Subscribe to The Jewish Standard free weekly newsletter


entries tagged with: Yakir Forman


Is team spirit limited to sports?

Irene Stein, Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck’s math league advisor, left, with Shlomo Klapper, Yakir Forman, Natanel Friedenberg, and Gavi Dov Hochsztein, American Mathematics Competition winners who qualified for the American Invitational Mathematics examination.

When it comes to brain vs. brawn, who gets the accolades?

At Jewish high schools in the area, it depends on whom you ask. The educators agree that students cheer their academic teams as much as the sports teams. The students say, “Well, yes, but it’s a close call.”

The question arises following some stellar performances in the academic world: Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck brought home multiple awards in math competition. Three students from Ma’ayanot Yeshiva for Girls in Teaneck just were honored in Washington for winning a prestigious science competition. A student at the Frisch Academy in Paramus came out on top over 400 other students in a Talmud competition.

The schools field a full range of athletic teams, among them baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track, and volleyball. But they also compete in such areas as chess, debate, mock trial, Torah Bowl, New Jersey Challenge, Science Olympiad, and math.

“We at TABC emphasize participation in all extra-curricular activities, be that athletics or academics,” said Arthur Poleyeff, principal for general studies at the Teaneck school.

The academic competitors “are applauded by their peers; they are held in high esteem,” said Irene Stein, the TABC math teacher who guided the math competitors. “They enjoy the competition,” she continued. “Success breeds success.”

The students experience intrinsic rewards, said Rookie Billet, principal at Ma’ayanot. “When the team brings a trophy, all the kids cheer,” and the praise of their teachers counts for a lot, she said.

At The Frisch School in Paramus, Principal Kalman Stein said academics share the space on the podium with athletics. “Sports are important, but they are not that important,” Stein said.

“The ‘big man’ or ‘big woman on campus’ is more often than not not an athlete,” he said.

By the numbers, TABC has had a winning year in math competition. Yakir Forman, a junior, won the first prize of $1,000 in the inaugural Jacob Goldfinger Memorial Mathematics competition sponsored by Touro College’s Lander College for men.

Senior Netanel Friedenberg won the third prize of $100, and junior Moshe Kollmar took honorable mention. Tzipporah Greenberg, a sophomore at Bais Yackovin Passaic also took honorable mention. There were 96 participants from around the country.

In the New Jersey Math League competition, TABC placed fifth-highest in the state and first in Bergen County.

The Mathematics Association of America uses a series of competitions to choose a six-person team to represent the United States in the math Olympiad. Although he didn’t make the final team, Yakir, a junior, finished in the top 80 out of 100,000.

Shlomo Klapper, this year’s TABC valedictorian, shared insights about these kinds of competition. He speaks from the experience of his roles as captain of the Science Olympiad, Torah Bowl, and College Bowl teams.

He explained that the math competitions are in test format and take place within the student’s school. This kind of competition is not a spectator sport.

“You can go to a hockey game, but you can’t go to a math competition,” he said. “It is a solo experience, you’re flying alone,” he said.

Other competition are out in the open, though — the College Bowl championships, for example. The Torah Bowl is in more of a quiz show format, with competitors pressing a button to buzz when they have an answer.

Picking a question at random, Shlomo demonstrated an answer involving logarithms, a concept that has mystified this reporter for decades. After Shlomo’s explanation, the concept is still mysterious, but less so.

In some cases, like the Science Olympiad, contestants have to practice, he said. In other cases, though, you can’t really study because the subject matter is so broad. Asked what was one of his out-of-the-blue questions, he recalled a U.S. history question: Who was the British prime minister during the American Revolution?

He just happened to have the answer filed in his brain — Lord North.

He said he was in school from about 7:40 a.m. to 5:25 p.m. Asked how many hours, caught without a calculator, he had to think a bit. Nine hours and about 45 minutes, he figured. “A calculator is such a terrible crutch,” he said.

If there is a divide between brains and brawn, Shlomo speaks from both sides. Athletics have their place, said Shlomo, who was on the tennis and softball teams and runs now and then.

“You can’t pickup and play college bowl, but you can with sports,” he said. While TABC is “very supportive” of academic teams, the satisfaction of winning is more within the team itself, he said.

“After all, in the general sense, mainstream sports have been, and probably will be, cooler than the College Bowl,” he said.

Shlomo will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. His major? He doesn’t know yet.

At Ma’ayanot, sisters Ariella and Eliana Applebaum, and Elana Forman, all of Teaneck, were national winners in the Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVisionAwards Program.

The trio was cited for sifting through scientific literature and then forecasting 20 years into future for what the state of knowledge about human ability to regenerate limbs will be.

The girls were in Washington, D.C., to receive their awards last week. The contest is in its 18th year, and this is the first year Ma’ayanot has participated. Each winner gets a $5,000 savings bond.

Earlier in the spring, Ma’ayanot students Daniella Greenbaum of New York and Tzippy Steingart of Teaneck won first and third place in the annual Holocaust Memorial essay contest run by EMUNAH, a social service agency.

Daniella’s essay was named “Masha Greenbaum,” for her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. Tzippy’s was “A Nightmare to Remember, A Nightmare Never to Forget.”

