March 22, 2018
6 Nisan 5778
Dear AJA Community,
Incredible things happen in all of our classrooms on a daily basis. We are so fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated team in place. Last night, in an effort to bring some of the classroom teachings to the community at large, our Hebrew Department hosted an Israel @ 70 celebration.
While I was enjoying the most delicious homemade shakshuka, falafel and hummus, I realized that those delightful Israeli treats were not the only things I savored. After my welcome to the crowd, I sat back and watched all of the pieces unfold and was filled with pride.
Liat Kadosh and her amazing team of teachers and students from various grades put on quite an event. (A special shout out to Idit Ben-Simon, Amir Dan, Aliza Gellis, Rinat Rosen-Cohen, Judith Lizerbom, Eran Tzivon, Oded Wilson and our B’not Sherut). If you didn’t make it here last night - I hope my description will make you feel as if you were!
As soon as you turned into the Upper School hallway, the blue and white balloons and Israeli flags pulled you in to what you knew was going to be a festive evening celebrating our beloved Eretz Yisrael. The Student Commons was transformed into a Shuk/Israeli Marketplace - and it was incredible!
Students were charged with presenting an AJA version of TED Talks - with an Israeli slant. They each spoke beautifully (in Hebrew) about an Israeli figure who inspired them. I was floored by the incredible range of their choices - from Benjamin Netanyahu to Yizhak Rabin, from poet, Leah Goldberg to to soccer star, Yossi Benayoun. They each articulated the reason “why” they picked their figure. (I always love the “why”.) I saw the the light shining in the eyes of our younger students, when they understood the Hebrew. It was amazing to see that it clicked!
We all enjoyed Israeli food and schmoozed while videos of Israeli history and Israeli music played in the background. Guests were able to see work the students created on a variety of Israeli topics, along with a special visual exhibit from Israel. As if that wasn’t enough, we had our own mini Film Festival complete with discussions.
I was struck by seeing the range of guests there - children from our Lower School, Rabbis from the Community, past and incoming AJA parents, Board Members, Grandparents with grandchildren who attend AJA. They were all here, gathered in our school, as ONE people - to celebrate Israel. I’ve mentioned this before, that as Jews, with our roots and hearts in Israel - we are mishpacha (family). I felt this so emphatically last night!
The Israel @ 70 program is the kind of event that warms my heart. All ages, all Atlanta geographies, all shuls, all of us connecting over Israel and our shared attachment to our Beloved State of Israel. I am grateful for everyone who worked tirelessly to bring this evening to life - TODA RABAH!
As this is my last Thursday Thoughts before the Pesach break, I wish all of you a Chag Pesach Sameach. Enjoy your sedarim and I wish for each of you to savor each and every moment of your time with your friends and family. Next year in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Ari Leubitz