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One of the most magical moments of the school year took place one week ago.

Our entire school—the full faculty and staff, many parents, grandparents, board members, and several alumni—came together for our first community Kabbalat Shabbat.

During this Kabbalat Shabbat each of our new students, faculty and staff are introduced to our school community and sorted into one of our eight Mishpachot. This ceremony—where each new friend introduces themselves to Babka, our big stuffed bear, who then sorts them into their Mishpacha—has become a highlight of our school year.

Our Mishpachot program is now in its fifth year. The program is sponsored by Hal Newburger and allows our school to create smaller communities within the framework of the large community that makes us Bornblum Jewish Community School.

Each Mishpacha is named for a value that helps to make our school what it is today:

The Mishpachot each have a color, a flag, a banner (hanging in our gym), and t-shirts, which were given to each student this past week. And it is not just the students who are members of a Mishpacha, but so too our teachers, and new this year, our board members are part of a Mishpacha.

Our Mishpachot come together weekly, for programs and for Kabbalat Shabbat. Once a month, our students have Kabbalat Shabbat in a classroom just with their Mishpacha. Our Middle School students help to run activities and learn to be leaders in their Mishpachot. This is something that our younger students look towards with excitement, their chance to one day be their family leaders.

New this year, with a desire to have our parents meet one another and see how our Mishpachot can be extended, parents of one Mishpacha per month are invited to school to bake challah together before the Community Kabbalat Shabbat. This past week, our Mispachat Manhigut came together for a challah bake. Parents who have children in different grades had the opportunity to meet one another and extend the community and family feel that is central in our school.

On Tuesday morning, I had the opportunity to go to our Kindergarten class with Babka (the Bear) as one student was absent this past Friday. Together with the class, we talked about what Mishpacha each student was in. Some remembered the name, some the color of the Mishpacha, and others the English meaning.

One student said to me, “Dr. Weiss, I’m honest, that’s why I’m in the Honor family.” This to me embodied the importance of our program. Our eight values are exactly what we want our students’ own personal values to include. So yes, be honest and we will honor you! Be Kind, and Wise, and Courageous, and Curious, and Achieve greatness by holding true to our Traditions, to become Leaders in your families, in our school, and in our community.