by Daniel R. Weiss
Daniel R. Weiss is the Head of School at Bornblum Jewish Community School in Memphis, Tennessee.
|This week our students learned about the first paragraph of the Shema, a central prayer in Judaism. The Shema is found in this week’s Torah portion, Vaetchanan. The words of the first paragraph, often called the V’Ahavta (for the opening word), states, “teach them to your children.” It is the parents’ job to teach their children and to find teachers to help educate their children. It is a responsibility for parents and teachers to work together to provide an excellent education, to nourish the souls of our children. At Bornblum we take that responsibility to heart.|
This commitment was evident on our first day of school. This past Monday, we gathered together to raise our school flag, officially opening our 2019-2020 school year. As a community we welcomed our many new students, their parents and new faculty to the extended Bornblum family.
It was inspiring to watch as our students stood around the flagpole with our youngest students, our kindergartners, gathered under a Tallit (prayer shawl). Using the Tallit as a chuppah (canopy), we learned how our school is like our home. We are protected. We are safe. And we are secure.
Our chuppah is open on all sides which allows us to be surrounded by our family and our community. They are here to usher us in, to help us when we need assistance and to support us in our learning and growth. Rabbi Feivel Strauss from Temple Israel shared with each of us the important journey of education and growth that we are on and the important role that Bornblum plays in nourishing each child.
Our week was full of such nourishment.
This past Wednesday afternoon, our Kindergarten class planted their class tree, a fairly new tradition here at Bornblum. Like this beautiful new tree, our students will establish strong roots during their years at Bornblum. They will be fortified with knowledge and tradition, and the fruits of their labor, and ours, will continue to feed their spirits and their minds for the rest of their lives. Watching the students focus as the hole for the tree was dug, and revel in getting their hands dirty making sure that their tree was firmly in the ground, reminded me that learning involves getting your hands dirty. It takes active involvement and cannot truly take form through passive behaviors. Like their tree, our students minds and souls need to be tended to, pruned and nourished.
In a different form of nourishment, much like our Kindergartners, their fifth-grade buddies, also learned through active engagement, through the #pringlesringchallenge. Students were presented with an engineering challenge; to build a ring using only Pringles potato chips. They worked in groups and were not allowed to use tape or glue. There was trial and error, successes and failures. These students learned the importance of tenacity, exhibited the courage to try new ideas and realized the importance of using the materials at hand to solve the problem before them.
At Bornblum, we nourish our students not simply through their lunches, or through the vegetables growing in our BORNtoBLUM garden, but through experiences and learning opportunities that challenge their minds, tend their souls and ultimately, illuminate their world.