Tag Archives: Torah

Articulating a School’s Core Beliefs

Core Beliefs WordleAs a Head of School, it is my job to find the words. It is my job to remind everyone what should already be evident and to teach it to those first encountering us. I have other significant roles; this one, though, is one I cherish. I cherish the chance to articulate the school’s values because Albert Einstein Academy is not just school; it is an investment. As a school, we are being asked to articulate our core beliefs as part of our re-accreditation process. Our core beliefs encompass much more, though, than our school; our core beliefs establish what we do for the community. Core beliefs are more than mission; they pave the way to mission fulfillment.

We have a stated mission to set our sights in a particular direction; it is like our Torah. To know how we achieve our mission and why we choose certain paths, we need a “Mishnah,” of core beliefs. Below, please find a draft of AEA’s Core Beliefs. This draft reflects feedback from the faculty, staff, and the board of directors. It is still a draft. I welcome your feedback, too, positive or negative, grammatical or philosophical.

The list incorporates many Jewish ideas and teachings. Each belief has a consequence for what we do. Taken together, the list also demonstrates how AEA goes beyond a K-5 schooling.

We are what we believe, particularly when belief is put into action. Our statement of core beliefs indicates the value-proposition we are making. Our community and our world benefit from students who see value in themselves and others, who seek to understand the world and its differences, who take responsibility with love and without fear, and who bring honor and dignity to what they do. AEA is an incubator for a vibrant, meaningful future for our students, our community, and the world. As an institution, AEA is an investment in that future, may we merit it soon.aea new admission logo


Our Core Beliefs

 Albert Einstein said, “I never teach my pupils, I only provide conditions in which they can learn.” We draw on the following core beliefs to provide these conditions at AEA:

בצלם א-להים ברא אותם

(b’tzelem e-lohim bara otam: In God’s image, God created them.)

We believe that each person, having been created in God’s image, has divine value. As such, we educate the whole student, using multiple modalities and differentiating instruction for each according to his/her way.

 ראשית חכמה יראת ה׳

(raysheet chokhmah yirat haShem: The beginning of wisdom is awe of God.)

We believe that curiosity manifested in asking questions is the path to wisdom. As such, we encourage our students to see the world with awe and wonder, to be inquisitive, and to think critically.

 אלו ואלו דברים א-להים חיים

(elu v’elu d’varim e-lohim chayim: These and those are the words of the living God.)

We believe that “these and those,” as sides of a debate, represent equally meaningful manifestations of one living world. As such, our pluralism respects different commitments that reach for one truth, and our academic curriculum is integrated across subjects to reflect that oneness.

 ערבות הדדית

(arvut hadadit: mutual responsibility)

We believe that we are each responsible for the other. As such, we teach personal and communal responsibility. We regularly explore social justice and freedom as part of responsibility to the wider community.

 אהבת ישראל

(ahavat yisrael: love of Israel)

We believe that love of the Jewish tradition drives our efforts. As such, we live Jewish values and practices daily. We teach Hebrew as the language of the Jewish people. We actively forge a positive relationship to Torah and the State of Israel.

 כל העולם כולו גשר צר מאוד,והעיקר לא לפחד כלל

(kol ha’olam kooloh gesher tzar me’ohd, v’ha’eeqar lo lefahched klal: All the world is a narrow bridge and what is essential is not to be afraid at all.)

We believe that living and learning are a lifelong journey. As such, we teach that it is essential to try new things and encourage experimentation. We teach that mistakes are opportunities for learning; failing forward builds confidence and deepens knowledge.

 הדר כבוד הודך

(hadar kavod hohdekha: the honorable dignity of Your glory)

We believe our purpose is sacred. As such, we conduct ourselves with honor and dignity by cultivating good character and by striving for excellence. We take and teach personal ownership for our self-presentation, for our learning, for our school, for our community, and for the future.

 

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Filed under Chailites, Education, Jewish Community, Jewish Wisdom, Leadership

Surfin’ Social Slivovitz

1378871_10201344783874243_1586591793_nHave you ever had slivovitz?  Do you know the burn of Eastern European plum brandy?  It’s usually kosher for Passover, which is rare for alcoholic beverages other than wine.  It’s usually strong without distinctive flavor.  In the hands of Andy Statman, bluegrass and klezmer virtuoso, slivovitz is a ride you want to take.  I saw him in concert Thursday night at the Arden Guild Hall where he performed a song from his two-day old album, Superstring Theory; the song is called Surfin’ Slivovitz.  Listen to it, and a little old-world plum brandy will seem like the hottest new thing.  While I don’t recommend the alcohol, I do recommend putting a shining face on something you are familiar with.

It’s Open House season at many independent schools.  We give tours every Thursday and by appointment.  We have some print marketing in place and two events down the road.  The best recruitment and donor engagement comes from people who know our school: from you.  You are the best press for Albert Einstein Academy and for Jewish day school.  The trick is to make sure you are putting a shining face on us.

ShipHome4Were you part of over half the school that went on the Kalmar Nyckel?  That’s a shining face on early settlement of Delaware, AND a great chance for you to share a photo or a reflection on social media.  Post to your own Facebook wall and “mention” the school by typing @Albert Einstein Academy Jewish Day School OR post directly to the school page.  Imagine you were looking for the right school for your child; wouldn’t this field trip be the kind of experience you would want?

51xdnl4rJUL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the UK, wrote book A Letter in the Scroll, helping us understand that we each have a letter in the Torah.  If our letter is damaged or missing, the entire scroll in invalid.  We teach the positive idea in that notion to help each student see how special they are in this world—how his or her uniqueness is necessary.  I would add to Rabbi Sack’s presentation of the written scroll that Torah includes the oral tradition.  Your voice is also as important as the presence of your letter.  Judaism thrived throughout the ages because of the rabbinic dialogue that spoke with many voices, all for the sake of Heaven.

via breslovworld.org

via breslovworld.org

If you have something wonderful to say, you should say it; it improves the world.  If you have something negative to say, say it quietly to the right people; I am here to address your concerns and need your help to make improvements to areas of need of which I may not know. If you have something neutral to say, shine it—make it surf like Andy Statman’s slivovitz.d that we each have a letter in the Torah.  If our letter is damaged or missing, the entire scroll in invalid.  We teach the positive idea in that notion to help each student see how special they are in this world—how his or her uniqueness is necessary.  I would add to Rabbi Sack’s presentation of the written scroll that Torah includes the oral tradition.  Your voice is also as important as the presence of your letter.  Judaism thrived throughout the ages because of the rabbinic dialogue that spoke with many voices, all for the sake of Heaven.

I believe in your voices so strongly that I am offering a challenge: if you write about what makes AEA so special to you, I will give you this space.  If you don’t want your voice to be the cover Chailites, post your thoughts on our Facebook page or as a comment on my blog posting of this article.  Your voice matters!

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