Next week we will all wish each other a “Happy New Year” as we prepare to celebrate Rosh Hashanah beginning Sunday evening. Last week I read an interesting Dvar Torah by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who distinguished between the Hebrew words for happiness (“Ashrei/Osher”) and Joy (Simcha). He describes happiness as a state of mind and an attitude of the individual to life as a whole. He claims joy is different in that it is shared, and not something we experience in solitude. When we think of a simcha, that is in fact what comes to mind; celebrating a joyous occasion with others. I think each one of us aspires to have both happiness and joy in our lives. As I reflect upon the last 3 weeks of school, I can say that the foundation has been laid for a wonderful year. Our teachers have welcomed their students with such warmth and you, our wonderful parents, have come back to school extending yourselves, as you always do, as positive and collaborative partners. The right learning environment for children is one that is respectful, safe, organized, stimulating and yes – joyful. How fortunate we are to have a school where everyone is mobilized to care about the happiness of each and every student. How wonderful it is to be able to experience the joy that is shared every day in our various school micro communities; whether it is in small groups, classrooms, grades or cycles. As researcher Carol Dweck points out, a positive and happy mindset is conducive to developing a growth mindset where the belief that “I can” and “I will” overrides the fixed mindset that carries the feeling of “I’m stuck and this is who I am and all that I can do”. We must continue to appreciate the strength we get from both happiness and joy at Akiva, and continually strive to ensure we cultivate the powerful learning experiences that emerge from these attitudes and experiences for our students. I wish you all a “Happy” and “Joyful” New Year. May you all have a meaningful holiday with your loved ones.
Shanah Tovah Umetucah