Living My Dream.

August 17, 2017
25 Av 5777


Dear AJA Community,

I have a friend who always answers the question “How are you?”with an unusual response: “I’m living the dream!” I usually don’t think much of that answer...but this week, as we entered the building as one Committed Connected Community, I realized that, like my friend, I am living the dream. What an epiphany (and it’s only the 4th day of school!). Let me elaborate.

Recall in Genesis, Jacob’s powerful dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder. There, G-d promised him a great future and inheritance. When he awakes, Yaakov realizes that the place was not just any old resting place.

וייקץ יעקב משנתו ויאמר אכן יש ה' במקום הזה ואנכי לא ידעתי.

ויירא ויאמר מה נורא המקום הזה אין זה כי אם בית אלקים וזה שער השמים.

“And Yaakov awoke from his sleep and said, ‘It is so that G-d is here in this place and I didn’t know this!’ And he feared and said, ‘How awesome is this place; this is the house of Hashem and here is the gate to Heaven.’” (Bereishit 28:15-16)

Why does the second pasuk (verse) start over again that Jacob feared “and said,” when it is simply a continuation of what Yaakov said in the first verse?

The fear and awe that Yaakov felt at that critical moment are emotions that are often experienced together (think about watching one's baby sleeping). When we are able to internalize our blessings, we experience awe. Not too far behind creeps in the awareness of our vulnerability, and then the fear settles in. Jacob acknowledges that this was the place where G-d was - and “it was awesome”, and yet, he also begins to fear the magnitude of it all.

Not to compare myself to Yaakov, but I can completely relate! Awe and fear are indeed inextricably connected - we can live in our dream with a sense of awe and amazement, while also having a sense of fear at the large task ahead of us to continue the momentum and growth.

I spent much of last week with our incredible group of AJA faculty and staff working on planning for this school year. Our discussions about gratitude being a muscle that we needed to stretch resonated with all of us. Taking the time to feel that gratitude and share it with those who contributed to it is so important.  I am ready to continue feeling my awe and amazement at all that the faculty and staff make happen under this roof, and keep pushing us forward in our vision.

We repeatedly drilled down and discussed the mission and vision and focus of AJA. It was so clear to me that this school is unabashedly committed to delivering a deep Torah education and fully devoted to the Jewish people and to the diversity of our community. We are a school and culture who cares deeply about people’s souls and hearts. A Torah based environment where middot and menschlichkeit are not just words, they are the manifestations of what we are. This was and IS my dream.

הֹדוּ לַ”ה כִּי־טוֹב כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ
Give thanks to Hashem, G-d is good;
Hashem’s love forever endures

At AJA, we have and are continuing to build a school culture that embraces authentic practice and a shared goal that each child under this roof must receive the full inheritance that is our Jewish Tradition. The commitment to Torah in the building has never been stronger. We have what is arguably one of the most diverse representations in the Atlanta community - and yet, we have never been more connected. In Atlanta, and also in our country, it is unique to have such a diverse and deeply integrated Early Childhood - 12th Grade school.

 הֹדוּ לַ”ה כִּי־טוֹב כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ

This was and IS my dream. 

We are steadfastly committed to our religious and academic visions. Our staff is deeply connected to each other and to educating our children. The AJA community has never been more diverse and inclusive at the same time.

 הֹדוּ לַ”ה כִּי־טוֹב כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ

This was and IS my dream. 

As we wrap up the first week of what will be an incredible new year at AJA, I’d like us to remind ourselves that each one of us - like our beloved school - is an Unfinished Symphony. (Thank you, Composer Franz Schubert for the reference). We are all truly works in progress - at any age. We are still learning and developing as individuals and collectively as a school and community. May the symphony of AJA continue to flourish and grow. 

  הֹדוּ לַ”ה כִּי־טוֹב כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ

This was and IS my dream.

 

 

Perspective
Parashat Re'eh
 

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Friday, 22 September 2017