November 23, 2018
We are approaching the Winter Solstice, our shortest day of the year. Both mornings and evenings are dark and it just feels like there is not enough daylight – it must be time for Chanukah!
On Chanukah, we are commanded to kindle the lights of the chanukiah. We are given the opportunity to bring light into our homes and our lives with the flames of the candles. I always get a wonderful, warm feeling as I stand with my family around our mantel, with all of the Chanukah candles burning bright. The mitzvot, blessings and the songs of the holiday light up my house and a dark, dreary season.
However, the mitzvah of lighting the chanukiah is not only about lighting up our own lives, but poignantly, about spreading the light unto the nations and ensuring that our light shines out to the world. In Parashat Beha’alotcha, Aharon is commanded to “fix the light”, referring to the light of the Menorah and the Ner Tamid (eternal flame). Many scholars have analyzed this piece of text and have come to the conclusion that the kindling of the light was not only to light up the Beit HaMikdash, but also to shine out to the rest of the world. In fact, the windows of the Beit Hamikdash were specifically designed to radiate light out rather than keep the light in.
The past few days have been an opportunity for us as a school to “fix our light” and shine brightly in the CAIS community. David Thompson, the Head of School at Montcrest and the Chair of our Visiting Committee, described what he saw here as magical. Each of the members of our Visiting Team commented on the impressive teaching and learning, the exceptional way we meet individual student needs and the type of faculty culture that you want to “bottle”. Each day as we bring our children to school, we feel the buzz in the hall, see the exceptional work on the walls and confidently leave our children knowing their days will be filled with care and learning. We see the bright light of our school daily. I am now struck by the realization that the last few days have turned our classrooms and hallways into the windows of the Beit Hamikdash and shone our bright light outwards.
As a Jewish nation, we are charged with lighting up the world, whether it is with our chanukiah or the lights of the Temple. This week, we lit up the CAIS world and positioned ourselves as a bright spot on the elementary school landscape. I am so proud of our students, faculty, staff, current families and alumni for bringing us to this moment. We are truly shining bright on the windowsill of the world and people are taking note.