When I was a young child, one of my favorite things to do was to take two frozen orange juice concentrate cans (a staple in almost everyone’s home in the sixties), get one of my parents to hammer a hole into the base of each and then thread a single piece of string to connect both cans. Whispering messages to my friends in this magic way as we engage in imaginary play would keep us entertained for very long periods of time.
I’m not sure if children still play those games in this era of electronic communication. I do know that while I greatly appreciate the connectivity that is available to us today, a part of me longs for the simplicity of landline phones and communication of events via hard copies of newsletters and flyers sent home with a child at day’s end.
It is conventional wisdom that the most important thing in a relationship is communication. With email, texts and social media added to the previous communications arsenal of phones, flyers, and posters, it is beginning to feel like we have entered an era of over-communication. We are literally bombarded with information throughout our waking hours, and it is easy for things to get lost. Important communication can at times become like white noise. I can’t tell you the number of times I run into parents who have no idea about a major school event that has been advertised in multiple ways over multiple weeks. A few years ago I sent out a poll to parents to ask them the frequency with which they would like to receive communication. The answers were split down the middle: half said no more than once a week, the other half said at least once a day. In fact, I regularly get complaints from parents on both sides of this divide – either the school doesn’t communicate enough or we are communicating too much. We strive to keep communication concentrated around Hashavua, room parent emails and teacher classroom communication. As we track the “open rates” of our weekly constant contact transmission of Hashavua, we can see that anywhere from 2/3 to 3/4 of parents open the communication. Considering that in many cases the newsletter is sent to two parents in a family, that gives me reasonable assurance that the majority of people are receiving our communications. Due to the Head of School search process, a few additional emails were sent out last week. I’ve heard from a couple of people who claim that they did not receive those emails. If you fall into that category, please let me know so that we can look into it.
As the “people of the book”, Jews have historically invested in communication, producing the Torah and the Talmud as well as countless other tomes that have been read and discussed for generations. We are commanded to “speak these words” in the ve’ahavta. The commandment to communicate the story of the Exodus is an annual rite at seder tables around the globe. And while school communications may not be of the same magnitude as these historical texts, they are nonetheless relevant to the daily experience of our families at the moment. In any event, if you have read this far, I’d like to express my gratitude for doing your part in staying informed and connected! Shabbat Shalom -Zvi