Dear Heschel Community,
It is my enormous pleasure and privilege to welcome you to a new school year at The Abraham Joshua Heschel School! Everyone here at Heschel is thrilled for our students to return and for our classrooms to buzz once again with the excitement of learning and exploration.
I hope that, today or some time soon, you will enter our school through the 30 West End Avenue entrance and take a minute to appreciate the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel that are on the wall, written in magnificent, colorful letters made by our students: "Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…. Get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Begin each day with a grateful heart."
I cannot think of more inspiring or appropriate words to frame our new school year. From Nursery through Twelfth Grade, we strive to teach our students always to ask more questions as a way to push the boundaries of what they know. We strive to teach them to marvel at the wonders of learning—whether from a passage in the Torah, a mathematical computation, a work of fiction, or a science experiment. And, whatever else they are learning, we strive to teach them gratitude for our collective opportunity to learn and grow together.
Over the past weeks, our entire staff has been getting ready for this day—and, personally, I feel immense gratitude to be a part of this process. Together, we have been preparing our buildings, planning curriculum, and thinking about ways, from Nursery through Twelfth Grade, to build our community. As always—whether making decisions about what we teach, how we conduct tefillah, or how we celebrate communal events—our conversations are guided by our mission statement. We make many decisions, big and small, about what will go on at school, and we always start from our commitment to give our students an excellent education in a pluralistic environment grounded in the values that characterized Rabbi Heschel's life: intellectual exploration, integrity, love of the Jewish people and tradition, and a commitment to social justice.
As we have planned for the days, weeks, and months that lie ahead, our entire staff has been mindful of the many world events that have made this past summer a painful one. We have all prayed for peace in Israel and Gaza, and we have all mourned the terrible loss of life that has inspired our community to cry, work, and pray together. We have also struggled with raising children in a country where riots have erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, and in a world where war and disease have spread so widely. Across our school's divisions, in ways appropriate to the very different ages of our student body, our staff has prepared to listen for our children's fears, answer hard questions they might raise, and, in ways that are age appropriate, actively teach our students to engage the world around us.
And, despite the pain around us, I enter this year awed by the opportunities that lie ahead for our community and our students. I am grateful beyond words for the privilege of educating our students and working with our community.
With enormous excitement,