At Shulamith High School’s fourth annual Book Day keynote speaker Charlie Harary had the strongest impact with a story related to a sport not played at the all-girls school in Cedarhurst.
Harary, a successful businessman and lawyer, noted a story recalled by a younger co-worker. At a high school football practice Josh had to crawl to the 20-yeardline. Then the coach made it more difficult by blindfolding the young man, then making him carry a teammate. Despite the obstacles Josh collapsed from exhaustion at the 50, 30 more yards than he promised. Josh had exceeded his goal and attained greatness, Harary said, by being uncomfortable.
Bonding that story with the Jewish holiday of Purim and how Esther, a woman, helped to bring down the wicked Haman, Harary said: “The purpose of our life is to give to others. You cannot find greatness if it’s about you. Our generation needs you to be Esther.”
His words did not fall on deaf years. Shulamith High sophomore Noam Maman, who said she had watched many of Harary’s videos, appeared very animated as she listened to the roughly 60-minute speech.
“It kind of reminded me that I shouldn’t just listen to inspiration, I should internalize it and that I need just one spark during a daily routine that would get me to change the world one day,” she said, adding that the football player story was her favorite. “It showed that just an ordinary guy in Houston can get some kind of inspiration during a practice, and I should take note of what my own coach says.” Maman plays shooting guard on Shulamith’s basketball team.
Freshman Kayla Solomon served on the Book Committee that helped to set up the March 7 event, which took its focus from the Mitch Albom nonfiction book “Tuesdays with Morrie.” Albom, a sportswriter, visited a past college professor, Morrie Schwartz, dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease. The book is a reflection of their relationship and a collection of Schwartz’s thoughts on life.
Solomon also said the football story was her favorite. “He pushed himself and even though he didn’t know it, he capable of doing more things that he thought he could,” she said. “I thought it’s very important lesson is that giving is living,” Solomon said about the book.
Book Day also included six morning workshops and a Chesed Fair, where the girls were introduced to several organization to learn about volunteering opportunities. Then there was Lunch ‘n Lit, where over food the students and their mothers discussed the book. The afternoon session featured Rachel Tuchman, Yael Fischman and Shira Botnick speaking on topics ranging from what really makes a young person “cool,” to forging real relationships and busting the myth of the supermom.
“Our goal is to make these girls think a little more broadly and experience the world around them, and ultimately help them with the writing skills they will need for their future education and careers,” said English teacher Tamara Klein, who helped coordinate Book Day. “We really would like the girls to learn from the life experience and the lasting lessons of Morrie Schwartz. There are so many universal values in the book, definitely so many Jewish values in the book.
Book Committee member and senior Avigail Sassoon said she loved Harary’s message that a person should not wait to be great but can start now by moving away from their comfort zone. “I think it’s important to appreciate life and even if you are going though hard times, you have a relationship with someone and you realize it’s not all that bad,” she said about the book.