Monday, December 31, 2012

#26Acts of Kindness

On December 26, 2012, RealSchool had students sign up to perform 26 Acts of Kindness in honor of the 26 victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. The #26Acts idea belongs to Ann Curry, a reporter for NBC who suggested it in an article she wrote for the network. The idea has gone viral, with people posting such acts as paying the orders of the next two cars in the Starbuck's line or filling up their sister-in-law's car with gas. Though we cannot erase the horror of the December 14 Newtown shooting, we can focus our efforts on being forces of good, not evil, in the world. It's surprising how transformative it is to go through the day thinking constantly about how to help others.

Here are Frisch School students signing up to perform their #26Acts:

Students received these stickers when they signed up to perform their #26Acts!

Below are some of the #26Acts students signed up to perform:

"Tell the juniors it will all work out in the end." -- #26Acts
* Leave extra money in the vending machine
* Pick up something someone dropped
* Say an extra-exuberant "hello" to Barry [the school's extra-friendly security guard!]
* Give sincere compliments to people
* Hold the door open for people
* Get cutlery for your whole table at lunch
* Offer homework help

Students becoming living embodiments of kindness

Two of RealSchool's most active members,
who were part of the team that made the day happen!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Modest Proposal from the Health and Environment team

Satire is a great tool to effect change in society. We tried it at Frisch, and Ronit came up with this modest proposal to combat obesity in America. RS's Health and Environment team wanted to share the proposal with you:

Supermarket Shopper by Duane Hanson, made in 1970
Hanson seems to have predicted the current obesity problem

A Modest Proposal
by Ronit L.

       There's no doubt to anyone with eyes that there is clearly a problem with the people around us. They are all fat. But the solution is in sight. After years of research and collaborations among food corporations and engineers from all around the world, the MTMFP (Movement to Move Fat People) has found the answer: robots. 
      When our researchers sat down to find the source of American obesity, the problem all stemmed from one thing: laziness. People take in so many calories, but they are too lazy to get moving and burn them off, so we have found a way to get those bodies in motion. Researchers have found that if people can not get to food, they can not eat it. Therefore, starting this summer, we will change the way you shop for food. While all the clothing stores will be preparing their stores for the fall, we will be remodeling supermarkets to get ready for MTMFP. 
      Billions of dollars will be going into completely redesigning supermarkets everywhere. We will replace all the shelves with our newly-designed “Run-it Rover” © system.
The “Run-it Rover” or RIR for short is a shelf on wheels. It has internal sensors that allow it to sense when a person is coming towards it. When the RIR finds someone, it takes off in the other direction. The RIR is programmed to run away from you until you have burned the number of calories in the food product the RIR is shelving. 
      The bio-engineers here are MTMFP know that not all bodies are created equal. In order to accommodate people of all shapes and sizes, all the tiles in food establishments will be replaced by scales. Additionally, laser scanners will line the walls to gauge people’s height. This way when a person steps close to a RIR, the RIR receives a message from the scale and the lasers, telling it how much the person weighs and their BMI. This will allow the RIR to know how far it has to run. If a person is underweight, the RIR will remain still and allow them to take their food with almost no calorie loss. But if the RIR see the person is severely overweight, the RIR will make them run extra hard. 
      With this new technology comes the need for space. With everyone running to get their groceries, there will be a need to expand the aisles to reduce collisions. This space will be provided by converting hospital buildings into supermarkets. Doing so will be safe because once people are no longer fat, obesity-related illnesses will decrease dramatically, thereby eliminating the need for an abundance of hospitals. 
      For all you mothers out there who are thinking, How will I get food for my children? Don’t worry, we have the answer. When a child is born, he or she will receive a food card. This food card has a unique bar code, specialized to that child. The food card will be programmed by your doctor. The doctor will give the child a certain calorie count for the day, and when you are shopping, you will be able to flash the food card at the RIR, and the RIR will deliver the food to you, for no calories!
      The MTMFP has already built prototypes of this model in cities in the midwest and the results have been phenomenal. One woman reported that she lost fifty pounds within a month of the RIR’s being in her store. She commented,“This system works great. If you do not work, you do not eat.” She noted that when she first encountered the RIR, it was difficult and time- consuming to work out to get her food, but now the RIR barely has to run from her. “It was a great self-confidence booster knowing that the RIR stopped running,” said her husband in agreement. Pediatric offices are also ecstatic about the program. Dr. Mark Smith, an expert in child obesity in Des Moines, Iowa, said, “Not only is the RIR great at keeping kids eating the rights amounts of foods, so they avoid running into problems later in life, it also ensures that the children are always coming in for appointments to change their calorie count. I’m now able to closely monitor all my patients’ weights.”
      So, shoppers, get ready for a whole new kind of shopping experience. We, as Americans, will no longer stand by as our countrymen get fat. Instead, we will lead them on a bright path to a better future where everyone can be healthy and thin.

