From the Head of School
Dear RGHDS Family,
As I have mentioned before, each morning, we start our day with the Pledge of Allegiance, the blessing over Torah study and wisdom of the world, and two central precepts of our faith: respect for each other and respect for our teachers (kavod zeh l’zeh v’kavod l’morim). Our first and foremost responsibility as people is to be good and do good.
As Jews, it is imperative for us to focus on: recognizing that each child is growing and developing in his or her own way, our children will have to learn from both successes and mistakes, we expect “more” from ourselves, because of our Jewish heritage, and as we coach children and remind each other to take the high road and focus on learning, we as educators and parents must actively call on our children to take responsibility for themselves and each other.
Nationally and internationally recognized programs that build character and encourage proper behavior ask educators to reflect upon the following question: are the values you want in your school discussed and reminded? Why not start the day with a general announcement about what is important? Use literature and even real tensions among friends to address the whole group about renewing their commitment to creating a positive learning community.
We have a unique program and vocabulary for filtering out the natural tendencies to forget what is holy and Jewish behavior. Our program is ages old! Our reminders come through Torah study, tfillah time and Hebrew stories that always focus on becoming partners with G-d and thereby positive members of a learning community. Prayers offer our students time for self-reflection. Torah study challenges us to weigh our own decisions. Our teachers, at every level, guide students through the inventory of what actions and words should define our behavior.
We have a positive way of reminding everyone what we expect. When family members decide to live by Jewish values, and we are a small “mishpakha” in the larger Family of Israel, we say Kol HaKavod on our Wall of Respect. As our kids need coaching about making better decisions and saying they are sorry, we remind them that yosher (honesty and taking responsibility for our actions) and tshuvah (saying I’m sorry) are the Jewish values by which we must abide. Every day we remind ourselves of these central tenets through our values-laden books and classroom walls.
We are proud of our students when they do the right thing. Whether it is learning or upright behavior, both school and home, in partnership, must demand that learning and mentschlikhtkeit come first. We must all guide children in Jewish terms when they need a boost. Active, engaged “making the right choice” is the message we share, when we remind kids each day – “make it a great day.”
When Moses stood up for his people, in , two Jews were arguing. According to one teaching, those same two Jews learned Torah together in the desert, because they channeled their strong opinions into a desire to question and learn – and they did so with one another! I imagine they walked next to one another, as the Children of Israel journeyed. They put Torah into action. They were examples for the children. They commented about the beauty of the desert and not about the lack of water or even the lack of harmony. They helped collect the maan when everyone else was complaining about the lack of meat. They returned to the verse: “God, keep my tongue from speaking evil….seek kindness and do good.”
Rabbi Scott Bolton