While we still have many a pile of unsorted books, blocks, and math manipulatives, we are finally done with the moving boxes! After months of moving out of two buildings and into a new one, our boxes are finally empty, broken down, and off to recycling centers. We did some heavy lifting between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to unpack and find the appropriate homes for those items we expected to find, as well as the many surprises. It makes for a great high holiday metaphor, but it is literal.
So, this week, finally feeling settled, I paused and took a walk around the building. It felt like visiting a new exhibit at one of my favorite museums, delightfully stimulating and filled with discoveries while simultaneously welcoming and soothing in its familiar shell. Cozy reading corners were set up in each classroom from preschool through middle school; a posted and signed BAPSY (norms for the Best Almost Perfect School Year) manifesto hung in each room; and student-made signage demarcated every classroom, office, and multi-use space. There are even some signs guiding visitors to particular students’ lockers! I found middle school chevrutahs (study partners) learning at the middle school bistro tables in the hallway, children on every surface of our studio working on their art projects, second graders humming their newly acquired torah reading skills while walking down the stairwell, and preschoolers building sukkot in their classrooms out of all sorts of upcycled materials.
It felt like the old Beit Rabban in a new building. It feels like home!
Of course, now that we are finally feeling settled in our new building, we will spend all of next week outside. We will navigate a schedule that allows all classes to have snack and lunch in the sukkah on our roof deck; make sure that all students get up to the sukkah each morning to say a brachah on the lulav and etrog; and enjoy special sukkot-themed field trips.
And the opportunity for a high holidays metaphor returns…
In the first few weeks of this school year, we transitioned from moving to feeling settled to uprooting ourselves. While this year is unusual, the Jewish calendar always starts us off praying, hoping, and doing all we can to attain the promise of security and safety for the year to come. Once we make it through the closing of the gates of Heaven on Yom Kippur and can take a deep breath and feel the relief of stability, we uproot ourselves with the holiday of Sukkot, exposing ourselves to elements beyond our control.
There is so much here to “unpack.” Do we make this switch as an affirmation of the belief that everything will be okay because God has answered our prayers for security and stability? Do we make this transition to admit what we know deep down- that there is always the risk of the unknown forces beyond our control at play in our lives? Maybe we head outdoors to remind ourselves of where we came from, to experience gratitude for our stable lot, and to keep sight of our good fortune?
As we head into a week of sukkot revelry, with busy and complicated schedules to allow for constant sukkah usage and lots of outdoor learning and activities, I am leaning into the last idea. Over the last decade, our school has navigated insufficient space, multiple locations, and COVID-imposed outdoor learning requirements. We juggled a lot of unknowns and managed through so much beyond our control. Even now that we have finally unpacked, we still will. That is the nature of life and the nature of community. It’s good to remind ourselves where we came from, to remind ourselves that we can endure a lot of unexpected whirlwinds, and to remind ourselves to feel incredibly grateful for our delightful, cozy, and homey book nooks.