1st Day of School Reflection

Yesterday was a first day like no other. After nearly a year and a half of COVID 19 dominating so many aspects of school, yesterday felt welcomingly “normal.” Yes, we were all masked but that did not stop us from launching a full day of classes. Just as notable was our spirited Town Hall which topped off the day’s festivities. We launched a new initiative that will surely bring much spirit, fun, and camaraderie throughout the year.

At Town Hall (which we have not held since March, 6, 2020), we started the year with the Israeli and American anthems, welcoming new students, and sharing important announcements for the new school year.  Students were then introduced and inducted into a “house” representing one of three regions in Israel – the north, central, or south. These houses, or teams, will compete for points throughout the year. Students will gather points for their team inside and outside the classroom by demonstrating leadership, critical thinking, compassion, and creativity, which are all central to FJA’s mission. Students and staff received specially prepared t-shirts in their house color and cheered on each member as they were appointed to a house.

As I shared with the students before the House Induction Ceremony, Soren Kierkegaard (a 19th century Danish philosopher) said “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder added, “You can’t connect the dots (of your life) looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect (positively) in your future.” At FJA, each and every student receives the support, guidance, and nurturing to be able to develop the “dots” on their respective journeys.

We know that every encounter, social, academic, athletic or creative is an opportunity for student growth and development. As we look ahead to this year, the introduction of “houses” is only one opportunity among the many throughout the year for students and staff to bond across grades outside of an academic setting. Holiday celebrations, spirit week, shabbatonim, arts, athletics, school dances, and experiential trips will provide your student with an abundance of opportunities to discover their passion and grow in a warm and supportive environment.

May you and your families be blessed with a year “dotted” with health, joy, and success.

Best wishes,

Rabbi Azaryah Cohen