, scholarship, writing, and drama—which becomes more sophisticated as one goes from the freshmen to the seniors—is breathtaking (and incredibly time consuming).
Another group of artists, advised by our art teacher, spend their days and nights painting the grade murals—you’ve seen them both upstairs and downstairs—which portray the themes through images and biblical and/or rabbinic quotes. For those of us with limited artistic ability or vision the creation of the murals as they develop from pencil sketches on Sunday into works of art—which usually are finished about three minutes before the Thursday afternoon deadline—is a wonder to behold.
Then there are the kids who are preparing Divrei Torah which are to be presented at various Tefilot through the week. And there are young men and women who are creating, filming and acting in each grade’s stop action video, all of which are shown to the students on Thursday evening (before the 7:30 presentation). We’ve found some extraordinarily talented young film makers through the years.
If that isn’t enough, a major component of Shiriyah involves raising money for Tzedakah (with the recipients chosen by the students). The kids raise thousands of dollars each year. How? Mainly by turning The Frisch School into a weeklong Shuk during which kids sell everything from falafel, to neckties, to just about anything that kids will consume.
But if you really want to know what’s most beautiful about Shiriyah it’s the excitement and camaraderie which permeates the gym and which, after all is said and done and the presentations are over, bring nearly 600 young men and women to sit with arms around another singing Shirei Kodesh and then explodes into spirited dancing late into the night.
We’ve been working together on Frisch Shiriyah for years and it still is, year after year, one of the highlights of our year. We hope you will join us.
Dr. Kalman Stein
Rabbi Eli Ciner