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Appreciating PJA

By Sean Bartlett

“We gratefully thank you, God, for You have returned our souls within us with compassion.”
(Modeh Ani prayer)

We’re all fortunate to work, learn, and gather in a values-based institution. Our Middot are present everywhere at PJA - hanging on classroom walls, on our website, present at meetings, and on the minds of our Kehillah. One stands out to me and has helped me navigate the past few weeks - Hodayah, or appreciation.

Feeling appreciation is a normal, every-day occurrence for most people. What has become more challenging recently is recognizing and showing that appreciation. Adults are all busy and frantic with work, personal lives, and the anxieties around Covid-19. Some of the traditional ways we used to show appreciation are no longer as safe or possible; handshakes, hugs, and high-fives create too much contact while gatherings and parties continue to be discouraged by the CDC and OHA. As our society settles into a new normal, I hope we keep finding new ways of showing appreciation. 

One thing we should continue to do is to voice our appreciation.

I appreciate the dedication and hard work of all the administration, faculty and staff at PJA. It is teamwork and can-do spirit that keeps this place running and open every day.

I appreciate all of the Afterschool Department staff. They make an impact here at PJA’s Kidscorner and also at our two local PPS locations - Kidzone at Glencoe Elementary and Kidspace at Forest Park Elementary. They are inspired by our Middot even when they work off-site.

I appreciate learning more about Jewish life every day. One holiday that was introduced to me this year is Tu b’Shevat - a day designed to celebrate and appreciate trees and nature. I spent the day in my backyard hobby farm preparing for new fruit trees to celebrate.

I appreciate the families and children who have been patient and flexible as we respond to continually updated guidance. 

Most importantly, I appreciate that the children in our care have never stopped showing or voicing their appreciation. I know I’m going to try to follow their leadership.

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