Students from Katz Yeshiva High School Travel to Guatemala for 4-Days of Service, Cultural Immersion
Senior Class Met with Israeli Ambassador to Guatemala, Vice President of Guatemala; Visited and Volunteered at San Jose Calderas School; and Donated Supplies to Alotenango Village
By: Katz Yeshiva High School of South Florida
Guatemala's history with Israel and the Jewish people is very strong, as is emphasized by Israeli Ambassador to Guatemala Mattanya Cohen. In fact, in 1947 Guatemala was the second country to vote in favor of creating a Jewish homeland in Israel; In 2017, Guatemala was the second country to move their embassy to Israel. Furthermore, Guatemala named a street "Jerusalem the capital of Israel" and has made Israel education a part of the curriculum in public school.
"We wanted to impress upon our students just how important it is to express gratitude and to never take support of Israel for granted," said Rabbi Jonathan Kroll, Head of School. "Learning in the classroom is important but making the world our classroom is even more powerful. We went to Guatemala to learn about the country and its people and we returned having learned so much about ourselves as well."
Highlights of the trip included:
· Visit to the historic Magen David Synagogue with Rabbi Sholom Pelman of Chabad and Mattanya Cohen, Israeli Ambassador to Guatemala. According to Rabbi Pelman, Guatemala has been very supportive towards the Jewish people, but due to the lack of a major Jewish presence there, experiences like this are critical." Video: https://vimeo.com/
· KYHS students then traveled to the National Palace where they met Vice President of Guatemala Jafeth Cabrera. KYHS President Daniel Katz along with student Shirel Garzon presented a plaque showing appreciation to Guatemala for moving the country's embassy to Jerusalem. Student Sara Deichman reflected, "As a member of a Zionist school, it is amazing for me to see everything I learn about and am passionate about put into practice. Guatemala isn't Israel, but it sure is amazing to see a country so aligned with its values and the values I learn in school every day." Video: https://vimeo.com/
· The students then headed to a local school in San Jose Calderas where they spent time singing, dancing, playing sports, and engaging with the children. The Katz Yeshiva students also painted classrooms, brightening up the school, and taught the children English. They later had dinner with pro-Israel Christian Golan Scout Troop, which featured a uniform emblazoned with both a Guatemalan and Israeli flag, further highlighting the Zionism of Guatemala. The scouts led the seniors in their prayers, games, and chants, and KYHS students taught the scouts some Hebrew chants.
· Finally, the students hiked up Volcano Acatenango for seven-hours before delivering gifts and supplies to a NGO temporary housing camp that was still coming back from a volcano eruption last year, which destroyed the camp.
About Katz Yeshiva High School of South Florida
Katz Yeshiva High School of South Florida (KYHS), formerly Weinbaum Yeshiva High School (WYHS), is a Modern Orthodox coeducational yeshiva high school. It offers a demanding dual curriculum of General and Judaic Studies. The school was founded in 1998 and its mission is to engage, challenge, and inspire students to reach their intellectual, personal, and spiritual potential in an environment that stimulates critical thinking and academic and religious growth. Today's KYHS student body (grades 9-12) includes approximately 350 students from Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. KYHS is the largest Orthodox High School outside the New York area. KYHS welcomes families of all backgrounds who share its goals of academic and spiritual growth for their children. Students are expected to respect kashrut, Shabbat, and appropriate interactions between young men and women both in and out of school. KYHS families are Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath observant) and do not write, drive, or use electronics for the 25-hour period of the weekly Jewish Sabbath from sundown on Friday until nightfall on Saturday. KYHS' secular studies curriculum offers a wide range of required and elective offerings ranging in levels from Basic to AP studies. Learn more about KYHS at www.yeshivahs.org.
Melissa Perlman, BlueIvy Communications