Chesed Committee changes course to follow school constitution

Mistaken election is nullified when actual Town Hall-approved policy is found; new committee members are appointed by alumni


BP Archive Photo by Niema Fax '20

CHESED: Then-juniors Maya Miro ‘19 and Mikey Khatan ‘19 volunteered with Mr. Reusch at the Lynn project in June 2018.

By Benjamin Gamson, News Editor

In a possible turning point for the Shalhevet democracy, a summer election for representatives to this year’s Chesed Committee was nullified before school started this year, after it was determined that it went contrary to procedures established by vote of the Just Community.

The election was held June 18, after graduation and when the 2019-20 school year had ended, although because of Covid-19 fewer students than usual had left town. 

School officials apparently weren’t sure what the policy said.  But when Agenda Chair Kate Orlanski told them and said that it was important to follow it, they agreed. 

That policy, which had established the committee a year earlier, says that Chesed Committee members replacing graduating seniors should be appointed by the outgoing members. It was approved by the Just Community on May 24, 2019. 

After Kate objected, the new 2020-21 committee was in fact appointed by just-graduated seniors Nicole Klausner and Noa Nelson, both of the class of 2020. Winners of the summer election, which had 17 candidates — five freshmen, five juniors and seven sophomores — were never announced. 

“As per the original proposal that said that new members of the Chesed committee had to be appointed by graduating members of the last committee, these members were appointed by Nicole Klausner and Noa Nelson,” said Kate in an interview on June 22. 

The 2019 policy established a new committee to oversee Chesed (community service) after complaints had been voiced about how the school administration had set requirements and what kinds of activities counted.  

The new policy put a student-dominated committee in charge.

It also stated that when senior Chesed committee members graduate, they themselves should appoint their replacements. Also, once appointed, members may stay until they graduate. 

The committee is supposed to have three to five members. There are now four: sophomore Olivia Fishman, junior Zoe Amzalag and seniors Hilla Lasry and Jordan Simon. Hilla Lasry was on the committee last year as well. 


The summer election came at the end of a semester held mostly on Zoom after Covid interrupted spring semester suddenly in mid-March.  It also was held just after the community had voted overwhelmingly to approve far-reaching amendments to the Just Community constitution, a process which made the school’s democratic processes more visible than it had been in other years.

The Chesed Committee’s adviser, Mrs. Malkie Hametz, had arrived at Shalhevet in fall 2019, just a few months after the policy had been adopted.  Last year’s committee members had already been appointed by then.  So it was Mrs. Hametz’s first experience with finding new members.

Mrs. Hametz said she never received a copy of the policy the Just Community approved. Instead, she told the Boiling Point June 23, she was given a copy of an earlier version of the proposed policy — one that was never adopted.

The two versions were almost entirely the same except for one main point: how a student is placed on the Chesed Committee.

The proposal which Mrs. Hametz received said that if more people wanted to be on the committee than there was room for, then the Chesed Coordinator (now Mrs. Hametz) would decide who to include.

When summer arrived, Mrs. Hametz was planning ahead. She thought she herself was in charge, and decided to hold an election.

“I really wanted to be able to work with the students throughout the summer,” Mrs. Hametz said in the interview, “to start brainstorming different chesed initiatives about things that are important to each grade and as a school as a whole.”

So on May 17, she posted on Schoology requesting applications for this year’s Chesed Committee, and set an election to decide who would serve.

Then, in a second constitutional glitch, the Fairness Committee — which under a policy passed last year now runs all school elections — was not invited to participate in this process. 

Incoming Fairness Chair Evy Rosenkranz confirmed that neither she nor co-chair Eitan Miro were involved in the Chesed election. Outgoing Fairness Chair Evan Rubel ‘20 told the Boiling Point that the outgoing Fairness Chairs were also not consulted. 


According to interviews with participants, a meeting was held June 12 of Mrs. Hametz, Kate, and school leaders Rabbi Ari Schwarzberg, Rabbi David Block and Dr. Johnny Ravanshenas.  No Fairness Committee members were present.

At the meeting, Kate was asked to run the Chesed election with Mrs. Hametz. According to Kate, there was no copy of the approved Chesed policy present at the meeting. 

In fact, it wasn’t clear whether anyone at school this year had a copy of the actual policy.  The Boiling Point received a copy from one of its authors, alumnus Ari Schalcht ‘20, on May 19, but it was not posted on the Just Community website. (It is now.) 

On June 18, the Boiling Point showed Kate the policy hat Ari had sent. The next day, Kate confirmed that the policy which the Boiling Point received was indeed the one that had passed.

By that time election planning was well under way, and on June 18 — one week after final exams ended — students received voting links sent to their grade group chats telling them to vote for their chesed representatives for the upcoming school year. 

After The Boiling Point showed the approved policy to Kate and sent it to her, she forwarded it to Mrs. Hametz. Mrs. Hametz told the Boiling Point in an interview June 23 that she had not seen that policy before.

We have decided that despite the already-had-election, we must uphold the proposal that the student body voted on to pass last year, and cannot base the members of the Chesed Committee entirely off of the results of the election.”

— Kate Orlanski, Agenda Chair

Now there was a problem: should officials disregard the election which they had held and nullify its results?  Or disregard the decision of the Just Community who voted to pass a proposal giving the power to appoint students to the committee to the graduating seniors?

On June 21, Kate wrote on Schoology explaining the confusion.

There were two versions of last year’s Chesed Proposal circulating amongst students and admin, and unfortunately, as a result of this, we held a Chesed Committee election that was a violation of the authentic proposal (which has now been published on the Just Community website),” Kate wrote.

“Of course, we have decided that despite the already-had-election, we must uphold the proposal that the student body voted on to pass last year, and cannot base the members of the Chesed Committee entirely off of the results of the election.”


That left it up to Nicole and Noa to decide who should succeed them. Mrs. Hametz said they decided using the list of candidates who expressed interest by running. 

“They chose from the candidates who had run, who they knew were interested,” said Mrs. Hametz. “I also think it would be kind of foolish to just choose somebody who might not at all be interested.”

Together as a team, we felt like the only proper channel for us to follow would be to follow what was written out in the proposal.”

— Mrs. Malkie Hametz, Chesed Coordinator

She said she did show Nicole and Noa the results of the nullified election, wanting to give them “the full picture” so they could make their best decision.

Noa and Nicole then met together with Mrs Hametz and decided who to appoint. New Chesed Committee members this year are sophomore Olivia Fishman, junior Zoe Amzalag, and senior Jordan Simon.

Mrs. Hametz said she was glad to follow the Just Community rules, even though it meant changing course.

“I respect the Just Community and I respect the proposals that are brought to Town Hall,” Mrs. Hametz said in an interview. “And together as a team, we felt like the only proper channel for us to follow would be to follow what was written out in the proposal.”