HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

From the Desk of Arnee Winshall, RAVSAK Chair

by Arnee Winshall Issue: Nurturing Faith
As we have all come to expect, RAVSAK does not shy away from taking on challenging and tricky topics. This issue of HaYidion on faith is yet another example of this. When you look the word up in the dictionary two meanings strike me in particular:
  1. confidence or trust in a person or thing
  2. belief in G-d or in the doctrines or teachings of religion; belief that is not based on proof; belief in anything

When I think about the personal nature of faith, in the second sense, I am reminded of one of the many profound experiences resulting from my association with a community day school. Upon hearing of a parent’s illness that brought him unexpectedly close to death, the school community organized an all-night prayer vigil at the school, open to all to chant Tehillim throughout the night. The power of community, the support we provided to each other and to the family, the Jewish expression of channeling healing energy, and the subsequent turnaround and full recovery of the parent leave me, to this day, overcome with emotion and with a deep feeling of faith.

Judaism provides us with so many tools for dealing with everyday challenges, extraordinary traumas as well as moments of joy and appreciation. It is when we are most vulnerable that we often take the time to strip away our inhibitions, let go of our need to be totally rational and to be open to a strong connection with G-d and an appreciation for the value of each life—true acts of faith.

The first meaning calls up more directly the work of RAVSAK and the focus of many of our board discussions, the faith we have in the power of day schools. As the board of RAVSAK, we are committed to enhancing RAVSAK’s role to support schools as they further strengthen their distinct value. We are also committed to helping RAVSAK advocate for day schools and collaborate with other organizations to spread the word throughout the Jewish community that will result in enhancing the faith the Jewish community has in its day schools.

The special added value our day schools bring to each of our students, families and staff, and the community is manifest in being more than mere places of academic learning. Day schools are centers in which we enable and encourage the expression of ethical values and create the spaces for all our constituents to connect, to reflect, to develop awe for G-d’s creation and to experience a moment that transcends the mundane.

Please join us February 6-8 in Los Angeles, as we share in the opportunity to learn from each other and celebrate together the Jewish day schools around the world, special places where we foster our faith in faith. ♦

Arnee Winshall is the Chair of RAVSAK’s Board of Directors, and Founding Chair of JCDS, Boston's Jewish Community Day School. Arnee can be reached at arnee@ravsak.org.

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Nurturing Faith

Faith is the most elusive quality to inculcate, the hardest to measure. Yet at some level, everything Jewish day schools seek to achieve depends upon it. The sense of belonging and connection that is fundamental to Jewish identity resides, at heart, in a sense of emunah, of trust and belief in something larger than ourselves. This issue considers factors that nourish Jewish faith of different kinds.

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