Albert Einstein Academy, Chailites, October 11, 2013
Thursday night at the World Café Live in Wilmington, DE, many of the disparate parts of our Jewish community came together for an evening of music, schmoozing, and togetherness. Ostensibly, the reason was to hear the Moshav Band play. In the café atmosphere, though, there was just as much, if not more, talking than listening. The music was good; the community was great.
A Jewish day school has many roles: education of children, engagement of parents, rallying of supporters, producer of leaders, nexus of thinking about our communal future, partner and beneficiary agency within the Federation umbrella, and a locale of a growing network of like-minded schools. To play these roles well, we must align ourselves internally and externally.
I am grateful to the faculty and staff for teaching me how lines of communication work, where I can find where we have published guidelines, and working to bring the two into parallel. I also appreciate the parents who have asked, pushed, read, or responded to school communication as we work toward clarity and community. I am impressed with the efforts of our Board of Trustees and its committees as they worked hard to advance the school towards a vibrant, sustainable future. With an alphabet soup of local and national Jewish agencies—from RAVSAK to JFD, the ECC to JFS, and JEDLAB & PEJE to HSA & AEA—we are becoming a real partner, player, and participant in the future of Jewish day school here and across the nation
In today’s world, we are lucky to have community in the virtual world, accessible when we choose to access them. PLEASE, join our social media community by liking our school Facebook page fb.me/aeajds; ask to join our various Facebook groups by requesting membership in: AEA Current Families (Delaware), Friends of Albert Einstein Academy, or Albert Einstein Academy Alumni; follow us on Twitter @aeajds; or share your thoughts, pictures, successes! Community on-line is not a one-way street where the school broadcasts messages. Most of our posts are questions. Answer them, write your own, and join in conversations.
Getting everyone to feel a part of a community is a tall task. Walking in the door is only the start. We will succeed if we each greet each other, ask after one another’s well-being, and take time to foster relationships. Even then, it helps to have a few tricks.
This week, I radically rearranged our Mikdash Me’at (Prayer Room). I have found that—sitting in five rows of eleven chairs with faculty on the side and a white board up front—our students get to know the people next to them well, but that is about it. Playing on our theme of going south of the border, I used a Sephardic set-up that would be familiar to the first Jews in the Americas. With a table in the middle, rows on each of three sides, facing each other, we found what one student called a “sukkah,” a new gathering place, open and homey. I found students paid more attention, sensed each other more deeply, and were better able to direct their intentions. By rearranging the chairs, we aligned our students for community.
How will you align yourself within community? What partners do you need? What rearrangements might you try? What should the AEA Café Live feel like?