I hope that all our parents and friends had a meaningful and inspiring Rosh Hashanah. I would like to thank our alumnus, Dr. Ernie Isaacson, and his wife Sarah, for hosting the annual Five Towns parlor meeting in their home to benefit NEAT. NEAT helps many young ladies from across the tristate area and it is heartwarming to see Dr. Isaacson and his friends opening their hearts and minds in support of the school. Dr. Ernie always speaks of his fond memories of years spent in the then - NEAT boys’ high school. Those memories have engendered a strong desire to continue his support of the school annually. As NEAT continues to grow we must also thank our boarding families who have opened their homes, and so much more, to meet the needs of our girls.
Over the course of Rosh Hashanah I had the opportunity to study the works of the Nesivos Sholom, the Slonimer Rebbe z”tl, and his essay on the topic of the shofar. He asks why the words yodei teruah, “knowing” teruah, is used instead of tokei teruah, “blowers” of teruah, or shomei teruah, “those who hear” teruah. He explains that the posuk referring to us as yodei teruah can be explained through a moshol originally cited by the Baal Shem Tov. He shares that there was a king who built many walls around his palace using achizas einayim, sorcery. The walls had wild animals in between and each wall was higher than the next. This alone was enough to keep most people away. There were those who wanted to obtain an audience with the king, but after trying once or twice to breach the walls they were scared away. There was, however, one person who was not to be held back, and he shouted loudly and persevered until he breached the walls, whereupon the king removed the blockages and allowed him access.
Many of us have cultural or other impediments in our lives that prevent us from gaining access or becoming close to Hashem. The shofar, however, has the special power to cry out and remove all the blockages and walls – even those we create in our minds – and to allow us access to the king. In the month of Elul and throughout the Yomim Noro’im, High Holidays, Hashem makes it easier for us to connect with him, and He removes some of the blocks that have prevented us from forming a relationship. Imagine us trying to reach the king and all the servants block access by telling us that they can handle any problems themselves, thereby preventing us from having an audience with the king. The smart person, however, says, “I have nothing specific that you can help me with; I just want to see the glorious presence of the king!” For this response even the smartest servant has no answer and he is forced to allow us an audience with the king.
Providence Hebrew Day School and New England Academy of Torah all share a mission to impart Jewish knowledge with love and care that gives our students a strong desire to connect to Hashem. We are especially thankful to every one of our staff members and my fellow administrators, who show tremendous dedication in helping our students to achieve these religious goals, as well as our General Studies teachers, who also provide our students with a warm and nurturing environment along with the skills needed to compete in a globally competitive society. We are especially grateful to our parent body for embracing our mission and goals and supporting us in our efforts to raise their children as positive role models of good character, who are connected to a life of Torah and mitzvos.
Over the course of the year, in our interaction with parents, we do make mistakes and would like to take the opportunity to apologize if in any way you left a meeting feeling mistreated, ignored, or invalidated. We look forward to this new year by encouraging you to please keep the lines of communication open and to feel free to reach out to our staff and administration so that we can best serve all of your children’s social, emotional, and academic needs.
Gemar chasimah tovah,
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman, Dean