The Heschel Commitments
“WE SHALL NEVER BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE SPIRIT IS REVEALED IN THE FORM OF WORDS, UNLESS WE DISCOVER THE VITAL TRUTH THAT SPEECH HAS POWER, THAT WORDS ARE COMMITMENTS”
-ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL
Heschel High School is a community with deep commitments to rigorous intellectual pursuit, artistic expression, and openness to difference and pluralism.
The five “Heschel Commitments,” emerged from collective brainstorm and feedback sessions involving the entire High School community during the 2015-2016 academic year. Incorporating teachings of our school’s namesake, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, the Heschel Commitments, convey the essence of who we are as a community. They are one step towards ensuring that there is a shared understanding and commitment to what is required from each of us and owed to all of us.
“DON’T BE OLD. DON’T BE STALE.”
“Knowledge is fostered by curiosity; wisdom is fostered by awe.” Live a life of exploration inspired by a worldview that “wonder...is the root of all knowledge.” We boldly pursue opportunities for personal growth and challenge.
“BE ENAMORED OF LEARNING.”
Personal meaning and intellectual growth emerge from rigorous study. More than simply amassing knowledge, we strive for our “intellectual efforts to be stirred by a blazing passion” in order to “stimulate ingenuity and independence of mind, encouraging students to create new ideas out of old.”
“ALL ARE RESPONSIBLE.”
In caring for all people we recognize that small, private interactions shape our culture of compassion. Informed by the understanding that “there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings,” we relentlessly pursue Hesed (compassion) and Tzedek (justice) locally, in Israel, and throughout the world.
“WE ARE CLOSER TO GOD WHEN WE ARE ASKING QUESTIONS THAN WHEN WE THINK WE HAVE THE ANSWERS.”
Pluralism nurtures a “diversity of talents, a variety of rituals, soul searching as well as opposition.” Our intellectual, spiritual, and religious growth is fostered by personal striving, in-depth study, curiosity, and upon the questions we ask of ourselves and of one another.
“EVERY DEED COUNTS. EVERY WORD IS POWER.”
“Self-respect is the fruit of discipline” and our community of integrity depends on all individuals seeing beyond themselves and the immediate to acknowledge and to act on behalf of others. Ultimately, we must not give “power to narcissistic, self-indulgent thinking” and we recognize that “the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.”