Chesed Fair gives students a taste of being different

Goldie Fields, BP Staff

CONFUSED: Sophomores Adam Rokah, Avishai Rabin and Jacob Elspas followed instructions on one another's foreheads as to how to talk to them. Since no one knew what their own sticker said, communication was frustrating and sometimes hilarious.

Jacob Elspas, Staff Writer

When students walked into Town Hall Oct. 18, to their surprise the chairs were not set up in the typical Town Hall semicircle. Instead, the Beit Midrash was arranged for an assembly or davening, and students were ushered inside as Chesed Coordinator Mrs. Ruthie Skaist announced the annual Chesed Fair.

This year, the usual booths representing various charitable organizations were arranged outside on the Sport Court.  Half the student body went outside, while in the Bet Midrash, the other half received a hands-on lesson in what it feels like to be different.

Ninth- and 10th-graders started the period with Yachad representative Ian Lurie, who spoke about children with disabilities before having the group do an exercise. Mr. Lurie and teachers put stickers on everyone’s foreheads, with words like “Treat me like I have lice,” or “Disagree with everything I say.”

Students couldn’t see their own stickers and were told to go around and talk to their friends based on what the stickers said to do. After several minutes of frustration mixed with hilarity, Mr. Lurie explained that the purpose of the game was so that students realize the importance of treating everyone the same.

Freshman Noah Rothman said people were speaking to him very loudly and making wild gestures with their hands.  It turned out his sticker said, “Treat me like I can’t hear you.”

“It was fun and frustrating,” said Noah, “but I learned how to treat people with disabilities better, and how to understand them.”

Meanwhile, the juniors and seniors were outside on the sports court and visiting booths from various organizations. Booths this year included Friendship Circle, NCSY, Yachad, Chai Lifeline, Tomchei Shabbat, The Jewish Federation, and Amit.

Seniors Jordan Banafsheha, Adam Wannon and Elliot Sassover set up a Student Cancer Awareness Fund and sold t-shirts. The shirts were ten dollars, and after an hour they had made about $70.

“I liked this year’s Chesed Fair because I wasn’t aware of all the organizations that are out there,” senior Marcella Bijou said. “I liked seeing what each one had to offer so that I can consider volunteering for them.”

A new addition to the fair this year was the institution of a Bingo game. The bingo sheet looked just like a regular one, and in each box there was a description of different organizations. Each player needed to find out which description belonged to which organization and get signatures from somebody from the organization and ultimately attain bingo. The prize was a $5 Coffee Bean gift card.

After 30 minutes, the seniors and juniors went inside for the sensitivity presentation with Mr. Lurie while the freshmen and sophomores visited the booths.

Mrs. Skaist was happy with the way the fair ran, and hopes it will only improve in future years.

“Next year we will try to make this even even bigger and better than it already is,” she said.

Co-Editor-in-Chief Colleen Bazak also contributed to this story.