Weekly Newsletter – June 19, 2020

June 19, 2020  / 27 Sivan 5780

Shabbat Begins: 9:03 p.m.   Shabbat Ends: 10:29 p.m.   
Parsha: Shelach: Numbers 13:1-15:41

Our physically distanced Class of 2020!

Last night, our Grade 12 students and a few staff gathered at Beth Israel to celebrate the King David High School Class of 2020.

The latter half of the school year has been a very different experience for all of us, but particularly our Grade 12 students. While we regret that it wasn’t possible to bring all of our families into the synagogue to celebrate, it was a pleasure to have all of our graduates together to mark the beginning of their new journeys, and to have so many people tuning in from their homes.

Our Deputy Head of School, Alex Monchamp was the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, and he did an excellent job of guiding the ceremony smoothly along and giving everyone a few laughs.
Each year, the graduates select a peer to give the student D’Var Torah. This year, we heard from Sagiv Fadida, who discussed this week’s Parsha, Shelach, where Moses sends out 12 spies to Canaan. He likened the fear of 10 of the spies of the dangers of the new land to the fear many of us feel towards change. He encouraged his peers to be like the other 2 spies, who instead saw the potential of the new land of "Milk and Honey", saying: 
"Everyone experiences change differently. It’s difficult to abandon the familiar and start over from scratch…. Throughout our whole senior year, we all had the same questions about what will come next for us: Where will I go to university? What am I interested in? Should I stay close to home? Should I go somewhere with familiar faces? These questions have been challenging for us all to answer. But at the same time, it taught us about embracing change and looking towards the future. We all found a home at King David, where we feel comfortable and safe. But we didn’t always feel this way. At first, the school was a place full of the unknown. This just shows us that change can be scary, but can also be the best thing for us."

Next, Mr. Monchamp read words prepared by our Co-Presidents of the Board of Directors, Neville Israel and Jackie Cristall Morris. Then the students received their final lesson in the form of the schoopl D’Var Torah from our very own Rabbi Berger. 

Our Head of School, Russ Klein, gave his farewell address, where he discussed some of the many issues we’ve heard about and experienced in the last ten months – climate strikes, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests – and our collective role as members of the global community to address each. 

"Black Lives Matter is not a political issue, a trend, nor a moment in time: injustice, cruelty, and indifference, are all issues of humanity. As Jews, we should be at the front of the line allying with any group of people when they are denied equality and decency."

Mr. Klein referred to the ethical Jewish teachings in Pirkei Avot: ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I?’. He said our responsibility in every issue that the world faces comes back to this idea, saying "the theme is the same – it is not about you. There is no order of preference in ‘us’, there is only us – but implicitly, as in all of these cases, it is totally about you.

He closed by saying he hopes that as each graduate leaves King David, they do so with the understanding that not only do they not know all the answers, but that they don’t even know all of the questions. "What I hope more than anything is that you have an open heart and that you are focused on listening and hearing the voices of others. I would encourage you to question what it means to live a meaningful life."

After Mr. Klein’s address, each Grade 12 student received their graduation certificate, and then the awards and scholarships were handed out to the students. For the list of awards presented and the recipients, please click here

Ethan Axler, who was chosen by his peers to be the Student Speaker, closed out the ceremony, with an excellent mix of wise words and some inside jokes for his peers. He thanked the King David staff for all of their support along the way. He acknowledged that while being forced to stay 2 metres apart from each other during the ceremony, they were lucky to be able to come together. Ethan referred to an old fable about four mice who rely on cheese to survive. When the cheese disappears, two mice head off to find a new source, while two others stay where they are, hungry, hoping the old source of cheese will return.

"In life, you can either give up, lie down, and feel sorry for yourself, or you simply get up, make the best of a bad situation, and venture far into the uncharted maze," he told his peers. "If there is anything we can learn from our Jewish heritage, it is that the human spirit prevails.

