I am always so excited and a little nervous every year at this time. We are in the count-down days before religious school begins. The office is abuzz with activity trying to get everything ready for opening day, September 11th. I look forward to the excitement and activity that fills the lobby and halls as all of our students pour in. It’s lonely without them. They are the heart and soul of our school. They are the reason we are here.
I think about my years in religious school as a child. The Charlotte Jewish community was very small and there were not many children in each class. I remember going three times a week and Shabbat mornings and I probably didn’t love it until the fifth grade when I was in Mrs. Celia Scher’s class. Mrs. Scher was a remarkable teacher. She was one of the first advocates for teaching Holocaust education in our community and spoke all over the city to schools and churches. I found her captivating and her passion for Judaism was contagious. I loved going to her class. I loved being around her and she was the inspiration for my choosing to be a lifelong educator. I was her madricha in high school and when I graduated from college and moved back to Charlotte I became a teacher at our temple so that I could work with her again. Mrs. Scher changed the trajectory of my life. It is a gift I can never repay.
Our teachers and clergy give our children gifts that can change their lives, too. Somehow, someone touches a place in their soul and changes the way they see the world or starts them off on their Jewish journey. How many of our students will keep the Torahs that they made in Frances Liss’ class and share them with their own children some day? How many of our students will sit in a temple in another community and hear a song that transports them to the t’filah that they shared with Ms. Patty? How many families will use the ritual objects that were lovingly created in art for the reminder of their lives? How often will students recall the prayers they wrote or the stories they heard? So much great learning and sharing of experiences are happening in our school. We can never underestimate the gifts that our students will carry with them throughout their lives.
I am looking forward to Sunday when the halls will be filled with noise and excitement and I know that the possibility of making a difference in the lives of our children will begin again.