June 17, 2024
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June 17, 2024
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Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County Plants Seeds of Change

“Planting the Seeds of Change,” was the overarching theme for a special day of learning at Schechter Bergen on Monday, January 17, in which students explored the intersection of Tu B’Shevat and the legacy of MLK Jr. “This year we had the blessing of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Tu B’Shevat falling on the same day, which allowed us to discuss and contemplate the idea that just as a tree grows from a little seed and takes years to produce fruit, if we want to make change in this world we simply have to begin with small steps—so that we can grow and learn how to be advocates for the change that we want to see,” shared Rabbi Efrem Reis.

Among the many highlights of the day was a visit from Rev. Jacques Degraff, a founding member and past VP of the One Hundred Black Men Organization and Rabbi Michael Miller, CEO emeritus of the JCRC of New York, who spoke to grades five and six about equality and fairness and how they have worked together to effect change and build bridges. Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, current executive vice president of ICCR, former deputy director of T’ruah, and proud Schechter parent, spoke to grades seven and eight about peaceful activism and shared her experiences as an advocate and community organizer.

In the classrooms, students engaged in age-appropriate lessons and activities around the Tu B’Shevat holiday and MLK Jr.’s legacy. Seventh- and eighth- grade students wrote to their legislators advocating for rights that they believe should be addressed. Yoni Shear’s Nakh class drew similarities between actions taken by civil rights leaders and a Midrash-based story about the mitzvah of someone planting a tree whose fruits they, themselves, would never be able enjoy (based on a Midrash found in the Babylonian Talmud Tractate Ta’anit 23a).

Students in early childhood and grades one through six wrote notes and packed relaxing lavender sachets and cookies to distribute to local assisted living facilities and first responders. They explored themes of fairness, inclusion and equality through stories and discussions of MLK Jr. and civil rights heroes like Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges, “planting the seeds” for a lifetime of curiosity, learning and tikkun olam.

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