Pesach, a holiday of remembering, is followed one week later by Holocaust Remembrance Day and, the next week, by Israel’s Memorial Day. The motif of memory runs deep in Jewish thought and ritual. What is it about remembering that is so compelling?
As my wife and I sat at the seder table last week, we could not but – as, I’m sure, did many others – reflect on seders past. We have, over decades, celebrated many memorable seders. Not unlike our experience this year, the first seder of our marriage was particularly distinctive, owing to global conditions of a different sort. Then, as now, the enduring question of Pesach was and remains: What is our vision of tomorrow?
One of the great thinkers of late 19th/early 20th century Zionism was Asher Ginsberg (1856-1927), better known by his pen name, Ahad Ha’Am (“one of the nation”). Primarily an essayist who championed the proposition that the movement of return to Zion must begin with a revitalization of Jewish culture, Ahad Ha’Am profoundly influenced such younger Zionists as Chaim Nachman Bialik and Chaim Weizmann. Born in the Ukraine, Ahad Ha’Am relocated to London to serve as agent of the Wissotzky Tea Company and, eventually, settled in Tel Aviv.
During this seemingly unique period, I found myself reflecting on the life and times of BJE’s longest serving educational professional, Rabbi Zalman Ury, z”l. Rabbi Ury, whose tenure at BJE spanned 1959-2006, lived an extraordinary life. Born in a small town in Poland, he attended the famous yeshiva in Kletsk, headed by the noted Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Aharon Kotler. During World War II, Zalman Ury and his yeshiva classmates were deported by the Soviets to a labor camp in Siberia, then to a collective farm in Uzbekistan.
Leafing through the pages of the February 21-27 Jewish Journal, I spotted headlines of Journal stories published 20 years ago. One caption, in particular, caught my eye. “Day School Count: A new census yields surprising results on Jewish day school attendance.”
On February 20, BJE’s Reshet-LA will "graduate" eight schools from Tier One of the program, bringing to 15 the total number of part-time Jewish school programs engaged in the practical work of school innovation. As the program continues to grow, participants are benefiting from the unique opportunity to connect with and learn from national experts in the part-time religious school world, opportunities that are only made possible through BJE.