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How We Talk to Each Other, By Kelley King, Head of Lower School

Dear Parents,

It was Tuesday morning and our Head of School kicked off our professional development day with a presentation. In the course of his talk, he threw in the word “kvetch.” Chuckles rippled across the room – we can all relate to a little kvetching!

As I drove home that afternoon, I thought more about kvetching. It can serve as a release when we are feeling stressed. A moment to kvetch can help me process my frustration and get to a more productive frame of mind.

But when does kvetching become lashon hara (derogatory speech about another person)? How thin is the line between the two?

As a school leader, I know that I am in a unique position to set the tone, to lead by example, to squelch lashon hara and to nurture gemilut hasadim (kindness). I am not alone in my responsibility to model and uphold these expectations. Every member of our school community – parents and staff included – has both the power and duty to do the same. You may recall the b’rit we signed in the fall – the “Expectations of SDJA” (one of which was kindness).

Think of a time when you have felt stressed or annoyed. In those moments lies the true test… How do we talk to each other? How do we talk about each other?

My reflections have reminded me of the incredible power of words and how careful we need to be when we start to kvetch. As a daily reminder, I’ve posted these wise words of Henry Nouwen above my desk:

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.

In Partnership,

Kelley King, Head of Golda Meir Lower School

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