Friday, December 22, 2017

2nd Grade Siddur Celebration at Berman Commons

The Davis Academy 2nd grade has a very special tradition that takes place on the last day of school before Winter Break: our annual visit to Berman Commons for a Siddur and Shabbat Celebration.

As you may know, each December, The Davis Academy 2nd graders receive their very own prayer books during a special ceremony called Kabbalat HaSiddur. Any Davis Academy student can tell you all about what that ceremony means to them and how they feel about their Siddur.

What you may not know is that the week following Kabbalat HaSiddur, our 2nd graders travel to Berman Commons, our local Jewish assisted living community, to do a revue of that same ceremony. Residents of Berman Commons gather in one of their beautiful common areas. Our children sing their heartwarming songs and then interact with the residents. The singing is wonderful, but it is the interaction, from generation to generation, that makes the whole thing truly sacred. Knowing that our children and the residents of Berman Common share a common love and appreciation of Jewish tradition is something that inspires and brings joy to everyone in the room, and for good reason.

Here are some pictures and a short video of that very interaction.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Kabbalat HaSiddur 2017

Here at The Davis Academy we often say the words "L'dor Vador" which mean "Generation to Generation." That's because we cherish the responsibility and privilege of helping transmit our Jewish values and Jewish story across the generations. 

Sometimes instead of saying Ldor Vador, Judaism speaks about the same idea of integenerational sharing by using the image of a great chain of connection, a sharsheret kabbalah. 

When I envision this sharsheret kabbalah I don't see a chain made of iron and steel. Instead I see a chain made of diamonds and rubies, of precious stones and gems of all kinds. I see it sparkling, luminescent, reflecting light in myriad directions.

And when I look even closer I see that inscribed on each precious jewel there are the fingerprints of those who have carried and been carried by this chain. I see a link in the chain resting at the entrance to Abraham and Sarah’s tent. I see Moses carrying the chain across the Red Sea. I see King Solomon bringing the chain into the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem and the Prophet Ezekiel contemplating the chain by the waters of Babylon. I see Queen Esther and the Maccabees and Rabbis Hillel and Shammai. I see the thousands of towns and villages all across Europe and Asia where our ancestors lived. I see tears of pain and suffering and tears of joy and redemption. I see a Star of David, the Statue of Liberty, and the Israeli Flag. I see Hebrew letters, and Yiddish phrases, and Sephardic songs, and notes in the Kotel and so much more.  I see the stories and blessings, names and dates, and hopes and dreams of all who came before.

Here's something else that makes this chain of connection unique: the harder we pull on this on it, the stronger the chain becomes and the stronger we become. The tighter we cling to it, the more light we see in the diamonds and rubies and sapphires and the more light we discover in ourselves and in our Kehilah.

This morning, each 2nd grade family in our Davis Kehilah added a new link and a new light to this great chain of connection, this sharsheret kabbalah, that connects us from generation to generation. This morning, the sharsheret kabbalah is stronger and more beautiful than it has ever been before.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Rock Shabbat 2017

Last week we celebrated our annual Rock Shabbat at The Davis Academy. Rock Shabbat continues to be one of the most poignant examples of how The Davis Academy is unique among Jewish communities and Jewish Day Schools.

This year's Rock Shabbat featured our typical blend of traditional and modern Jewish songs (including a few of our original melodies from our latest CD, "Menschology") as well as "secular" songs. I write, "secular", because there's an argument to be made that there's a spark of holiness in almost all music, at least when it comes to our Rock Shabbat repertoire. For example, one of this year's secular songs was, "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" by CCR. There's something really profound in the main idea of that song. We've all seen the rain, but have we ever really seen it?

Typical of Rock Shabbat, transitions that would be abrupt or non-sensical elsewhere, make perfect sense. So CCR follows the Shema, which leads into a MiCamocha Drum Circle which leads into a medley of Jewish classics performed on accordion and so on.

Part of the magic of Rock Shabbat is that it shines a spotlight on our talented student body without making their talent the focus of the experience. It is Shabbat. And like any true Shabbat, it is a reflection of the people in the room and the magic that is created when people come together in a spirit of respect and love.

Here are some pictures as well as a video!