Community Torah Corner, September 23, 2022

Heather Brown
Assistant Principal, Lower School
Parashat Nitzavim/Rosh Hashana

Rosh HaShanah, which quite literally means the “head” of the New Year, is always a favorite holiday of mine.  Aside from the delicious foods I like to make for the holiday, as an educator, I appreciate how the Jewish New Year is often closely aligned on the calendar with the start of school. The beginning of school brings promise and potential.  What will we write with our freshly sharpened pencils? What will jump out at us as we explore new books? What will we discover from our classmates and teachers?
Fresh starts also bring to mind a quote from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: “The principle to be kept in mind is to know what we see rather than to see what we know.”  With a fresh start comes the potential to wipe the slate clean. We can make sense of the data at hand and try not to worry about previous grievances or unfulfilled wishes from last year. In an ideal world, it is a chance to clear our heads and renew our perspective. 

While I am new in my position here at Golda Och, I am not new to the school itself as this year marks my 10th year as a school parent. As I go into Rosh HaShanah this year, I find myself reflecting on Heschel’s words even more so. I am mindful to reflect on the experience of our students and staff in the moment, and not carry with me assumptions from previous years. We are encouraged to perform a “cheshbon nefesh,” an accounting of the soul during this season of introspection. If we are to truly take stock of where we are, in a holistic way, I hope we can give ourselves some grace. Let us “know what we see” and not compare ourselves to where we had hoped to be. If you ask any mindful GOA student, the key word is “yet.” I did not accomplish everything on my list…yet. But with each day, with each new year, we are one step closer to being where we want to be.

I hope everyone has a sweet and healthy New Year!  L’shanah tovah!