I simply cannot imagine a better way to “put a kippah” on our 50th year than experiencing our 8th grade graduation.  We do everything in our power to help our students become self-confident, compassionate, practicing Jews and committed citizens who are prepared for the academic and social challenges of the modern world, and who are connected to the Jewish people and the land of Israel.  Last week, in front of a distinguished assembly of those who love them most, I had the honor of thanking our graduates for their own passionate participation in making this vision real, and for their efforts to carry it beyond the walls of our school as they take the next steps in their Jewish Journeys.  

I can’t tell you how grateful I was to be there to be able to hear and to hold faith with them in that sacred space as they synthesized and bore witness–in Hebrew, English, French, Russian, music, song, dance and more–to all that their teachers, friends, and family have contributed to their development over the course of the years they spent at Schechter.

Here are some excerpts from our graduates’ reflections:

“Nine years ago, most of us entered kindergarten as five-year-olds who had never played together. Tonight we celebrate together as a strong community of friends who have played important roles in each other’s lives. From the vibrant hallways in the early morning to lively discussions of moralistic ideas in Judaics to yes, even a competitive game of basketball at snack time, we have shared a special history and helped shape each other’s identities.” – Jarryd Nissenbaum

 “Schechter has not only been a place of learning, but also the place of my childhood and where I’ve grown up. The values I have been taught will continue to be like the secure seatbelt on this rollercoaster ride we call life. My classmates sitting behind me will be my lifelong friends, and have been a tight-knit family that has shaped me into the person I am today. I will forever be thankful for the skills I have developed and will carry with me throughout my life.” – Nili Ezekiel

“Part of the mission at Solomon Schechter is to cultivate the importance of derekh eretz. Derekh eretz, translated, means to follow the way of the land; it means that one should live responsibility, showing respect for themselves and others. The rabbis teach us the ways in which we can fulfill this mitzvah: Torah study, prayer and good deeds. Since Kindergarten, these values have been conveyed and reinforced in all aspects of my Schechter life. After nine years, I feel I have a well-established sense of identity and value of derekh eretz. What I need now is the big picture. I need to learn more about other people, cultures and histories. I need to explore how I fit in and can live a life of derekh eretz in the broader context of the world.” – Jacob Shuman

 

~ Rabbi Scott Slarksey

Upper School Principal

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