Enhance the piety and passion that is displayed in school

Living as we modern Orthodox Jews do, in two worlds, the world of Torah and the world of modern culture, we adopt the value of moderation in order to allow the two worlds to coalesce in a comfortable fashion. We intuit that being extreme in Torah, or in secular culture, would undermine the synthesis or coexistence that we desire to achieve. The price we pay for this strategy is blandness in our religious lives - the absence of that degree of piety and passion that is generally the product of absolute clarity of faith and of conviction in the correctness of one's path.

Form a special commission to study the question of how both piety and passion can be enhanced in your Day School. Examine closely the way in which Tefillah is conducted, whether in the classroom or in assembly. Is Tefillah conducted slowly, with meaning, feeling and Kavannah, explained in a manner appropriate to the age of the students, or are speed and accuracy of recitation of Hebrew the prime goals? Is melody used only to pace, or to enhance inwardness?

  • Study the ways in which piety is exemplified. Are models of piety projected based only on externals - distinctive dress, isolation from the culture, ascetic withdrawal from pleasure, and engagement in the performance of ritual Mitzvot? Explore the possibility of integrating into the curriculum alternative models of piety - persons who achieve Kiddush HaShem in their engagement in the real world; people who dress like us and are integrated into modern culture, but whose exceptional sensitivity in matters of interpersonal relationships and in their commercial activities, as part of their total Avodat HaShem, set them apart as models of righteousness.
  • Evaluate the criteria for selection of teachers - make religious passion a positive element in the search process. Examine whether the school provides moments when the spiritual passion of teachers and other models can be experienced by students, in study, in prayer, in battling for the safety of other Jews, in struggles for the rights of other persons, or in manifestations of love and tolerance of Jews with differing convictions. Piety and passion must become an identifying hallmark of modern Orthodox youth.

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