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Rabbi Eric Grossman

As we return from winter break, I find that the most popular topic of conversation is the weather.  While we know that winter comes every year—and at the same time—somehow we find ourselves unreasonably surprised that the cold and snow have returned again.

Weather has captivated human thought throughout our history.  All ancient (and many modern) religions worshipped the forces of weather, and many venerated them as gods.  Our obsession with the weather is simple enough to understand: it is a daily force that controls and dictates our lives over which we have no control.  We may be looking forward to a wonderful day in the park, and then it rains; we may plan a ski vacation, and there is no snow; we can look forward to skating outside and there is a sudden warm spell.  Humans plan, but the weather is indifferent to our schemes.

Though humans have proven incapable of altering the forces of nature, we have become very adept at devising ways to insulate ourselves.  While we have no say over what goes on out of doors, we can control our environment inside.  Indoors, we can create nearly any climate we want—we can be toasty warm in the winter, and air-condition ourselves in the summer.  We can build indoor pools and even indoor ski resorts and skating rings, complete with snow and ice.

From this we can learn important lessons as parents and educators.  Though we may wish to protect our children from the impact of society around us, in the end we have little to no control over the environment in which we live.  However, we have the power to create whatever environment we want indoors.  While life is cold—literally and figuratively—outside, inside our homes and our schools we can create a space that is warm, caring, and nurturing. At Akiva, we aim to create a warm and supportive environment that you can feel every time you enter our building. Inside, our attitudes and actions shape the climate; outside, the climate shapes us.

This winter, instead of focusing on the conditions outside, take the time to appreciate the special atmosphere that we have the power to construct in our own homes and hearts.