In the 3rd Century BCE, the brilliant Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes was perplexed by a riddle. Two crowns were forged, one with all gold and one with some silver mixed into it. They looked and felt the same. How could one tell the difference between the two and discover which one was pure gold?
As he sat down in his bath and watched the water rise, Archimedes realized that every object has its own specific weight per volume. At this moment, he discovered the principle of density, and as legend has it, was so excited by this original idea, he ran through the streets screaming “Eureka, eureka!” meaning “I have found it!” still naked from his bath.
That is the power and excitement of having an original idea. The enthusiasm and emotion make us want to run and scream “Eureka!” (Keep your clothes on though!)
Several years ago, a friend of mine told me that scientists were trying to understand what happens to the brain when one has an original thought. The problem - he explained to me - was that they wired their subjects up with sensors, and then didn’t know how to get them to have an original thought.
“Easy!” I told him, “Just get them to study Torah!”
My friend, who also happens to be a religious atheist, bristled at the idea. “Are you saying studying Torah is the only way to have an original idea?”
“No,” I explained. “But studying Torah is an essentially creative act in which one has many original ideas. One reads an ancient text and thinks about how it reflects on modern life, or one’s own personal experiences. One looks for connection to other texts, or tries to think about how a mis-spelled word might be hinting at a greater spiritual truth. Every time I read Torah I have original thoughts, because I am the one making the connections. No one can think like me.”
This is one of the powers of a Jewish Day School. We have a ready-made tool for generating original thoughts. While most kids can spend days, weeks, or even months learning facts, practicing mathematical equations, and writing 4-paragraph essays, our students have another dimension to their education: Torah. Every week, they are asked to understand our ancient text; but more so, they are asked to reflect on it, relate to it and use their creative intelligence to make Torah new again. Torah adds a level of creativity, complexity, and originality that enriches the mind in deep and profound ways.
If you are looking for a great school…
What is a partnership?
A partnership is two parties that are working together for a common purpose.
A partnership means both parties work hard to achieve their purpose, but often fulfill different responsibilities to get the job done.
Partnership doesn’t mean agreeing on everything. It does mean that both parties agree to disagree - after all, their disagreements pale in comparison to their agreements.
Partnership means you know someone has your back.
At HBHA, we are proud to partner with you in raising your children to be thoughtful, kind, hardworking, knowledgeable, innovative, resourceful, resilient, creative, curious, ambitious young adults and Jews.
Today is the beginning of our first parent-teacher conferences for the school year. We hope that you will see how committed we are to giving your children the same love, guidance and support you give them at home. If you should have any doubts, we hope you will communicate with us - in the spirit of partnership. We aim to provide nothing short of the best education to our students and support to our families. If we fall short of that goal, we want to work harder. We know you would do anything for your kids, and we will too.
I went to public school. It was one of the finest public schools in the country at the time and I was surrounded by brilliant students and caring fantastic teachers. I received a great education and came to be passionate about Judaism in college. It was then that I began to really learn Hebrew and become more observant - eventually moving to Israel, studying in Yeshiva, etc.
Yesterday I was privileged to observe my first HBHA Bat Mitzvah. It was incredibly impressive - moving in fact - to see our students leading the service and reading Torah in a way that seemed so natural to them. I had trouble imagining my own children standing at the Bima in the coming years, proudly leading the school in prayer. But then last night my boys broke into song, singing the Birkat HaMazon from start to finish, which to be frank, they didn’t learn from me.
I’ve worked hard to become a knowledgeable and skillful Jew, but despite (or perhaps because of) my excellent public school education, I’ve never felt comfortable doing what HBHA teenagers are nonchalantly practicing every day. I am proud be to be able to offer something to my children that I didn’t have myself: The skills of living a Jewish life. The sound of Hebrew language, song, and prayer. A community of diverse thinkers sharing a common history and destiny.
Thank you for creating this special community and school which my family benefits from every day, and for trusting me to ensure your children continue to receive the gift of a Jewish education at HBHA.
Sukkot is my favorite holiday. It is the only Jewish holiday where we are commanded to build something. It is a whole brain and body experience, putting together our temporary huts. When we are finished, we have created something delicate, beautiful, and useful. A shelter from the wind and sun; a joyous environment in which to spend time with family and friends, fully engaging in the joy of the season.
In a sense, HBHA is a sukkah as well. It is a shelter for our children, allowing them the time and space to learn and grow in a safe and loving environment. It gives them a chance to learn who they are and focus on the values, traditions and customs of our people. All too soon it is over, and our kids are out in the world. But those memories of HBHA stay with them, guide them, and give them joy for the rest of their lives.
And like that sukkah, HBHA is a joy to build. I want to invite you all to experience the joy of building this school. Whether by volunteering for one of the amazing PTO projects, donating to HBHA, writing a google review, or joining us for a calling session to help raise money: Building this beautiful shelter for our children is good work that feels good. Don’t miss it!
On Sukkot, we are commanded “V’samachta B’chagecha”—“You will be happy on your holiday…” How can we be commanded to feel something? Do something, sure. Think something, maybe. But feel something?
Yes, I believe we can feel on demand. We all feel stress, anger, anxiety, regret sometimes, yet we can still focus on the good and find our happy place.
The next step of the commandment is, “Ata, uvincha, uviteacha” – “You, your son, and your daughter…” This is even crazier. G-d not only expects us to feel on demand, but to make our kids feel something too?
As we enter a long, 4-day weekend, my wish for all of us it that we can fulfill this commandment. We should all be happy, and make our sons and daughters happy as well. They may be needy or whine; they may even be nudges when they are bored. But on this holiday in particular, we should try to find the patience, intention and focus to be happy and make our families happy.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!