In Our Virtual Mishkan, splansky

In Praise of Teachers

One of the finest ways to connect with people, to know who they are, what they hold dear, how they think and what they believe is to gather over learning.  I see this unfold every Shabbat at Torah Study.  (All are welcome).    This is why our Worship Committee, in its wisdom, suggested we expand our popular Yom Kippur Afternoon Study Sessions to Rosh HaShanah as well.  This year, when Coronavirus denies us most opportunities to meet and greet one another, we’ll be able to gather on Zoom to learn from terrific teachers and exchange ideas with fellow congregants.  I am very pleased to share this line-up of a wide range of learning opportunities, designed to enhance and enrich the Holy Days. No registration is required.  Some have already told me it will be difficult to choose from the multiple sessions.  The good news is you don’t have to pick just one.  All study sessions will be recorded and made available on our website for all to enjoy.

I’m also pleased to share this first collection of learning opportunities designed to help us celebrate “100 Years Reform,” our Centennial Anniversary as a Reform Congregation.  Masterful teachers and thought leaders from the Reform Movement will join us throughout the year.  More to come.

Back in May, this sign was delivered by our Director of Education, Debbie Spiegel, to Holy Blossom teachers throughout the city.  This sign still stands proudly on my front yard.  Four out of the five people in my house teach at Holy Blossom.  Jesse is still in his Bar Mitzvah year, so he’s got time to grow into the role.

With Labour Day Weekend upon us, parents, teachers, and students of all ages are feeling the mix of emotions.  Hard decisions have been made.  Learning curves have been steep.  And we already know that even with all the hard work and best of intentions, there will be frustrations and disappointments.  Our Jewish calendar ushers in the season of forgiveness, the season of compassion.  Just as we implore God to give us the benefit of the doubt and forgive our imperfections, so must we be forgiving of one another.

I’m thrilled to know that our Early Childhood Centre is nearly full.  Young parents are choosing Holy Blossom Temple as the destination for raising their children in Jewish values and the rhythms of Jewish life.  Thanks to the incredible work of its principal, Wendy Himmel, new and veteran teachers are preparing the classrooms now.  How strange to see Purim masks on the bulletin boards and Purim costumes of Mordechai and Esther in the cubbies!  The ECC wing has been frozen in time from when we went into lockdown six months ago.  Now the teachers replace the hamantaschen with apples and honey, replace the groggers with the shofar.

I just sent this prayer to our incredible Holy Blossom ECC teachers.  You may wish to pass it along to other teachers you know and admire.

In Praise of Our Teachers on the Threshold of 5781

Our God and God of our ancestors,
bless all those who, year after year, help our children to grow
in skills, knowledge and life-wisdom;
who care for them when they are anxious or sad, frustrated or fearful;
who celebrate them in their little accomplishments;
who nurture them on the path toward kindness and compassion;
and who are always mindful of their health and safety.

This year, teachers are called upon to go above and beyond,
putting their own lives and the lives of their families at risk,
in order to accomplish the same goals,
but with one hand tied behind their backs.

May our teachers know how grateful we are for their efforts.
May we be forgiving when things do not go as planned and may they forgive themselves, too.
May we all be patient with our children, who wander this wilderness as children.
May our teachers stay healthy for their sake, for the sake of their loved ones,
and yes, for our sake, too, as we are bound up together as one family now.

May they know strength as they strive for excellence.
May they discover new stores of creativity as they teach with new tools.
May laughter come easily and often.
May they be blessed with the rewards which will surely come from their holy efforts
day by day.

As our ancient Rabbis teach:

“The more Torah learning, the more life….
The more righteousness, the more peace.”
(Pirkei Avot 1:17).


Shabbat Shalom and L’Shanah Tovah!

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