April 18, 2024
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April 18, 2024
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We recently observed the fast of Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, which was the start of the three-week period of mourning that leads into the Nine Days and culminates with the fast of Tisha B’Av, commemorating the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. Of late, and in the last few weeks, there have been too many tragic events in the Jewish community. It’s almost a year since the Pittsburgh massacre and just this morning while writing this article we hear about yet another tragic shooting in front of a synagogue in Miami. So many of us have been directly and indirectly impacted by the heartache and suffering of our brothers and sisters. In the wake of tremendous loss and sadness, we must find a positive way to move forward. We must find meaning through our faith in Hashem and find comfort in one another. As parents and teachers, it is also incumbent upon us to model a holistic approach to wellness that supports emotional, mental and spiritual strength and well-being. In this way we can support growth of our children and provide tools to succeed in many facets of life. While we don’t make the plan, we have to follow it, regardless of what tests we are challenged by in life.

Thoughtful understanding and a deep appreciation of your children and loved ones will help cultivate their inner strength, and belief in themselves, as they face distressing situations in life. Each and every person is a world unto himself/herself, and when we speak with others, we are tapping into their world. Having the interest and patience to listen will undoubtedly help us become better attuned to our loved ones and connect on a deeper and more meaningful level. It goes beyond just being a mensch, it is about genuinely caring for each other.

Let’s face it, we’re all busy, aren’t we? So, maybe start by dedicating time to show that you care, not just about an isolated story someone wants to tell you, but about who they are. Be the person in their life who can’t wait to hear about everything, and truly listen. Communicate about the big things and the little things—but especially the little things! The key is not to just ask about their day and be done, but to probe a little deeper to better understand their thoughts, impressions and feelings. This deeper level of conversation helps you better understand the individual—their likes, dislikes, needs, wishes, challenges and hopes. In life, as in education, it should always be about empowering, enabling and caring, because those are tools that help others succeed and thrive.

In addition to speaking with those you care about, try to read them. Pay attention to body language and facial expressions, take cues from intonation as they speak, notice when they smile and when they frown. This mindfulness helps us remain engaged and cultivate a deeper connection, which leads to mutual growth, trust and reflection.

As a teacher, I am privileged and challenged with this on a much larger scale than most. Each and every student should be taught based on their unique needs and learning style. This can be enhanced when a genuine personal connection is made. Remaining consistently engaged and present is not always easy; in fact, there are times that it is downright daunting. However, with great effort comes great reward and it is truly rewarding to see a child feel happy,

successful, understood and at peace. It is truly rewarding to see the people in your life feeling proud and more confident because they know that someone genuinely cares for them. You can be that person. You can be the one to make a difference in someone’s life and help spread happiness and positivity during times of challenge, turmoil or sadness.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Eli Orbach, Eliyahu Mordecai ben Gershon Henoch, z”l. He exemplified all that is positive in life. He made each person he encountered in life feel that they mattered. He cared enough to not only ask questions, but also listen to answers with genuine interest. May we all be zoche to have teachers, friends and family in our lives that demonstrate these traits.

By Tamar Hardy


Tamar Hardy has been teaching for 13 years and currently runs a private practice as a reading specialist. She holds multiple master’s degrees in special education and is a certified Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner. Tamar lives in Fair Lawn and can be reached at [email protected].

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