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Scheck Hillel Students Earn International Recognition

Scheck Hillel rising freshman Tara Cohen ‘24 was chosen as one of five finalists in the 2020 Morris J. & Betty Kaplun Foundation essay competition. Her essay was selected from among hundreds of international submissions based on the topic “Honoring thy father and mother: how and why, from your own perspective. As a finalist, Tara will receive a $500 award and the opportunity to serve on the Kaplun Teen Philanthropy Board, where students make decisions about how to distribute foundation funds to nonprofit organizations. Congratulations also go to Ariella Bitton '24, who earned Honorable Mention for her essay based on the same topic and the chance to join the Teen Philanthropy Board.

On learning of these honors, Scheck Hillel Head of School Vanessa Donaher noted, “We are so proud of Tara and Ariella. Their beautiful writing is a reflection of their character and of Scheck Hillel’s emphasis on writing as a tool to connect with heritage and values, consistent with our mission as a Jewish community school.”

Andrew Butler, English Department Chair and the students' Honor’s English teacher, reflected, "I am so proud of Tara and Ariella's hard work through the year, embracing the steps of the writing process to improve the sophistication and maturity of their writing. They both deserve this international recognition!"

The Morris J. & Betty Kaplun Foundation was created by the Kapluns: refugees from Nazi persecution who dedicated their lives to a variety of philanthropic causes. The Foundation endeavors to continue their good work by administering an annual essay contest for students in grades 7-12, and by awarding small grants to nonprofit organizations in the U.S., Israel, and around the world.

Excerpt from Tara Cohen's essay:

"Since parents deserve respect, I can honor them by speaking highly of them, supporting them, and respecting their rules. Honoring my parents is not an action or chore that I do with the intention of receiving a reward, but done because I love and admire them, while aspiring to be as great as they are in the future. My parents love me unconditionally, and even on the bad days when there is no daylight in sight, my parents always stand by my side to help me get through it all, so honoring them is the least I can do in return."

Excerpt from Ariella Bitton's essay:

"I honor my parents because they have supplied me with everything valuable in life. I display this by listening to their opinions, picking up after myself, and uplifting them through their sorrows. I honor my parents not simply because people tell me I should, I do it because I love them unconditionally no matter the circumstances; this is the true cause of honoring my parents."