We, the King David Class of 2020, will not simply be handed our diplomas during this ceremony. Instead, we will be required to proactively take them with our own hands. In the same vein, we will proactively tackle whatever challenges the world has in store for us. King David has imbued that strength of character in each one of us."

A heartfelt thanks goes out to the wonderful team of parent volunteers who assisted in planning such a wonderful event, which was made extra difficult this year by the restrictions of COVID-19. Their gifts of a King David branded mask, water bottle, and tote bag will be wonderful keepsakes for our students to remember their time at King David.
Todah Rabah to our Parent Action Committee (PAC) for the traditional gift of a handcrafted mezuzah. When our graduates use their mezuzah, they will know that a small piece of their King David home will always be with them. 
Thanks also to the many staff members who made the evening such a success. A special thanks goes to our Graduation Teacher Sponsor, Julie Lane, who spent so much time coordinating all the details relating to the ceremony, and to Gabriel Bacelar, who made the livestreaming of the event possible.
We are grateful to the Beth Israel Synagogue for their support of our graduation evening, and to Lianne Cohen, Jocelyne Halle, and Adele Lewin, who took the wonderful photographs of our grads before and during the event.
Our 42 graduates have spent the last five years becoming responsible and socially conscious community members, and we are so proud of all they have accomplished. We look forward to seeing what they achieve in the next stage of their lives. 
We wish the best of luck to all our graduates!

To watch the Graduation Ceremony in its entirety, please click here. 


As our grads move on to their post-secondary journeys, we want to acknowledge their many achievements.

Congratulations to Aaron Schaffer on receiving the $5000 BC Excellence Scholarship! The BC Ministry of Education awards 55 BC Excellence Scholarships to outstanding high school graduates across the province. Winners demonstrate service and leadership, both at school and in their communities, and show aptitude and commitment to their chosen career paths.

Mazal Tov to Ana Clara Feldman, who is the recipient of the 2019/2020 Greater Vancouver Independent Schools Athletics Association scholarship. This $1000 award is given to a Grade 12 student who made significant contributions to her GVISAA-based extracurricular sports teams. Ana Clara was captain of our Senior Girls Volleyball team and a leader on the Senior Girls Basketball team, which won their first ever Zone basketball championship (Sea 2 Sky Highway). This win qualified the girls for the BC High School Girls "A" Basketball Provincial Championships.

Ana Clara was also awarded Hellmuth Scholarship at Huron University College at Western! This scholarship, valued at $30,000 (full tuition) over four years, is awarded to entering students who display outstanding academic achievement together with a strong record of extracurricular activities and community service.

We are also pleased to announce six of our graduating students have been awarded the District Authority Scholarship (DAS) from the BC Ministry of Education. The DAS award recognizes students with superior achievement in the following specialty areas: Fine Arts, Applied Skills, Physical Activity and Sports, International Languages, Community Service, Technical and Trades Training, and Indigenous Languages and Culture. Recipients will receive a $1250 scholarship voucher to use towards their post-secondary tuition. Congratulations to:

Romy Ashkenazy Ethan Axler * Karli Behr-O’Leary * Ben Chelin
Aaron Schaffer * Marlowe Zimmerman

We are so proud of all of our Grade 12 students for all of their hard work and accomplishments! Students are looking forward to pursing their interests in fields such as Social Sciences, Humanities, Science, Health Science, Engineering, Commerce, Creative Industries, Computer Studies, Communications, Kinesiology, and Aviation Management. Our students will be attending a variety of schools and programs across Canada, and one in the United States: 

University of British Columbia * Carleton University * Concordia University
Dalhousie University * Huron University College * Justice Institute of British Columbia
Langara College * McMaster University * Queen’s University * Ryerson University
Simon Fraser University * Spokane Falls Community College * University of Victoria
Western University * Gap Year Programs

Shabbat Shalom!

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King David High School, 5718 Willow Street, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4S9 Canada
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