Preparing a child for life is complicated business. It is a recipe that requires ingredients that are not always easy to find and can’t always be purchased. There are the obvious things like lots of love and support to build self-esteem. There are the unpleasant ones like eating your vegetables and doing your homework, and then there are the esoteric ingredients that help shape the character of a person.
Religious School will not get our children into an Ivy League school. It won’t get them a scholarship, and it won’t guarantee them a good job. Unlike public school, where our children learn materials that they will later be tested on and measured based on laws like No Child Left Behind, Hebrew School is not about things.
At Solel’s Religious School we are engaged in something much more important. We help shape our children’s Jewish identity.
Through the study of our ancient texts, we connect with our ancestors. Learning about Israel and the Diaspora, we understand that we are part of something much bigger than our individual selves. Studying the ethics of our forefathers and mothers, we develop the values we bring as Jews to the public discourse. Critically examining the beliefs of our people, we become partners with God in the repair of the world, tikkun olam.
But not all religious schools are the same, and I am proud to say that Solel has the distinction of transforming its values into real world acts of loving kindness, gmilut chasadim. This is a community that cares deeply about its place in the world and the role it plays creating social justice.
Furthermore, Solel is a congregation that understands that without our wonderful families, our job will never be complete. This is why we have monthly family services and do our best to involve parents in the Jewish education of their children. In a speech he gave at the turn of the millennium, Rabbi Jan Katzew, director of the URJ Department of Jewish Learning said, "A school is a structure built upon a family foundation. Whatever investment we make in Jewish education should begin with the axiom that the family will determine its ultimate success."
Solel has a very supportive Religious School Council run by the parents of its students. It places the responsibility of family education under the purview of the Religious School and it takes this work seriously. Our partnership, families and teachers, is a sacred one. We are all engaged in avoda k’dosha, the holy work of providing a moral and ethical foundation for our children. Together we can forge that foundation in Jewish values and ground it with our tradition.
Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek! Be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen one another!
Director of Education