By Shira Wallach
“I hear God’s voice by simply closing my eyes and concentrating on God. It is very simple, but I can hear God very clearly.”
“I believe I can hear God’s voice when I might feel upset and down. Maybe something is going on in my life and I just need some advice. Right then, God will call out to me and will lead me on the right track. A voice inside of me tells me what to do. That is when I know I am hearing God’s voice.”
“I hear God’s voice when I am outside. When I hear birds or crickets chirping, I calm down. Also, when I hear the leaves rustling I feel something truly remarkable. I just feel so great and know God has something to do with it.”
Who wrote these exquisite words? Our budding, insightful, tenderhearted students at Shearith Israel’s Weitzman Family Religious School.
Over the last several months, the students and teachers at our WFRS have been working tirelessly to prepare for our Shabbaton, our end-of-year celebration. On Friday evening, May 18, not only will our students in kindergarten through sixth grade lead us in a spirited, joyful service to welcome Shabbat, but they will share reflections to help anchor us in the liturgy as we journey together toward light and peace.
As you all know, our Religious School has seen a lot of change over the last few years. Our Director of Education Sarah Lipinsky, her teachers, and the Board of Education have ushered in a new chapter in which our primary goals are to help our children fall in love with Judaism and with Shearith, and to feel comfortable and confident as Jewish citizens of the world. It’s not enough if they’re able to mouth along with the beautiful and ancient words of our prayers; they must also be able to explain why they would want to engage with these texts. And so, in our conversations of late, our children have learned to answer questions like:
Why do we take three steps back and three steps forward before starting the Amidah?
Why does the Friday night service begin with a bunch of psalms about nature and creation?
How does it feel to ascend a mountain, and what does that have to do with prayer?
How does the Aleinu instruct us to leave the prayer space and enter the world (other than letting us know it’s almost time to eat!)?
In this new chapter of growth, it is essential that our students and their families feel enveloped in the love of the greater Shearith community. I know it would mean the world to them if you came to show your support as they demonstrate their proficiency and their passion. And it’s a great opportunity to kvell over our children, the future of our community!
Please join us next Friday evening, May 18. Personal candlelighting will begin at 5:45 pm, and the service will begin at 6:00 pm in Topletz Auditorium. You are also invited to stay for Shabbat dinner, during which we will present Kiddush Cup Awards for outstanding students and thank our teachers for their nurturing love and insightful presentation of our sacred tradition.
RSVP at shearith.org or email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Shearith Israel clergy, staff and congregants share