What is “Kehillah” Anyway?

The Davis Academy kicked off a weekend of 20th anniversary celebrations this morning with a school wide Shabbat assembly. It was a packed house with school founders, past board presidents, community rabbis, and the usual crew of parents and, of course, students. We also had a special guest musician: Billy Jonas. If you haven’t experienced Billy Jonas, you absolutely must. He’s engaging, kind, fun, and thought provoking, all at once.

There were many highlights to the kickoff Shabbat celebration. Speeches, blessings, songs, Billy’s performance, and a special performance by The Davis Academy House Band featuring our front desk receptionist, Ms. Janice:


One of the more subtle highlights for me personally came in the form of a question posed by Billy to our community. He asked: Why do we feel pride when we say that we are a part of The Davis Academy?

I’ve often felt pride when speaking about my connection to Davis and I know others have as well. We all feel pride based on certain associations and connections that we have. But why? Why do I feel pride to be a part of The Davis Academy? I think it has something to do with the idea of kehillah (community).

Many institutions and affiliations offer the promise of true community, but fewer actually achieve it. Kehillah is actually a complicated phenomenon. On the one hand it is larger than any single individual, it’s almost metaphysical in nature. On the other hand, in true kehillah every individual plays a role. True kehillah is something that is built by soul by soul, spirit with spirit, hand in hand. Some leave a visible mark on their kehillah and others make a more subtle impact, but everyone contributes to the sum that is greater than all of its parts.

We feel pride in belonging because we know, perhaps unconsciously, that we are responsible for the community of which we are a part. We know that without each of us it would somehow be different. At the same time, we join our individual contributions to something much larger than ourselves, something that has meaning, that changes lives, and that makes the world a better place. Kehillah should be a source of pride. It should be something we cherish. It should be something we reflect upon and actively seek to nurture.





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