Grandparents Day is one of the happiest days of the year. It’s a day filled exclusively with love and naches. It’s a day when you can see where your grandchild goes to school everyday. But it’s also a day when you get a glimpse into the future and see how the values you cherish are being carried on.
As I wrote in the insert of your program, you clearly have done something right. Because you raised your children in such a way that they chose to send their children, your grandchildren, to TanenbaumCHAT.
It’s one thing to have children who marry Jewish. That already makes them standout.
It’s another thing that your children chose to give your grandchildren a TanenbaumCHAT high school education. As a new grandfather myself, as of six months ago, I hope my children do as yours did and gift their child the gift of a day school education. It’s truly a precious gift.
Here at TanenbaumCHAT, we ground your grandchildren in five core values: curiosity, connection, community, character, and contribution.
Curiosity reflects the fact that we want high school to be about developing a work ethic, a sense of resilience, and intellectual curiosity—not just about getting into college and university.
Connection reflects the fact that we are at our core a Jewish school and our raison d’etre is to show how our Torah and our tradition can be a guide for life and a source of meaning.
Community reflects the fact that we want your grandchildren to embrace the Jewish people in all its diversity and the State of Israel in all its complexity.
The value of character reflects the fact that we want your grandchildren to be not just A+ students, but A+ human beings. They should be maivens and mensches.
And finally, the value of contribution teaches students to strive not just for success and personal happiness but to make a contribution to society and work towards others success.
I often wonder if our kids get the message. Are these core values just nice sounding platitudes or do our kids get the message? Is this merely an aspirational vision?
Yesterday, I was invited into a G12 English class to give a talk about speech making.
I delivered the speech I gave at graduation last year and the speech I gave the year before. They were surprised to hear that I already have an idea what I want to speak about at this coming graduation.
After I told them my topic, I asked the students to ignore what I think I’m going to speak about, and I asked them what theme they would speak about if they were head of school.
Here are some of their answers.
One said: “speak about the magic of TanenbaumCHAT and how to take it forward and bring this חן, this sparkle, and care for others, into the rest of society.”
Another suggested the message should be to encourage students not to stop their Jewish education. It isn’t over. In fact, that child agreed that the more he has learned at TanenbaumCHAT, the more he has learned how much he has yet to learn.
A third said the message should be that just because you are not perfect or the final result may not be perfect doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. And one doesn’t have to be perfect to be loved.
A fourth said that it may be her Chemistry class that will help her get into university, but it was her G11 Rabbinics class that taught her the most important lesson of her life: to be as happy for others as you are for yourself. It was her take on ואהבת לרעך כמוך, not just to love your neighbour as yourself, but to take as much joy in others’ accomplishments as you do in your own.
When I heard these responses I said to myself, the future is in good hands. The values of curiosity, character, contribution connection to Judaism and community are coming through.
We are graduating not just good people but good Jewish people.
And it started with you—the values you live by and the ideals you aspire towards.
Thank you for being the positive Jewish influence that you are. You are helping to create a strong future for the Jewish people.
Thank you for helping to make a TanenbaumCHAT education possible. I know that some of you are paying tuition. So many families today struggle and can’t make the sacrifices or aren’t willing to make the sacrifices it takes to give their child a TanenbaumCHAT education. For some, if it weren’t for you, they would not send their child to Jewish day school.
Thank you for your generosity. Tuition only goes so far. The UJA annual grant only goes so far. Your philanthropy helps children who can’t afford an education come here; your philanthropy helps us bring Israeli shlichim to TanenbaumCHAT; it enables us to provide more support for kids who have challenges and more challenges to those who seek enrichment.
And, finally, thank you for coming from different parts of Canada and the United States, Australia and Israel. Your presence here today tells your grandchild that she or he is important enough that you’d travel far and drop anything and everything for them.