Word of the Week Archives


  • June

    Live Your Truth

    As we prepare to send off our class of 2018, I wanted to share with you the words I shared with them this morning. This will be my last Word of the Week for this year (!), but I will also be writing a final, wrap-up “Word of the Year” letter that will go out soon, so you will hear from me in writing again before we scatter for the summer...
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  • May

    To live not in comparison

    In what is now the third year of a tradition, this penultimate Word of the Week of the year is a space to share a prayer, a wish, a poem I have written for our departing eighth grade class, who this morning celebrated their final tefillah with us as students, as leaders, as changemakers ready to go out into the world and make it matter. So, in honor of the dreams and individuality of this beautiful cohort, I offer this short prayer for the journey...
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  • Being True to the Imagined Thing

    In this season of celebrations, the first grade tefillah is one of our biggest. These are the remarks I shared with our students and families for this morning’s ceremony.
    Welcome, everyone to the first grade tefillah. My name is Dan Glass, and I am the head of school here at the Brandeis School of San Francisco....
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  • Your Tikkun Olam

    Tomorrow morning, we’ll celebrate the culmination of the seventh grade Tzedek Program. These are the words I will be sharing with our students—I thought to share them with all of you, as well.
    At some point last year (I can’t quite pinpoint when; the moments blur), Brandeis played host to a delegation of JCC directors from Israel. We came together to talk about and learn from each other about the work of community building, of creating communities where people feel bonded to one another...
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  • She Got Game

    Yesterday the stars aligned just so, the afternoon meetings and activities parting like clouds, and I was able to take both of my daughters to see the 6A girls’ basketball team compete for the BAIAL championship. I won’t bury the lede: the Brandeis girls won handily, by 25 points or so, completing an undefeated season and bringing Brandeis its first girls’ basketball championship. They played inspired defense throughout, and completely took over in the second half of the game, turning what had been a close game into a runaway blowout...
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  • DIY

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  • April


    I have previously mentioned in these words of the week the excellent and humbling (in its excellence) Brain Pickings, a website that I largely experience as a weekly curated newsletter of reasons to be fascinated by our world, and by the lives of the scientists, artists, and writers who reflect our world back to us, and in so doing expand it...
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  • The Soul of a Place

    This year for Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, we took a new approach to the day’s celebration. In honor of Israel’s 70th birthday, the entire faculty and staff was invited to offer workshops and lessons on Israel and the theme of seven or seventy. Myriad learnings, engagements, and explorations were planned for our kindergarten through seventh grade students...
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  • a sea light / an island light

    Some of you may have heard that my family was waylaid coming back from Paris, and a Saturday return became Sunday, then Monday, then finally midnight on Tuesday. I have never been so glad to see the dark shoulders of these hills stretching up to welcome us home, as we dropped down onto 280 South from 101...
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  • March

    Becoming Expansive

    Passover is my favorite holiday in the Jewish calendar. It is, probably more so than any other single part of my Jewish experience, responsible for giving me the personal drive to continue the tradition in my adult life, with my own family. A holiday celebrating freedom is a powerful, unique thing, and in my family’s practice it was always steeped in the righteousness and shared struggles of oppressed peoples all over the world...
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  • A Culture of School Safety

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  • A New Generation

    When I was in fifth grade, I attempted to organize a walkout with a couple of close friends, to speak out against what we perceived to be the unjust war the United States was preparing to enter into in Iraq. Walking out was a kind of speech available to us as young people, as students, that could extend beyond the walls of our classroom and our school. We talked with our parents about it; we wrote up petitions; and we spent a week talking to our peers about the plans...
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  • Dispatches from the Field

    I write you this morning from the Omni Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, site of the 2018 National Association of Independent Schools annual conference. The hotel sprawls into a conference center, and you can walk miles through halls and across bridges without ever stepping foot outside. I am struck, every time I come to such a place, by the architecture of disorientation they seem to exist within; by the odd angles and sightlines that one encounters...
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  • Oh, the Weeks You Will Have!

    In the kitchen here at the Glass household we have a memento hanging on a bulletin board, of a visit I made to Sonia’s second grade class last year. The photograph is of Sonia and me, and it includes the text of my responses to questions about my career choices—why I chose education (to repair the world!), what I hope to do when I retire (read and write), etc. One of the questions was about working in schools, and I shared that I love school because I love to learn, and because every day is different...
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  • February

    Ethics Can’t Be a Side Hustle

    A few weeks ago, at the kindergarten parent social, I got into a discussion with some fellow parents about driverless cars. This is a topic that seems very present to many of us, and increasingly so lately—how ready are we, collectively, for this impending future when the cars do the driving for us. There are familiar lanes to this conversation, by now: why do we feel squeamish about computers when we happily let strangers drive us via Uber or Lyft; the vision of a road trip with a family playing cards in the back of a car, as though on a train; and of course, the ethical dilemmas that such cars provoke...
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  • Do Better

    I had thought to write this week about the recent publication of A Portrait of Bay Area Jewish Life and Communities, a study of Bay Area Judaism. I had thought to tie that portrait to a hilarious moment I had the good fortune to witness in a 7th grade language arts class, where students guessed that the origin of the line “A plague on both your houses” (from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which they are reading) was either Harry Potter or the Torah. I had thought to write about the idea of a community writing and rewriting itself, and how our Brandeis students are shaping that community and its future in real time...
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  • Visible Learning

    Jenny Rinn, Director of Lower School
    Dear Brandeis community,
    When I became director of lower school at Brandeis, I realized that I would experience a learning curve as I assumed a new role in a different educational community. This position would require me to be both leader and learner, and I knew I would need my own teacher for my learning to be purposeful in my leadership...
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  • Soft Skills

    There is a Washington Post education article that has been making the rounds the past month, one that fits within a genre of reportage I think of as, “How to get a job at famous tech company X.” Often there is an element of surprise intended to animate such pieces—i.e., they don’t hire exclusively for coding skills! I have been surprised at how frequently the same truths get trotted out to whirl around Facebook and surprise everyone anew, but perhaps that’s just a commentary on the collective attention span...
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  • January

    Laundry and Lives

    In some ways, what I want to share with you all this week is an extension of what I wrote about last week, in response to Parashat Bo, about the work of not hardening our own hearts, not turning away from injustice. One of the gifts of living and working in the Jewish community is its strong emphasis on lifelong learning, whether that takes the form of new degrees and career paths or the simple act of a group of adults coming together to study (as a crowd of our parents did for our first SEL book club this week, on the work of Julie Lythcott-Haimes)...
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  • My Heart Would Split

    This week’s parashah, Bo, continues the Passover story of the struggle between Moses and Pharaoh over the freedom of the Israelites. It contains scenes and language that are intensely familiar to me (and, statistically, would be to most American Jews, as Passover is the most celebrated holiday in Jewish American life): the demand to "Let My People Go," plagues being called down, the return to negotiations in their wake...
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  • Tomorrow, Tomorrow

    There are moments, as a parent, when I feel as though I’m watching my kids age in real time, when the daisy chain of an interaction goes all stop-motion on me, the clouds of time whisked through an impossibly fast sky. Such moments prompt a preemptive nostalgia in me, and I often find myself sifting through memories of my children in their younger iterations in their wake...
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  • Listing

    I have recently gotten away from the tradition of writing annual year-end “best-of” lists—one that I did in various public formats over a stretch of years—but over the winter holiday I was inspired by a stray tweet by a basketball writer I admire to restart the practice of sharing. So, without further ado and in my own particular order, here are ten books that made memorable dents in my mental space in 2017, each with a brief glimpse into why...
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