The sound of the shofar – the ram’s horn – being blown by dozens of school-aged children wakes me from my early morning haze. Its blast reminds me that teshuvah – turning, return, repentance – brings with it a sense of heightened awareness and responsibility. And with it gratitude that I engage in this sacred process with my students as my guides.
I believe in the transformative power of Jewish education.
Its power derives from generations finding meaning through storytelling and action, a commitment to justice combined with mercy, and a recognition that tradition is sustainable only when it accepts innovation.
Jewish education empowers us to respond to the world as it is with a vision for what it might become.
I believe that Jewish education has the capacity to inspire us to become more ethical, more empathic, more committed to justice and compassion. Like the blast of the shofar, it awakens us, propelling us to honor the old while embracing the new.
I write this as we continue to watch hurricanes turn the lives of millions upside down, while the tensions from Charlottesville and elsewhere remain a fresh memory, and as politics in the U.S. and around the world continue to make many feel more vulnerable, more confused, and less connected.
Yet I remember that the rabbis tell us that it is by the breath of children God sustains the world. I believe that it is indeed in the next generation that my hope is rekindled.
And, as we welcome the start of a new school year at the Jewish Community Day School of RI during the same time that Jews in Rhode Island and around the world celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I am filled with the faith that one derives from new beginnings and from the potential of an exceptional community of children, their families, and of staff, faculty and supporters – all of whom make our holy work possible.
May this year of learning together empower our children – and us – to bring to the world more light, more compassion, and more justice.
Shanah Tovah Umetukah – a happy and sweet New Year.
Andrea Katzman, Head of School