Schechter students ‘Jump Rope for Heart’

BY MIKE SHERWIN, ASSISTANT EDITOR

The variations are endless.

Two children jump in sync while one swings the jump rope. Faculty swing a single long rope, as the students — one or two at a time — jump in for freestyle jumping.

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Double-dutch. Double-under.

But the students at Solomon Schechter Day School aren’t simply jumping rope for the exercise, or their own amusement.

The students are honing their jump rope skills — and having fun — while raising money for the American Heart Association through the AHA’s Jump Rope for Heart, a program in which schools across the country take part to combine exercise and fundraising.

The 150 students at Solomon Schechter have raised more than $7,000, according to Susan Levko, the school’s director of development.

“It has been amazing to see how excited the students are about participating,” Levko said. “This has been a wonderful way for our students to learn about heart disease, the mitzvah of giving and assist the American Heart Association in its endeavors to cure heart disease.”

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade participated in the “Jump Rope for Heart” program, and students in sixth through eighth grade took part in the “Hoops for Heart” program, which involves basketball activities. The students reached out to friends and family — and even reached into their own pockets to use their allowance — to raise money.

Rabbi Allen Selis, head of school, said tzedakah projects are fundamental to Jewish day school education.

“That’s bedrock of what we’re about: taking Jewish values and teaching kids to put them into practice, and to make those values habits that will guide them for their lives,” Selis said.

“There’s an idea in the Book of Deuteronomy that talks about giving out of what you have and giving of your wealth on a year-to-year basis. There’s this wonderful phrase, ‘pato’ah tiftahat yadecha.’ In English it would be ‘Open your hand…’ but in Hebrew the word open repeats itself twice. So it’s literally, ‘Open, O Open your hand.”

“We do a lot of work teaching our kids about the value of tzedakah, so they really have that feeling of ‘Open, and keep opening, your hand, and keep being generous.'”

This was the first year that the school took part in the “Jump Rope for Heart” program. Physical education teacher Patty Boggs spearheaded the school’s involvement. She said the program has gotten the kids excited about jumping rope — which she notes is a great cardiovascular exercise — and has spurred remarkable creativity.

“The kids started out with simple skills, but have been moving on to partner tricks, and long rope tricks, and they keep coming up with new ways to do it. They really seem to love it,” Boggs said.

To kick off the tzedakah project, the school invited a jump rope team to perform, and show some of the more intricate jump rope feats possible.

Now, since the students’ interest — among both boys and girls, she notes — in jump rope is so high, Boggs is considering starting a jump team at the school next year to allow the students to further their interest in the activity.

Boggs said the fundraiser has given the students the best of both worlds. “They have really been excited about raising money for the project and getting really excited about jumping rope, which a great exercise.”

“It definitely has made me proud to see them get so involved,” Boggs said.