Dear Students,

The beginning of the year is a good time to set goals.  But don’t be tempted to set a goal only about the marks you want to earn. Think bigger because TanenbaumCHAT is about much more. It’s about curiosity, connection, community, character, and contribution.

Curiosity:  A lot of students think school is all about marks and building a resume so that you can get into university.  All that’s important, but school should be about expanding your intellect, exploring new ideas, asking questions that advance your knowledge and others’.  So, set a goal, something that keeps you curious.  Commit to reading a book or a daily newspaper or following up on one thing everyday that you learned in class–even if it has nothing to do with marks. You’ll be smarter for it.

Connection:  TanenbaumCHAT isn’t the only place to get a quality education but it is the only co-ed Jewish high school of its kind that delivers a first-rate education.  Your parents sent you here so that you would deepen your connection to your Jewish roots.  Set a goal. Pick a mitzvah.  Commit to studying a book of the Tanach this year on your own or Pirkei Avot.  Make it a priority.  Track your progress.  Be part of a new generation of Jews who defies all the concerns about assimilation.

Community:  You’re part of many communities.  One of them is the Jewish community.  We want you to feel a responsibility to the Jewish community and to the State of Israel.  Israel in particular needs you.  Israel needs all of us.  Set a goal of doing something everyday or every week for Israel.  Learn more.  Read more. Do more for Israel.  Make it doable and meaningful.  Devise a system to see if you fulfill your commitment.  Israel will be better off because of you.

Character:  So many books today are written about how to enhance your own self-esteem and how to be happy.  Mensches don’t focus just on their own self-esteem.  They’re more interested in ensuring others’ happiness.  It’s the start of the year and there are a lot of new students in the building. In fact, this year’s grade 9 is bigger than last year’s.  There are a lot of lonely or unsure people walking the halls.  Introduce yourself.  Set a goal of meeting one new person each day.  We’ll be a better school because of you.

Contribution:  You’re in a high pressure school in a high pressure society.  There’s a lot of pressure to focus on your own success and your own achievement.  But at TanenbaumCHAT we want you to think beyond yourself.  This year, take up a cause that benefits someone else other than yourself.  Blog about it.  Tweet about it.  Stand up for it.  Start a club that supports it.  Help someone else achieve his or her goals.  Track how well you do on this. You have something unique to offer, and the world needs what you can give.

In the spirit of Rosh Hashana, let me wish you a Shana Tova which I’m going to translate as “May you set high but realistic goals, create a system to track your progress, find the stamina to work on those goals; and may you achieve every one of them.”  Shana tova.

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