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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

(l-r) Front row: Daniel Setton, Lindsay Setton, Polly Bousbib, Gabriel Bousbib. Back row: Zvi Rudman (board chairman), Rabbi Kuessous (director, Moriah Sephardic Cultural Program), Rabbi Daniel Alter (head of school), Aaron Yunis (school president). (Credit: Jeff Jacobs)

Families daven Shacharit in the new Midrash Doresh Tov. (Credit: Jeff Jacobs)

Over 100 men, women and children packed into The Moriah School’s auditorium for a special celebration on a recent Sunday. After months of planning, Moriah held a special dedication ceremony for the highly anticipated Sephardic Beth Midrash—Midrash Doresh Tov.

In the beginning of 2017, Moriah parents Daniel and Lindsay Setton approached the Moriah leadership about creating a center for Sephardic culture within the school. Less than one year later, Midrash Doresh Tov now stands as a permanent and beautiful space for all students, regardless of background, to come together to learn about Sephardic Jewish culture. “I firmly believe that in this day and age it is vital for all Jews, regardless of background, to consider themselves as one,” said Zvi Rudman, Moriah’s chairman of the board. “The establishment of the Sephardic Beth Midrash solidifies Moriah’s commitment to this goal.”

“There are so many reasons why the construction of a Sephardic Beth Midrash was such a special project for our school and our community,” said Aaron Yunis, board president, during his remarks to the crowd. “The main reason is that it was supported by the vision and contributions of many families who worked to integrate Sephardic culture into our school, rather than separate it.”

“Moreover, a focal point of the project is the ner tamid, dedicated in memory of Evan Levy, a”h, whose untimely passing had a profound effect on our entire community,” added Yunis. “The outpouring of support to memorialize Evan in this way was overwhelming.” What started as a small initiative became a grassroots funding campaign in which 60 families, donating a total of $75,000, memorialized Moriah’s beloved student.

“Students, teachers and administrators are excited to use the space for years to come,” said Erik Kessler, executive director of The Moriah School. “The new space is sure to not only inspire our students but to motivate them in their learning and tefillot.”

For the new school year Moriah’s bi-weekly Sephardic minyan has moved into the new Beth Midrash. For the inaugural tefillah, the energy in the room was palpable as over 40 students and parents, both Sephardi and Ashkenazi, joined the minyan supervised by Rabbi Mordy Kuessous, director of the Moriah Sephardic Cultural Program. The minyan allows students to experience Sephardic customs, such as the tradition to recite Birkat Kohanim daily. Weekly Sephardic prayer is just one initiative Moriah has taken to infuse Sephardic culture into the daily curriculum.

Moriah particularly extended thanks to the Setton Family, Polly and Gabriel Bousbib and the rest of the Midrash Doresh Tov donors who made this initiative possible, as well as event chairs Polly and Gabriel Bousbib, Elana and Andy Dushey, Jaclyn and Eli Halali, Margaret and Andrew Levy, Lindsay and Daniel Setton, Mor and Alphonse Soued and Nikki and Rami Sulemanoff.