One of my favorite minhagim (customs) at Bornblum occurs when our Kindergarten students plant a tree near our school garden. This year, our kindergarten students painted rocks that they placed at the base of the tree to connect further to their tree.
Trees have roots. They provide oxygen. They give shade. They produce fruits and seeds. They have an impact today and into the future. They are symbolic of humankind and of education. The seeds we are planting today take root and produce well into the future.
Similarly, we want our students to be grounded in our traditions, but with the ability to branch out and form their own methods of connectivity.
While our “kindergarten trees” help connect us to nature, they also help us connect to one another. Each day (except for Shabbat) during the Hebrew month of Elul (which began a week ago), we blow the Shofar. The Shofar, a horn usually from a goat, reminds us that we are approaching Rosh Hashanah, the new Jewish Year, and the need for improvement. The root of the word Shofar means “to improve.”
They are what makes us strong, what keeps us grounded (pun intended) and what enables us to gain a sense of permanence and security. When we work to improve ourselves, as we do each morning upon hearing the Shofar, we are strengthening our resolve. We are improving ourselves. We are taking root to make an impact on the future.
Two weeks ago, in parshat Shoftim, we read, “a person is like the tree of a field” (Deut. 20:19). Both a tree and a person require nourishment to allow our roots to grow. Both require water as a means for survival.
At Bornblum, we nourish our students through both General and Jewish Studies. We enrich their lives through the teaching of science and Torah.
Trees are representative of our past, present and future. As a Jewish Day School, we not only teach our students American, world and Jewish History, we teach them how to engage in today’s world. We teach our students not just about the present, but how to be present. And we instill in our students hope for the future.
In the coming week will will be reaching out to our Bornblum grandparents with an opportunity to purchase an inscribed apple or leaf on our newly expanded Tree of Life in the Wendy and Avron Fogelman Hall. Dedicating an apple or a leaf is beautiful and meaningful way to honor a loved one during the coming holiday season.
In this month of Elul, we are grateful to you for your support of Bornblum. You are an important part of the robust root system that allows our school and our community to continually rise.
Be connected. Be strong. Be Bornblum.
Daniel R. Weiss
Head of School