Thursday, October 29, 2015

"In OUR Times"

10/28/15 ended up being a fascinating day of juxtapositions at The Davis Academy. In the afternoon, close to 30 parents gathered in the Middle School Media Center under the auspices of our PTO's Israel Culture Club to watch a short film called "Crossing the Line 2: The New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus". During the post-film discussion with the film's director parents had a chance to share their thoughts, feelings, and concerns about the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Movement (BDS), an international initiative that has one single goal: deligitimizing the State of Israel.

While the film could and did evoke an understandable amount of concern bordering on despair, there were a few important and empowering takeaways. First, the importance of deeply immersive Jewish education for children from the youngest age. Every parent in the room agreed that their child is better equipped to confront the BDS movement when they inevitably encounter it because their child and their family attend The Davis Academy. While potentially necessary (or at least highly valuable), attending a Jewish Day School isn't sufficient when it comes to upholding and defending Israel on college campuses-- parents need to engage their kids in conversation and the Jewish community more generally needs to come together to develop a more comprehensive strategy for navigating the multi-pronged and often insidious tactics of BDS.

Though we had a full media center for our film screening, there was a subtle feeling of loneliness encapsulated in the idea that the Jewish community is, at the end of the day, alone in our concern for Israel. Of course Israel has the support of countless reasonable and thoughtful people, organizations, and countries, but the loneliness comes with the nagging sense that this support could quickly become conditional, tenuous, and one day even disappear. A community event that I and a group of Davis alum and middle school students participated in later that evening left a very different feeling...

The above picture shows a group of Davis Academy and Marist students and alumni gathered in front of the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech. They were there to perform a version of the well-known Jewish teaching, "Hineih Mah Tov" that I wrote as a celebration of the interfaith partnership that exists between our two schools. Should you wish to hear the song you can download it for free here. The performance was part of a broader celebration organized by the Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee and the Archdiocese of Atlanta in honor of the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate. Nostra Aetate, meaning "in our times" was a statement issued by the Catholic Church that initiated a process of reconciliation between the church and the Jewish community. In addition to the Davis and Marist students a number of community choirs and dance groups performed and speeches were given. But The Davis Academy and Marist stood out for several reasons. 

First, The Davis Academy and Marist initiated our partnership even before the Archdiocese and the AJC asked that Atlanta area Catholic and Jewish organizations create partnerships in anticipation of this event. Next, we were the only group of middle school students to perform and ours was the only original composition performed. Lastly, we're likely the only group that gathered naturally and casually for a quick bite to eat beforehand. Breaking bread is one of the most important things we can do if we truly want to nurture relationships.

Here are pictures of the kids breaking bread, standing on the stage of the Ferst Center, and rehearsing behind the dropped curtain. 


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