I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of the school Gesher is growing into. I chose to come work here and send my children here because I felt passionate about this place as soon as I set foot on this gorgeous campus. I stay because I love our school and community. I work hard because I believe we have the potential to play a major role in growing the next generation of Jewish leaders. We’ve had a spectacular launch this year.
Beginning with Faculty In-Service Week and our first week of school, our community has jumped into a year full of joy, bonding, learning, and growth. The building is buzzing with positive energy. Our first Tefillot (prayers) together on Thursday were full of ruach (spirit) AND respectful behavior. Our beloved children are smiling AND working hard.
This year my weekly Dvar Torah will follow a slightly different cycle. I’ve decided to enter into a non-traditional Chevrutah (a term denoting the traditional form for Jewish text study in pairs) with anyone who reads these messages, and I propose we study Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) together. While we may not be able to dialogue as we would in the traditional format, I’ll offer some text, some questions, and some ideas, and I would LOVE to hear back from whomever would like to engage.
The first Mishnah of Chapter 1 reads:
משֶׁה קִבֵּל תּוֹרָה מִסִּינַי, וּמְסָרָהּ לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ, וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ לִזְקֵנִים, וּזְקֵנִים לִנְבִיאִים, וּנְבִיאִים מְסָרוּהָ לְאַנְשֵׁי כְנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה. הֵם אָמְרוּ שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים, הֱווּ מְתוּנִים בַּדִּין, וְהַעֲמִידוּ תַלְמִידִים הַרְבֵּה, וַעֲשׂוּ סְיָג לַתּוֹרָה:
Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Yehoshua, and Yehoshua to the Elders, and the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples and make a fence for the Torah.
This Mishnah touches on numerous values of great importance for Gesher or any Jewish educational organization, but it hits our core mission on the head by referencing the transmission of Torah through the generations. My friend and colleague, Rabbi Marc Baker, Head of School at Gann Academy, notes the interesting verb choice to indicate transmission – Masar – and suggests that it indicates an important feature of this type of transmission. This particular verb requires not only a subject but also an object. It is not possible to transmit Torah without someone present and ready to receive it.
That’s the work that we do here – we know we can’t just throw the basketball into the air unless there is someone ready to catch it, so we work hard to understand each student’s individual interests and needs in order to ensure that they are ready to engage in this important process of transmitting Torah. We are grateful to be partners with our children’s parents in this process, and grateful to partner with so many others in NoVA and Greater DC who support and enhance our work. May we all have a productive and meaningful year of learning together!