I recently read that Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, is Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old climate activist who has used her voice to share her beliefs in international forums and motivated over 4 million people to join a walk-out as part of a global climate strike. No matter what one feels about the topic, I hope that we can all respect Greta’s accomplishments in standing up for her beliefs. It is the same drive that we are looking to instill in our Yavneh students, to pursue learning topics about which they are passionate, to express their beliefs and to assume leadership.
Nothing inspires me more than when I encounter students advocating for their beliefs. This starts in kindergarten. I have received petitions from kindergartners asking to join the all-school Kabbalat Shabbat rather than holding a separate kindergarten Shabbat ceremony, and petitions asking for a louder recess bell so that they could more easily hear when recess is over. When they were upset last year about trash on the playground, kindergartners started a clean playground initiative and visited classrooms of older students to encourage them to do a better job of cleaning up after themselves. Kindergartners have made videos to save arctic animals and have held sales and drives to raise money for numerous causes that they care about. This commitment to make a difference continues and grows throughout the grades. Last year’s third grade held a successful lemonade stand raising money for pediatric cancer. Multiple grades have performed to lift the spirits of the elderly and infirmed. Our fifth grade engages in “math to solve global challenges” and recently volunteered in a food pantry. Yavneh’s student council raises and allocates tzedakah money and one of our middle school social justice classes is devoted to finding solutions to current challenges through STEAM using design thinking.
Greta Thunberg’s drive to make a difference is the same one that we are cultivating in our students every day. It is the same type of drive that we commemorate at our Hanukkah celebrations, the drive that motivated Judah Maccabbee and the Hasmoneans to fight for their beliefs. As we won’t be at school for Hanukkah this year, we will still experience the holiday spirit as a community. I look forward to watching our children engaging in the Hanukkah activities that the JCC will be providing in our shared school lobby, to our Family Hanukkah Math Celebration on Monday evening, and “The Great Hanukkah Hunt” on Friday before our children leave for winter break. I hope the holiday of Hanukkah inspires us to appreciate what we have and stand up for what we believe. Shabbat Shalom -Zvi