North Shore Hebrew Academy High School Where Dreams Become Accomplishments

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Student of the Month

Each month North Shore Hebrew Academy High School's Headmaster Dr. Daniel J. Vitow
selects one student as Student of the Month. This student is featured, because he/she
achieved a level of excellence that is exceptionally noteworthy.
Student of the Month – November 2020 – Shira Cohen



What do you do when you can’t decide if medicine or law is the right career path, because you have the talent for both? If you’re the November Student of the Month, junior Shira Cohen, you jump in with both feet, with eyes open and dive into each. Debate Club and Model Congress versus Medical Minds and Medical Explorers. It’s a juggling act for sure, but Shira is up for the challenge of trying it all and doing it well.

“Doing” is the key word. Shira is a “doer” who is self-motivated, hardworking, loves learning just about anything and isn’t afraid of a little competition with herself to see how far she can go. She will surprise you with her forcefulness that is belied in her soft-spoken voice. A perfect example is her performance in Mr. Miles’ Town Hall video. Shira had the assignment of taking one side of the current election and not only defending her position but being so convincing that her powers of persuasion could sway anyone to her side. This is the goal of a great attorney – zealous representation. This was Shira’s goal.

On the “legal” side of things, Shira is a four-year veteran of the Debate Club and was the only freshman when she started. In addition, she’s participated in both Penn and Yale Model Congress and Mock Trial. On the “medical” side, she was a member of Medical Minds and Medical Explorers and won Honorable Mention in the Long Island Science Competition (LISC) for her research project on how light frequencies affect Planaria. She has also been a peer tutor in biology and chemistry.

Shira enjoys branching out in other NSHAHS co-curriculars that inspire her including being Treasurer of Investment Club (an interview-only position enabling her to converse more with her dad about business), head of the Creative Writing Club and a head writer of North Shore Notes. She loves writing, because she says it’s easier to express herself with more thought than when engaging in public speaking. Writing comes naturally with reflections of things and experiences that change and affect her. Her particular favorite writing genre is Flash Fiction – short stories with a plot twist that happen over a short period of time. She appreciates that Mrs. Zabinsky’s writing class got her to realize she is a good writer with natural talent. This realization brought her two honorable mentions in the Scholastic Writing Competition and being published in the American Library of Poetry.

Drive being one of the top words in Shira’s internal vocabulary, she decided to find an internship this past summer regardless of the external situation. She researched and discovered “Beta Bowl”, a six-week Zoom business opportunity program. Shira was assigned a mentor to help plan, launch and finance a business idea. Her concept was one of only three percent of business ideas to make it to the final stage and is currently working on the next step of creating a video presentation for showing to real-life investors.

Shira also makes sure to have a healthy school-fun balance in her life. She plays tennis regularly and loves taking walks in nature while taking photographs. She’s been an avid photographer since enrolling in an FIT photography program after ninth grade. It was old school with actual film and a darkroom! The class got her out of her Long Island comfort zone by having to take the train every day by herself and walking to class. She came to know NYC and is happy at how independent she became as a result of the experience. Another activity added to her repertoire of fun things is cooking. Over the summer she spent time with her cousin learning to make her specialty: “spicy chicken poppers dipped in pesto”. Sounds delicious! Then there’s her guilty pleasure of reading romance novels and watching romcoms (romantic comedies) on Netflix. She knows the happy ending always comes, but that’s the best part.

There’s also travel and volunteering on Shira’s agenda. Thailand was fascinating for the eye opening observation of poverty but with the people always smiling and making the most of their lives. Israel is her favorite for the sense of safety and connection she feels especially on Shabbat when there is a different level of quiet. In addition to volunteering for Friendship Circle, she went that extra mile to train for eight weeks to be a volunteer for Purple Fellowship to help victims of domestic violence in Jewish communities.

This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg as Shira is only two months into her junior year. She has focus and determination beyond her age with energy to spare. She may end up a doctor, a lawyer or even a best selling author, but one thing’s for certain – she will land at the top.

Mazel Tov Shira! Keep it up!



Student of the Month – October 2020 – Robert Ohebshalom



Here is the eternal question.  Are true artists born or made?  Five minutes spent with October Student of the Month, senior Robert Ohebshalom, and the answer is clear.  They are definitely born.  Technique can be taught, but creativity is in the soul.  Such as it is with Robert in everything he does and says.  He sees the mundane and his imaginative mind translates it into something amazing.

It’s a good thing too, because he plans to be an architect.  Robert says it all started when he was a child waiting in line at an airport.  Even at such a young age he was observing and analyzing structure and how to solve problems within spatial environments and conditions.  Once home, he grabbed his Legos to start designing model airports and planes.  His doodles were not mere swirls and scribbles, they were houses and skyscrapers.  From there he moved on to researching famous architects and learned about Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry.  He loves Wright for his use of open space, light and connection to nature and Gehry for his bold, catchy, eye-popping, gravity defying design. 

To feed his need for more knowledge and experience, this past summer, Robert was lucky enough to participate in an internship at the award-winning Mojo Stumer Architects.  There he discovered CAD (computer-aided design software) and convinced the owner to install it on his computer even though he was only there three-days a week for the duration of his internship.  He agreed and Robert has been hooked ever since by motivated self-teaching of the ins and outs of the software.  On his off days, he worked packing and delivering produce for an online produce retailer.  He is the creative idea guy for a project in Mr. Garfinkel’s Virtual Enterprise and a member of the Art Honor Society.  Robert is definitely someone who enjoys seeking a challenge, hard work, variety.

Robert started his school career with NSHA but decided to try public school.  He realized he missed the dual curriculum of both secular and Judaic studies, transferred to NSHAHS in his sophomore year and has been especially enjoying Israeli and Jewish history and Holocaust studies.  History and math are high on the list of most enjoyed subjects as well.  Last year, he was on the varsity hockey team and would have been this year as well, but you know the story.  Robert is also a big car lover.  He chose to drive a stick shift just for the fun and the feel of it.  He regularly attends car shows of course for the great cars but also because of the great community of many types of people all with one common passion.  Last year he was considering starting a Car Club at North Shore but again – same story.  However, he is reviving his idea to start something for the spring semester.  Car lovers, get ready!

Other favorite recreational adventures are skiing and travel.  He attended Camp Kanfei and was able to ski in New Zealand (way too icy), Colorado and Utah (best conditions ever).  His most memorable trip was with his grandparents spending three weeks in Iceland, Russia and China with glaciers and the Great Wall of China being the standout moments.  And of course, there’s Israel!

Robert Ohebshalom is someone who sees beauty and possibility everywhere he looks.  His mind is always working and questioning what can be done better or differently.  His imagination is so fast and so full of ideas that he can’t get them on paper fast enough.  He is the artist whose artistic medium will be the stuff of buildings – mortar, steel and glass and whose designs and colors will encompass the inside as well to enhance the quality of the lives of the inhabitants.  This is his dream and we can see it.

Excellent work Robert!  Build it!




Student of the Month – September 2020 –

Jack Henry Applebaum


It’s not often that you meet a high school student with a three-page resume. Jack Henry Applebaum, the September Student of the Month for the 2020-21 school year has accomplished so much during his tenure at North Shore that he not only filled three pages but could probably fill a small volume with his interests and efforts!

Jack Henry’s (yes – he prefers his full name) last name means apple tree. Many say the meaning of the apple tree goes much deeper than the creation of the fruit itself but instead is a symbol for bringing forth a truthful life, abundance, the ability to stay focused and the determination to do good. Jack Henry is known for his strong efforts and achievement of many of his set intentions.

Investment banking is Jack Henry’s career goal, and he has the skills and traits necessary for success. Setting the groundwork, he has been an avid member of Mr. Garfinkel’s Investing Club and is this year’s President. He is also starting a new Global Finance Club to further enhance his passion with the innovation, leadership experience, analytical thinking and international outlook needed in his chosen field.  

In the realm of goal setting, Jack Henry says when he started at North Shore in ninth grade he decided to do well. An “I can do this” self-motivating attitude brought him from low expectations of himself to high expectations. This deliberate shift in thinking changed everything about his school career. His grades soared and his enthusiasm for trying different things was ignited by increased confidence. He began participating in competitions including playing the piano and cello at NYSSMA that included an award for Outstanding Performance, was captain of the JV College Bowl, and joined Torah Bowl. With an outgoing engaging personality Jack Henry also participated in Yale Model Congress, Debate Team and has been a NSHAHS Open House volunteer!

Jack Henry is not one to accept the status quo. He says that just focusing on school and fun is not enough. Helping others gives him the rewarding experience that rounds out life, because offering warmth and kindness goes a long way. He is a peer tutor in College Accounting and Math, a long standing member of Friendship Circle working with special-needs children, Tomchei Shabbos delivering food to the needy, and Yachad helping with special-needs adults. A standout moment was taking the time to encourage, overcome fear and develop trust to help one of the participants to get off the bus and join the group.

As the saying goes, “all work and no play…”, but Jack Henry has plenty of fun! He is an expert snow boarder and had the good fortune of attending Camp Kanfei Nesharim, traveling and engaging in his sport in Australia and New Zealand. There have also been memorable family ski trips to Utah and Colorado. Italy is his favorite destination so far for the great snow and the untouched and abundant Jewish community there. He developed a new perspective on the world and widened his horizons while realizing the common denominators with the people he met. Of course he loves Israel for the spiritual connection and being different than anyplace else.

Jack Henry is also a cook who loves exploring foods and deconstructing dishes to see how they’re made. He is a pizza connoisseur who makes his own dough from scratch and grows fresh basil and tomatoes for a family favorite NY pizza. He also makes fresh pasta (pan-fried Orecchiette is his specialty). Serious swimming and reading are top favorites as well. Oh – his favorite color is Black because it goes with everything.

Clearly his name holds the secret to his success now and for his future. The ancient concept of the apple tree as a symbol for beauty, sweetness and prosperity with the hardiness of the fruit representing strength and growth is in alignment with Jack Henry’s personal philosophy of life. “Don’t be afraid to work hard. There is intrinsic value in hard work. Nothing is ever wasted even if you don’t reach your goal and will seep into other areas of your life.”

We are confident you’ll reach any goal you set your sights on! Have a great senior year!

Great job Jack Henry!