On Ceremonies at SDJA, By Chaim Heller, Head of School
Try to remember your earliest memory from school. Think back as far as you can, maybe all the way to first grade. What do you remember?
Most likely your first memory is a powerful one, filled with strong emotion. Sadly, all too often our earliest memories are not very positive ones. We frequently remember embarrassments, fears, humiliations and other emotionally difficult moments. These stay with us long after we forget classroom lessons, field trips or pleasant days spent in reading circles. They are the unstated but no less real lessons from school.
Our program at SDJA is consciously designed to create powerful and positive memories that will last a lifetime. Our upcoming first grade Matan Siddur ceremony is a good example of that. The program and the events leading up to it are designed as an opportunity for our families to participate in a collective Jewish experience: entering the world of Hebrew letters and receiving their first siddur, the prayer book they will encounter throughout their Jewish life experiences.
There are many other examples of creating positive moments at school. Our upcoming 5th grade shacharit service, our Lion’s Awards ceremony on June 1st, our incredible graduation ceremony on June 5th and our step-up ceremony on the last day of school – all are designed to create lasting positive memories.
My guess is that years from now when our children are thinking back to their earliest memories, many of them will remember receiving their own siddur from their parents at SDJA. They might also remember a teacher’s smile or hug at the end of the program and ceremony.. Their earliest foundational memories will be warm ones, being part of a larger and loving community that made them feel so special. Their Jewish day school education will indeed leave an imprint of being loved and that will last a lifetime.