Dear Beit Sefer Families,
I write to you this week from a quiet office with a busy mind. I have been reading the feedback forms, meeting with teachers, catching up on professional literature and asking myself a lot of questions related to the nature of Jewish education and, in specific, questions about what we do here at Beit Sefer.
The Torah portions these weeks are filled with questioning. For a few weeks already, the Israelites have been challenging Moses and God with questions: Why do we only eat Manna? Why does Moses have a Cushite wife and think he is the only one among us who can be a prophet? Why should we risk our lives and go into a foreign land that seems scary and unfamiliar? Why does Moses act like an authority over us when we are all equal? In each case, the Torah tells us that God stands by Moses’ leadership and punishes the questioners and challengers. At this point in the summer I am thinking about questions and challenges in two ways. One, it seems ironic to me that here we are reading about how challengers are punished, when a key aspect of Jewish learning is asking questions and challenging assumptions. Two, the importance of remembering as a leader to hear the questions, and the challenges. If no one is asking the questions, then it’s my job to ask them and challenge myself to rethink, relearn, revisit what I know. It’s only when we are willing to question and challenge ourselves to review our assumptions and what we think we know, that we can possibly find new approaches, new ideas and therefore grow ourselves. Sometimes, the answers don’t change, but it’s still important to ask the questions. If you have not already filled a feedback form, asked your questions, or presented your challenges, you are still invited to do so.