Monday, April 24, 2017

Yom HaShoah 2017

Yom HaShoah is one of the most sacred days on the Jewish calendar. It is the day that we honor the memory of the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as well as those who survived to tell their stories. It is the day that we renew our commitment to never forgetting and never allowing such an unfathomable atrocity to occur again to any people.

We mark this occasion not only by lighting traditional Memorial Candles on both campuses, but in several other significant ways.

First, we partner with the Breman Holocaust Museum to bring a Holocaust survivor to share their story with our older students. This year we were honored to welcome Mr. Herschel Greenblatt. Our Jewish Life Leadership students will lead a short memorial service before he shares his remarks.

Next, our 7th graders visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. on their 7th grade trip which takes place during the week of Yom HaShoah. This visit is a culmination of many months spent studying the Holocaust in 7th grade Jewish Studies. Check out Twitter #Davis7 to see the 7th graders on their trip.

Lastly, our Lower School choir, The Magical Melodies, sings each year during the community wide Yom HaShoah ceremony at Greenwood Cemetery. Their beautiful voices add a dimension of hope and joy to an otherwise very somber celebration. This year's commemoration was rainy and cold but our students didn't complain a bit because they understand the solemnity and significance of the occasion. The back of the memorial is in the picture below.

3rd-5th grade Magical Melodies rehearse for the community wide Yom HaShoah Ceremony 

A Profound Meditation on Judaism's Most Important Prayer

Recently I had a chance to do some spiritual creative writing with The Davis Academy's 3rd grade students. Gathered in our beautiful Kaufman Chapel on a quiet Thursday morning I asked the students to reflect on the Shema, Judaism's central prayer. To encourage their creative process I gave them the "title" for a poem, essay, acrostic, or other form of creative writing. Since the Shema proclaims the Unity and Oneness of God, that "title" was "One."

I received many thoughtful responses, but one response nearly knocked me out of my desk chair. It was written by Jordan Ulin and is shared here with his and his parents' permission.

To listen and absorb all the raw
sound of the world. Absorb
all the sounds and make them
all one sound that creates a song.

To listen. To absorb. Raw sound of the world. To take those sounds and create a song. It takes a truly open heart to come to this appreciation and be able to express it in words. At least that's my opinion. 

After I shared this piece with Jordan's parents, his father sent me a follow up email. In that email, Jordan's father said that Jordan had further explained what he meant: "He explained that essentially God created all the sounds and song was the way to return it to Him." Jordan's father also explained that a drawing that accompanied the piece, "was supposed to represent the world comprised of different music notes." 

I am so grateful to Jordan for sharing such a thoughtful and profound meditation on the Shema with me and with all who read this blog post. I can honestly say that my experience of reciting this special prayer is enhanced by his wisdom and insight. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

1st Grade Cards Make an Impact

Empowering students to understand how they can make a difference in the world from a very young age is an important part of The Davis Academy curriculum. The sooner children realize that they can make a positive impact in another person's life, even a stranger, the better. Click here to see a truly heartwarming video that features many Davis Academy 1st graders and highlights a special partnership with JF&CS and their Aviv Celebrations program.