Faith in Each Other

by Rebecca Hirschwerk, Director of Congregational Education

The Synagogue School faculty is one of my families. For over fifteen years we have learned together, created together, and shared in the joys and challenges of building community and strengthening a sense of belonging for our students. We have been on our own Jewish journeys through years of meaningful professional development while simultaneously supporting our students in theirs. Each year brings new insights, new avenues for exploration, and new hopes for reaching students where they are while encouraging them to think adventurously with compassion and wonder. No wonder there are many of us who have been here for years (and years).

But just like our greatest prophet and teacher Moses, who when called by god to lead the Israelites out of slavery wondered, “What if they do not believe in me and do not listen to me, but say Adonai did not appear to you? (Exodus 4:1), so too was I just a wee bit nervous. But I needn’t have been. And not because I knew exactly what to do every step of the way, but because of the incredible team of teachers who have supported, encouraged, and embraced me just as I hope I have done for them. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks taught that a leader must have faith in the people they lead. This was one thing I never doubted for a moment this year-the dedication, the compassion and the energy of a faculty that is guided by the mission of RSNS-to build belonging-and does so with creativity, openness, and joy. They are easy to lead.

Please join me in thanking our incredible Synagogue School faculty. As we talk about often in Reconstructing Judaism, we all live in two civilizations: our secular one and our Jewish one. For our children, these can sometimes feel very separate and in conflict with one another. What this faculty does so well is bridge that gap. They guide students in seeing how the Torah can speak to the daily joys and challenges of our lived lives. They don’t just teach how to read Hebrew, but explore how our prayers and blessings offer us opportunities to reflect and be grateful for the world around us. They show us how Judaism is experienced in our minds, our bodies, and our souls, through creative expressions including song, music, art, and movement. And at the heart of all of it, is their love for your children. Our faculty sees them not as empty vessels coming each week to be filled with information, but as fascinating, endlessly interesting, and wonderfully curious people who have so much to share. Each child is a blessing to them. And each teacher is a blessing to me.

Rebecca Hirschwerk