In preschool, videos

By Rabbi Yael Splansky.

There is a story of a shtetl too poor to purchase or produce a Torah scroll. During the week they studied the holy words from a chumash (book of Torah) and it was sufficient. But on Simchat Torah, the villagers lamented that they had no Torah scrolls to parade around for the seven hakafot (processionals). So they wrote a letter to the wisest rabbi in the region, asking how they should celebrate Simchat Torah.

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He replied with encouragement, saying: “Any people who so desire Torah, will one day have a Torah scroll. But until that day,” the Rabbi instructed, “when Simchat Torah comes, you must carry your children in your arms, for they are your Torah scrolls.” That year, they celebrated like never before. The Jews danced with their children held proudly in their arms. They paraded with their children carried high upon their shoulders. And there was joy, because they understood that their children were vessels of Torah. Their children would grow to be the guarantors of Torah. And, of course, the Rabbi was right — it wasn’t long before one of those children grew to become a sofer and he prepared a Torah scroll for the villagers to treasure.

Holy Blossom Temple is blessed with 13 Torah scrolls and each one was joyfully honoured this Simchat Torah. But that did not stop us from also carrying our children for the hakafot. Without even knowing this story, Jewish parents and grandparents instinctively know that to carry our children in the Torah procession is to teach them to walk in the ways of Torah.

The Holy Blossom Temple Pre-School is one of the jewels in the crown of our program of life-long learning. For generations now, young parents have been choosing The Holy Blossom Temple Pre-School to set their children on the path of joyful learning. Parents entrust their little ones to our congregation and our teachers, because they see the synagogue as a safe, loving, nurturing, and of course Jewish extension of their own homes. (click here to listen to some of their stories.)

Young parents want Holy Blossom to be their partner in raising their children Jewishly. This is our pledge. We are responding to the evolving needs of young families in the neighbourhood. For example, full-time working parents have asked us to provide programs for younger children. And so, a new PRE-NURSERY class opened this year, with a waiting list. We have 80 Little Blossoms coming each week, with a waiting list. Soon we will launch Big Blossoms to provide a stimulating Jewish environment for children who are ready for more than a half-day program. And our twice monthly Tot Shabbat service continues to bring young families together for a taste of Temple.

Now that our school wing is more open, there are many opportunities for growth. Responding to the needs of young families in the neighbourhood is a primary goal. To provide the professional leadership for these initiatives, our long time Pre-School Principal, Pam Hamovitch, is expanding the scope of her work. I am delighted to announce that Pam has agreed to be the Director of the Jewish Early Childhood Centre at Holy Blossom Temple.

You’ll be hearing more from her soon as Pam is gathering information to determine the needs of our families. But please don’t be shy. Let her know what your dreams are for your children and grandchildren. Let us know what your visions are for Holy Blossom Temple as a centre for Jewish family life. Our children are our living Torah scrolls. Let’s carry them joyfully and with confidence into the coming year.

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