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On giving thanks and receiving the Torah

Dear families and friends,

Today, erev Shabbat, is Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the beginning of the month of Sivan. On this day we arrived at Mt. Sinai, on this day we achieved being “like one person with one heart” and we stood together to receive the gift of the Torah (the holiday of Shavuot, which marks the receiving of the Torah, is next week on Wednesday and Thursday, with school closing early on Tuesday at 1:30).

Before heading into a series of meetings this morning, I stopped into the kindergarten class, took the opportunity to sit cross-legged with the students on the carpet, and shared with them that when we received the Torah, we all were (spiritually) there together, past, present and future generations of Jews.  I also told them that in this week’s parsha, Naso, we learn that Hashem gave Aharon and his sons the mitzvah of blessing the children of Israel, with the three priestly blessings – known in Hebrew as “Birkat Kohanim” – many of you are familiar with these blessings, which we give over to our children on Friday night before Shabbat dinner:

“Hashem shall bless you and protect you.  Hashem shall shine His face to you and give you grace.  Hashem shall raise up His Face to you and will give you Shalom-peace.  And they shall put My Name upon the children of Yisrael, and I will bless them”. (Bamidbar 6:22-27)

I wrapped up my time with the kindergartners by telling them that what this all means is that over the next few days, with receiving the Torah (and the ice cream parties that go along with it) and getting the three priestly blessings, we have so much to be thankful for.  We have a God who loves us, parents who bless us, and a community and friends to support us.

At RJDS this week, we do indeed have so much to be thankful for as well:

  • A fantastic RJDS Beth Tikvah Charity golf tournament that brought the Richmond community closer together and raised much needed funds for the school and the shul.  It was a great day of golfing, and a great dinner party afterwards.  A big thank you and todah rabah to the golf committee for all their hard work on the golf tournament!
  • A mazal tov to our upper grade students who, in conjunction with their peers from Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy won the 2014 Class Act Award from Random Acts,  a non-profit organization that is aiming to conquer the world, one random act of kindness at a time.  The $3,000 award is given to the project that is “the most creative and inventive in performing an awesome act of kindness in their community” and was in honour of their work for feeding the homeless in the Downtown Eastside in February.  Thank you for being such great role models to the younger students, and for living the middot of chesed and tzedakah!  Stay tuned to this space for more information about what the students plan on doing with their prize money.
  • And finally, an enormous thank you to all the students, staff and parent volunteers who helped put on The Conflicting Chronicles of Robin Hood, the yearly school play.  The play opened to rave reviews, and some acting careers were launched!  Mr. Somers and his band of merry “men” did a great job!   As I mentioned in my remarks at the end of the play yesterday, I am so jealous of these kids who have the guts to do the things I was always too afraid to do when I was their age, namely, get up on a stage in front of friends and family and perform.  Thank you!

Shabbat Shalom u’Mevorach,

Mar Abba



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