I hope you and your families are well and had a restful summer.
Yesterday morning, at the staff inset, I had the privilege to address all members of staff and I would like to share with you my message to them.
Imagine you were invited to an inauguration ceremony. A new shul, school or even just a friend’s housewarming. The invitation will call it a “Chanukas HaBayis” or similar. When the Mishkan was inaugurated in the Midbar, we refer to it as the Chanukas HaMishkan, all based on the word “chinuch” meaning to dedicate or inaugurate.
Interestingly, as I told my colleagues, we are all in the business of chinuch – education. The same word.
What is the connection between inaugurating a new building and education?
Rabbi Malcolm Herman, in his wonderful book “Everyday Parenting for Everyday Parents” gives an insightful answer.
An inauguration ceremony marks when a building has been brought to the point where it is ready for the purpose for which it has been constructed. To inaugurate a building means to develop it to the point where it is completely ready and able to fulfil its designated purpose.
That is exactly what chinuch is. To raise a child so that it is completely ready and able to fulfil the lifelong purpose for which they were created.
That is really our goal at Hasmonean: to help each child achieve their potential. To make sure they are proud, practising and passionate Jews where Torah is central to their lives and at the same time are equipped to make their way in this world and contribute to the society in which they live.
As I tell staff every year, if a student leaves Hasmonean with a string of 9’s and A*’s and yet is not a kind and pleasant person or who falls short morally or religiously, we have failed.
As we start a new academic year, it is important to remind ourselves of this objective and I always make reference to Rabbi Schonfeld’s vision for Hasmonean and the ethos of Torah Im Derech Eretz, which underpins this objective.
We are constantly trying to raise standards and retain freshness and excitement in school. To this end, I am delighted to inform you of an important appointment at the girls’ school. Mrs Debbie Paster, Deputy Head of the Midrasha, has been appointed as Director of Jewish Life at the girls’ school where she will work with me, Mrs Brice, Rabbi Hager and Miss Simonsson to further instil a palpable atmosphere of Jewish life in school. This dovetails our exciting plans to improve tefilla and Kodesh generally in the girls’ school.
I hope that all these efforts to raise standards and retain freshness and excitement at both sites, bear much fruit and help us achieve our goal to give outstanding chinuch to every child, so that in time they will be ready and able to fulfil the lifelong purpose for which they were created.
Rabbi J Golker