The Stanley’s Friend Bench, the newest addition to The Silverstein Hebrew Academy (SHA) was unveiled at a recent ceremony. Intended to facilitate camaraderie and compassion among students and the community, the bench is named after SHA’s namesake and founder, Stanley Silverstein, who passed away on Oct. 20, 2016. Students in elementary school worked with faculty members to design and decorate the bench to reflect the love and support Stanley Silverstein provided students to help them excel academically, be active in charitable service and achieve success within the community.
“Mr. Silverstein was a trailblazer with a brilliant mind and a compassionate heart. He was not just a name on the building, he was someone all of the students knew personally,” said Chanie Geisinsky, associate head of school at SHA. “The students emulate his positive, ‘I-can’ attitude, which has been the theme throughout our school this year and was incorporated into the design of the bench under the direction of Chumy Ezagui, the program director. Stanley’s mantra will now live on within the children at our school for generations to come.”
At the SHA, students are encouraged to include and befriend all children, and Stanley’s Friend Bench will serve as the perfect place to do just that. Students can use the bench to wait on a friend to join them in the recess room, work out a disagreement or simply play a quiet game. This will ensure that Silverstein’s vision of peace and community lives on.
The academy also encourages students to participate in a number of other initiatives to bring the community closer and acknowledge friendship. These initiatives are applications (apps) of the schools theme, being good to others—including Flashlight, which focuses on giving students the tools to help guide others toward righteousness, and Friendfinder, which pushes students to be kind to other children and build a strong community. Teachers also distribute daily grams, or Nachat notes, acknowledging students who have been exceptionally kind to others. Additional initiatives include special lunches with teachers when students go out of their way to help others, and keeping a mitzvot book of good deeds by students dedicated to Silverstein.
“His vision in creating Silverstein Hebrew Academy was not just to create a state-of-the-art academy, but to see that each child be educated with an open mind and an open heart,” said Ami Reines, Silverstein’s daughter.
After recognizing the role of education in building a viable Jewish future, Silverstein, along with his wife, Raine, led the campaign to build a Hebrew Academy in Great Neck that would include the best of general and Judaic studies. Silverstein Hebrew Academy, founded in 1998 is an ongoing source of pride to the Silverstein family. SHA provides students from preschool through middle school with an inclusive, progressive and passionate Jewish education. For further information, visit www.shagn.org or call 516-466-8522.
Read more about Stanley Silverstein.