Dear Brandeis community,
Welcome back! I am always struck by the degree to which returning back to Brandeis following a break—winter, spring, or summer—is such a joyful experience. The first day back is filled with happy kids tumbling into classrooms, eager to share stories of family adventures and puzzles and board games, and the parents glad to see one another and to get back to routines. For the professional community it’s much the same—I have never been part of a school community that shared so many hugs after just a short time apart!
Coming back, I have felt very grateful for those connections, and especially for how hard many of our parents, faculty, and staff work to build and strengthen those connections. Over the break, a few members of our professional community needed support, and it was heartwarming to see the offers of rides, dinners, company, and all manner of physical and emotional comfort and encouragement being offered. That work of lifting one another up is a manifestation of our community values—chesed especially, the loving kindness and empathy that is at the center of our work with students—and just like with our students, we are intentional about fostering those connections among our adult communities. That takes the form of buddy families for families new to our school, and it also takes the form of time to celebrate with and enjoy one another, on annual occasions—as at the staff-faculty holiday party Kate and I hosted just before break—or at triennial events like Sukkot in Yosemite.
Last night I had the pleasure of joining a group that holds our community as its central organizing principle—the Parent Association (PA) executive board—for its monthly meeting. At that meeting, I saw many hallmarks of what community looks like at Brandeis: laughter, sharing stories of personal joys and challenges, and, of course, excellent food. The group celebrated the successes of the fall—new events like the PA Poker Night, and reimagined ones like the Family Fun Night/Hanukkah party—and looked forward to the exciting events of the winter and spring, from Faculty/Staff Appreciation Week in February to the Book Fair in March, all-school Shabbat, and even the beginning work of planning for Sukkot in Yosemite 2020. It was a fun conversation, with much good work to look forward to—and I encourage all of you, readers, to reach out to PA president Oren Rubinstein if you love or have ideas about the many ways we make time and space to connect!
Last night and this week, returning to these many smiling faces, was a wonderful reminder of what a gift it is to be part of a community that puts so much thought into fostering such connection and joy.
Wishing you all 2019s filled with the good work of nurturing connectedness, my friends.