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A Wonderful Dog Year of a Week...

November 11, 2022 | 17th of Cheshvan, Parashat Vayera 5783 / פָּרָשַׁת וַיֵּרָא


Dear Beit Rabban Community,

I have been known to count school hours in dog years. I am floored by how much can happen in one day of school and how hard it is to remember the calendar date by the end of the school day. This week had an especially high dog year rating, in the most positive of ways. We experienced so much together!

[Note to reader: this next paragraph should be read in one breath just as the names of the sons of Haman are read in Megillat Esther on Purim, but with a positive tone. The parallel here is the pace, not the content.]

This week…

  • We welcomed a gaggle of alumni from our first eighth grade graduating class who piled into my office and talked non-stop for an hour, so many hugs;

  • Middle schoolers delighted in a surprise visit from their beloved second-grade Chumash teacher and her wife who live in Israel and came to school to join students for musical tefillah, more hugs;

  • Election studies were in full swing across grades, with preschool students campaigning like the future of democracy depended on them (which, in fairness, it does);

  • Students published this year’s first edition of Beit RaBanter, a Human Interest Magazine;

  • The Ramaz High School Choir delighted us with their inspiring and spirited acapella performance;

  • Parents gathered for our first Cafe Rabban of the year, learning from Lisa Exler about the Pedagogy of Partnership methodology we use to teach Chumash;

  • Seventh graders started learning Mishnah Taanit with a grand conversation about the relationship between Jews in the diaspora and Israel, in both ancient and modern times;

  • Rabbi Joel Levenson honored us by presenting about being a chaplain in the US National Guard in honor of Veterans Day;

  • Older students prepared intensively to lead their parent-student-teacher conferences next week;

  • Third graders put on a phenomenal off-off-off-broadway puppet show re-release of Parashat Vayera, followed by a student-parent text study;

  • Eighth graders spoke with alum Shoshana Barzel who founded a local non-profit to support asylum seekers and refugees new to the Upper West Side;

  • We held our first in-person open house in three years! In our new home!;

  • Our parent community gathered for the first (and officially ANNUAL) Open House After-Party! We toured our new facilities together with current and prospective Beit Rabban families and ended with a celebratory dessert reception and l’chaims.

What a dog year this week has been! I’m exhausted and inspired by this only partial overview of the week. I could use a break, maybe a laugh. To that end, I will take this opportunity to share a bit more detail from election day in the Gan, a culmination of many days of campaigning on behalf of the two candidates for best cracker: the graham cracker versus the Ritz cracker. The following description is from Pre-K daily journal on Tuesday:

“Election Day is here! When the children arrived at school today, they were reminded that we had a big Gan Election today! During morning Explorations, they had a chance to "meet" the candidates or actually have a taste test! Children tasted both the round and square crackers. They discussed amongst themselves some opinions and we overheard some chattering:

  • “Square Crackers are great because they have Graham's [a Gan student] name.”

  • “Circle crackers are good with cheese!”

  • “I don't know which one I like better.”

When children were done taste-testing they went over to Naama to cast their vote. We cleaned up and then two other districts (Gan Kachol and Gan Varod) and joined our polling site. We sat together and reviewed the characteristics of each candidate. In the words of the children, “round, salty, and crunchy vs. square, sweet, and crunch!”

Each child put their ballot in our ballot box. The room was silent while the ballots were being collected. Then it was time to count, Naama pulled each ballot out one by one. Undine made tallies on a board. With each ballot, there was excitement, anticipation, and some nerves.

  • “Everyone, this isn't a winning race, it's an election.”

  • “I am worried square won't win.”

  • “I like both so, I am ok!”

  • “I am so excited!”

The winner was announced -SQUARE CRACKERS! Then Yaara gave a victory speech on behalf of the SQUARE CRACKER. We thanked all for voting and reported the news to the great state of Beit Rabban Day School.”

There were no tears or hard feelings. It was determined that when you have two really delicious candidates you don't get overly upset! Or at least not in THE GAN at BEIT RABBAN!”

Let’s all rest up in advance of the coming weeks, especially with the Erev Thanksgiving Day Parade Parade on the horizon. It’s exhausting being this awesome :)

Wishing all a restful and rejuvenating Shabbat,

Stephanie

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