North Shore Hebrew Academy High School (NSHAHS) participated in the annual Yeshiva League Model Congress tournament over Zoom, for the first time in March. The tournament was attended by over 275 students from 15 schools, including Central, DRS, Ezra, Flatbush, Frisch, Katz, Ma’ayanot, MTA, SAR, Schechter, Rambam, and SKA. The virtual format allowed for the conference to be more accessible by eliminating travel limitations, with students from here in Great Neck to the Five Towns to Florida, all competing from their own homes.
North Shore is proud to compete in the Yeshiva League Model Congress tournament, which continues to provide students with the opportunity to become more persuasive, effective and confident communicators while also familiarizing them with a wide range of issues not typically discussed in the classroom, from Section 230 protections to the filibuster to foreign policies such as economic sanctions on Burma. NSHAHS students are extremely grateful to participate in such an educational, formative and exciting event.
Model Congress is a simulation of the United States Congress, allowing students to assume the responsibilities of our elected officials and attempt to address our nation’s most pressing issues. Prior to the tournament, delegates were assigned to committees and authored mock-legislation, in which they strategize about how to defend and earn enough votes to get passed. A few weeks before the event, students received copies of proposed legislation from other delegates in their committee, which they researched and analyzed to prepare for speeches, questions and deliberations.
Junior Gabriella Kahen says, “ I love competing for North Shore’s Model Congress. Model Congress not only strengthens my impromptu public-speaking skills but my understanding of how real bills are passed in Congress today. I’m especially happy to have participated in Tuesday’s Yeshiva League Model Congress!”
Gabriella (otherwise known as “Senator Kahen”) defended a resolution to provide thorough investigations into sexual assault in the military. Following much long and spirited debate, Gabriella’s legislation was successfully passed.
Following weeks of intense preparation, eleven North Shore “senators” skillfully defended their resolutions, with seven of the proposed bills and six crisis resolutions passing. NSHAHS Model Congress Team Juniors and Seniors took responsibility for running the tournament by serving as Presiding Officer and judge, along with students from Haftr, Rambam, SKA, Ezra and Flatbush.
As NSHAHS Junior and Model Congress team member, I had the opportunity of serving as “Presiding Officer” of my senate committee. Whether moderating the debate, deciding points of order, or even banging my gavel, my participation in Model Congress has fostered a deep appreciation of our American Democracy and has inspired me to be a more active citizen. Model Congress has enabled me to broaden my own perspective and understand certain ideas in a new, more nuanced way.
Each student’s performance was ranked by two judges per round, including a student “Presiding Officer.” The tournament awarded first, second and third place Overall Competitors. Students also earned rankings in their committees.
North Shore’s very own Illana Greenberg, a freshman, won first place in the Energy Committee, and Elizabeth Mirharoon, also a North Shore freshman, won second place in the Ways and Means Committee.
A special thank you goes to NSHAHS Model Congress co-presidents, Noah Sonnenklar and Shira Cohen, as well as Dr. Victoria Allen, coach of North Shore’s Model Congress team, for all their efforts in coordinating the special event and preparing North Shore students. Congratulations to the winners and all of the competitors for their determination, enthusiasm, and dedication.
While their screens separated the competitors, the model congress proved to be filled with just as much energy as it usually is in person! I hope, as you are debating policy today, albeit virtually, you recognize the power of your own voice. I hope that your civic engagement does not cease with the click of the ‘end meeting’ button, but that Tuesday’s conference inspired you to be great leaders of tomorrow.
As Thomas Jefferson once said, “That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.”
—Written by Chloe Mastour, Junior at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School