Recess rotations and lunch buddies as girls celebrate friendship

First- and third-graders at Torah Academy in Minnesota received a free book as a gift for their focus on “Achdus,” unity.

Torah Academy's third graders. Credit: Courtesy of Torah Academy.
Torah Academy's third graders. Credit: Courtesy of Torah Academy.

Students in first and third grades at Torah Academy in Minnesota were each given a free book earlier this month in recognition for their efforts to build friendship among their classmates thanks to their creation of an achdus, or “unity” club.

According to teacher Tzippy Prero, “After Oct. 7, each class at Torah Academy of Minneapolis chose a specific mitzvah [‘good deed’] or middah [‘character trait’] to improve on. The first- and third-grade girls took upon themselves the middah of achdus.”

They even created a puzzle with each girl designing one piece. When it was completed, their teacher said, it spelled out v’ahavtah larayachah kamochah, “Love your neighbor like yourself.”

The girls also made sure that no one was sitting alone at lunch or recess. The third-graders even created a “recess rotation,” changing which games were played when so that everyone could have a turn at their favorite break-time activity.

The creation of their “Achdus Club” and their efforts to foster friendships was mentioned in an article in the Jewish newspaper Hamodia. It caught the attention of author and journalist Faygie Holt, whose children’s book series is actually called “The Achdus Club.” 

Touched by the girls’ actions, Holt wanted to do something to honor them. Thanks to an anonymous donor, each girl was gifted with their own copy of The New Girl, the first book in Holt’s ongoing series. Additionally, her publisher, Menucha Publishers, chipped in and discounted the costs of each book in recognition of the girls’ actions.

The third-graders received their books while participating in a Zoom meeting with the author. The youngsters talked about how it feels to be left out of a group and why achdus is important. They also shared a song they learned about friendship.

“We wanted to thank Mrs. Holt for meeting with us and for the amazing books!” Prero said. “I think every girl came back the next day and said, ‘That book was amazing! I finished it last night!’ G-d willing we should have the ultimate achdus with the hostages returning home as well as the coming of Moshiach.”

Added school administrator Rabbi Joshua Borenstein, “ ‘Mini’ achdus in ‘Mini-apolis’ discovers a greater achdus in a much bigger Jewish world,” he said. “This is something they will not forget.”

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Torah Academy trains tomorrow’s leaders and offers children an education of academic excellence in a traditional classroom setting. The synthesis of strong programs in Judaic studies and general studies forms the basis of the curriculum in all grades. https://torahacademymn.org/
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