What Gives Me Hope
The weeks since the brutal attack by Hamas on the people of Israel have been extremely challenging for many of us at PJA as we wrestle with our own emotions and worries, while trying to remain focused on supporting our students, families, and faculty. I am personally worried about my family and friends in Israel; I am heartbroken over the devastation of entire families and communities in Israel and Gaza; I am checking in with our alumni on college campuses (including my own child) where anti-Israel and anti-Jewish protests and rhetoric are on the rise; I am advocating and praying for the safe return of the hostages being held in Gaza; and I am grieving the tremendous loss of life. I am grateful that I am doing all of this among and amidst this incredible kehillah.
As I walk through our building and visit classrooms, I witness first-hand how our teachers keep our students safe and secure in their routines, keep them joyful and engaged in their learning. Students continue to gain academic skills, build healthy friendships, learn new ways of thinking, and play. It is our teachers who also bear the responsibility to inform appropriately, respond to deep and difficult questions, and help our students understand our complex world. That has always been the role of our educators at PJA. It is not new to this moment, even if this moment is exceptionally difficult.
Our school turns to our middot (core values) in easy and difficult times as guiding principles. Our middot are brought to life in the preschool classrooms where children practice acts of kindness. They are infused in the lesson of hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests) in kitah gimmel/3rd grade. They are the underlying values in a Middle School Humanities lesson that explores the complicated history of Columbus’ expedition and its impact on the Taino people.
At PJA we are committed to providing a safe, nurturing environment where children explore their Jewish identity, develop a personal connection to the land and people of Israel, understand the important role they play in their community, and build the confidence and self-esteem needed to use that knowledge to make the world a better place. Our students will be the changemakers of the future and that gives me great hope.