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An Anchoring Sense of Belonging

April 1st, 2022 | 29th of Adar II, 5782 | Tazria תַזְרִיעַ

Dear Beit Rabban Community,

I’m writing this message from Jerusalem, where I arrived yesterday for the first time since the pandemic. This is an unusually long gap for me as I have spent time in Israel every year for as long as I can remember. My husband and I come home to Jerusalem. To be clear, being an American is core to my identity with all the values, culture, privilege and power it implies. Nonetheless, when I go home to a location it is Jerusalem, the city that I have spent the most time in continuously since age 18. I sat with my breakfast of 9% cottage cheese, fresh vegetables, zaatar, and coffee and thought… wow, I’m finally home for the first time in two years. I feel anchored.

Being at home, whether it is the literal home of your youth or a home of your choice, is such a core human need. It is anchoring, it reminds us who we are, it allows us to move through life with less self consciousness. Working in a school for children, I think about the importance of this feeling all the time. Children spend more waking hours at school than in their homes. What does the environment need to look like so that each child feels a little more at home and can, in turn, act with a little more confidence and feel more comfortable taking risks.

I was interviewed this week for an educational study and one of the first questions asked me to identify the three core values of Beit Rabban from a list of pre-determined values. Unfortunately, I can never choose from a list unless I wrote it, and I had to convince them to accept three that were not quite articulated on their list. I choose responsibility/obligation, competency, and belonging in the community. And, I explained that I believe a sense of belonging in a community is the foundation to the other two core values. I’ll save you the long explanation as to why, but I’m always happy to discuss in person! I also admitted to the interviewer that we do not always live exactly in alignment with these values- quality control is hard, even in one’s own actions! But, we strive, make mistakes, and regroup. We know where we are going.

Often when I talk about our vision and values, I actually feel a little down because I can identify so many instances when I think we are not quite meeting the mark, either on a one off basis or on a more ongoing basis. I worry about each child and how this might affect them in the short term and in the long run. I didn’t feel highly self-critical after this conversation, however. Instead, I could not stop thinking about what I had worked on for a couple of days earlier in the week. I spent two days with a videographer and a volunteer parent filming our students for a promotional video. It was utterly inspiring to spend 15-20 minutes in each class, and to interview so many different teachers and students. The videographer kept saying that he couldn’t believe how articulate people were about their experience at Beit Rabban, especially the children. I wasn’t so surprised by this, we really teach children to talk (for better or worse!). But I was reminded just how comfortable our children feel at Beit Rabban, I was reminded of the pervasive “at homeness” that exists in our school from Gan through the Chativah. This is something I heard from a prospective family on the first tour I led six years ago, it is something I appreciated as a parent before I joined the staff, and it is something that I am so grateful for because this is the foundation to everything.

Sending wishes for a shabbat shalom from my home in Jerusalem to my home community at Beit Rabban!


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