Sh’koyach! After-school club serves Torah, brisket

Ashley Mashian, BP Staff

Rachel Lester, Features Editor

“Sh’koyach,” casually meaning “congratulations” or “good job,” isn’t just a popular Shalhevet expression anymore. It’s the name of school’s newest club, and the first mishmar the school has seen in three years.

“We need a more  yeshivish idealogy,” said sophomore Daniel Schwartz, who speerheaded the project. “We need more Judaism in the school.”

Mishmar typically refers to a meeting of boys who stay after school to learn Torah outside of the Judaic Studies curriculum. Daniel met with Gemarah teacher Mr. Noam Weissman to get it started.

The term “mishmar” comes from the Hebrew word lishma, “for its own sake.“

“‘A couple students said to me, ‘Hey Noam, can we learn Torah just for the sake of learning Torah?’” Mr. Weissman said. “You bring good food, and you discuss things non-judgmentally, so that no one is graded and everyone participates.

“It’s so special because it’s something that is student-driven,” he added. “To me, it really demonstrates that the student body of Shalhevet has the desire to learn.”

Daniel also chose a menu.  Earlier that afternoon, he cooked brisket outside the student lounge, invoking curiosity among the students passing by. Daniel plans to barbeque before every meeting.

Shkoyach — actually an abbreviation of yasher koach, or “May you have strength” — met for the first time on Thursday, May 12, with nine male students and three teachers.

Girls have not been invited, but they won’t be kept out if they want to join.

“There’s no Rosa Parks situation going on here,” Mr. Weissman told The Boiling Point. “If a girl wants to come and learn, she can come and learn.”

But Daniel Schwartz said it would be better for girls to have a Mishmar of their own, and noted that the girls have the Yoga Minyan — a female-only prayer group that meets during Shacharit and MIncha.

“Being in a club or mishmar with just boys, I think at the end of the day you can just open up more,” Daniel said. “I love being in a coed school, and I enjoy having a girl as chevruta [study partner] in Gemarah class and we learn a lot, the same that I would learn with a guy chevruta.

After school it’s nice to have something different, he said.

“The same way, if I was in a school with guys all day I would want to come home and learn with a girl,” Daniel said, “because it’s a different experience.”

In two meetings so far, no girls have tried to join, Daniel said.

Sh’koyach plans to meet one or two Thursdays a month at 6 p.m. for about an hour and a half.

At its first meeting, the group studied the halachic prohibition against putting a stumbling block in front of a blind person.  Daniel said he and Mr. Weissman chose the topic together.

Sophomore Michael Lenett thought the first meeting was “amazing.”

“I liked the whole aspect that we can have a discussion about topics that normally are not touched upon during class, and have such widespread opinions — and have brisket,” Michael said.