I have been attending the Governing Body’s Kodesh Committees in one incarnation or another for over a decade. Many years ago, there was a great deal of upset about the fact that the number of students attending one particular extra-curricular programme had fallen by 5 since the last meeting. The overall percentage remained very high, it was a voluntary programme on top of the core offer and I wondered what all the fuss was about. I then realised that the people around me weren’t talking about percentages, they were talking about souls. And it was at that point that the Kodesh Committee meetings started making a lot more sense to me.
Regardless of the agenda, the central driving force of each meeting is this: which students are falling through the net and how can we catch them? Rabbi Muster tells me this question has been on the mind of the community since the times of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamla, the founder of the Jewish day school movement, towards the end of the Second Temple period, according to Bava Basra 21a. Judging by their contributions alone, it is sometimes difficult to tell the governors and staff apart at these meetings. All members are driven by the feeling that we can and must do better and all contribute creative ideas about the ways that this might be achieved. One of the recurrent themes is how we can ensure that children of different hashkafas feel well supported, inspired and valued. The question of how we ensure that we have the highest aspirations for students whilst trying to inculcate a genuine love of learning also reappears. A hot topic at the moment is that whilst spirituality cannot be reduced to data, anecdotes alone are not sufficient to demonstrate success. In summary, I can assure you that the concerns of Rabbi Yeshua ben Gamla are alive and well today and are passionately debated every term at Hasmonean High Schools. And for good reason, as I learned a long time ago, the decisions made at these committees weigh heavily on the consciences of those present.
I cannot end my editorial this week without thanking a number of people. Firstly, thank you to our HIPE Educators and members of the site team at the girls’ school for arranging and running the girls’ Achdus trip last week. The team-building activities at Gilwell Park included Jacob’s ladder, zip lining, crate stacking, a leap of faith, a 3G swing. This was followed by a delicious supper, a bonfire, a silent disco and words of inspiration from year 7 and year 12.
I would also like to thank Mrs Algranati and our music teachers who held a wonderful GCSE music concert at the boys’ school on Tuesday evening which opened with a choir rendition of Ledor Vador and went on to include music by Satie, The Beatles and Oasis as well as students’ own compositions. A wonderful time was had by all who attended.
Finally, I would like to thank the governor who attended the boys’ JS Committee meeting this week – half an hour before his son’s Bar Mitzvah dinner was to take place – to inform everyone that he and others had been working on ways to thank staff for their hard work and to ask for financial contributions to support it along with him. Yossi Goldberg, thank you to you and indeed all governors and trustees who will be supporting this initiative. I know this has been a matter that has been close to your heart for some time.
While we may have many sometimes very lively debates at Hasmonean about how to achieve the best for our students, I am never in any doubt of the passion, generosity of spirit and commitment of those who strive towards that end.
Mr A McClusky
CEO, Hasmonean MAT