Dear Beit Rabban Community,
Right after Yom Ha'Atzmaut each year, I and the other Beit Rabban back office team quickly turn our full attention to the annual gala, Manna from Heaven, an evening to celebrate community, raise critical scholarship funds, and honor people who have invested deeply in our school. I love a good party and take a lot of pride in the fact that the Beit Rabban community is quite adept at throwing one, whether in person or online. We leave our party goers inspired and entertained. On this first day after Yom Ha'Atzmaut celebrations, we turned our attention as always directly to planning Manna from Heaven. What's incredible is that the process itself has already been inspiring and energizing.
This year we are honoring Meg & Seth, Shai, Tal, Shoshana and Lev Akabas. The Akabas family has been with Beit Rabban since our earliest days in 1991, when Meg and Seth read an article in the Jewish Week about a new, progressive Jewish school on the Upper West Side. When it came time to look for Kindergarten for Shai later that year, they visited the Beit Rabban open house and met our founder Dr. Devora Steinmetz. They immediately connected with the values of the school, especially with the concept that elementary education is not about short term outcomes, but about long-term identity development. And so, this began the Akabas family's 16 years of attending Beit Rabban and many more years, continuing through this day, of volunteering, board service, and a shared values that were shaped and grounded in the Beit Rabban experience.
This morning, I interviewed Meg and Seth over Zoom in preparation for the annual gala. It was such a powerful experience to spend that one hour listening to them. From their couch through my screen, their stories and reflections made me laugh and tear up. One of their responses was particularly memorable. I asked them how their friends and family felt about the "counter-cultural" decision of sending their children to a new school with only 9 students in their first year. They were a little surprised by my phrasing, and laughed at being described as "counter cultural" working in the corporate world and living on the Upper West Side. Then they explained that they can't see how it could be counter cultural to choose a school based on where you think your child is most likely to thrive, a place that you trust will know each of your children and make sure that each of them gets what they need.
After the interview, which included great stories like the time Meg won $64,000 for the school on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, I sat back in my chair and felt inspired. I am inspired by the fact that 30 years into the story of this beautiful school, we are still guided by the same core values with respect to Judaism, education and community that I heard Meg and Seth describe. One of those things that has remained constant is a highly intentional parent body--people like Meg and Seth and like so many of you--who are deliberate in their choices. This foundation of a highly thoughtful, intentional and open-minded parent body sets the tone for everything we accomplish together.
I cannot wait for you all to get to know this remarkable couple and family (see pic below). I hope you will join us at Manna from Heaven, Thursday, June 3, for an evening of inspiration and joyful distraction. Look out for an invitation in your inbox next week. We throw a great party for a great group of party goers: YOU--our parents, grandparents, alumni, staff and friends.
Wishing all a restful, rejuvenating Shabbat.