Giving Thanks for Jewish Education

 

As Thanksgiving approaches our calendars give us all an additional cause to pause and reflect on life’s blessings. One blessing, for which I feel truly fortunate, is that my life’s work is Jewish education. Not only do I feel blessed to be a Jewish educator, but I feel exceptionally blessed to be a Jewish educator at The Davis Academy. In the months that follow I hope to carve out time to reflect on the overwhelming abundance of blessings I encounter on a daily and weekly basis here at Davis. In the meantime I’ll focus on three—the first three that come to mind.

 

 

A learning community. There may be no greater blessing than to be a part of a learning community. Every constituency at Davis is committed to learning. We see the transformative impact of learning not only in our children, but in our families, and our faculty as well. The power of a learning community is that each person is granted the permission to be honest and vulnerable. While we may have great expertise, insight, and wisdom, we can say with honesty and integrity that we are not fully formed and that our own learning journeys are far from over. Instead of creating a dichotomy that places teachers and learners on opposite sides of the table, the Davis Academy creates an environment where everyone is simultaneously a teacher and a learner. At Davis, teachers, administrators, and parents share the responsibility for modeling a commitment to lifelong learning so that our children understand the true and enduring nature of education.

 

Some of our youngest learners welcoming guests to their “cereal box” Sukkah.

 

Tradition and innovation. Here at Davis we have a dual obligation when it comes to Judaism. On the one hand we are responsible for bringing the richness of Jewish tradition to our children and families. We greet this obligation with joy and enthusiasm every day. The second obligation we feel here at Davis is the obligation to bring new voices to Judaism, to help author the next chapter of Jewish life. We greet this obligation with a sense of possibility and excitement as well as with a commitment to innovation. One concrete example is the soon to be released Davis Academy CD: “Be a Blessing.” This album will feature 14 original Jewish songs as well as more than 20 pieces of original Jewish art. It’s a community undertaking that reflects our dual obligation to not only pass on the richness of Jewish tradition, but to author the next chapter. I am personally very excited about this CD because I have been blessed with the opportunity to write and compose the music.

 

Be A Blessing: We turned Davis into a recording studio. Here are some of our recording artists and album producer.

 

A sense of something greater. There is an ongoing conversation here at Davis about the obligation of a school to the broader community. Our tzedakah program is a source of great pride for our school as we continue to celebrate our partnerships with the Humane Society, The Bremen Jewish Home, The Atlanta Community Food Bank, The Community Action Center, Camp Twin Lakes, Camp Jenny, and numerous other local, national, and Israel based organizations. One of the many metrics we use to assess the immeasurable value of The Davis Academy is the extent to which our presence plays a vital and positive role for our neighbors, our city, our Jewish community, and our world. In addition to the tzedakah program we celebrate the blessing of our partnership with Camp Coleman, as expressed in the Nadiv Educator Grant that we share, as well as our connection with Atlanta synagogues and Jewish organizations. The blessing of being connected with a greater purpose is something that animates our work here, and something that vitalizes our entire community.

 

Davis Academy 8th Graders on the 2012 Israel trip. Israel is definitely part of the “something greater.”

As we all sit down to our Thanksgiving tables I hope we can each take a moment to reflect on the blessings that come to us in our professional lives. For those who are a part of our Davis family, I hope you’ll take a moment to think of a blessing you have received and a blessing you have given to Davis.

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