Providence Hebrew Day School, 450 Elmgrove Ave. Providence, RI 401-331-5327
May 4 Deans letter
Dear Parents, I want to personally congratulate Mrs. Weiner and the teachers, who guided the students in preparing a spectacular Yom HaAtzmaut integrated fair. The activities, which were described in the newsletter last week, gave all of our students a special feeling about the kedusha, holiness, of Eretz Yisrael and its uniqueness as the only country that is open to all Jews. Many of our graduates have made aliyah, making Israel their home, and their actions and our teachings inspire our students to have a love and appreciation for Israel, its land and people.
This past week I spent a few days in Cleveland working on behalf of the school. Over the course of the week, I met with a variety of donors, and all too often the conversation shifted to the challenges that they are facing in parenting their teens. They attributed these difficulties to technology. They said that while their children have access to many shiurim that do inspire them, they also have access and are exposed to values that are very contrary to the Torah and mitzvos. I interviewed a young lady in Cleveland and shared with her our rule that boarders are required to turn in their cell phones at 10:30pm. Most often, this rule is on the top of the list of “hated NEAT rules.” The girl told me that she really liked the rule. When I asked her why, she responded, “I am hopelessly addicted to my phone. I send out thousands of texts each month and am up till the wee hours of the morning wasting my time.” Another young lady from a different city reported to me that she owns a laptop, I-pod, I-pad and I-phone. This particular girl has been culturally disabled because her parents have chosen to equip her with every possible diversion from education and from meaningful communication with her peers and with adults. How do we inspire our children in a meaningful way?
I would like to share with you a short d’var Torah from Rabbi Shimshon Pincus, an Israeli American, zt”l. He commented that:
“No one feels secure in these fearful times. But there is no running away from the terrible danger. For in truth, the danger and violence to which Jews are being subjected in Eretz Yisrael is not limited to Eretz Yisrael at all.” Eretz Yisrael, however, is the heart of the world, and Chazal tell us, “All pain starts from the heart.” Yet it goes without saying that the pain extends far beyond the heart. “Clearly Hashem is urging us to wake up and revolutionize our commitment to Yiddishkeit. If we do not stop and make our own spiritual revolution, are we not facing a future that will lead only to Hashem-knows-where?
What Are We?
When I was in the downtown area of a large city, I was awed by the magnificent skyscrapers, rising proudly in the sky. But when I turned to focus on who built those awesome buildings, I was shocked to observe the contrast between the builders — who were almost subhuman — and the majestic buildings. What a gap between humanity and that which humanity built! I think this message should penetrate our Torah world, too. There is a massive gap between what we are building and what we are. Today, baruch Hashem, we are building yeshivos, kollelim, beautiful mosdos hachinuch, etc. These are wonderful, great edifices. That is what we build. But what are we? What is our essence? How do we daven Shemoneh Esrei? That moment of privacy between the Jew and Hashem — how real is that connection? How real is that dialogue? What we are is defined by what we do in our private lives — what we read, what we see — not by what we build or do in the public forum.” Rabbi Pincus continued by explaining that today, our minds are completely focused on our children. We all want our children to display derech eretz, good middos and a strong connection to Hashem, but our actions speak louder than words. If we want our children to follow, we must lead by example. Rabbi Pincus closes by saying: “This is, perhaps, Hashem’s personal message. He is saying, “I am talking to you in person, as an individual. What are you? Where are you?” Let us hope that our continued learning and seeking of advice from rabbonim, educators and industry experts will help us to develop strategies and ideas to inspire our children to a firmer commitment to a life of Torah and mitzvos.