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A Bumper Crop this Shavuot!

June 3rd, 2022 | 4th of Sivan, 5782 | Bamidbar


Dear Beit Rabban Community,

What a blessing it was to be together last night at Manna from Heaven, our annual gala, back in person for the first time in three years! In fact, we even had leftover celebrations this afternoon (in the form of cake, popsicles, and random hors-d'oeuvres) at the first inaugural "Mini Manna" for our middle school students, who dressed in their gala finest for the event.

Last night we came together to honor Lianna Levine Reisner and Miri Pyle, raise critical funds for scholarship support, and celebrate the Beit Rabban community. Indeed, this community has a lot to celebrate! For the first time ever, we are graduating an eighth-grade class in just a couple of weeks that we could not be more proud of or inspired by. While their parents partied last night, these curious, passionate, and thoughtful human beings were at home completing their capstone projects. These projects include, among other things, making vegan tefillin; recording “Jewin and Chewin” a podcast about Jewish food traditions; illustrating a graphic novel about adolescents with ADHD; and writing a cookbook of 18 Beit Rabban inspired recipes, entitled Chai, My Life at Beit Rabban.

Each class at Beit Rabban has a Hebrew name corresponding to a stage of agricultural development— which, of course, means that no parent knows what grade their child is actually in. Our kindergartners are known as Garinim, seeds, and our eighth grade is Bikkurim, the first fruit of one's harvest.

The Torah instructs us to bring the first fruit of our harvest as an offering each year to the Temple in Jerusalem on the holiday of Shavuot, which we are celebrating this weekend. At that moment when we hold our bounty and take pride in all our accomplishments, we tell the story of all those who came before us, starting with a little-known wandering Aramean. While the specifics of this ritual are no longer practical, its message is just as powerful as it was to our agrarian ancestors. Moments of great accomplishment demand deep gratitude. As we graduate our first Bikkurim, there are many to recognize who brought us to this moment...

  • The group of second-grade parents in 2016 who committed to being the first graduating class.

  • A pair of donors in 2018 who pledged millions of dollars to expand our school.

  • A team of administrators and teachers who built a plane while flying it, during COVID.

  • Parents who jumped into the unknown with us as partners.

  • Incredible students who embraced their identity as chalutzim, pioneers.

One of our remarkable parents, Lianna Levine Reisner, deserves particular gratitude at this moment. Lianna led our community through a year-long design thinking process to establish the basis of our middle school. Lianna and her team-- including board members Lev Polinsky and Tali Rosenblat Cohen, and staff members Mary Peldman, Lisa Exler, Sara Cohn, Mick Fine, and Ingrid Goldfein– spent months drinking from a firehose of wisdom to formulate the essential questions we wanted to answer, which became the foundation of our new middle school, the Chativah.

It is also a time to appreciate all those who taught these pioneering middle schoolers. We specifically honored Miri Pyle this year on her twelfth at Beit Rabban. Miri Pyle, a one in a million educator and a one in a million human being, taught our graduates to read Hebrew and English way back in first grade! She set the stage for these kids who now run our two daily minyanim, publish a human interest magazine called Beit RaBanter, and lobbied congress last week on food insecurity. She has set the foundation for these children, and for over a decade of Beit Rabban children.

As a community, we should enter this holiday of Shavuot feeling blessed with a bumper crop! Together we transformed a longtime dream into a reality. We take stock of all that went into this, feeling grateful to have had the resources, wisdom, passion, and devotion needed to build this middle school. May we merit to care for it and continue to nurture it for many years to come! And may we be blessed to enjoy the fruit of labor... to sit back and watch our children act upon their own dreams.

Wishing you all a restful and rejuvenating Shabbat and a fulfilling Shavuot,

Stephanie

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