Of the many opportunities that I have had to witness excellence in educational programming at Talmud Torah, none has moved me as much as this month’s Kitah Het trip to Washington D.C. It isn’t just the fact that our 8th-grade students were extremely well prepared. It isn’t just because Washington D.C. (and what it symbolizes) can be inspirational for us as both Americans and as Jews living in a democratic, free society. And, it isn’t just because their amazing teacher, Kara Rosenwald, understands how to empower her students to take ownership of the content and the direction of their learning. Instead, it is because this culminating experience reflects our students’ ability to recognize parts of themselves and their families in what they saw and what they did BECAUSE they have been given the tools to become thoughtful, aware, engaged, involved and knowledgeable Jewish individuals through their educational interactions at Talmud Torah!
Three moments during the trip stood out to me as exceptional. The first was watching our students walk on to the floor of the House of Representatives (obviously not in session) and sit in the seats of their elected officials as they spoke with a senior congressional staffer about the legislative process. The second was taking a Jewish bike tour on the Mall and stopping at the MLK Memorial, where students had a thought provoking discussion with our guide about the connections between biblical texts and the artistic symbolism of the massive sculpture that stood before them. The third was the students’ evening debriefing from that day’s intense visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, where all that had been internalized during their tour came bubbling to the surface in a meaningful, respectful, interactive and personal way. I could not have been prouder or more optimistic about our Jewish future than during that ninety-minute conversation, as each expressed their reactions to the experience and connected it to their own lives.
I want to express my personal gratitude to our students and their families, who invest of themselves to create these kinds of positive learning opportunities that contribute to the excellence of our school. This kind of experiential learning creates lifelong memories for our young people, and nurtures within them a unique love of their heritage. It is but one of many Talmud Torah experiences that leads to living intentionally Jewish lives.
Hazzan Jeremy Lipton
Head of School