This year Akiva has introduced a new school wide program entitled the “Derech Eretz” program. Derech Eretz is the Jewish code of proper conduct and it relates to the life-worthy pursuit of how one interacts in the world in a responsible manner. Through creative programs and thoughtful discussions, students are getting a hands-on experience of exploring what it means to live life as a mensch. This project is spearheaded by Akiva teacher Michelle Zelermyer who works closely with Social Coordinator Jaimee Kravitz and Director of Jewish Life and Learning, Deborah Abecassis.  Our Derech Eretz team is rolling out a new theme each month, highlighting principles and traits that relate to Jewish values throughout the school community:

Marcheshvan: Positive Speech
Kislev: Balance & Moderation
Shvat: Accountability
Adar: Responsible FUN
Nissan: Perseverance, Grit & Endurance

untitled-255Additionally, the program includes a Big Brother/Big Sister initiative where students in older grades mentor younger students.  Older students are learning empathy and responsibility, while younger ones are benefiting  from having a role model and the comfort of having an older peer looking out for them. Buddy Classes are meeting periodically, filling each other’s buckets and continuing to build our whole-school community. The smiles say it all: it is evident that both younger and older students are thriving from these opportunities to learn, pray, and play together.

As always, we strive to promote healthy social development for our students, and we encourage families to join their children on this journey of character building and Jewish self-discovery. So far we’ve had positive feedback about the Marcheshvan/November Mitzvah Mission the students brought home. Stay tuned for more Derech Eretz Mitzvah Missions throughout the year…!