We should have a Zimriyah dance


Dimensions Yearbook

The class of 2021 performs a Hebrew song for the annual Zimriyah competition.

Eitan Malkus, Editor in Chief

As we stepped out onto the gym bleachers for Zimriyah, I couldn’t believe three months of choreographing, practicing and planning would come to an end in five short minutes. The other grades cheered loudly as us small sixth-graders showed off our banner, hand motions and dance that we had created ourselves. It was a proud moment to see the entire grade come together and admire the hard work we had all done to get ourselves to that moment. 

Zimriyah is an annual competition on Yom Haatzmaut in which each upper school grade creates a banner, hand motions and a dance to a specific Hebrew song. Due to COVID-19, the competition was not held in 2020 and was organized in an abbreviated format in 2021. 

With the school returning to in-person learning this year, Zimriyah will transition back to its traditional format, but with a couple substantial changes. The dance portion of the competition has been taken out as well as the banner, with students instead completing an art project in the hallways of the upper school building. 

This leaves the only aspect of the competition to be the hand motions. One of my favorite parts of Zimriyah is the friendly competition it heralds between the grades. Without the main component of the dance, the competition lacks the usual tension that I enjoyed three years ago.

In addition, I served as one of the lead choreographers for the Zimriyah dance during my three middle school years. Leading the dance taught me important leadership skills that I can bring into my future. Creating the dance was complicated and frustrating, but pushing through that taught me that I can always persevere if I try hard enough. 

Hebrew teacher and Zimriyah coordinator Anat Kaufman said that one of the school’s main concerns with the dance was that it brought about divisions within the grade and left people feeling excluded. 

“The theme this year is B’yachad, being together, and therefore, we didn’t want to have a few dancers that dance and a few students that decorate the banner, we want everyone to do everything.” Kaufman said. 

However, the dance was open to everyone in the grade to join and oftentimes, we would find it difficult to get enough members of the grade to participate in the dance. In my experience, students were never intentionally left out. 

Even though the dance was difficult to organize, seeing it completed made it so much more rewarding. It is such an adrenaline rush to run out on the floor and finally show off something you’ve been planning for months. Sometimes we got the moves wrong or messed up the timing, but it never mattered. All that mattered was that we were having fun. 

While I never took part in the banner making process, it is also a very important facet of Zimriyah that won’t be happening this year. To those who love to draw and paint, the banner was a way for them to express themselves if they didn’t feel comfortable participating in the other parts of the competition.

In addition, after Zimriyah, the banners would be hung in different places around the school building to be admired by students and faculty. It was an impressive way to highlight students’ art skills outside of the competitive setting of Zimriyah. 

Instead, each grade will create an art installation in a different part of the cardo. This is practically what past competitions did but without the competitive aspect that makes Zimriyah an exciting experience. While it will be great to see the art skills of students highlighted, the competitive aspect of the art will be missed. 

The efforts to make Zimriyah more inclusive are counterproductive. The dance and banner gave students more ways to participate in festivities, but without these different aspects of competition, Zimriyah will be less inclusive to those who don’t want to participate in the main hand motions and singing portion. The other facets were meant to show off our grade as a whole, and now those artists, dancers and choreographers lose that opportunity to demonstrate their skills. 

With Zimriyah being held this year on Thursday, May 5, I hope that my grade will still be able to come together and pull off a victory. However, the changes will definitely impact the overall feel of the competition, shifting a format that has worked so seamlessly for many years.