In 1973, just a few months before he died, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was interviewed by Carl Stern for NBC. When asked what message he would direct to young people he replied, “I would say, let them remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Let them be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power, and that we can, everyone, do our share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and all the frustrations and all disappointments …humans need exultation. We need moments of celebration. One of the most important things is to teach humans how to celebrate.”
The administration and the teaching staff studied this interview as we prepared for the school year as it so beautifully captures our purpose. Whether we celebrate the miracle of being alive for a new day by singing Modeh Ani as we enter our classrooms or celebrate learning from a mistake as an opportunity for growth and transformation, at Yavneh our goal is to help children find deep moments of celebration as they create their souls, minds and beings. And of course our school year is filled with opportunities for learning how to celebrate as we journey together through the cycle of the Jewish calendar.
This Shabbat is Rosh Chodesh Elul. With the start of the Jewish month of Elul this weekend we have officially begun High Holiday season. Judaism takes celebration so seriously, that we set aside an entire month to prepare for the arrival of the first holiday of the year Rosh Hashanah one month from now. During Elul, we blow the shofar every morning, trying to wake ourselves up so we are ready to live purposefully when the new year starts. We also begin a process known as cheshbon nefesh, in which we reflect on our actions over the past year and think about what changes we need to make, relationships we need to fix and new choices we will need to make. Through this contemplative preparation, we arrive at Rosh Hashanah deeply attuned to the many details of our lives and hopefully more able to celebrate our existence. Rosh Hashanah is quickly followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, then Sukkot and finally Simchat Torah. In the coming month, you will hear about many opportunities for the Yavneh community to join together and celebrate. Some celebrations are reflective, some are exuberant, some are filled with food and others are filled with song and dance and hopefully all will touch your soul. I look forward to celebrating with you.
Two chances to celebrate:
- Sign up for Yavneh’s 3rd Annual Sukkot in the Sequoias Family Camp
- Bring your shofar! Beginning Tuesday morning we will be sounding the shofar every morning at Yavneh, bring yours to school to participate.
Full Interview Here: