25 Adar 5777
Dear AJA Community,
When my inbox is overflowing, it gets a bit overwhelming. I know you can relate! Lately, my inbox has been filled with emails that stop me in my tracks. They pull me right in and I can’t stop reading. These are emails with your AJA stories. I have been floored by the responses to my request for YOUR AJA stories. It has been incredible for me to read the many ways that AJA has impacted your family, and how and why you feel so connected to this school.
Here is a small glimpse into some of the stories. (to keep it brief, I only included a handful of those I have received). We are compiling your stories without including the names or specifics that would reveal the authors (some of you have asked). We want to hear your AJA story. What is it that connects you to our school? What is it that means the most to you about AJA? Here are snippets of what your fellow parents, community members, alumni and teachers had to say:
"I look at where our two graduates are now, and what they have achieved. I believe strongly that their success definitely was due in part to GHA/YA/AJA."
"As I teach the children of parents whom I taught in the past, I enjoy seeing how the students are similar to their parents, as well as celebrating their differences. L’dor Vador!"
"When we moved to Atlanta, AJA’s warm and inclusive approach won our hearts. It produces kids that are confident, care deeply for others, are inclusive and very well grounded with skills to be successful. They use the Torah learning to follow their life's goals and aspirations."
"At AJA, we look after each other and make sacrifices and honor each other in the good and bad times. I have spent 85% of my life at AJA as a student and teacher. AJA is my life."
"Our family connection to AJA started the minute we walked in the door for the first time. We felt welcomed by the teachers and staff, which led to our family feeling included and instantly comfortable at our new 'home' ”.
"Years ago, at GHA, I loved when the Pledge was recited and then Hatikvah was sung every morning. I got chills every day. We wanted our daughter to get a strong Jewish education. I am proud of her and know that her background at GHA was a beginning of her pursuit of her career."
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of storytelling. In Judaism it is in our souls to keep the stories going (and going, and going, and going!). We read in Shemot 10:2, “And in order that you should tell into the ears of your children and grandchildren…” That is one of the main reasons we repeat the story of the Exodus every year at Passover. When we recount those details at our Seder and in shul, we keep that story alive, which encourages a connection to our past and paves the vision for the future.
Rabbi Ari Leubitz