Twenty-two years. Six years. Six months. One week. Three days. One second. How long does it take for a life to change dramatically?
Twenty-two years ago, I stepped out of the doors of Talmud Torah (the old building) as a Beit Midrash graduate, thinking I would never step back into that world again until my not-yet-born children were in second grade. Although I was done with the building, the lessons, friendships, and Jewish pride would always be there.
Six years ago, a group of second graders began their Talmud Torah journey. Wide-eyed and inquisitive, most of them couldn’t recognize a Hebrew letter. These kids began building relationships, learning the Aleph-Bet, relating to and learning from lessons in the Torah, and growing a love of Judaism. These kids continued on in their Jewish journey and, now, have completed their Talmud Torah education as eighth-graders.
Six months ago, I rejoined the Talmud Torah community, now as Head of School, and my life got turned upside down, in the best way possible. I discovered the passion in the TT teachers, with the innovative and creative ways these Jewish educators fostered a deep love of and pride in Judaism for all they came in contact with. I discovered a community of parents that were extremely welcoming and cared so deeply about their children’s education and will do all they can to provide a strong Jewish foundation for the future. I discovered a board of directors that will stop at nothing to ensure that our students receive the best education possible. Everywhere I turned, I met students from all grade levels that were smart, funny, creative, shy, energetic, hesitant, caring, and deep thinkers. I became immersed in this community and believe that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
One week ago, I handed out diplomas to our eighth-grade graduates and heard the most inspiring speeches from each of them. These speeches contained quotes such as:
Talmud Torah is one of those things where it wouldn’t be Talmud Torah without the community. Being with friends makes learning about our Jewish history easier, and it feels more interactive and social, instead of just sitting and learning for 2-3 hours.
Talmud Torah helped me feel more proud of my Judaism by teaching me about Jewish history, Israel, and the culture.
I’ve learned a lot of things from Talmud Torah, but one of the most helpful things was learning how to read Hebrew. That made it a lot easier to learn prayers, my Torah portion, and my Haftorah portion for my Bat Mitzvah. I also learned a lot about the history and traditions of Judaism, which has helped me grow closer to my religion.
Last week, I also watched as students from 2nd-8th grade ran out of the doors, with popsicle stained smiling faces, hugging, waving, and shouting goodbye to their peers and teachers, wishing them a happy summer and excitement to see each other again next school year (or over the summer at camp).
Three days ago (Tuesday, May 24), I held my children closer, hugged them tighter, and cuddled a little longer because I could, and 19 families in Texas couldn’t. Yet another senseless act of violence in our country, this time in an elementary school, hit too close to home. In the faces of the victims, I saw my children. Not just my own, biological children, all my children at Talmud Torah, all the students I have taught over my 15+ years of teaching, all my children. I want to assure you that we have many measures in place to ensure the safety of our students, not just through TT but also through the Sabes JCC, JCRC, and more. I thank and pray to God every day for the safety and health of all my children.
It takes one second for a world to change dramatically. It takes one second to make a decision that can change the trajectory of a life. It takes one second for a child to introduce themselves to someone new and start a lifelong friendship. It takes one second for a spark in a child’s mind to be lit and a connection made between the things their teacher has been talking about and a true understanding of a new concept or idea. It takes one second for a life to change.
I understand that the time you commit to your children’s Jewish education can seem like a lot. I understand that there are only so many seconds in a day. And, I understand that the one to two days a week spent at Talmud Torah can provide a foundation and the lifelong tools for living an intentionally Jewish life. Thank you for committing to that time so your children can be the leaders of change we need for the future.
I want to thank our teachers for putting in the time it takes to ensure hands-on and engaging lessons, the TT staff that work endlessly to ensure our school is running smoothly, the board of directors, who are willing to volunteer their time because they understand how important a Jewish foundation is in a child’s life, the students of TT for coming, ready to learn, excited to engage, and working through those long days to build connections and knowledge that will last a lifetime, and, most importantly, thank you to the parents who juggle schedules, carpools, finances, and never-ending love and support of your children to prioritize their Jewish education.
I will be available all summer by email, phone, or in-person to answer questions or just to talk. Thank you to everyone who has already registered for the 2022-2023 school year, it will be the best year ever! If you haven’t yet, please get your enrollment forms in early, it will ensure our staffing and classroom needs for the school year, and you don’t want to miss the Early Bird deadline (June 1st). REGISTER HERE.
Have a wonderful, relaxing, and healthy summer!