“ מַה טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ, יַעֲקֹב; מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל”
How lovely are your tents, people of Jacob; your sanctuaries, people of Israel!
– Numbers 24:5
When I look out to our spaces each Monday and Wednesday, I’m struck by how beautiful the sight of our students and teachers learning together is in our tents. While I imagined it many, many times during the planning phase over the summer months, there is still something incredibly special about it all coming together. Our teachers have recreated our classroom spaces and enabled our students to dwell in our temporary sanctuaries. Each time our students and teachers meet, they are hard at work building community, reconnecting with Shaarei Tikvah, and expanding their Jewish learning.
The words above are recited by Baalam in the Torah. In this story, Baalam is sent to curse the Israelites, but instead offers this blessing. When I think about the planning that went into this year, there were so many things we could anticipate and so much good that unexpectedly resulted. Of course, there were some experiences and challenges we just couldn’t imagine – like the students connecting with nature in new and exciting ways or the back up traffic onto Fox Meadow Road during pick up! Like Balaam we set out on our journey with a clear purpose: to promote Jewish learning in a caring and safe environment creating a strong sense of community and belonging for everyone. And we see evidence of that taking root in the connections and relationships that are building between our students and their teachers and with their peers. But, there have also been unexpected blessings, too. Moreh Brian has filled our hearts with song during pick up and our parking lot has been filled with the imagination of our students as they create artwork with chalk on the black pavement.
During these very unsettling times, perhaps the lesson we can all glean from this story is that blessings can appear in all colors and sounds, sometimes when we least expect it. May we all be granted these “unexpected” blessings each and every day.