Big Questions Lead to Reflection and Conversation :: Solomon Schechter Day School

Big Questions Lead to Reflection and Conversation

/ Mar 16, 2023 /
By: Rabbi Jonathan (Yoni) Berger

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men and women to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” (Attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

This quote, which has long inspired me as an educator, speaks powerfully about the importance of vision when working with a team to build something together. Before making assignments, setting deadlines, or gathering resources, a leader must first share a dream so inspiring that nothing could get in the way of its fulfillment. Among my responsibilities as Schechter’s Head of School is to develop and share such a vision.

My vision will emerge from my core beliefs, from ideas I’m passionate about, and most of all, from questions that drive me. Among them: What do our children need from us, as parents and as educators, in order to thrive? Should schools aim to constantly adapt to a changing world, or should they aim to be islands of stability for our children? How should we talk about mitzvot (“Commandments”? “Instructions”? “Good choices”?) in a pluralistic Jewish school? How should we relate to the State of Israel, with all of its glory and all of its flaws? This space—a twice-monthly column—is where I intend to share my big ideas, core educational beliefs, and questions. Together, they will coalesce into a multifaceted vision for Schechter.

The best ideas, whether big or small, are not birthed whole by one person; they are developed and refined through discussion and debate. This is an essential Jewish belief: that disputes can be holy, and lead to better truths. I hope that my columns will inspire conversation, reflection, and even real debate. I welcome in-person conversations, and I also hope that you’ll take the opportunity to chime in by leaving a comment below. From this give-and-take, my ideas will be refined and will become our ideas; the vision that results will be all the more inspiring and powerful.

Thank you for reading this far! And thank you for your commitment to our amazing, diverse, thoughtful, caring community. Together, we will inspire and empower our children to build a future that is more kind and more just, rooted in Torah and critical thinking, strongly connected to the Jewish community and to American society. This future, ultimately, is our shared dream. 

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