HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

From the Editor

by Dr. Barbara Davis Issue: Religious Purposefulness
I have always enjoyed the academic calendar, because it has a defined beginning and ending. I have always wondered how one could do a job that never finishes, but continues for fifty weeks or so, is interrupted by a couple of weeks of vacation, and then resumes an endless flow.

When working in a school, no matter what kind of year you might be having, you know that it will end, and that there will be a new beginning in the fall. The fact that the Jewish calendar parallels the school calendar has always been a special plus for me. Unlike the secular calendar, which places the new year in the dead of winter, the Jewish calendar sees fall not as autumnal but as a beginning, the head of the year, almost like a second spring.

These thoughts arose as I, like you, prepare to reopen my school to our wonderful students, their families and their teachers. My inspiration comes also from reviewing the articles in the present issue of HaYidion. This issue represents something of a departure for us from our normal examination of the basics of Jewish education—the structures, challenges and curricular issues with which we all must deal. Instead, it presents us with a philosophical framework for our work, an examination of the day school movement in the context of the state of Judaism in the 21st century in the United States and, to a lesser extent, in the Jewish communities of Canada, Europe, and around the globe.

Our format is somewhat atypical also, in that many of our contributors are responding to our lead article, Dr. Michael Berger’s fascinating essay on our theme, “religious purposefulness.” The authors whose responses are included, as well as other articles on the topic, will undoubtedly give you much to ponder and discuss at the start of the new year. For my own part, I intend to order extra copies of this RAVSAK journal to distribute to my faculty, board, and members of our community, to foster greater understanding of the critical and central role of the community day school movement in creating a Jewish future.

I am sure you will also find much food for thought in this issue, and I invite you to enjoy the feast. May the year 5769 bring our RAVSAK schools only good things, recognition of the profound importance of the work we do, and joy and success in all our undertakings. L’shana tova!. ♦

Dr. Barbara Davis is the Secretary of RAVSAK, Editor of HaYidion and Head of School at the Syracuse Hebrew Day School in Dewitt, NY. Barbara can be reached at shds@twcny.rr.com.

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Religious Purposefulness

The AVI CHAI Foundation has promoted the notion that day schools are primary incubators of “religious purposefulness,” developing the capacity to live deep, authentic Jewish lives through regular contact with the sources of Jewish tradition, be they textual, ritual, communal. Authors here probe the ramifications of this notion for our understanding of the mission of day schools and their role in Jewish communal life.

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