Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Started several years ago by three students in the Class of 2009, “Heartbeats” is an annual student-initiated, student-created, and student-directed performance open to women of the community. Each year Heartbeats’ organizers choose a charity to which the proceeds of that year’s performances will be donated, and over the years some $30,000 has been donated to such organizations as Sharsheret, Miklat, Shalva, Nechamah, and the Yad Eliezer and Save a Child’s Heart (SACH).

“Heartbeats: A Night of Song, Dance and Connection,” debuted in 2008 as the brainchild of then-junior Margot Reinstein, who was motivated to raise funds and awareness in response to learning that a close family friend was struggling with breast cancer. The fact that “Hearbeats” has become a beloved Ma’ayanot tradition is very meaningful to the program founders.

“We are so proud that Ma’ayanot students have continued our tradition,” commented Rachel Weber, one of the original organizers, “and we love coming back to see the shows that the current students have put on!”

Preparations for this year’s production, which will take place on Tuesday evening, May 20th at Congregation Beth Shalom in Teaneck, began almost a full year ago when the current Heartbeats staff, then rising seniors, were chosen; Molly Levi and Hannah Tessel as business managers, Ronit Bluman and Esti Baum as dance directors, Yaffa Stone, Leora Hyman, and Sara Kinstlinger as song directors, and Dakota Gotlib as art director. Ms. Elana Flaumenhaft, Assistant Principal for Student Life, serves as faculty advisor for the event.

This year the Heartbeats staff chose Chabad Children of Chernobyl as the charity to which all proceeds from the evening will be donated. To maximize the amount raised, the business managers have come up with a number of new initiatives that are meant to both increase community participation and raise additional funds. For example, for the first time ever, the performance will take place outside of Ma’ayanot (at Congregation Beth Shalom). This move was implemented, explained business director Molly Levi, “to make the production feel more like a community event, rather than just a Ma’ayanot event,” In addition, for the first time ever, the Heartbeats staff solicited business ads to be included in the performance playbill, and they found a business sponsor, Ocean Home Health, to provide T-shirts that will be sold at the event.

Planning for this year’s event began in earnest when the staff chose “Reconstruction, Building, and Starting Fresh” as themes for the evening, and with these ideas in mind the artistic directors worked on developing performances that personify, in some fashion, the chosen themes. Students auditioned for the various performances in January, and practices have been ongoing throughout the second semester. With the performances nearly perfected, recent efforts have concentrated on staging and publicity.

While Ma’ayanot students believe the evening is all about giving back to the community, both by raising funds for charity and by providing meaningful entertainment for the women of the community, the experience of planning a major production provides enormous benefit to the students as well.

“This has been a really cool experience,” exclaimed Ms. Levi, “I never did anything related to business before, but now I am very motivated to find ways to make more money [for charity] than was made in years past.”

For additional information, or to purchase tickets, email [email protected]