*This ad is sponsored by the World Hunger movement. Donate today and be part of the movement that will end hunger across the globe.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Update from RS Meeting

RealSchool members had a lot to do as we gathered for the first time since Chanukah:

Religious Identity and Video Production

The Religious Identity and Video Production teams met to discuss the content of the 2-3-minute video they plan to film about how to make prayer more meaningful for students. As RS members brainstormed ideas for the video, Marni came up with a great tagline for the Religious Identity team in general: 

Turning Practice Into Purpose

We love it, Marni! Thanks!

Religious Identity is also gearing up for its next discussion on prayer, which will be on December 26 and will cover Tefillah in Talmud. Since we began the discussion series with a look at how prayer appears in Tanakh, we thought one next logical step would be seeing how prayer is addressed in the Talmud. Frisch has agreed to allow RealSchool to host a minyan on the days that we run a discussion group, so we'll do so that morning. Penina came up with a headline for the flyer we'll post to advertise the minyan:

Be the minyan you want to see in the world.

Great stuff, Penina. Thanks go out to you, too!

Karen, who heads Graphic Design, is going to make us a logo for with the line, so we'll be able to use the logo every time we run the minyan.

Last week many of RealSchool's Religious Identity members led discussions with the freshmen about where to draw the line between Judaism and the secular world. The discussion was part of an integration program at Frisch called Greek Week. For more information about Greek Week, see Greek Week at Frisch: Cougars Draw the Line. The Religious Identity team liked the way the discussion went and wants to have more of them with the freshmen. Therefore, what came out of tonight's meeting is a three-pronged approach to creating more mindfulness in student religious practice:

1) Videos, made for and by students, about the search for religious meaning
2) Additional discussions about prayer and a RealSchool minyan on the day of the discussions
3) Continued informal discussions with the freshmen, led by RealSchool: Religious Identity members

Graphic Design and Health and Environment

Religious Identity and Video Production weren't the only teams that got things done tonight. Graphic Design also laid out an action plan for the next few weeks, so we can realize our goal of having student-made logos for each of our RS teams. Health and Environment team continued work on the green cookbook we plan to make, although we're rethinking whether we want a formal cookbook or an app/website that we update, so we have a virtual recipe folder. Health and Environment team members also decided they want to focus on giving healthy makeovers to unhealthy recipes. Whatever else we decide on, one thing is clear: a recipe for kale chips is a must!

Soon you'll be able to make these kale chips yourself,
thanks to RealSchool's Health and Environment team and
Frisch's Environmental Club
Thanks to everyone who attended tonight. We got a lot done and also managed to get in some ad hoc discussions of one of our favorite topics at RS: education reform.

Finance and Fashion

Next on the to-do list:

Finance Team events
The Frisch Fashion Show, which we'll plan this year with the school's dance team

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Getting to God: Religious Identity Explores Prayer

This past week, on Wednesday, November 28, RealSchool's Religious Identity team began the first of a series of discussions about building a relationship with God. The year-long discussions series will be moderated by students and will explore different ways of grasping God. The first discussion, which was moderated by Akiva Mattenson, Penina Warburg and Solomon Wiener, was about Tanakh attitudes towards prayer. The moderators found different verses from Torah, Prophets and Writings and used them as jumping off points for students to explore various ways Tanakh approaches prayer.

The approximately fifteen students who took part in the discussion spent part of the time analyzing three verbs the Torah uses that might shed light on what is meant by prayer:

The above whiteboard notes illustrate some of the key points of the discourse: 

Is prayer . . . 
1) an encounter? If it is an encounter, does it happen by accident, fate, or does one prepare for it?
2) a two-way conversation?
3) a moment to stand and allow the worshiper to express his thoughts?

An interesting debate that emerged from the discussion is whether prayer IS an encounter with God OR prepares us to HAVE an encounter with Him.

Here is one student's thoughts from the evening:

When talking about prayer, one is faced with the question of whether it is an encounter, a conversation or an active stand with or towards God. An encounter is when one happens upon someone else. This is a very casual and passive way to think of prayer. A conversation is when two people talk to one another. This is a two-way street. God and the person praying must actively talk back and forth. An active stand is when one moves and it takes effort for one to pray. I think prayer is a conversation, because as Yaakov [Jacob] said [loose paraphrase here of Genesis 28:20], "If God does stuff for me, I will do stuff for God." -- Sammy ('15)

And here's a timely blog post by Eddie Maza reminding us why talking about prayer is so important: