MTA Honors 29 Seniors as Inductees to the National Honor Society _1_

by David Tanner (’18)

Someone unfamiliar with the annual Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy (MTA) Arista Dinner might be intimidated when hearing of its two-and-a-half-hour length. But any participant would report how quickly the time flies by. Unique as one of the most highly anticipated annual events in MTA, this dinner celebrates the Senior inductees into the Tehillah Chapter of Arista, the National Honor Society, and also welcomes the new Junior candidates and officers.

After opening greetings by Mrs. Harriet Levitt, MTA’s long-time Arista adviser, and a stunning performance by the MTA Choir, Rabbi Kahn delivered Torah remarks. Rabbi Kahn commented on the powerful impact of speech and how the Arista members have demonstrated an understanding of its importance; he concluded with a berachah to the students to continue to learn, accomplish, and impact those around them.

Next, the outgoing Arista chapter presidents discussed the various accomplishments of the Tehillah Chapter, including “Each One, Teach One” – the daily one-on-one tutoring program during breakfast, the bi-annual Study Nights before finals, and the toy, food, and blood drives. The directors of the blood drives then made brief remarks, commenting on the importance of donating blood and sharing their personal experiences running the drives. Four students each then presented one of the bases of the Tehillah Chapter: Scholarship, Leadership, Character, and Service, discussing their importance in theory and in practice.

Dr. Seth Taylor, Principal of General Studies at MTA, then introduced the evening’s featured speaker: Dr. Jill Katz, Professor of Archeology and Anthropology at Yeshiva University. Dr. Katz’s specialty is in Biblical studies, and her presentation to those assembled was entitled “In the Footsteps of the Philistines,” in which she related her experiences researching the ancient Philistine city of Gath. Her research has unearthed valuable information on Philistine culture and day-to-day life, something especially significant to readers of Tanach, considering the prominent role of the Philistines within it.

After Dr. Katz’s presentation, Dr. Edward Berliner was called upon to name the Senior inductees. Dr. Taylor then named the Junior candidates, and ended the evening with the much-anticipated announcement of next year’s Arista officers. Thus concluded the Arista Dinner, an event that says much about MTA and even more about its students, thanks to Mrs. Levitt, the MTA administration and staff, and most of all, the students themselves.


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