In the beginning of one of my favorite books, The Sabbath, by my favorite Jewish thinker Abraham Joshua Heschel, he says, “Judaism is a religion of time (emphasis in original) aiming at the sanctification of time. Later on, he refers to Shabbat using a similar metaphor – “a palace in time”. Among the many things Heschel is describing (and I cannot recommend a book more), he points to the value of celebrating and cherishing moments in time. That time can be sacred and holy. For the purpose of his book, it is the Sabbath under consideration. For the purpose of this blog, it is the idea of how important it is to stop and appreciate the everyday miracles of time all around us. One of those miracles, to me, is the start of school – especially this year.
This week I had the blessing of welcoming my own daughter, Eliana, into school as her head of school. If you already believe that there can be no more sacred responsibility than to be entrusted with the education of a child, the how do you calculate the exponent when that child is your own? I realize I’m not the first teacher or principal to have his or her own child in class or school, but it does not change the surreality of it. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that looking out into the group during our Welcome Assembly and seeing her face looking back at me wasn’t a thrill of a lifetime. A moment to hold on to and cherish.
But this was a week of firsts for many in our school. First days of school for our kindergartners. First days of a last year (in our school) for our eighth graders. First days in a new school for teachers (and head!). First days for new families. First echoes of laughter and rolling backpacks in hallways that were still and empty just a few weeks ago. First lessons brought to life from planning and imagination. First hiccups of a school in transition. First successes. First mishaps. First steps to an unlimited future.
I blogged earlier about the implied religiosity of teaching and the teacher-student relationship. [I think a Buber blog on how the ideal teacher-student / teacher-parent relationship can be constructed just germinated! Hint: It all begins when the students enter the class for the first time and the teacher seeks the Godliness in each and every one.] How wonderful it would be if our students (and parents) viewed their school days as “palaces of time”. What an extraordinary goal to reach for!
And so…congratulations to the teachers who worked so hard for a successful start. Thank you to all the parents who trust us with your children. Thank you to the students for your smiles and eagerness. And as we move from the excitement of the first week into the routines of the first month, let us all cherish the everyday moments too often overlooked – a new skill mastered, a new friend made, a new year begun.