Every year as Rosh Hashanah approaches, I try to take stock of where I am in my life. During this time of introspection, I look for the areas where I need to improve and make changes; I also look at the outcomes of my past decisions. As a parent, part of this time is always spent thinking about my children, if I am being the best parent I can for them, and if I need to make any course corrections with my parenting.
This fall, my oldest child Josh began preparing for his bar mitzvah, which is about a year away. It seems like only yesterday I was taking him to his first day of preschool at our local JCC. In thinking back about the decision to send him to a JCC preschool, and then a Jewish day school, I remember being very afraid about choosing the wrong school and the long term consequences of my parenting choices.
As an educator, I knew then that the first school we chose for our children would have a long term impact on our son. It would set the tone for how he felt about school. When we chose a JCC preschool, I was more interested in the warm nurturing environment they offered, but the Jewish component of the curriculum seemed like a bonus. Both of my children thrived in that environment and loved going to school every day.
When my son approached kindergarten and the end of preschool, we began thinking about what he needed in his next school. Public school seemed like the obvious choice. As the child of a long line of public school teachers and as an educator myself, I had always assumed that I would send my children to public school. A strong secular education is extremely important to our family. But I quickly realized that placing my son in an environment that was also committed to Jewish values and education for elementary school would be of great benefit and a natural continuation of Jewish preschool for him.
Choosing a Jewish day school was a great decision and as we approach Josh’s bar mitzvah I can see the beautiful fruit that has come to bear. Jewish day schools helped develop our children’s Jewish knowledge and strong identities. Our Jewish day schools have given our family a community and a Jewish foundation. We have met and become friends with many other families that share our values and beliefs. Our school communities have given us a support system that we just didn’t have because our extended families live so far from us. Our school community has become our local family.
As I take stock this year, I am so glad that we chose Jewish day school for our family. The impact of Jewish day schools on my children and on our family has been extremely positive, and I could not have predicted the other benefits that have come with that choice. I feel blessed to be a leader of the Lerner community and to have my daughter attend Lerner. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our community, to get to know each child and family, and to provide a solid Jewish foundation for the next generation of our Jewish community. As we make our final preparations for Rosh Hashanah this week, I hope you will join us tomorrow for Kabbalat Shabbat in the morning or the Elementary Rosh Hashanah Picnic at 12 noon. May the new year be filled with joy, good health, and sweetness for you and your family.
Head of School