“God revealed to Adam each generation with its scholars, each generation and its wise men, each generation and its writers, each generation and its leaders. Adam was the only one who saw the lineage which descended from him, until the end of all generations.”
The Torah dedicates many verses and chapters to the genealogy of families. Many parshiot list the names of the parents, and of their children, and of the next generation of grandchildren. The legacy of remembering those who came before and brought us to where we stand today is a foundational value and principle of a Torah-centered life.
The Yaklut Shimoni, a midrashic biblical commentator in the 11th or 12th century whose own name remains undiscovered, writes that Adam’s unique honor was that God showed him every generation that would descend from him, each with its own individual contributions, until the end of time. It was the highest honor because it is this progression of generation to generation, name to name, leader to leader, that shows us who we are and who we strive to become.
In December, JCDS observed its very first Day of Learning in memory of Michael Horen z”l, the grandfather of Victoria Gechter. Victoria’s mother, Elisha, approached us about creating a meaningful day of learning to honor his memory and his life’s work.
This week, on Wednesday, May 5, we honored Betty and Gil Hoffman z”l with a Day of Learning in their memory. Betty and Gil were the beloved grandparents of Gil Hoffman (first grade). Gil’s parents, Natty and Carl Hoffman, were excited to honor them on this particular day because May 5 is National Children’s Day in Japan, where Betty and Gil lived happily for many years. One of the ways that Children’s Day is celebrated in Japan is with the flying of fish-shaped flags, called Koi Nobori. When the flag is hung, the family says a prayer that their children should grow up strong and healthy. It is a day of celebration and hope for the future of the next generation, which seemed like the perfect day to honor the memory of Betty and Gil Hoffman.
Nikki Cohen, first grade general studies teacher, told her students that one way of honoring people is by doing special things related to their lives. Gil’s class read a book together about this special day and did an art project. The entire school participated in the Day of Learning by doing a related craft, writing wishes for their future, or writing about things that make them happy.
On these special Days of Learning, all learning that happens at school is dedicated in memory of the family members we are honoring. We are so grateful to the Gechter/Horen and Hoffman families for including the JCDS community as they honor the life and memories of these special and most beloved grandparents. Learning the names and stories of previous generations helps us understand where we come from, the extraordinary legacies we carry, and the many unique contributions each of us can offer to our community in this generation.
Shira Deener is head of school at JCDS.
The School Sparks blog appears periodically by various writers among the JCDS educational team. Learn more about JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School.
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