December 9, 2022 | 15th of Kislev 5783 Parashat Vayishlach 5783 / פָּרָשַׁת וַיִּשְׁלַח
Dear Beit Rabban Community,
As you may remember, we went positively “viral” on Tiktok last year during a time of a whole lot of negative pandemic viral. Our Erev Thanksgiving Day Parade Parade inspired a local TikToker to wonder why “toddlers are protesting, chanting Ingrid?” Hundreds of thousands of views later, I was sure that we had experienced our big moment in the spotlight, our “18” minutes of fame so to say. As it turns out, we had a few more minutes in us, 1.24 to be precise.
We just secured this video, check out who showed up to this year’s Parade Parade:
When I noticed the camera person I felt a little concerned about encouraging performance culture, but our children seemed wholly unfazed by the camera and laser-focused on delivering their packages. Values for the win! (Alternatively, they may be jaded New Yorkers who are not easily fazed). After seeing this clip, and hearing from others who saw it, I felt fulfillment beyond the “fame.” What a beautiful thing it is to parade our values in our larger community, and then to have someone else amplify them even beyond a few city blocks.
And what’s so special about our values? Our values – like responsibility toward others, commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people, open-minded dialogue, and the intrinsic holiness and right to dignity of each person - are, no doubt, critical. At the same time, they are not extremely different from the articulated values of many other Jewish and/or progressive schools. I believe that what makes our values special is not their wording. Rather, it is our community’s deep buy-in to them. Our values are authentically shared.
It is “listening season,” as I lovingly refer to late November-mid December. This is when we hold class meetings for parents to share their thoughts on how the year is going; when I meet individually with each staff member for a personal check-in; and when we make sure to connect with each new family to get to know them better and hear about their experience so far. This is also when “admissions season” and “listening season” magically collide at prospective parent parlor meetings, with current parents sharing their feelings about Beit Rabban.
I have listened and heard a lot- specific comments and repeated troupes. No doubt, we have much work to do on clear and technical challenges as well as on more complicated and adaptive difficulties. And, we also have a lot to celebrate and take pride in.
The most distinct and overarching troupe I heard is this: Beit Rabban is a values-based community in the way that we educate and the way that we engage with each other.
This is the greatest feedback I can hope for (and, if you ever feel otherwise please tell us- we want to live up to this feedback). This feedback is especially meaningful during a time when controversies based on misaligned values are tearing apart educational institutions across the country. Adults are fighting for their beliefs– about libraries, curricula, bathrooms, dress codes, etc.- and children are suffering in the process as they are forced to navigate this confusing and contentious communal terrain. What a blessing, especially now, to raise kids in an environment where values are shared and a diversity of opinions is embraced.
In addition to admissions season and listening season, it is also “giving season” as we inch toward the end of the calendar year. Before our board members come knocking at your inbox, I want to remind us of another critical value of our community: we value each person’s gifts. We need everyone to give, and we need gifts of all amounts. We 100% value whatever you can contribute. And, in order to sustain our incredible values-based community, we also aim for 100% giving.
Wishing all a restful and rejuvenating Shabbat,