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Heights Lounge Winter Wonderland

Winter weather has reached Washington Heights, but not in the way that you would have expected. Thanks to Super-Senior Tzvi Hametz, the Heights Lounge has been decorated with hundreds of intricately patterned paper snowflakes. At last count there were over 200 snowflakes scattered along the brick walls of the lounge, and the blizzard doesn’t seem to be slowing.

It all began, Hametz says, with boredom. He was looking for a diversion, and decided to cut out snowflakes and hang them in his “area,” the front corner on the Lounge’s upper east side, where Hametz tends to spend most of his time. Pretty soon, he said, people began to take notice. “People kept walking up the stairs and smiling.” But Hametz did not want to keep all the fun to himself. Whenever people walked by, he offered them a chance to make a snowflake as well. Pretty soon, it began to snowball,  and many more snowflakes found their way to the walls.

Hametz is neither an art major nor minor, and does not have much prior experience in public art installation or even simple arts and crafts. By his estimate, the last time he made a paper snowflake was “in nursery.”  He adds, however, “I used to work in a day camp.” This may be where he acquired his skills.

Hametz claims that making paper snowflakes is simple and easy. “You just cut,” he said, noting that his strategy was not all that complicated. “I don’t think about it, I just make cuts.”

Snowflake making has not been limited to the Yeshiva student body. Hametz was in his corner late one night when one of the workers who cleans the lounge walked by. Hametz asked him to join the fun and make a snowflake. “He just looked at me, confused,” Hametz said, “and said that he didn’t know how. I told him it was easy and showed him how. When he finished it, he looked at it and then turned to me and asked ‘now what?’ I told him to hang it up, and he looked even more confused. Once he hung it up, he stepped back and looked at it and said ‘wow, this is beautiful.’ Now he says ‘hi’ to me every day.”

Student reaction to the decoration has been overwhelmingly positive. Eli Heisler (YC ’12) said that “they’re nice,” but wondered who put them up. Adam Friedman (YC ’14) thought that “they certainly liven up the place a little bit,” and one YC Senior said that “it brings energy, something exciting, new to the regular day.”

Not all were excited by the new décor. One visiting student said, “I personally thought it looked a little childish, and wondered how they got here.” He also thought it interfered with his mincha, saying, “It distracted my davening, wondering how the guitar one was made.”