Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S. Moller
In Parshas Ki Seitzei, the Torah tells us that when a man marries, he is exempted from military duty and other communal responsibilities for the first year. The Sefer HaChinuch explains that the intent of this mitzvah is that the young couple will be able to cement their relationship and that investing focus and time will help build that strong foundation required for a stable and happy relationship.
This mitzvah underscores the importance of investing in relationships in order to build them so that they will endure and prevail over the vicissitudes which every relationship will eventually face. If we are attentive and present in the beginning, the relationship will thrive and be strong. In the best of times, educators invest in their relationships with students so that there is trust and a willingness in the student to work hard and to face learning challenges. During the recent pandemic, this was critical as teachers and students were physically separated and all had to rely on the existing relationship to continue trusting and learning. As we prepare for a new school year, the ATT planned two teacher training sessions that focused on this theme. These sessions focused on how to create a safe, trusting and close relationship in which teachers proactively plan positive interactions with their students individually to create “relational assets” which can be used when a teacher needs to make demands on a student.
I am departing from my usual parsha message style and addressing the current school situation in particular.
School is in the air! Reopening is happening this week, G-d willing, for most of our schools!! The ATT schools have been working diligently throughout the summer to plan for in-person learning in the fall while being vigilant about the community’s health concerns. Schools are working overtime to comply with the government requirements for safe school reopening and consulting with their medical advisors to add additional layers of safeguards to assure the greatest measure of safety possible. Schools have used creativity and a “can do” attitude to overcome major hurdles and logistical problems to reach this point. Some schools have allocated sizable budgets to enlarging classrooms, creating useable outdoor space such as tents, purchasing screens and partitions and providing viable options for families and teachers who cannot reenter school safely at this time.
The ATT has been working with the schools in helping them plan, share information, and advocate with outside entities who can help. We are helping the system’s teachers be prepared and to feel confident and positive about the new school year with all of its unknowns.
The schools have also done a great deal to make sure that their planning is transparent and clear to the parents. Schools endeavor to accommodate the special needs of families and students who may need to maintain a higher level of separation and are doing a remarkable job within the constraints of what is possible. Please continue to work with your child’s school while recognizing the difficulties we are all facing and the limits that this pandemic has placed upon us all. This period has been very taxing, and the best way forward is to work together.
The best way to prepare your child is to be positive about school reopening while acknowledging the hardships and uncertainty which come along with it. We are going to do this and focusing on the positive will make this journey easier. A good attitude about these challenges will strengthen our resilience, adaptability and perseverance.
A lot is hinging on our schools’ and parents’ efforts. We should all daven that our efforts are blessed with success.
ויהי נועם ד’ אלקינו עלינו ומעשה ידינו כוננה עלינו ומעשה ידינו כוננהו
May Hashem’s favor be upon us and the work of our hands be successful!