In study after study, the greatest factor in student learning is teacher quality, by a huge margin. And let me say, we at Beth Am are incredibly blessed by the quality of our teachers. When I was preparing to give this drash on Teacher Appreciation Shabbat, I asked Mike Mason, to tell me what’s great about the teachers he supervises. Mike told me, "It is a total joy to watch our students interact with our teachers. Sundays are filled with smiles both ways. From students to teachers and from teachers to students. It is a testament to our teachers that...
After interviewing at Beth Am six years ago, I remember driving back to the airport with Erin and telling her that I thought things went really well. Beth Am was a community we could see ourselves as part of. The campus was stunning, the staff warm, we liked being close to her family in Northern California. Sure there were too many 49ers and Giants fans, but even they weren’t bitter rivals with the Mets and Jets. It was great to meet our High School students and interact with so many creative and thoughtful people. I thought the teaching at my...
‘Eating the Cookies,’ by Jane Kenyon:
The cousin from Maine, Knowing
about her diverticulitis, left out the nuts,
so the cookies weren't entirely to my taste,
but they were good enough; yes, good enough.
Each time I emptied a drawer or shelf
I permitted myself to eat one.
I cleared the closet of silk caftans
that slipped easily from clattering hangers,
and from the bureau I took her nightgowns
and sweaters, financial documents
neatly cinctured in long gray envelopes,
and the hairnets and peppermints she'd tucked among
Lucite frames abounding with great-grandchildren,
solemn in their holiday finery.
Finally the drawers...
There once lived a truly good couple who loved God, gave tzedakah, and helped the poor. The whole town honored the couple, and yet they had one sorrow: they had no children. Years passed, and one day, as the couple sat at their Passover Seder table, they read the Haggadah and retold the Exodus. While the husband and wife were talking, there was a sudden knock at the door. At the threshold stood a ragged old man. The couple invited him to join their Seder and treated him with the greatest hospitality. However, when the old man took his leave...
Here’s a question: where did the question mark come from? Perhaps you’ve heard that the shape of the question mark comes from the shape of a cat’s tail when it’s feeling inquisitive. The same theory posits that the exclamation point comes from the shape a cat’s tail makes when it is surprised. Both punctuation signs derive, it is said, from the ancient Egyptians, who worshipped – you guessed it -- cats.
Delightful as this theory is, I am sad to report that it is only an urban legend. There was no punctuation in ancient Egypt. It’s more likely that question...