Two of our 8th grades student, Ilana Borison and Chaya Greenberg, were nationally recognized for their charity program, Tree of Life, which won first place in the Yair Leolam Project Shine 2016. The name of the project was inspired by a phrase from the Torah as well as from the meaning of their names in Hebrew. The Torah states, “For the human being is a tree of the field”, “ki ha’adam eitz hasedah,” and, in Hebrew, Ilana means tree and Chaya means life. Therefore, a broader goal of their project was to instill an appreciation of nature in the heart of Silicon Valley.
One of Ilana’s favorite quotes that have inspired her to make a difference is, "The man who moves a mountain must start by moving small stones" (Chinese proverb). Project Shine offered her the first step in her journey of moving a mountain by providing her with the opportunity to help and learn about other people who face different challenges. Project Shine is a chessed initiative that aims to motivate middle school students to create innovative charity projects in their communities. Jewish schools throughout North America participated in a national chessed innovative contest, in which applicants submitted their unique and innovative charity for their communities.
Chaim Boruch was born with a serious medical condition and special needs, which resulted in many challenges. Despite this prognosis, Chaim and his family persevered and overcame hurdle after hurdle. Inspired by Chaim Boruch’s journey and positive outlook, Ilana and Chaya created a program that offers children with special needs a chance to grow academically, socially, and emotionally through educational and gardening workshops. Their interactive workshops teach children the values and benefits of planting and sustaining trees. By planting trees, these children are beautifying their community and providing the world with life sustaining oxygen that the trees provide. These workshops empower these children to make a difference in their community while providing them with a sense of belonging and accomplishment.