Sivan Rahav-Meir / The Daily Portion / The school year begins!

  • Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

The 1st of September has arrived. Because of the pandemic, we are mostly preoccupied with the question of how the children will learn, but
what will they learn?

In 1949, the State of Israel’s first year, Zalman Shazar, Minister of Education, wrote a long letter to the young students of the new State. Here are a few sentences which, in my eyes, awaken a longing for the days in which people dared to speak in such a manner:

“Grow up well, young brothers and sisters. Open the chambers of your hearts wide to receive the Torah of Israel. Learn for yourselves about the steep price of loyalty to their faith that was paid by an uninterrupted chain of generations, how bitter was the taste of slavery, and what destiny was in store for those who envisioned the rebirth of Israel. Remember: You are being summoned to be the successors. The entire historical value of our revival depends on this: Love the legacy of your people. Learn to revive within yourselves the glory of holy aspirations and an eternal mission. Cherish our greatest creative minds and teachers, whether from ancient times or living with us today.

Establish heart and soul connections with our eternal heritage, ever renewed. May the vision of Israel’s prophets be the vision of your future lives. The hope of our nation is the State of Israel; the hope of the State of Israel is our youth. Gather strength, learn well, deepen your knowledge, know the Torah of Israel, cherish the creative human spirit, love freedom. And guard very well the heritage and hope that have been deposited in you.”

Amen. Parents, teachers, and students – have a great school year.