Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ask a Davis Academy student what "LOVE" means and they're likely to tell you something unexpected. LOVE means: Living Our Values Everyday. Below are beautiful pictures of a project undertaken by Jamie Rindsberg, our guidance counselor for grades 3-5. She has been exploring The Davis Academy's menschlichkeit values (to which this entire blog is devoted) with her 5th grade students. See below for examples of the thoughtful ways that our students think about what it means to LOVE at The Davis Academy. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Wise Words from Davis 8th Grader in Honor of Simchat Torah

The Davis Academy's 2018 Simchat Torah celebration was immeasurably enriched by a Dvar Torah written and shared by 8th grader Reese Baker. As you read her speech (included below) take a moment to consider the strong feeling of connection that Reese describes. Connection to the Torah, but also connection to her own story, to the generations that have come before and are yet to come, to Jews around the world, and the the values that Jewish tradition teaches. It's wonderful to see a young adult having such a strong sense of self and connection to the broader stories of the Jewish people. 

Chag Sameach!
My name is Reese Baker and I am an 8th grader here at Davis. About a week ago, Rabbi Micah asked me to give this Dvar’ Torah and to describe how the Torah impacts my life. After much thought, I concluded that it is not what the Torah says that impacts me personally but what it symbolizes. I started to think about the amazing tradition here at Davis of unwrapping the entire Torah around our community, which will take place in a few minutes. I thought about each grade that the Torah surrounds and the connection that they all have with it. A couple of memories quickly came to mind of the many ways that I connected to the Torah through my nineyears here at Davis.

First, I thought of kindergarten, in Mrs. Weiser's class, making small Torahs and decorating them with my friends for this holiday. As I continued through the years, the 2nd grade siddur ceremony definitely stood out. Learning the hebrew prayers right out of my own personalized siddur gave me a connection to the Torah at a young age. I next thought of the 5th grade Torah service, where my class nervously learned and read from the Torah in front of our parents and other classmates. Then, onto 6th grade, when my friends and I got very excited to finally hold the Torah for this celebration, as we had watched the older kids do year after year. In 7th grade and 8th grade, each and every student in our class learned their very own Torah portion for our Bnai’Mitzvot. We learned what they meant and found a deeper meaning within the words.

And now, here we are. It is very strange for me to think that this is my last year as a student celebrating Simchat Torah with my Davis community. The process that I just described to you was a shared experience with all of my classmates that all of you will also get to go through in the coming years. It is not only an experience that we, as Davis students encounter, but it is also one that we share with other boys and girls around the world. The Torah provides a connection between us and them. It is a connection to our heritage, to our family and to all of the Jewish people around the world. As we constantly say here at Davis, L’dor Va’dor, from generation to generation. The Torah connects these generations and will always continue to do so. As the Torah is unrolled, that is what I will be thinking of. I will be thinking of the journey that I experienced, from kindergarten all the way to 8th grade, and the way that the Torah has connected me to my classmates and different Jewish communities. The connection that Davis has given us from the Torah has provided us with a connection that we will always have with each other, no matter where we go in life.

And to the 8th Grade, I can not wait to experience the ultimate Davis Torah connection with you on our trip to Israel later this year.
Thank you.

Great Questions asked by 4th Grade

At a recent Kabbalat Shabbat our 4th graders posed a series of questions inspired by the prayers that they were leading. When you read the questions below consider the level of depth and meaning they contain. Sometimes we struggle to find an entry point into Jewish prayer. These questions provide a great starting point and definitely had the adults in the room engaged and reflecting that morning. Kudos to Morah Rivkah for helping the kids arrive at these thoughtful prompts.

Hannah: L’cha dodi reminds us to keep and remember the Sabbath day.  When was the last time you celebrated Shabbat.

Jackson:  In L’cha do Shabbat is described as a bride. What do you think the bride looks like?

Lawrence: During elohai I feel like the prayer is getting me ready and active for praying. How do you feel during elohai?

Ethan B.: The prayer we are about to pray is Elohai.  Do you stop at least once a day to appreciate the gift of your life?

Ben K.: When you wake up, what are you thankful to God for?

Josh B:  We say the Barchu and Shema eveytime we pray. Do you remember to think about what it means or do you just say the words?

Jake : We proclaim that God is one.  What is one word you would use to describe God’s power?

Ben R.: V’ahavta is about loving Adonai. How do you show love to God?

Josh C.:  Yes, we pray about loving God.  What presents do you think God gave to us to show God’s love to show how much he cares about us?

Olivia:  During v’ahavta we say, “teach them faithfully unto your children”.  Are we all making sure to teach with our words and our actions?

Lily:  During Shabbat how close do you feel to God when you’re saying or singing a prayer?

Sarah: In singing Mi Chamocha we are celebrating our freedom.  Have you helped someone to become free lately? Free from fear? Freedom to have equal rights?

Molly: Mi Chamocha is also about putting yourself in your ancestor’s shoes. Have you stopped this week and put yourself in someone else’s shoes?

Ethan L.: When I think about Eternity utters a day, I think about how lucky we are to have Shabbat.  A break from the everyday.  What do you think about when we sing this song?

Scott:  Have you truly ever stopped and thought about what Shabbat rest is?

Leah: We speak of God’s holiness during the Amidah.  In what ways do you feel God’s holiness in your life? Or even right now?

Jenna:  Do you ever stop, reflect, and take a second to think about what God has done for you? For us?