This week, along with students and teachers from across the area, I went back to school. My summer was wonderful - exciting and eventful - but not so restful. I've been left feeling like I needed a little more summer in my summer. So it was with slightly mixed emotions that I dropped my kids off the other morning and headed upstairs to my own classroom.
One of the special things we do in the middle school at Krieger Schechter to mark the start of the year is to have an all-middle-school minyan on the first day. Far more meaningful than an opening assembly, our minyan is an opportunity for students to reconnect with each other; to get used to their new place in the school, as each grade has a traditional makom kavua, or assigned place; to re-engage with tefillah as we do it here at school; to find some kavanah and joy on what for some is a difficult transition back to school life. (And by the way, it also fills a similar set of roles for the teachers.)
Our first day minyan did not disappoint. Collaborating with my colleagues on coordinating and guiding the service, I felt myself sliding back into the familiarity and synergy of those relationships, getting my groove back. The students, a little hesitant at first, soon brought their wonderful energy. All together, we created and experienced a service with soul, a service that I would want to go to again.
The beginning of the school year also coincides with the beginning of the shul year, with the new year and the High Holidays rapidly approaching. Many of our amazing, dedicated community members and volunteers are working busily behind the scenes to prepare for our services and experiences at Chevrei Tzedek - planning for how we'll be using the building, organizing leaders and greeters, preparing words of Torah and small-group discussions, crafting opportunities for our youth. There's a lot to plan for, and I know our High Holidays at Chevrei will be filled with soulful davening, thoughtful learning, and opportunities for both contemplation and connection with each other.
The High Holidays, much like the beginning of the school year, are a time when everybody comes back to shul. With your help, we, as a community and as individuals, will find great meaning in that experience. I look forward to seeing you at shul, to being together during this pivotal time of the year, to building on the relationship we've begun to forge with each other.
And then, I encourage you to come *back* to shul, to reconnect, re-engage, and continue the spirit of the new year well into 5784 and beyond.
Wishing us all a Shanah Tovah and a Shabbat Shalom,