Keep On Climbing

It’s the third day of school and even though it is out of character, I am feeling proud. We have 101 children enrolled this year, a 12% increase over last year, a wonderfully committed group of lay people ready to do anything needed for the school, we have the most amazing group of teachers that a school can ask for, and we have the yummiest kids around.
But, don’t worry, I won’t let that feeling of pride last too long. And, I shouldn’t.
I just read an article where Renoir was quoted saying, “I am beginning to know how to paint. It has taken me over fifty years to work to achieve this result, which is still far from complete.” He’s right. Nothing is ever complete. And, he was talking about a painting. I’m talking about children, little humans who have the ability to change the world.
It’s easy to feel content with the accomplishments and continued improvements we have achieved. One might think I can even install a few recliners in some of the offices and we could put our feet up. Our children are attaining great scores on our assessments. Our kids are excited to come to school. And our graduates report back a real connection to Judaism as they make their way through their lives.
The only reason the day school has the reputation it has is because we don’t do that. We just go in search of the next mountain to climb, the next challenge to overcome and next achievement to attain.
Life is like an escalator going down, as we try to go up. If we stop going up, we will inevitable fall down. If we don’t continue to learn, to strive and to reach we will not only reach further, but we will lose the ground we’ve covered.
This message is just as relevant for our children in school. “I’m finished” are not the words we value in the classroom, rather “try again, try again” is treasured more. Understanding that with more effort we produce quality that is so much more appreciated, and that is one of our goals at CJDS. The same applies to Judaism. It is not sufficient to commit to the few mitzvot, practices or beliefs and say I am satisfied. This is the kind of Jew I want to be. I’m done. Rather, we need to wake up every morning and reflect on what we have accomplished so far and what we want to add. Beginning tomorrow, there are twelve days left to Rosh Hashana. Each day represents one of the months of the year. It’s time to reflect on the past year and consider what we have done and what we could do better. It is not in our DNA to be complacent. Something in our nature does not let us be completely satisfied.

Wishing everyone a restful Shabbos.