Growing Up

Starting School


Just yesterday they first learned to crawl – wide-eyed sponges absorbing most everything said and done around them.  In the blink of an eye, now it’s time for their next adventures of classrooms, books and play.

Jewish tradition enshrines education as a cornerstone of life and a portal for every cherished Jewish value. Education is the key to unlock each person’s great potential. With a poignant mix of emotion, we send our children into the world to learn, to teach and to transform the world.


For a young child.   It seems just yesterday that you fit snugly in my arms.  School days seemed a lifetime away – and now they’re here.  May these days be full of adventure, new friends and exciting ideas that help you to grow into your best you.  May you feel love surrounding you as you take your next steps into the world.


For an older child or young adult.   You are changing before my eyes, growing and becoming in ways that are unique gifts to the world.  May your learning stretch you in every good way, bringing understanding that ripens into wisdom. And as you continue to learn and grow, may you be ever more a blessing for others, and may the Holy One light your path into the world.


Isaiah 48:17

“Thus said the LORD your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I the Holy One am your God, teaching you for your own benefit, guiding you in the way you should go.”


Proverbs 1:7–9

Awe of God is the start of wisdom.  Fools despise wisdom and discipline.  My child, heed the ways of your father, and do not forsake the instruction of your mother.  For they are like a graceful wreath on your head and a necklace about your throat.


Proverbs 22:6 (for the teacher):

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.


For school children


My teacher says my targets are:
To write more neatly,
to spell more words correctly,
to get more sums right,
to chatter less,
and to behave myself.
But the targets I set myself
are far more interesting:
To climb a tree to the top,
to stop time before my spelling test,
to think up a disappearing spell
and try it out on my teacher,
to leap from up high
and to defy gravity.
These are my targets,
the ones I’m aiming to complete
before next week….
The ones my teacher sets
may take a little longer……..

by C. Brian Moses, from Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses
(Macmillan, 2011)

For an older child


Why start
only to finish?
Why start
and not finish?

Why say A
only to say B—
not knowing what lies in between?

And why stop at Z?
What if I feel
like going beyond—
and further still?

And why learn—
only to forget?
And how is one to learn
what to forget?

Why undertake
what cannot be concluded?
Why take along a knowledge
one fears?

Why build in time
that which is meant
to remain timeless?

They tell me
that 2×2 is 4—
forgetting the main point;
namely that I—I am one.

And yet
we count
and we build
and we begin.

We open our eyes:
that is a beginning.
We clasp a hand:
that is another.

Does there exist
a project more exhilarating
than to begin
and begin again?

Does there exist
an adventure more rewarding
a tale more human,
a concept more loving, than
taking that first step,
pronouncing that first word
and sharing that first gift?

And here
This house we are building
is rising
not just with stones
nor just with bricks
but with the dreams
of children
present and yet to be born;
it will rise
out of their laughter,
their stories
and shouts,
their need for learning
and for friendship,
and their hope—
and it will bear
their face,
the fragile yet timeless face
of all beginnings.

By Elie Wiesel, 1975


Psalm 78 (1 – 7)

Give ear, my people, to my teaching, turn your ear to what I say.

I will expound a theme, hold forth on the lessons of the past,

things we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.

We will not withhold them from their children, telling the coming generation the praises of the LORD and His might, and the wonders He performed.

He established a decree in Jacob, ordained a teaching in Israel, charging our fathers to make them known to their children,

that a future generation might know —children yet to be born— and in turn tell their children that they might put their confidence in God, and not forget God’s great deeds, but observe His commandments.