October 19, 2017
29 Tishrei 5778
Dear AJA Community,
Nothing worth having comes easily.
Nothing meaningful or transformational comes without preparation.
As I looked around on Tuesday morning at approximately 11:15 am, that is what I kept thinking.
I walked from my office and headed down to what used to be the “hard hat zone”. All that covered my head this Tuesday was my kippah. As I approached the Upper School, I almost expected to hear the sounds of hammers, drills, saws and machines - but they were now thankfully replaced with an (equally as noisy, but much more pleasant!) orchestra of voices in our Student Commons. Our 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders were all receiving schedules for their new room assignments, adding books and personal items to decorate their lockers, posing for pictures, hugging, embracing the day and celebrating this exciting new chapter in their AJA journey. It was truly our committed connected community right before my eyes.
This didn’t happen overnight. This didn’t happen easily. But thank G-d (and so many of you!), it did finally happen. We have an incredible new building to elevate the 21st Century learning experience for our students, and we are using the building as we dreamed. The joy I saw on the students’ faces is beyond words. Some of these photos will help illustrate what I mean.
After lunch in the Student Commons, the orchestra reached the crescendo. Rabbi Hoch, Rabbi Houben, Rabbi Lerer, Rabbi Travis and I danced the Torahs into the new, incredible Beit Midrash. Students sang, danced and celebrated. The warmth, excitement and connection was evident as Rabbis, teachers, students and faculty were all there for the same reason - to see the transformation of this beautiful room into a meaningful place infused with Kedusha (holiness) - our AJA Upper School Beit Midrash. (Click the photo below for an incredible video)
עֵץ־חַיִּ֣ים הִ֖יא לַמַּחֲזִיקִ֣ים בָּ֑הּ
It is a tree of life for those who grasp it
“For those who grasp it” refers to Torah. When one engages with it, it will enrich one's lives. Torah helps us grow spiritually - individually and collectively. Like a tree needs water, attention, food and light, as Jews we need need Torah to be nurtured, for us to grow and thrive.
AJA is like a tree. We will continue to grow and flourish with care and your involvement. So much has been done behind the scenes to develop the roots of the school. It is incredible to see our new branches begin to grow. When our children flourish - that is the blossoming of our tree. Schools, like trees don’t grow overnight. And like the leaves and flowers, it takes time for the school to blossom.
I encourage each of you to engage, support and connect - to share your stories of nachas and achievement at AJA. Just like the Torah is a Tree of Life for those who grasp it, our school is the future for our Jewish community and the vehicle for our children to grow. We must grasp and support it.
This month and next there are ways you can connect with and support our school. We hope you can join us on 10/29 for our Annual L’chaim Event, where we will officially dedicate the new building. It will be an evening of connection and celebration and you won’t want to miss it. Next month, on 11/12, the Community Ribbon Cutting will start at 12:00 noon at the new Upper School entrance and lead right into a day of Family Fun for all ages on our new field at our Jaguar Games. We welcome you to join us at these special events at AJA!
Our tree of life at AJA has grown incredible new branches this week, and we are so grateful. It was worth the wait!