Friday, February 24, 2017

Adar Started Early at The Davis Academy

The Hebrew month of Adar has always been a season of rejoicing for the Jewish people. Rosh Chodesh Adar (the beginning of the month) is next Monday. But if you ask me, Adar started early at The Davis Academy.

Everywhere I looked today I saw reasons for the Jewish people to rejoice. And I can only assume that others at Davis saw some of what I saw, but also saw much that I didn't see. Which means that these few observations only scrape the surface of the joy that permeated The Davis Academy today.

Our teachers are the best. When asked to dance during the MiCamocha Ms. Patterson was a great sport. 

This morning's Lower School Kabbalat Shabbat was a full on celebration. Led by a dedicated and prepared group of 1st grade children, we had a chance to learn about some of the "rules" that help us be good, kind, and caring people wherever we find ourselves. During his visit, Rabbi Berg, from The Temple, informed us that this week marks the 150th anniversary of the organized Jewish community in Atlanta. He shared 3 important stories from the history of The Temple and asked our young students the lessons that they thought each story taught. Those who know The Temple's proud commitment to Tzedek won't be surprised to hear that our students understood these stories in those terms: always do the right thing, we are all equal, if we have faith we can rebuild that which has been ruined, it's what's inside that really counts. These are the meanings that they derived from Rabbi Berg's visit.

Rabbi Berg shared stories, but asked us to find the meaning.

Meanwhile, our 4th grade students proudly wore the hand-painted Tefilin that each of them created in their Jewish Studies class under the guidance of Morah Kelly Cohen. They made quite a strong impression and sent a powerful message that Judaism is a creative, engaging, and imaginative tradition with lots of room for innovation.

Middle School Kabbalat Shabbat featured a class of 8th grade students confidently leading the Shabbat blessings and performing a skit based on this week's parsha. We weren't planning for a skit, but the kids asked and Mr. Weismark, their teacher, and he wanted to honor their ruach (spirit). At the end of Middle School Shabbat I put out a call for students to participate in our upcoming Rosh Chodesh Adar Shabbat (taking place next week). The Jewish people can rejoice in the fact that I was literally inundated with volunteers. It's a happy moment when the pen can't move fast enough to capture all the requests to participate.

Our new dining hall is having a profound effect on the experience of eating at The Davis Academy. Students and faculty break bread together. Folks take the extra couple of minutes to finish conversations and enjoy one another's company before heading back to the flow of the day. Having a chance to nourish ourselves in a communal space is forging new and deeper connections for all of us. It is a joy to be a part of. I had a great time singing Bim Bam with the 1st grade instead of reciting the traditional Birkat Hamazon. It was touching to see our brand new kitchen staff smiling and watching the kids celebrate the meal.
5th graders read their own interpretation of Birkat Hamazon on Fridays. 

Some of our wonderful kitchen staff!

Just before lunch I had a meaningful person moment. My daughter, in kindergarten, lost her first tooth. Just this morning I told her I thought it would be a couple of weeks, but darn if one of those enticing apples in the dining hall didn't do it. Ms. Goldstein, one of her teachers, brought her to my office in tears. Mrs. Shafron, our head of school, came by to offer reassuring words. We bravely marched to Nurse Wendy's office for the "main event" where we found a couple of children kibbutzing with Nurse Wendy as they took their midday meds. I could see my daughter's heart pounding through her shirt as Nurse Wendy gently and speedily plucked the tooth. Tears gave way to a brand new smile as the other girls in the office gathered around to see Nurse Wendy's handiwork. It had the feeling of a rite of passage celebrated in the context of an authentic community. It was a beautiful thing to witness, made more beautiful by the fact Nurse Wendy had taken a tooth from each of the other girls in the office at an earlier time! Just thinking about the amount of teeth Nurse Wendy has pulled, how could one not rejoice? It was also heartwarming to receive a call from Morah Rebecca Good who has known my daughter for her whole life, saying how touched she was that my daughter had shared this milestone with her.
A New Smile for My Daughter

The day is far from over, and I'm just one person, but if you ask me, the joy of Adar has come early to The Davis Academy. Feel free to chime in if you witnessed any of this or something else today!

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