גדולה תורה יותר מן הכהנה ומן המלכות, שהמלכות נקנית בשלשים מעלות, והכהנה בעשרים וארבע, והתורה נקנית בארבעים ושמנה דברים. ואלו הן, בתלמוד, בשמיעת האזן, בעריכת שפתים, בבינת הלב, בשכלות הלב
Greater is Torah than priesthood and kingship, for kingship is obtained with thirty levels, and priesthood with twenty-four, and Torah is obtained with forty-eight things. And these are them: learning, listening of the ear, preparation of speech, understanding of the heart, intellect of the heart…
Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 6:6
While the quote above has plenty of attributes to consider, it begins with a few that are particularly important for parents and educators.
Pausing for reflection is a powerful habit that we teach at Gesher, beginning from Kindergarten and culminating in 8th grade reflections at our graduation ceremony. Our outstanding teachers recognize that reflection is an important tool for learning and growth, and also for bringing ourselves into closer and more meaningful relationships with Hashem (the divine) and with one another. As I move through our hallways and classrooms each day, I see both physical spaces as well as time for reflection woven thoughtfully throughout our entire school community.
One of my favorite moments every day is when I come outside in the morning to greet our students at drop-off. This moment is filled with potential, beginning with a personal greeting for each member of our kehilla as they walk in the door. Every day is another opportunity to look someone in the eyes, acknowledge that they are a part of our shared world, and wish them a good day. Even though I don’t know what happened before 8:10 each morning, I know that once you walk in to Gesher you will be part of our warm, nurturing, encouraging environment, and that at least until 3:30PM we have an opportunity to grow together. That’s what I mean when I say “Boker Tov.”
When we combine the habits of greeting, welcoming, and connecting with the habit of reflection, we are putting the building blocks in place for a meaningful day. We are setting the stage for ourselves and our friends and family to not just sail through the day without noticing others, focusing only on ourselves and our own needs. We are creating a series of moments in which we will be able to think about our actions, notice those around us, and take steps forward as humans entrusted with one another’s wellbeing. As we near the end of the academic year, we begin to reflect on the amazing results of putting those practices and habits into action each and every day of the year. 2017-2018 at Gesher was filled with special moments of connection, celebration, growth and learning, all built with the lens of Jewish values and Jewish tradition.
This Shabbat, ask your loved ones if they have chances to reflect at the end of a day, week, month, or year, and what stands out most to them when they think about what makes them proud.