What an incredible start to our school year! From our very first orientation, warmth, energy and excitement have permeated the air. Our teachers enthusiastically welcomed students into their classrooms, learning environments that promote creativity and critical thinking and spaces designed to encourage communication and collaboration. And our students have eagerly embraced their learning, already knee-deep in Torah, Language Arts, Ivrit and Math. In addition, our administrators, teachers and students have been working intentionally to build community in their classrooms, divisions, and all of Akiba. The 2016-2017 school year is a dazzling masterpiece-in-progress.
This week's parashah includes a passage familiar to (and probably committed to memory by) our students: the second paragraph of the Shema. Delineating our need to remember God's mitzvot and be aware of the positive and negative consequences of staying on or straying from the spiritual path of the Torah, this paragraph essentially focuses on two major themes. As stated in the Talmud (Berachot 12b), this section of the Shema centers around the ideas of teaching and doing. The older generation must teach the younger generation about the mitzvot and how to interact with God and with peers, how to be passionate and compassionate. Both the older and younger generations must then demonstrate their understanding of and commitment to the mitzvot by doing; they must translate the education they have received into action. This message resonates at the beginning of the school year. While knowing proves an admirable goal, learning, mastery and understanding come about through performance, a much loftier and more important objective. The beginning of this school year reflects this very notion: we learn through active engagement and through doing, two of the core educational underpinnings of an Akiba education. Our faculty teaches so our students can do.