|Yavneh Academy’s 1993 graduating class is holding a reunion on Jan. 29.|
Now 31 and living in Israel with his wife Sarah and four children, Barak Schecter still thinks fondly about his time at Yavneh Academy.
The alumnus, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh and a substance abuse counselor for teenagers, credits the Paramus school with fostering his keen interest in Jewish history and introducing him to other students who have become lifelong friends.
“I know it sounds cheesy,” said Schecter, a member of Yavneh’s 1993 graduating class, “but one of my fondest memories is of going to social studies class. I’ve been a history buff since then.”
For years, he said, he’s been thinking of organizing a class reunion, floating the idea to the 15 or so former classmates he keeps up with on Facebook.
“I go back and forth from Israel all the time,” said Schecter, who is also director of Jerusalem’s Aish Summer Camp.
This year – the 18th, or “chai” year since his Yavneh class graduated – the alumnus put his reunion plans into action, getting contact information from the school and reaching out to all of his fellow 1993 graduates.
“The response has been wonderful,” he said. “Most of the class is coming.”
Washington. I feel honored now to be … granted the opportunity to give back what I was so graciously given.”
|Barak Schecter is organizing a reunion of his 1993 Yavneh graduating class. Photos Courtesy Barak Schecter|
The event, to be held Jan. 29 at ETC Steakhouse in Teaneck, will include videotaped greetings from former principal and now dean emeritus Rabbi Eugene Kwalwasser, who lives in Beit Shemesh as well. Schecter is also preparing a slide show and, possibly, “a game of Yavneh Jeopardy.”
Kobi Zaken, a 1993 Yavneh graduate who is working with Schecter to organize the event, pointed out that not only is this the chai year for graduates of his class, but the group’s actual graduation took place during Yavneh’s “jubilee year.”
Zaken, a New Milford resident who sends his own three children to Yavneh, said “everyone was friends with everyone” in his grade. Like Schecter, he has stayed in touch with some of them, whether in person or through Facebook.
“A friend said once, regarding [an old school] photo, ‘We were such great friends in that photo.’ Well, my response to that is, ‘We still are great friends…. We just grew up.'”
Zaken, who works for Royal Wine Corp. and owns the company Global Funk, said he is definitely looking forward to the reunion. He has fond memories of his days at the school, especially “the trips, playing in the playground, and just hanging out after school.”
Alumnus Chaim Sussman is looking forward to the reunion as well.
Sussman, who has been teaching at Yavneh for six years, said he’s had a look at the list of attendees, “and I haven’t seen most of them for more than 15 years.”
He noted that his fondest class memory is of the students’ trip to Washington, D.C., during which “the class really bonded.”
Alumna Dr. Sarah (Wigod) Feit, now Yavneh’s director of special services, said she thinks it is wonderful that her classmates are working so hard to put the reunion together.
“While we may not see each other so often, when we do see each other there is an instantaneous bond and lots of reminiscing that takes place. It is amazing that while so much in our world has changed, the love of learning that Yavneh gives over to its students is very much present every single day.”
Feit, now a Yavneh parent, said she feels fortunate to be able to give her own children the high- quality education she enjoyed.
“They say that all the important things that we learn in life are learned in kindergarten, and that is definitely true,” she said. “It was just yesterday that the professors, lawyers, doctors, homemakers, teachers, and rabbis were sitting next to each other discussing what kind of milk we liked best and what roles we were each going to play in ‘house’ that day. It was just yesterday that we sang the surprise thank-you song at the end of our Chumash play, rapped the parsha with Morah [Sara] Ancselovits, ran around the baseball field to raise money for the playground, kashered chickens to serve at a dinner for our families, [and] planned a class trip to