Educating our children in the richness of their past,
the diversity of their present and the possibilities for their future.

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Skyping with Author Yossi Klein Halevi
Jen Minkus

When the bell rang, I ran downstairs to catch the end of the Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten Kabbalat Shabbat, only to see so many parents and grandparents with children on their laps as they sang songs with Morah Sara, our Jewish Music Specialist, and Morah Moriah, a JK Teacher. It was a poignant moment to think that the students upstairs were once in JK and K, and that in a flash, these students will be all grown up, poised, and ready to have their own conversation with an author. Lastly, I ran upstairs again only to see Morah Tamar Cytryn leading Leap into Shabbat with a group of parents and toddlers not yet in school.

Our Grade 8 students learned a few important ideas from Yossi's book. They learned that the situation in Israel is both personal and critical to our peoplehood. They learned the importance of listening to the narrative of the other even if we disagree and that standing in the place of being right has not yet brought peace to the situation. They also learned that the story of Isaac and Ishmael is not only a story from thousands of years ago, but it is a living tension in Israel today. And lastly, when they asked Yossi if being Jewish was a right or a responsibility, he answered that it is a privilege that needs be taken seriously as both a right and a responsibility. He told them that they are the future thought leaders, leaders of our next generation, and he’s counting on them to help build bridges and contribute to the good in the world.

Coincidentally, our Rabbis' Round Table, facilitated by our own Director of Jewish Studies and Campus Life Tamar Cytryn, dealt with listening and communicating civilly with people we disagree with. Many thanks to our Rabbinic leaders, Rabbi Shoshana Conover, Rabbanit Leah Sarna, and Rabbi Michael Siegel. We concluded the evening with a poem by Israel’s Poet Laureate Yehuda Amichai z’’l, which perfectly connected to the topic of the evening and the class discussion from Grade 8:

The Place Where We Are Right

From the place where we are right

Flowers will never grow

In the spring.

The place where we are right

Is hard and trampled

Like a yard

But doubts and loves

Dig up the world

Like a mole, a plow.

And a whisper will be heard in the place

Where the ruined

House once stood.


Shabbat Shalom, Ms. J