At Frisch, the principal was speaking at the crest of a victory for senior Darren Sultan, who bested 400 students nationwide in the Yeshiva University Bronka Weintraub Bekiut Program. The contest is aimed at getting students to study Talmud outside the classroom.

Darren won first place in the United States portion of the International Bible Contest two years ago, and last year was first among the non-Israeli competitors in the international contest.

Jessica Oppenheimer, a Frisch senior on her way to Yale and captain of the debate team, said academic teams are appreciated, but athletic teams grab more of the spotlight.

“There is more of a sense of inclusion with sports teams because you can go and cheer,” she said. “You can’t do that with athletic teams.”

Soccer player Jared Hoch, also a senior, agreed that academic teams are appreciated, but sports teams get the edge. One reason he said is that academic teams often compete in a tournament setting, while the soccer team competes a game at a time. “When you win, everybody knows,” while academic victories are not as publicized, he said.

Rachel Cohen, a member of the girls soccer team at Frisch, agreed that sports teams get more attention, but she said part of that is logistics. Debates, for example, are held during school hours, while sports games are after school, so student spectators can attend.

But there is recognition for the academic teams, she said. “Everybody wants to show respect for their friends and show that they appreciate what they’re doing,” she said.

It was a winning season for the Frisch girls team — they won the league championship. Rachel said their sports activity dovetails with their Judaic studies.

“We all worked so hard together this year and it showed,” she said. “We did better when we were close.”

Last week, Rep. Steve Rothman welcomed Eliana Applebaum, Ariella Applebaum, and Elana Forman to Washington, D.C. The three students, from Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in Teaneck, are winners of the 2010 Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision Awards.

Teens channel energies into alternative energy

Students take on Siemens ‘We Can Change the World’

Eliana Appelbaum, Ariella Appelbaum, Elana Forman, and Yakir Forman have channeled their energies into creating more energy.

The Appelbaum twins, both 16, and their friend Elana, also 16 — all sophomores at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls — as well as Elana’s brother Yakir, 17, a senior at Torah Academy of Bergen County, teamed up to enter the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, a national environmental science competition for students. (Both schools are in Teaneck.)

Eliana Appelbaum (left), Elana Forman (center) and Ariella Appelbaum (right), all 16 and students at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, along with Yakir Forman, 17 (not pictured), produced the first-ever 100 percent algae-based fuel to be used in a home heater.

After several months’ labor, the teens have developed a system for growing algae and converting it into fuel that has produced the first-ever 100 percent algae-based fuel to be used in a home heater.

Last year, the three girls won second place in the Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision Awards Program, reportedly the world’s largest K-12 science and technology competition. They heard about the Siemens competition from Phyllis Serfaty, science research director at Ma’ayanot, and Brenda Zak, a science research teacher at the school.

Winners will be announced in May. But regardless of the official outcome, their mentors are bursting with pride.

“We are very proud and hope it inspires other students in our school to pursue science research,” said Tamar Appel, assistant principal for academic life at Ma’ayanot.

“I am very impressed by what they accomplished and their determination and resourcefulness,” said Dr. Thomas Butcher, head of the energy conversion group at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, where the students took the algae they had grown for conversion into biodiesel fuel.

Butcher, a scientist who researches development of alternative fuel, including “algo-sources,” or algae-based ones, said the teens’ contribution could have real-world applications.

“They really did it,” he said. “After conversion to biodiesel it burned very well.”

Dressed up for Purim on Monday as Alice in Wonderland (Eliana), a pink cat (Ariella), and a hula dancer (Elana), the girls spoke with The Jewish Standard at Ma’ayonot about their recent project.

The process involved growing the algae — which requires water, carbon dioxide, and light — then filtering it, and converting it into biodiesel. Because the conversion requires use of toxic chemicals that are carcinogenic, Butcher handled that final step.

The students’ innovation was streamlining the production process, enabling them to produce algo-fuel for $4.19 a gallon.

“The main difference is we did it without a factory on a non-industrial scale,” said Elana.

They grew the algae in Snapple bottles, using fluorescent lights and air valves connected to carbon dioxide pumps, and added nutrients. They then filtered the algae using cheesecloth, filter paper, and buckets.

“We were able to do this in our basement and everything can be used again,” said Ariella.

While home heaters have been powered by algo-fuel and petroleum combined, they have never before been powered 100 percent by algo-fuel.

A highlight of the experiment was bringing some of the algo-fuel the four teens produced to school and watching their classmates use it to power their cell phones, the teens agreed.

“People are talking about this [algo-fuel versus petroleum issue] in Congress; that we could do something to help feels good,” said Ariella.

“It was rewarding to actually see what we could produce on our own — how it could affect the environment and make a difference in the world,” said Eliana.

Elana said, “For me, it was both rewarding and educational. We were able to do research and create fuel and show how feasible this idea was to implement. Most of all it was fun.”

Reached via phone, Yakir added, “I’m not sure how much our project will contribute to the global search for alternative fuel, but I’m glad to be a small part of that search.”

Learn more about their project at a website the teens created, or at their Facebook page, growyourownpower.

Page 1 of 1 pages
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31