June is a good time to reflect back on the year’s accomplishments. I can point to many sports tournaments where we took the trophy, mock trial championships where we won the championship, science and math competitions where we out-placed our competition.
However, what impresses me most are the instances where our students became a source of light to the world around them and illuminated the lives of others. I think about one of our students who collects empty bottles from people’s recycling and takes them to the beer store for a refund and donates the money to charity; another who paints fingernails of patients in the hospital and of residents in old age home; and another who collects gently-used school supplies and sent one shipment already to India and a second to Kenya.
But it’s not just individuals. It’s entire grades of students and in some cases the entire school–students and staff–that show the value of TanenbaumCHAT to the community.
Our Grade 11 and 12 students spent a week building and repairing homes in West Virginia on behalf of indigent families aided by Habit for Humanity. The entire Grade 9 class spent a whole day engaged in Chesed Day around the community. They prepared lunches for hungry members of our community who are served by Ve’ahavta, a Canadian Humanitarian Agency. They sang with adult clients at REENA, read stories and taught about Purim to children at the SRC preschool, and offered companionship and company to residents of the VIVA Retirement Residence.
When a school reaches out to and serves others, it shows its value to the community. A school gains significance as an indispensable agency when it serves as a source of light to others.
In fact this is the case for any institution. It’s a truth that comes through in a midrash about the Temple in Jerusalem. Our tradition teaches that the windows of the Temple were constructed in an unusual way. Typically, windows were constructed in such a way to maximize the amount of sunlight that comes in.
With the Temple, the opposite was the case. The windows were constructed in a way to allow the light of the menorah to emit outwards. That light came from the seven-branched menorah.
The light of the menorah was meant to shine from the Temple and light up the world. It was meant to be a source of illumination and inspiration to the outside world. It enriched the world.
Our school is and must always be a source of light to the community and to others’ lives.
We have many stories and examples of how our students do that. And we need to share them with our outside communities – Federation, donors, prospective parents and students. When they see how brightly the light inside our schools shines, they are more likely to be invested in our school. They will see that yes, TanenbaumCHAT may be a strain on the budget of our community or of families, but in fact, it’s a bargain.