July 22, 2024
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What Do You Use Your Voice For?

(Credit: The Moriah School)

I was speaking to my childhood bestie, and she was telling me all about her recent solidarity trip to Israel. Her days were filled with gift giving, meal making and shiva calls. She recalled that it was so meaningful, appreciated and heartwarming. She said to me, “Kel, you gotta stand and be counted.” Those words were a blast from the past! I said to her, “Shoshana, do you know what you just said?” “Stand and be counted” was part of our slogan at a class play in elementary school. I must admit I had no idea how meaningful those words were until they resurfaced decades later after the barbaric massacre of our Jewish brethren.

None of us have been the same since that horrific day. We’re all mourning the horrific slaying and find ourselves lost in some deep abyss, where the only remedy is to help our heartbroken and bereaved brothers and sisters in Israel. We wake up, check the news, hoping for the hostages to be released, and then change the channel and go about our days. A question that stumps us each day is when we’re asked by a friend or colleague, how are you? We shine our big smiles, and say “Great!” Within a split second, we change our minds rapidly—because that was our autopilot remark. The truth is, we’re devastated, searching for hope and praying to God to please bring our salvation.

In my line of work, I get to sing and dance with kids in Jewish day schools every day. When I returned to work after the high holidays, I didn’t know how I would muster up the enthusiasm to sing. My people were in tremendous pain. My music curriculum dictated that fall songs were up next, until a flash bulb went off in my head and said the only thing that I want to think about is Israel. And that’s exactly what I did. I jumped into Yom Ha’atzmaut mode with kachol v’lavan and degalim. My job turned into something inspiring, something greater than myself. I was teaching the next generation of Am Yisrael the lyrics, “hadegel sheli hu kachol v’lavan etmol hayom v’machar…” (my flag is blue and white yesterday, today and tomorrow…). It was literally therapeutic knowing I was passing the torch to the next generation of Jewish leaders.

(Credit: The Moriah School)

Year after year some of my favorite songs come from my Thanksgiving playlist. My patriotic self comes to the forefront as I teach nearly a thousand children a week about our quest for freedom and democracy.

My eyes inevitably swell with tears as I think about the beautiful children before me who only know love and peace. We discuss our abilities to love each and every person, regardless of color, race or religion—and the kids get it. There’s a sense of “Of course! This is obvious!” We belt out the chorus of our theme song during our Thanksgiving school assemblies, “This is America, the land that I love…so many different people together proud and free!” (credit Jack Hartman). The energy is palpable and resonates inside each person who is present. After I finished my sixth assembly yesterday, I laid in bed, thinking what if these values were taught everywhere? What if the future generation had a credo of equality from their youth that was unbreakable and part of their DNA?

I opened up my next curriculum box of Chanukah paraphernalia, and the thoughts of shining light onto the darkness and the belief in God‘s miracles whirled through my mind.

I know my role in this world, I know how to use my voice, I know how to “stand and be counted.”

(Credit: The Moriah School)

Keli Teichman, the owner of Kreative Kidz, teaches 1,000 kids a week at Jewish schools in New York and New Jersey and has gone on tour performing in Los Angeles and Boca Raton. She enjoys her time in school and her family time with her husband, children and grandchildren.

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