4 Iyyar 5778
Dear AJA Community,
I don’t like wearing ties.
Please don’t judge me - I do it anyway, but it’s not my first choice of apparel. Since, however, there is a time and place for everything I have been wearing a tie almost daily for the past couple of weeks. This time of year we celebrate, we reflect and we honor - and I’ve been in ties almost daily. Today, I shed the tie (thank Gd) and get to wear my AJA Yom Ha’azmaut t-shirt to celebrate Israel Independence Day. This is one of the things that makes AJA so unique - that we are so inextricably connected to Medinat Yisrael. (the state of Israel) I’ll elaborate.
When I was in Israel over Pesach, I had plenty of time (sans tie!) to reflect and process. There are so many pieces of AJA that make us so unique - and unlike any other school in our area - I plan to take the next few weeks to share those with you. Today seems to be the perfect opportunity to start here: our unwavering connection to Israel is one of the things that makes AJA so unique.
This week, our entire building has been focused on Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day). We are so fortunate, to learn about, celebrate and honor these important days. It’s our mission that to foster a deep love and connection to Israel, we bring the culture, language and meaningful days into our building.
So much of what we are able to do is because of our talented and dedicated staff in all areas. We are so incredibly blessed to provide the best of the best teachers for your children. Today, I want to focus on a segment of our staff - our Israeli faculty.
Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut are profoundly emotional days. The extremes of our emotions over a 48 hour period are raw and intense. Imagine feeling that intensity for your friends, family and country - and not being there physically to honor, mourn, share and celebrate together. That is the case with our Shlichim, Hebrew Language instructors, B’not Sherut and all Israeli staff this week. I’m in awe of their dedication. They truly brought Israel to us this week - todah rabah.
I know that although their hearts are far, far away over the ocean in Israel - they are 110% engaged here, and have worked tirelessly to bring the beauty, sadness, intensity, emotion and celebration of these two dates right to AJA. We didn’t have to bring in speakers to share with our students the meaning of Yom HaZikaron. We have walking testimonies here in the building. We don’t have to show a video to the students with a flag ceremony (Daglanut) on Yom Ha’atzmaut - we had our own in the AJA Auditorium. (Check Facebook for the video!) we'll have another celebration with Young Israel of Toco Hills at Mason Mill Park.
Please understand, our connection to Israel isn’t only about days and holidays. It is part of us. So much of education is about not telling and lecturing - but doing and experiencing. At AJA we live, experience and love Israel every single day.
We don’t just talk about Hebrew - we speak Hebrew (and with authentic accents!).
We don't just speak of the culture - we live it.
We don’t just read about Israel - we learn and experience her directly from Israelis.
For these examples and so many more - our unwavering connection to Israel is one of the things that makes AJA so unique.
L’shalom and moadim l’simcha,
Rabbi Ari Leubitz
Ps. next week’s “what makes AJA so unique”.. you'll see what colleges and yeshivot/seminaries have accepted our Seniors! Amazing.