Years ago I attended a series of workshops by the Disney Institute in Orlando Florida. At the Institute we learned that Disney succeeded in building his empire through story-telling. For that matter, one might say that the success of Judaism is rooted in story-telling as well. The Jewish people’s foundational document, the Torah, is a book of laws that are couched in stories that teach us about our history and our ethics. The holiday of Hanukkah that is upon us has several narratives that help frame our celebration: the military victory of a small band of rebels over the reigning super powers, the fight for religious freedom, the miracle of the oil, the stories of Judith, of Hannah and her sons. There are even historical narratives that link Hanukkah to a delayed celebration of Sukkot.
Recently, Yavneh celebrated its annual reading week at which time students celebrated stories through a series of activities. The entire school silently read in the hallway together, mystery readers and buddy readers shared stories, we all dressed up as book characters, authors visited (including an adult event with Professor Aaron Hahn Tapper sharing his book Judaisms), and of course, the annual book fair.
The power of stories is the power of the narrative. An effective narrative brings one into the experience, it engages and builds community. In our quarterly Ha’Onah newsletters we share stories about Yavneh life today and about our alumni as well. Your Yavneh stories are an important part of the overall Yavneh story. As we continue to build our extended Yavneh family of alumni and supporters, we invite you to share your stories with all of us! Best wishes for a story-filled and light-filled Hanukkah – Chag Urim Sameach! -Zvi